I distinctly remember before getting married, I was willing to put up with anything, except living with in-laws. It seems selfish and harsh, but that was the case, as it is with so many other women going into marriage. Why is this so? Why are we taught to think that the in-laws will be our worst enemies?
Wherever we look, whether it is in the movies or on popular TV sitcoms, the in-laws are made fun of, they show that never can anyone have a peaceful relationship with their in-laws. But, is this really the case? Can we actually have a beneficial relationship or even friendship with our in-laws?
I, like most other women, have had issues with my in-laws. Most of these issues have to do with my space, housework, and raising children. When it comes down to it, I have this notion that my in-laws will disapprove of whatever I am doing. However, what I have come to learn is that most of it is in my head. Sure, my father in-law has plenty to say about food and my cooking at times, but does that really matter? And my mother in-law always has to put in her two cents about raising the children, but she is only trying to be helpful.
Certainly, there are cases of in-laws being totally unfair and having unrealistic expectations for their daughter in-law, but I am sure that this is not the norm. I think that we as women go into the marriage with negative notions of how the in-laws are going to be and react. We are taught that we need to have our own space and should do things our way in our households with our husbands.
However, Islamicially speaking, is this any way to think of your husband’s parents? Surely, the same respect should be given to them as our own parents.
Most of the time, seemingly little things can turn into heated arguments, or are just turn into a big deal. Here are some examples:
- Your in-laws are coming over for the weekend. You put up a fit and start getting stressed out. So, what is the big deal? It’s only for a weekend, and then they will depart. Surely, you can be civil, patient and hospitable for a weekend.
- Your father in-law makes a remark about your cooking. Of course, you are offended, but how would you react if your father made the same comment? It wouldn’t matter as much. So, try to look at this in the same light.
- Your mother in-law tries to tell you how to raise your kids…again! This is going to happen, whether you like it or not. You know how you want to raise your kids, so just listen, say thankyou and then do it the way you think is best. However, it is important to note that many times there is a lot of wisdom behind what they are saying, so at least hear them out.
- Your in-laws prefer that you call them everyday. However, you find this difficult to do, with your busy schedule. Whenever you call, you have to hear an earful from them. The best thing to do is to try and call more often, and whenever you can't, just apologize.
- There is a wedding in the family and you are expected to do certain things or dress a certain way, etc. As long as you are not doing something against Islaam, try to be patient and go along with what they are saying. After all, it won’t kill you.
- Every time your in-laws spend time with your children, they feed them candy, and plenty of it! This is a tough situation. You don’t want to offend your in-laws, but at the same time, you don’t want your kids to have tooth decay! I have found the best way is to let your husband deal with it. If that fails, then take your in-laws aside and explain to them gently how you feel. If it still continues, then a little candy every time they visit can’t be that bad for the children.
- You make the horrible mistake of having an argument with your husband in front of your in-laws. Don’t ever make this mistake again. It is easy for you and your husband to forgive and forget, but much more difficult for your in-laws.
- Every time you try to discipline your children, your in-laws jump in and rescue them. Although this is very frustrating, you must accept the reality that grandparents are there to spoil your children. Just let it go. If it does get to the point that you really can’t handle it and find yourself getting stressed out, then have a talk with your in-laws about it.
- No matter how hard you try, you just cannot be yourself around your in-laws. The only person who can change this, and start to have a real relationship with them, is you. Once you start opening up and spending more time with them, they will no longer be the enemy, but more like a parent or friend to you.
We have to remember that the relationship with our in-laws is like any other. The more we put into it, the more we will get out of it. And, as Muslim Women, we should know that Jannah (Paradise) is more attainable for us, if our husbands are happy. One way to keep our husbands happy, is to have a good relationship with their families. And, if it’s not possible to do that, then at least be kind to them and have some patience with them.
Just like other Muslims, our in-laws are also our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. We must love one another if we want to attain Jannah, as is stated in the following hadeeth (Prophetic Narration),
May Allah (swt) make our relationships with our in-laws beneficial, in this life and the hereafter! Aameen.