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I’m So Annoyed by Freqent & Long In-Law Visits

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Oct 25, 2017

Question

Salam alaikum. May Allah SWT bless you for this wonderful service. I have a question regarding the visits of my in-laws. My husband and I married two years ago. We have a one-year-old. His parents and his family live in another country, and when they come to visit us, they come for 3-4 weeks, what I find too long. They come separate (mother, sister, father) which means several months of stayed in guests in our home per year. I find it excessive because we can't live our private everyday life when there are gusts, we focus on them, want to please them...it is both physically and mentally tiring to have guests for such a long period. Both of are working full time. When I mentioned it to my husband, he said that it is the way normal, however, I am concerned if this is really normal? In Islam, is it normal to interfere a marriage like this, staying over for a month by the in-laws? I feel that our privacy and integrity as a new family which is jeopardized, and I feel it is not polite to stay such a long period at someone’s' house. Are these evil thoughts? Am I not right to feel in this way? My husband is really aggressive regarding this topic. I mentioned it once and he started to yell that in Islam it is normal. I feel alone and trapped. Please, enlighten me how should I deal with this situation. May Allah bless you for your advice. I am in need of your wise words.

Counselor

Answer


I'm So Annoyed by Freqent & Long In-Law Visits

In this counseling answer:

“Being specific about what causes the problems for you will help you both communicate more effectively and work towards a solution. When you just complain about them visiting for long periods of time, it’s likely he’ll feel disrespected and his family dishonored instead of hearing the reality: you feel that it’s creating instability in your marriage and you are afraid of that happening.”


As-Salamu ‘Aleikom,

This sounds like an area where you and your husband are going to have to negotiate so the end result is a win-win for everyone. Right now, you are only seeing things from your perspective.

First of all, this isn’t really about Islam as much as it is a private family culture and how things are done in his family vs. your own or what you’d like now.

There are some women who would be over the moon to have their own mother or father visit for a month but loathe their in-laws coming for the same amount of time. There are husbands who would be happy to have their own mother stay for a month but dread their own mother in law when she arrives.

And of course, exceptions to all of this are people who prefer short visits from everyone in their family.

There isn’t a right or wrong here about how long guests should stay. I would also advise not attempting to make this a discussion on “what Islam says” because there isn’t a black and white answer anyone can give you that is going to make you in the right and he and his family automatically in the wrong.

That being said, there is the following hadith that supports your concerns:

“Allah’s Messenger () said, Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously. The guest’s reward is: To provide him with a superior type of food for a night and a day and a guest is to be entertained with food for three days, and whatever is offered beyond that is regarded as something given in charity. And it is not lawful for a guest to stay with his host for such a long period so as to put him in a critical position.” (Bukhari)

 What defines a critical position? This is going to vary from person to person. For one family, the critical position would be running out of food or not having enough money to feed their own family if the guest stays.

For someone else, it may be emotional turmoil due to strained relationships in the family and how everyone interacts with one and other.

And yet it’s important to remember the following as well to inspire you as a hostess:

“Allah’s Messenger () said, “Anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should not harm his neighbor, and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should entertain his guest generously and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet. (i.e. abstain from all kinds of evil and dirty talk).” (Bukhari)

Being generous to your guests, which are some of the most important people in your husband’s life, is no doubt a noble act. You are doing a lot by hosting them for so long and so often in your home. May Allah (swt) reward you and accept from you your good intentions.

What needs to change isn’t your generosity but how you can be generous, take care of yourself, and continue to nurture your marriage at the same time. Again, looking for that win-win.

Get Specific in Order to Create Solutions

Start discussing how to minimize the negative effects you experience when his family visits by talking about specific issues that are solvable.

For example:

Do you start to miss him because he’s busy with his family?
Does intimacy get put on the back burner?
Are you spending too much time cooking or cleaning and it’s affecting other areas of your life?
Do you not feel like you can go out alone or with friends and not be “entertainer” mode all the time?
Are you not able to spend alone time with your child?
Will someone comment negatively if you choose to sleep in on the weekend?

Being specific about what causes the problems for you will help you both communicate more effectively and work towards a solution. When you just complain about them visiting for long periods of time, it’s likely he’ll feel disrespected and his family dishonored instead of hearing the reality: you feel that it’s creating instability in your marriage and you are afraid of that happening.

The positive intent, deep down, is that you want to stay connected with your husband and want to build a strong marriage. A stream of guests can certainly get in the way of that if the right boundaries aren’t in place or expectations clear, but the guests on their own aren’t the cause of the problem.

By discussing what the actual problems are, with specifics, instead of speaking in general terms about how long they stay, you will both have a much more productive conversation where he can understand your needs better and change some things to support you. In return, you are going to need to know what is most important for him and compromise on your end too.

Discuss the Calendar

If you find it difficult to have everyone come separately, ask your husband if he can encourage everyone to come at the same time or in pairs to reduce the frequency of guests. For example, his mother and sister come together at the same time.

Discuss important life events going on and ideal times for them to visit if possible. Getting everyone on the same page may also help communication.

This way, when you are communicating with your husband you are doing it in a way where you are helping to plan for them to come but in a manner that supports your desire to have some say over the when and for how long.

Assume the Best of Intentions

Rather than feeling negative, work on assuming the best of intentions about your husband’s family. They are coming because they love your husband and feel comfortable and welcomed in your home. It’s not a bad thing when you consider it that way and maybe even a compliment to your hospitality.

They still want to say hello when they call and want to remain connected to you. They sound like good people who have no idea their visits are getting in the way of your relationship. I imagine they wouldn’t ever want to be a burden.

So, help them not be one by figuring out how you and your husband can stay connected during their long stays rather than making them the source of your marital disharmony.

Find the Perks to Family Visits

With family in town, are you able to leave your little one in their care so you and your husband can escape for a night out alone? Grandparents often love the idea of bonding with their grandchild without the parents around. Maybe this could give you some extra space you normally don’t have.

Can these visits be your own “staycations” as you go out and do things you normally don’t do on your own and explore your local town?

What can you learn from them as individuals? Are there qualities you admire in them which you can absorb in their presence?

Start looking for the benefits in order to have a balanced view of your situation.

Make Your Sacrifice Count

Make all the hosting you are doing worth it. Set your intentions to please Allah (swt) so that everything you do is rewarded, in sha’ Allah.

There will be moments when you bite your tongue or just suck it up and do something you aren’t feeling up for but you do it anyways in order to honor the requests or needs of your family guests. You can make your patience pay off in those situations by focusing on seeking the pleasure of Allah (swt).

You can also specifically consider doing this for your husband because you love him, and you like to see him happy with his family. (Keep this advice in mind after implementing the above suggestions!)

When you know Allah (swt) will reward you for your intentions and actions and your husband is pleased, you’ll find a silver lining visible that you weren’t seeing before.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Megan Wyatt

Megan Wyatt is the founder of Wives of Jannah (http://wivesofjannah.com/) where she offers training programs, live workshops, and relationship coaching for wives and couples. She is a certified Strategic Intervention coach with specialized certifications for working with women and marital relationships and has been coaching and mentoring Muslims globally since 2008. She shares her passion for Islamic personal development in her Passionate Imperfectionist community (https://www.facebook.com/CoachMeganWyatt/). She is a wife and homeschooling mother with four children residing in Southern California.

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