In this counseling answer:
In Islam, the wife has absolutely no duty or responsibility to live with her in-laws. It’s her right to live with his husband, ideally separately. Although it is understandable that husbands, especially those coming from Asian cultures, might find it hard to balance between their parents and their wife, husbands have to learn that their wife is their responsibilities. They need to protect and stand up for them as Allah (swt) instructs men in the Quran.
As-Salaam ‘Aleikom sister,
Thank you for writing to us. What you are going through is not easy at all. I am sorry to hear about your toxic in-laws.
What you are describing here is not good at all. You are married and you are supposed to live with your husband. Unfortunately, it is very common in the Asian culture that the girl’s in-laws misbehave a lot and treat their daughter-in-law poorly.
They are not only treating you bad but also messing with your husband’s brain and manipulating him to stay away from you. It is their way of controlling their son, and it is completely wrong.
You are lucky that your husband actually understands you and loves you, but that is not enough when he cannot stand up for you. He seems to be under a lot of pressure from his parents. His love for his parents is very good, ma sha’ Allah, but the love for parents is not supposed to make your wife’s life unfair and bad. You are not supposed to please anyone but your husband. Staying away from him is only making the situation worse. You and your husband need each other and by spending time with one another, you will increase the understanding and love even more between you two.
We know that some sons are unable to confront their parents, so they try to do everything to keep them happy. You have to talk to him and tell him how you feel and that you want to live with him. If there is anyone who is wise in your husband’s family, let them talk to his parents and siblings.
However, your husband is supposed to protect you and love you. He cannot just leave you with his parents to avoid problems. You are HIS responsibility and he should know that. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an,
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has given the one more than the other and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard (Their modesty and chastity, the honor and property of their husband, etc.)” (3:34)
You have been obedient to your husband and lived with his parents even if they treat you badly. But it looks like he has not fulfilled your rights by protecting you from the psychological harm that his family is causing you. You have done too much for him and his family and sacrificed your own happiness.
In Islam, the wife has absolutely no duty or responsibility to live with her in-laws. Your responsibility is only to make sure your husband is pleased and satisfied with you. It is your husband’s responsibility to care for his aged parents, and if you are not comfortable living with your in-laws, you are well within your rights in Shariah to demand that your husband provides a separate accommodation for you, if he cannot let you come to his place all the time. This way you can live peacefully without your in-law’s constant torture and mistreatment towards you.
Here are some tips for dealing with difficult in-laws:
- Love your husband and never talk ill about his parents to him. Do not give your in-laws the power to destroy your marriage, and focus on being a good wife rather than the best daughter-in-law. Behave in a way that makes your husband love you more.
- Change your perspective. You and your mother-in-law are both adults, so do not behave as though you are an inferior child. Whatever she says to you, find a better way of responding to her. Show that she has no control over you, but keep it in a respectful and good manner. If being silence is better, then do so.
- Communicate assertively. You don’t have to have a big, serious conversation about your needs, but it is important to speak in a manner that is not rude, egoistic, and selfish.
- Keep boundaries and psychological distance. You can completely control your in law’s behavior, but you can set limits on how their behavior affects you. You should protect yourself and your marriage.
Hope your marriage improves and that your husband gets the courage to support and stand for you.
May Allah (swt) guide his family to the right path and ease your tension.
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