Living with The In-Laws: Where’s My Privacy? | About Islam
Home > Ask the Counselor > In-laws > Living with The In-Laws: Where’s My Privacy?

Living with The In-Laws: Where’s My Privacy?

Questioner

B

Reply Date

Oct 04, 2017

Question

As-salamu aleykum. I am recently married and have troubles living with my in-laws. We live in a small house, but my husband keeps inviting his relatives until some people have to sleep on the couch when the beds are full. I am not complaining of having guests, they are a blessing, but at times I feel I don't have privacy. I even feel embarrassed to invite my family members at times. My husband travels a lot and nowadays his grown up brothers stay with us. One of his sisters, who stays with us, travels a lot and the other one is not around during the day, she only comes in the evening, so all day I am left with his brothers in the house. As a result, I am always in my room which makes me bored as I can't go and sit with them in the living room. I try to keep distance and not be too casual with them as they are non-mahrams for me. My husband is a nice person, but he doesn’t see it is wrong for me to stay alone with his brothers in the house. I feel like a guest in my house or just another maid. I am so depressed. Please advise.

Counselor

Answer


Living with The In-Laws: Where’s My Privacy?

In this counseling answer:

“It is your first and foremost priority to set the boundaries of this relationship in a way that would make all parties feel satisfied, not making you lose the love and respect of anyone. In addition, it is your total right to enforce the limits you want in your own house as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of any other person.”


As-Salamu `Alaikum dear sister, 

Being generous and hospitable is, indeed, an appreciated quality that you and your husband have. Having good, warm relations with your extended family and in-laws is a great asset for you as you are having a wider network of emotional and social support which a person needs in his/her life.

In order to maintain and further develop such great qualities of hospitability and warm relations with family and in-laws, it is essential that either party, you or your husband, in particular, feel negatively affected. If one is negatively affected, s/he might not be able to feel the positive sides of this relationship, no matter how many they are.

So, it is your first and foremost priority to set the boundaries of this relationship in a way that would make all parties feel satisfied, not making you lose the love and respect of anyone. In addition, it is your total right to enforce the limits you want in your own house as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of any other person.

It is necessary that you talk to your husband about the issue. First, let him know that you appreciate his hospitability, that you think having guests is a blessing, and that you are happy at having good relations with your in-laws. Then let him know that you just have some points which are bothering you and you need his help with. Start talking about lacking privacy and freedom in your own home, boredom, feeling as a guest, etc. Keep the whole conversation in a friendly, calm tone, emphasizing every now and then how you like his family and like having your house open for guests from his family and from your family, too.

Then start suggesting that you both try to put some outlines for how you can make this situation work in a way that brings satisfaction to all parties. This is your own home where you should find comfort, peace, privacy, and freedom. Try to make him brainstorm with you to come up with some suggestions and ideas for implementing this.

In addition, I have to tell you that it is not accepted in Islam that you are left alone in the house with non-mahrams. I ask you to contact our Islamic scholars to have their opinion concerning this situation as I am not eligible to give a fatwa. So, you have to put this point in mind while thinking of creating guidelines for this situation.

Keep in mind also that it is your total right to set your personal boundaries and to set boundaries for your own family and your own house. This does not contradict with being nice and hospitable and maintaining warm relations and friendships with people. In fact, maintaining personal boundaries is what preserves and helps the growth of warm and sincere relationships with people, because boundaries ensure a win-win relation in which all parties are happy and satisfied.

May Allah give you the wisdom to deal with this situation and the strength to stand up for your rights and your boundaries. May He bless your marriage and keep the warm relations in your house.

Please feel free to write us back if you need further assistance. 

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

Read more:




About Layla Al Qaraqsi

Layla Al Qaraqsi has worked with islamonline.net since 2008. She has been the editor of the counseling section till May, 2013; then a counselor and writer since March, 2015. She has also worked in early childhood psychosocial development;and managed a support group in Egypt. Layla has been studying psychology and counseling since 2011 in the Islamic Online University (IOU) of Dr. Bilal Philips, University of North Dakota, and in several specialized psychological institutions in Egypt including Tawasol Center, one of the offline projects of Islamonline.net. Her studies also included group psychotherapy, psychodrama techniques, mindfulness.  You can contact her via: [email protected]

find out more!