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My Husband Always Puts His Sister First

Questioner

M

Reply Date

Nov 18, 2017

Question

As-Salamu Aleikom. I want to know if it is necessary to respect and help your sister-in-law financially. My sister- in- law seems to be very poor and pretends that she is the most needy among her family; therefore, her sisters and my husband supports her with money. Even though her husband also works, she is always looking forward to my husband's help. I really do not mind if he helps her sister, but by supporting her, he has to take loan from his friends, or sometimes he borrow from me as well. Is it necessary to support her if we get into loans and debt? Can I ask my husband not to give her that much money as he cannot afford it? I am very depressed; I surrender my wishes because I know that he can't afford it; however, her sister is always asking for huge amount of money and he gives it her without thinking of our expenses and our baby's future.

Counselor

Answer


My Husband Always Puts His Sister First

Answer:

Wa Alaykum As-Salam,

Thank you for writing in.  This situation sounds complicated and I can see how this is causing you to feel so much anxiety. Your husband no doubt feels a very strong sense of family loyalty and feels responsible to care for his sister.  I do not know your husband’s sisters situation.  It is either serious, or she is truly not being responsible.  I do not know what the situation of her husband is or if he is having some problems that might require an intervention. However, if she is having serious difficulty getting her bills paid; perhaps an alternative solution could be explored.

I personally do not like to take loans out unless I absolutely know that I can pay them back.  I do not lend money to other people, because that can cause a strain on a relationship if they do not pay me back.  If I really have the money to spare, then I often do give it, but only if I can afford that and still meet my own family obligations.  It is clear that your husband considers his sister as his own obligation.  Since this causes a debt situation in the family, one possible solution might be for her and her husband to move in with other family members until they can get caught up on their own bills, and can help your husband pay back the loans that he has been taking.

I cannot advise you from an Islamic perspective, because I am not a scholar in Islamic jurisprudence.  Decisions about when to help a family member and when to exercise healthy boundaries are not always easy to make. I would like to know more about the family situation, and why she needs so much help.  If the problems are due to drug use, or other irresponsible behaviors, then it might be wise to understand the entire story. And of course, both you and your husband should be providing for your own household first.  Perhaps invite his sister and her husband to move in with you if you are able to do that comfortably.

The reason I am hesitating to say that you should stop helping her is because I do not know how serious her situation is.  If your husband is open to the idea of talking about this situation with the entire family, you might want to have a family meeting and discuss how the entire family might be able to work on helping your husband’s sister and her husband find a solution to their problem.  Please, in addition to asking for advice from family and friends, pray to Allah for guidance and protection.  Families often fight when finances become difficult, and this is very sad.  Though we must be responsible with the resources that Allah gives to us, our life on this earth is very short. It is much better to problem solve as a team, than to allow the stress of hardship destroy precious relationships.  So, do approach this family problem with a “we” consciousness, and ask your husband to work with the family in seeking a creative solution with the entire family as co-participants in this process.

Salaam,

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