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Abusive Mother-in-Law Wants to Control Our Life

22 May, 2024
Q I and my husband married each other out of love, but our wedding raised several issues between our families who ended up being upset with each other. We belong to the same big social circle. Right in the second day of our marriage, my mother-in-law became quite upset with me. She felt she didn’t receive enough respect from my parents as they didn’t properly follow the Indian customs of a wedding. Her rage increased to the extent that she kept screaming all day. She spoke ill of my parents and stated that she would not let my sisters get married easily.

Moreover, she made sure she insulted them in every manner in public parties. With time she has become more aggressive. She wanted to have complete control over our life; what I wear, whom I meet, where we went and for how long, and if we went against any of her “rules”, she would start using foul words, cursing, breaking things and screaming continuously for 5-6 hours until 4-5 am in the morning. I preferred taking up a job to get out of this mess for a while, and later my husband decided to send me to another town for a year to obtain my MA, hoping things would calm down by the time I get back.

Over this period, she found my pictures taken before marriage when I went to meet my husband in a different city secretly. I do feel guilty for the sin I committed and have repented to Allah to forgive me. However, she took advantage of those pictures and started blackmailing that she would show them to the whole community if we didn’t listen to her demands.

My husband somehow convinced her to get a separate place quite nearby so that both of us could be at peace, but that didn’t help much either. She would come to our house in the middle of the night and curse us. She wanted my husband to spend equal time with her as he spends with me; she kept boycotting me from all family gatherings and blackmailed my husband to attend them. One day, she came to our place and tore off an expensive dress of mine just because I didn’t inform her I had bought it.

Moreover, she wants my husband to return his degree to her as she believes she invested in his studies so she has the complete right over him. She also wants him to resign from his job and give her all the money he earned as it was all due to his degree. My husband has tried all ways to please her, but she keeps controlling and blackmailing us. I am also worried about my parents’ reputation in case she does show my photos in the community. We see no way out. Please help!


In this counseling answer:

• It is your husband’s job to stop his mother, not yours.

• I think moving away from your mother-in-law would be appropriate under the circumstances and maybe the only solution (while, of course, you wouldn’t cut ties with her completely!)

• Ask Allah (swt) to help you!

As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum my dear sister in Islam,

I am so sorry that you have been suffering unbelievably. May Allah (swt) help you! Your question is very hard to answer. While there is no easy, obvious answer to your question, I will, nonetheless, try to shed some light on your situation. Hopefully, I can come up with a few ideas which could potentially help. Please, send your question to the scholars of or visit your local imam as well so that you can get as much info as possible to help you solve this problem.

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First of all, your mother-in-law is in the wrong on two counts: she is interfering in your marriage and blackmailing you. Both of these things are not in accordance with the teachings of Islam. I want you to know this because sometimes young couples think that their parents have the right to intervene in their marriages when, in actuality, both parents and in-laws have no such rights. Blackmail is the opposite of Islam; Islam is to cover and forgive sin!

Secondly, it is your husband’s job to stop his mother, not yours. I recognize that both of you are in this together, and so you want to help your husband if you can. Therefore, by all means, try to help. But, I have a duty to speak the truth, and I think this is his job, ultimately, not yours.

Abusive Mother-in-Law Wants to Control Our Life - About Islam

My first suggestion: ask Allah (swt) to help you! Allah (swt) works in mysterious ways and can send help from places we would never think of!

My second suggestion is that you end the blackmail by pre-empting your mother-in-law. Go to your parents and tell them about your past sin. Compared to your mother-in-law, I bet they are forgiving people – even if they are very strict. Very strict people also know that forgiveness for sins is also part of our religion! Besides, you married the man and have been married for a long time now. So, that helps a lot!

Also, tell them about the blackmail! When they hear that, they may really want to forgive you, because it is so wrong and because you have already suffered so much as a result of your sin. Yes, they may get mad at you, and they may say that this is the result of your sin. However, if your parents are any kinder and more sensible than your mother-in-law, they will do the right thing – the Islamic thing, and forgive you and cover your sin! Take your mother-in-law’s power away from her by being truthful with your parents. Trust that they will be good – especially compared to her!

Check out this counseling video:

Next, as harsh as it may seem, I think moving away from your mother-in-law would be appropriate under the circumstances and maybe the only solution (while, of course, you wouldn’t cut ties with her completely!) Don’t feel guilty about that because she made it impossible for you to live with or near her, not you. You have already tried beyond anything imaginable to do the right thing by her while all the time she does nothing but abuses you!

Maybe after she suffers some consequences for her hostile and horrific treatment of you, she will realize that she cannot be cruel and controlling if she wants her son near her. I don’t make this comment lightly since we have serious duties to our parents to care for them, and particularly our mothers – to keep company with them. But, in this case, you tried so hard already and she is the one making it impossible for you to have a good relationship with her.

I don’t know if this helps, but these are the only things I can think of off the top of my head, In Sha’ Allah. May Allah (swt) reward you for repenting for your sin; may Allah (swt) reward you for trying so hard to be a good daughter-in-law.

May Allah (swt) relieve your suffering!


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 Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem
Nasira S. Abdul-Aleem, an American, has a BA in English from UC Berkeley and is about to receive an MS degree in counseling psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy - MFT) from the Western Institute for Social Research. For over ten years, Nasira worked as a psychotherapist with the general public and in addiction recovery.For the last few years, she has been a life coach specializing in interpersonal relations. Nasira also consults with her many family members who studied Islam overseas and returned to America to be Imams and teachers of Islam. Muslims often ask Nasira what psychology has to do with Islam. To this, she replies that Islam is the manifestation of a correct understanding of our psychology. Therapists and life coaches help clients figure out how to traverse the path of life as a Believer, i.e., "from darkness into light", based on Islam and given that that path is an obstacle course, according to Allah.