How Shall I Deal with A Manipulative Mother-in-Law? | About Islam
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How Shall I Deal with A Manipulative Mother-in-Law?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Aug 07, 2019

Question

Assalamu alaikum,

I’ve been married for 7 years, 4 of which I’ve lived alone with my husband. I applied to medical school abroad and got accepted, so I decided to give up our accommodation as we couldn’t afford to keep it while abroad.

My husband and I then started living with my mother during that time, but it didn’t work out so great. On top of that, my mother-in-law, a divorcee with a 12-year-old kid, manipulated my husband and turned him against my family, thus calling her to London to live with her and his half-brother instead.

We moved in with her, and ever since, strange things have been happening. Me and my husband fight often, and I started experiencing panic attacks, constant chest pain, dizziness, and strange physical symptoms.

I believe it to be the effect of the evil eye. As my mother-in-law had not had a successful relationship in her life. Upon seeing mine and my husband’s happiness, I noticed she would stare with an evil look, and does horrible things such as using my daughter’s clothes as a mop or touches my things.

She also often tries to put me down. My husband thinks my symptoms are out of stress, but I know well how to differentiate when I’m stressed. I have one year left at university, and though I used to be a brilliant student, now I cannot even concentrate.

I cry constantly and have become so fearful about what will happen to me, my kids, or my mother. I don’t enjoy going out with my family when those were the things I loved to do. I have two daughters, and I feel it’s become difficult to look after them or even live my day to day life.

My life has changed significantly since moving here. My mother-in-law doesn’t like me spending time with my husband, which we did a lot before. I have no privacy as she lets her son walk in my room without knocking, he also watches inappropriate things and expects my daughter to sit there and she doesn’t stop it.

Her son has behavioral issues; he constantly fights and swears, which is not an appropriate environment for my daughters. My husband doesn’t see a problem with this or leaving them alone. My daughter is 4 and he’s 12, but I’ve heard him talk about sex before and I don’t feel comfortable with her being alone with him.

It doesn’t feel like an Islamic home where people pray and recite Quran. My husband already struggles with his prayer, for which I’ve always prayed to Allah. I hardly get to spend time with my husband and when I do, she makes me feel guilty.

We, as a family, need our time, but she’s always asking my husband to take her out to her appointments and to run her errands whilst leaving me. We plan to get our own place once I graduate next year, in shaa’ Allah, but my mother-in-law starts crying about how unwell she is when my husband comes abroad with me.

I feel like she’ll manipulate him when it’s time to get our own space. Before marriage, my husband said we’d live without extended family. In fact, he wasn’t in contact with them because his mother gave him up for adoption when he was 11 as she couldn’t provide for him.

How could someone who didn’t care for her son now come into his life and intervene to try to ruin his relationship with his wife too? She insulted me and made me and my husband fight, but he defended her. His reasoning was that I shouldn’t raise my voice towards elders.

I constantly supplicate to Allah SWT and ask Him for protection and help for me and my family. He eased some of my physical symptoms, alhamdulillah, but sometimes I feel completely despondent.

I constantly remember our life before moving and how happy we were, and I haven’t felt like that in a very long time. I recently gave birth and spent a month at my mother’s place. She supported me and looked after me through a very difficult pregnancy, but my husband was very upset.

He said he needed me with him and that he felt single, and though I understand a wife must listen to her husband, I can’t bear to stay at my mother-in-law’s house anymore.

Is it a sin for me to stay at my mother’s house? I have my own loving and caring family, and I don’t know what to do anymore. Please advise me. Thank you.

Counselor

Answer


How Shall I Deal with A Manipulative Mother-in-Law?

In this counseling answer:

• Try to avoid attributing it to her as you can’t be sure because it will affect your attitude towards her and contribute to your ill-feelings and only exacerbate things further.

• Look for good in what you have now and where you are going rather than what you miss from your past. Be grateful for what Allah has given you.

• Having a break from your mother-in-laws house will make it easier to bear when you are there as you are not constantly bombarded with the negativity.

• Another compromise you can consider is to take her with you on outings sometimes so she feels included, but also have times only for you and your husband.

• Do something you enjoy alone. This will help with your stress.


Assalamu alaikum sister,

You’re currently facing a large amount of stress in your life due to your current circumstances. Your living arrangement has caused much grief due to your mother-in-law’s treatment towards you as well as your concerns about what your daughter is being exposed.

This causes some difficulties in your marriage. It might seem like quite the hopeless situation right now, which only makes things feel worse, but there are several things you can do to ease the burden, in shaa’ Allah.

It is not uncommon for there to be difficulties between a wife and her mother-in-law due to competition, either consciously or subconsciously, for the attention of your husband. He has an obligation towards both of you and loves you both for different reasons.

How Shall I Deal with A Manipulative Mother-in-Law? - About Islam

Balancing relations between the two can be very challenging, especially when they’re not getting along.

Is it an evil eye?

The troubles you’re facing may or may not be due to the evil eye. There is no way you can be 100% sure, but what you can do regardless is to protect yourself from it by remembering to recite the morning and evening adhkar each day.

Furthermore, try to avoid attributing it to her as you can’t be sure because it will affect your attitude towards her and contribute to your ill-feelings and only exacerbate things further. It could well be that your current difficulties in your studies and in your marital relationship are due to stress as your husband suggested.

Whether or not she is giving you the evil eye, your situation is clearly causing you a great amount of stress, which could also be a plausible explanation to your problems.

“Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light.” (Qur’an 2:257)

Focus on what you can control

You can’t control her behavior, but you can control your response to it, so try to instead focus on some of the following.

Identify the blessings in the trial

Look for good in what you have now and where you are going rather than what you miss from your past. Be grateful for what Allah has given you before and strive to get back to that place again.

Dwelling over what you had seems to only be making things more difficult for you. Instead, use this energy to focus on getting back to your happy place again. Perhaps you did not appreciate it so much back then but having faced the present difficulties will help you appreciate that lifestyle even more.

Often, it takes to go through trials and losses as you have and have good things taken away from you to realize how much you had been blessed before and really appreciate what you have.

For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” (Qur’an 94:6)

Make compromises

You could come up with a compromise to spend time between staying at yours and his mother’s house, so you get a break without being separated for long periods of time. Having a break from your mother-in-laws house will make it easier to bear when you are there as you are not constantly bombarded with the negativity.

Another compromise you can consider is to take her with you on outings sometimes so she feels included, but also have times only for you and your husband. If you feel she still won’t take it well speak to your husband about it as he will be best to approach her about it.

See things from her perspective

Understand her position as a divorcee. Whilst it doesn’t make her attitude towards you acceptable, it might make it easier for you to approach her in a way that is more conducive. Clearly, she is feeling so lonely that she doesn’t want you and your husband to do things without her.


Check out this counseling video:


Think about how lonely you feel when your husband is not around, and you don’t get to spend time with him. Perhaps this is similar to how she feels all the time. Going through a divorce also comes with a lot of trauma so she could possibly still be dealing with the consequences and being around people helps to buffer the negative effects.

Understanding the potential underlying reasons for her behavior might help you to deal with her in a way that she will be more responsive to.

Additionally, keep her in your prayers, too. This will help soften your heart towards her and Allah will also hear your prayers and guide her aright, in shaa’ Allah.

Give time to yourself for self-care

Aside from all this, take time for yourself. Do something you enjoy alone. This will help with your stress.

Use these things to help you bear with it in the meantime until you can get a place of your own again. When the time comes, maybe things will have blown over and you will be in a better place to deal with any difficulties you may face with your mother-in-law.

Perhaps she will be more accepting of it by then. Either way, don’t spend your time worrying about what may be and focus on making the present more enjoyable for yourself and your family.

The situation with your daughter and brother-in-law

The situation with your daughter and brother in law is not appropriate and you are right to be concerned. You should talk to both your husband and mother-in-law about this. If you feel they will not respond or it will make things difficult, ask someone of knowledge, whom they may be more responsive towards, to speak to them about it.

It is a difficult scenario and it may be difficult to talk about, but for the sake of your daughter, this is an issue that must be addressed and not brushed under the carpet as the consequences of your brother-in-law’s behavior may be irreversible.

Summary

You are under a lot of stress right now, and the focus is very much on your poor relationship with your mother-in-law.

I suggest that you try various things to ease the stress related to this, such as focusing on the things that you can control such as protecting yourself by reciting adhkar, trying to see things from alternative perspectives, making compromises and taking time for yourself alone.

This should help to at least make things bearable until you are in a position to move out with your husband and daughter, in shaa’ Allah.

May Allah bring you success in this life and the next and give you the strength to bear your current difficulties.

 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.

Read more:

I’ve Started to Hate My Mother-in-Law

How to Deal With Difficult Mother-in-Law

My Mother-in-Law is Traumatizing Me with Her Abuse: What Can I Do?

 




About Hannah Morris

Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)

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