Wife’s Elder Sister Putting a Strain on Our Marriage

21 July, 2020
Q Salamu alaikum.

I'm a born Muslim happily married to my cousin.

Her elder sister's interference is beginning to put a strain on the relationship between us. She's acting like the admin of our life using her and making her think she's serving her good interest.

This elder sister is in the process of divorce. She's brainwashing her with non-Islamic ideas. And any family decision including health, it has to go her way.

And she's doing all these in such a way that the family wouldn't think she's doing anything whatsoever.

Please I need your advice on how to handle this situation. I feel my passion for this marriage is beginning to dwindle.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Speak with your wife honestly and openly about your feelings regarding her Sister.

Use I-statements and active listening during this conversion.

Remember that your sister in law is hurting right now. Consider talking about counseling with your wife as she can advise her sister.

Speak with your wife about passion within the marriage.

Do something special for your wife as a way to rekindle the passion and create a positive environment.

Make dua for help with your marriage and for help for your sister in law.


Assalamu alaikum,

 Thank you for taking the time to write in and share your concerns with us. It is my understanding you are happily married to your cousin, yet you stated your passion is dwindling. I also understand you feel her sister interferes in your relationship and is currently getting a divorce. 

To begin with Brother, the first thing to bring up is honest and open communication. Does your wife know that you are afraid her sister is trying to hurt your marriage? Have you spoken with her about this and told her how it makes you feel?

An important note is that this type of conversation needs to be handled with care and empathy. This is her Sister, her family, your sister in law, and your family as well now. 

Wife's Elder Sister Putting a Strain on Our Marriage - About Islam

Here are some helpful tips for approaching this topic with your wife. 

  • Speak to her in a comfortable and private place, such as an area of your home that you both enjoy relaxing in. 
  • Be mindful not to say anything aggressively or accusatory towards her. She is your wife; and she wants you both to be happy as you do. She may not even realize how you feel. 
  • Practice I-statements with your wife. For example, “I feel worried and saddened when I hear conversations about XYZ with your sister” 
  • Ask her openly how she feels about the current situation with her Sister and listen with an open heart. 
  • Practice active listening. This means do not listen with the intent to respond, but rather to understand. Look her in the eyes, do not get distracted by phones or other items. Occasionally repeat words back to her to show you are paying attention, such as “I understand you feel your Sister is hurting and you are trying to help her”. It will let her know you are paying attention to her feelings about this topic and help her to feel more comfortable speaking openly. 
  • If voices are raised at some point or arguing ensues, you can both step away and take time to calm down. If negativity like this happens it shuts down healthy communication. 
  • You can both discuss and decide if you want to have a family discussion with your sister in law involved. Your wife may not feel comfortable with this, she may prefer to speak with her sister alone initially. Either route is sufficient to ensure she understands how both of you feel. 

Sister is Hurt

An important element here is you said she is divorcing right now. That means she is hurting, probably a lot more than you will ever see. Her heart is broken, and she will need time to heal from her divorce. This is not an overnight or easy process.

Your wife is not responsible to heal her, but at the same time please remember your wife is one of her Sister’s most important social support relationships. Consider how you would react if it were your sibling divorcing and in pain? 

I encourage you to consider mentioning counseling to your wife, specifically counseling for her sister. Your wife can sit down with her and bring up the topic of counseling.

Inshallah if your sister in law were to try personal counseling it could help her heal from this divorce in a healthier way and also help take some emotional strain from your wife as she is probably hurting seeing her sister in pain. 


Check out this counseling video:


Passion Dwindling

Passion is not static in marriages. It goes up and down over the course of the marriage. This is something we can consciously make efforts to help and stir that fire. Please speak with your wife about this and let her know how you feel.

Please remember the I-statements mentioned above. You can use statements like “I feel less passionate lately” or “It is becoming difficult for me to feel intimate and passionate”. 

I also encourage you to think about moments with your wife that were full of passion. Try to recreate some of those by using elements that were present during this.

For example, if you recall a time that involved a specific type of meal you both shared and a specific song then you could cook that meal for her and play the song after. This is a romantic and heartfelt gesture. 

If you have something specific you would like her to do, do not feel shy to speak with her. Marriage requires communication, effort, and a willingness to try and understand the other. 

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy”

[Quran 30:21]

Final Thoughts

Here is a summary of your next steps moving forward Brother. 

  1. Speak with her honestly and openly about your feelings regarding her sister
  2. Use I-statements and active listening during this conversion
  3. Remember that your sister in law is hurting right now. Consider talking about counseling with your wife as she can advise her sister
  4. Speak with your wife about passion within the marriage
  5. Do something special for your wife as a way to rekindle the passion and create a positive environment

On a final note, I encourage you to make dua for help with your marriage and for help for your sister in law. Inshallah as your sister in law heals, it will help mend the relationship you both have with her. 

May Allah (swt) heal your heart, heal your Sister in law, guide all of you to a happier family dynamic and protect your marriage, ameen. 

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 are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/marital-obstacles/how-to-rekindle-an-arranged-marriage/

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/in-laws/i-cant-accept-my-in-laws-interference/

About Monique Hassan
Monique Hassan graduated with honors in 2012 with her BSc in Psychology and a minor in Biology and is certified in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. She has years of professional as well as personal experience with trauma, relationship struggles, substance abuse, identifying coping skills, conflict resolution, community outreach, and overall mental health concerns. She is a professional writer specialized in Islamic Psychology and Behavioral Health. She is also a revert who took her shahada in 2015, Alhamdulillah. You can contact Sister Monique Hassan via her website "MoniqueHassan.com"