I am a Muslim woman and I’ve been married for the last 25 years and have two grown children. My husband has been supporting us financially all this time, but lately, he has been pestering me to ask for financial help from my parents as he is encountering some problems in his business.
My parents had given him a large sum of money to set up his business more than 20 years ago and they had also supported us in many other ways.
However now, my parents are not that willing to help anymore as my husband has always talked badly about them (for many years) in a degrading manner directly and he has made even more disparaging comments behind their backs.
As a result, my husband's unfair accusations have caused much hurt to my parents and have also greatly strained our marriage. I have tried to negotiate between my parents and my husband but both sides have their own misgivings about each other. My children are also deeply affected by all this tug of war within our family.
If I were to stand by my parents’ side, my husband ridicules me and if I were to support my husband, my parents don't like it.
I am not on speaking terms with my husband at present because of the unbearable insults my husband makes regarding my parents, all because of my parents’ refusal to provide monetary assistance to him.
Although my husband has a moderate amount of savings, he feels that because my parents are more well off than him, they should give him a part of their wealth to ease our cost of living.
My parent’s unwillingness to do so has made my husband threaten to take me and my children away from my parent's home, where I am now currently staying.
This has caused even more tension between me and my husband as I am the only one my parents can depend on to look after them in their old age.
It is not possible for me to leave them just like that. I am truly lost as this ongoing problem has greatly eroded the mutual understanding that had existed between me and my husband regarding my parents. Our whole family's peace has been shattered due to this misunderstanding of each other's wants and needs.
I am really in need of your wise counselling as I don't know how to reconcile with my husband who has his own fixed mindset, especially regarding my parent’s financial wealth. Repeated attempts to make him understand his faults have been futile. He justifies his actions in his own arrogant way.
This unacceptable attitude of his is destroying our marital life, not to mention our children's happiness.
Please advise me on how I can make things better again between me, my husband and my parents.
Thank you so much.
In this counseling answer:
• You also know them better than anyone else so you know better how to talk to them in a way that they will be more responsive too.
• A way to start the process is to find common grounds; something that they can all agree on and work for collaboratively.
• It would be of great benefit to attend family counseling.
• Keep praying for them and ask Allah to bestow guidance.
Wa Alaikum salaam wa Rahmatullah wa barakatuh sister,
This is a tricky situation. Even though you are not directly the cause of these arguments, you are the one stuck in the middle. You probably feel like there is no possible way to handle this without upsetting someone.
If you support your parents, then this causes discord with your husband. If you support him, then you will feel terrible towards your parents as you are not supporting them the way you want to. This affects family relations on the whole -including your children.
Be the healthy link between the two parties
As the person in the middle, you hold the position to bring them back to mutual agreement again. This is a difficult place to be as it carries a huge responsibility. However, if effective, it will form the basis of easing tensions between everyone and promoting healthy relations once more. Of course, you don’t want to let them feel like you are taking sides. However, you can highlight to each party how their actions could be upsetting them.
As someone who knows them both, they may be more likely to listen than if someone who wasn’t familiar with them tried to mediate. You also know them better than anyone else so you know better how to talk to them in a way that they will be more responsive too.
Sometimes, people find it hard to think from outside perspectives. So, have a loved one who can bring an alternative perspective to them. They may be willing to listen. Or at least reflect on it when given the time to, especially in relation to the importance of maintaining family ties.
Narrated Jubair bin Mut`im: That he heard the Prophetﷺ saying, “The person who severs the bond of kinship will not enter Paradise.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5984)
Narrated AbudDarda’: The Prophet ﷺ said: Shall I not inform you of something more excellent in degree than fasting, prayer and almsgiving (sadaqah)? The people replied: Yes, Prophet of Allah! He said: It is putting things right between people, spoiling them is the shaver (destructive). (Sunan Abi Dawud 4919)
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet ﷺ said, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him show hospitality to his guest; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain good relation with kins; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent.” (Book 2, Hadith 26)
Find common grounds
As it stands, both your parents and husband are fighting from opposite corners and show no signs of backing down. With opposite opinions, it will be difficult to get either party to step away from this. However, a way to start the process is to find common grounds; something that they can all agree on and work for collaboratively.
An example might be that of your children. Your parents are their grandparents and your husband is their dad. They all care about them very much regardless and would likely not like to see them hurt. Perhaps amongst all the arguments no one has stepped back and thought more widely about how this affects the family.
Highlight to them how it must feel to them to see their dad and grandparents fighting. What kind of message this will instill in them; not a healthy one. It could potentially influence their own relationships in the future, or even make them feel to blame as the ones that hold the link between them.
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That is a lot of pressure for children to carry. Perhaps your husband and parents didn’t take time to think about these wider consequences. Introducing the children to the matter could help to open their eyes to this and stir motivation to work through these difficulties. This would make things more comfortable for the children who may have yet to develop the skills to deal with the emotions they currently feel.
Given that the consequences of your actions and those of your husband and parents could have a profound impact on the future, it would be of great benefit to attend family counseling. This could be done through more formal means, or even altogether with your local imam. Either way, attending such counseling provides a mutual space for everyone to have their say.
Sometimes in occasions like this people can get so caught up in their own opinion that they fail to listen to the other party. In a mutual environment, everyone gets to offer their perspective without everyone talking over one another. Oftentimes with arguments, the other party is unwilling or even unable to hear the other side out of stubbornness.
Best-case scenario, after hearing each other out they will develop an understanding of the other’s perspective. It may even provide a simple relief for everyone. Thet will feel they have finally had the chance to say what they wanted to and be heard without being pushed away or spoken over. This alone can breed mutual respect and understanding and softness in their hearts for the other.
Beyond this, they may have felt such feeling building up inside. Finally to be able to just let them out without interruption can ease the pressure and put them in a better mental situation to negotiate rationally. This may not occur immediately, but it may be something that takes some time to develop and establish.
Even if these ideal situations do not occur and the animosity between your husband and parents still exist, you will be in the presence of someone who can facilitate useful dialogue between them. Some counselors may offer direct advice, especially in the case of an imam where he will be able to advise from an Islamic perspective. Or they may provide prompts that will encourage discussion in a direction that is conducive to overcoming the current difficulties.
Pray for them
Of course, amongst all this, it is important for you to keep praying for them and ask Allah to bestow guidance. You can even pray istikhara (prayer asking for guidance) to ask Allah to guide you to take the best approach in helping them.
You are in a difficult situation where your parents and husband are not getting along. You and your children are left in the middle of it all.
There a few things you can try to resolve matters. As the person in between, you can try and help each other understand alternative perspectives. You can help them to find common grounds or seek family counseling as a means for everyone to have their say in a safe environment. Amongst all this, never forget to continue to pray for resolve between them all.
May Allah bless your family and bring peace and contentment between you and them all.
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