Husband’s Past & Mother-in-Law Frustrates Me

09 November, 2017
Q I really need help. I’ve written in before about two things; the first was about finding out that my husband lied to me about a previous sexual relationship, and the second was dealing with my mother-in-law. 1. I have recently had our baby, but I still find myself getting angry about my husband’s past. I know I shouldn't because there is nothing I can do about it, but it has been constantly in my mind ever since I found out 2 years ago that before our marriage he was in a relationship with another girl. I hate the fact that he was with someone else and that I was lied to. I've checked some articles about it on the website, and it seems that people who have sinned still get forgiven as long as they repent; Allah will forgive them. This annoys me, because to me it seems that they can do what they want and then simply repent. I know that to repent, you have to sincerely mean it, but ultimately you could do what you want and then decide you want to repent. I'm having difficulty with dealing with this issue, because I was looked in the eye and lied to; I feel that I wasn't worth the truth. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think in Islam you shouldn't reveal your past; however, when it comes to marriage, I wanted someone who was like me, especially in terms of not having relationships. I don't think it's fair to be deceived with things like that. I wasn't asking for much, just honesty as I was honest. Also, in Islam, I have read that "The fornicator does not marry except a [female] fornicator or polytheist, and none marries her except a fornicator or a polytheist, and that has been made unlawful to the believers". To me, this implies that a person, who has sinned, is not a believer and therefore should not marry someone who has not sinned. He says he hasn't been with anyone else apart from that girl, but I don't know if I can believe that. I feel stuck at home with his family who, I think, don't appreciate me that much. They expect quite a lot, and I have given up a lot for them. I feel like I am being punished for being good my whole life and staying away from haraam things. I then feel angry because that girl didn’t have to deal with what I have to deal with. She got the best of him. My husband is honestly a great guy, and I don't think there are many guys like him. Therefore, I try so hard to concentrate on the positive side of things, but when things are getting to me, I let myself think (probably overthink) about everything. 2. The mother-in-law has been an issue pretty much from the start. She is quite a jealous person, and I believe she is a passive-aggressive person, too. When she is nice, she is absolutely fine and we get on. But the minute something happens, even if it’s little and is no way related to me, it gets taken out on me. I think this is because she knows I will not say anything back, and therefore I'm a target for her to take her mood out on. I always watch how she is with other people when she is annoyed, and most of the time she is fine with others. I shouldn't let it get to me, but then I start thinking about how much she has held me back. I wanted to get a job after getting married (before marriage, I was told that this was not a problem), but then she wanted me to help in the family business which I did do for 2 and a half years. My mother-in-law would dictate when I could look for a job and even when I could take driving lessons. I should be happy that I've got a healthy son, but the interference, the lack of freedom, and the constant mind games makes it hard to focus on the positives. After about 2 years of being married, the moods would become more frequent, and though I didn’t do before I ended up telling my husband whenever the ill treatment of my mother-in-law would happen. He listens and always reassures me that he supports me. We both know that the only way to resolve things would be to confront her, but I feel like I can't do this. We have discussed issues a few times, and he says that we will move out and get our own place, but I’m not sure when this will happen. I find her even more irritating now that I have the baby. She doesn’t like it if I tell her to do things in a certain way with the baby. She gets annoyed if I give him a bath because for some reason, she thinks that is her job. I feel like I’m going to explode. These two issues have consumed most of my marriage and I feel like I can’t control my emotions well. I ask for help and strength to get past this and to accept things as they are. I really appreciate any advice given.


In this counseling answer:

“While you have every right to feel the way you do, you need to allow yourself and allow your husband to be human. What I mean is that humans make mistakes and they deserve to be forgiven (if they sincerely repent). That is what Allah mentions constantly in the Quran.”

Salamu ‘Alaykum Sister,

Thank you for sending us your original questions and follow-up. While reading your above question, I can’t help but read how frustrated and tired you are of all the issues you deal with on a daily basis. You even wrote, “I feel like I’m going to explode.” I can certainly see that! You have two pressing issues that are nagging at your heart and mind all the time. You need to help yourself overcome these issues.

To begin with, I would like to address the first part of your question in which you discuss your feelings towards your husband lying to you about his past. You have already sent a question about this earlier and Dr. Bachmeier answered you nicely.

While you have every right to feel the way you do, you need to allow yourself and allow your husband to be human. What I mean is that humans make mistakes and they deserve to be forgiven (if they sincerely repent). That is what Allah mentions constantly in the Quran. Allah begins every surah with “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” Allah is the One who created us and He knows that we are destined to sin – every single one of us.

However, those who are special are those who realize their mistakes and repent sincerely. Even though you have mentioned the several verses in the Quran that show how terrible sin fornication is in our religion, repentance surpasses everything. Period. There is no dispute about this.

In your mind, you first have to differentiate between the fact that your husband lied to you before marriage and the issue of him being a bad person because he fornicated before marriage. Those are two completely different issues. To address the latter, our religion tells us that we have a set of rules we must follow. There are haram actions that we cannot do, and fornication is certainly one of the major sins that Allah has mentioned to us.

The point, however, is not to make us feel that we are damned and hopeless if we do fall into sin. Allah does not want this. If you believe this, you have missed the point. We are supposed to understand that we have done something terrible, and we have to correct it by sincerely repenting. That realization and repentance are what Allah wants us to internalize.

Now, the first step is for you to understand the above and strive to be compassionate and merciful. Understand that if Allah forgives, then you can as well. As I read your question, I can see that you have very strong feelings towards chastity and find fornication to be abhorrent. Certainly, I cannot dispute that!

A lot of us Muslims miss the point of our religion’s essence and get carried away with categorizing people, things, events into either all good or all bad. In real life, that’s not how it is. We must understand that our religion does not condemn or excommunicate a person who has sinned and repented. We have no right to do that. Allah wants us to constantly return to Him and seek Him. He has given us chances to return to Him. We must also give ourselves and others the chance to do so too.

You do, however, have every right to feel angry and hurt that your husband lied to you before marriage.

I particularly liked when Dr. Bachemier answered with the following: “You can choose to look at this new development as an opportunity to open your heart and mind and move toward a meaningful dialogue that will provide the environment for your husband to tell you why he felt the need to lie to you and how he really feels about you and your marriage. You might be touched and you might soften once you hear what he has to say.”

Remember how Allah is compassionate and merciful towards us, and how your husband (from what you have described to us) certainly deserves your compassion and mercy. Realize this, internalize it and then build on it. Strive to make your relationship one of compassion, mercy, empathy, and certainly honesty from now on.

Finally, to address the second part of your question about your in-laws, I will have to say that I answered your question the first time when you originally sent it! I would like to remind you of this excerpt: “also, work to improve the overall situation by being assertive. I can tell that you hold resentment towards your mother-in-law because you changed your actions due to her desires. You do not have to do that next time. Be open and honest with her. Do what you and your husband agreed on. Then explain to her respectfully and kindly that you both came up with this decision because you both believe it is the best for you. Continue to tell her that you wish she would understand and that you do not mean to upset her. Of course, she will be upset in the start, but life must go on and with time, she will understand that the both of you are good people, and you both do not mean any harm towards anyone. Again, this is going to be a difficult first step that might take some time to achieve, but it is worth it in the end.”

You have mentioned above that your husband, Alhamdulillah, is supportive towards you and empathizes with you regarding how your mother-in-law treats you. That is certainly many steps forward Alhamdulillah. But you also mentioned that you can’t get yourself to confront her about your feelings towards her ill treatment towards you. Again, this is a really difficult first step and you have to choose whether you will be courageous and do so assertively and respectfully or to stay the way you are. We already know that if you stay the way you are, you will yield the same results. If you do something about it, then you just might find a change. Strive to be assertive and find your place in this family because you are a part of it.

May Allah help you and your husband through these hurdles and help you both find peace within yourself and with each other.




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 Aliah F. Azmeh
Aliah F. Azmeh is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Detroit, Michigan. Aliah graduated with a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan in 2007 and has experience working in the United States and overseas. Aliah currently works as a clinical social worker and provides individual, family, and marital counseling at Muslim Family Services in Detroit, MI.