Wife Supports Her Family, but What About Our Future?

18 August, 2020
Q Assalamu alaikum.

My wife and I know each other since 2009. I’ve liked her since the day I saw her and directly spoke to her mother to ask for her hand. Her mother told me she needs 4 years before she can get married because she has 2 younger brothers. Now her brothers are 24 and 27 and both are engaged. My wife has been working since she was 17 years old and now, she is 29. She works in an airline company as a cabin crew.

She took a home loan when she was 18, and her mom has asked her to pay off the home loan and give money for both of her brothers to study and become ship captain and engineer which requires a lot of money. Her father and her mother are separated. He got married to another woman and has one kid from her. No one is in contact with him now.

I waited for 4 years. I told her I felt too impatient to get married, to which her mom replied that she cannot get married now because she still has the responsibility to fulfill towards her family. Her brother who is now 27 years old. The amount of money my wife has invested in their studies is huge which she could have benefited of otherwise. Upon requesting to her she replied that she doesn’t have any money to spend on marriage. I agreed to pay all the expenses of marriage and got married to her.

My wife still takes care of the house loan, her brothers are still waiting for a good job, and she has taken yet another personal loan for furniture and other items. I have not said anything. The problem is that she suffered 4 miscarriages so far despite us having checked everything and all the reports are normal.

My wife is busy with her family, yet we have done nothing for our future. I have told my wife it is almost 9 years she cannot continue this anymore. We need to make our own family and take care of our own things, but she is scared to step out of her responsibility and say no to her mother thinking she will be punished by Allah Almighty if she makes her mom unhappy.

We are both arguing about this matter continuously, but we both love each other, hence, we get back to normal. Whenever she tries to talk to her mother, her mom cries, yells, and blackmails her and asks for more time. It’s been 2 years so far and we just don’t want to continue with this anymore. Please advise us as I don’t see any effort from her family members to get her out of the situation. I really love her, but I cannot tolerate this anymore. This creates a distance between us.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Your wife stepped up and became the father of the family, now it is time for her brothers to step up and act like men instead of spoiled boys.

 You and your wife need to have a very honest conversation about this situation.

You can approach the family once ready and make it clear in a loving way that she will no longer be their financial provider and it is time for the brothers to step up.

 Remember, you are not hurting her family or denying them their rights. You are simply asking for your rights as a family to finally be respected.


Assalamu Alaikum brother,

Thank you for writing in and sharing your concerns with us. I am sorry for your struggles with family.

To begin with, I take comfort in knowing you and your wife love one another this much and have stuck together during difficult times. The fact you waited 4 years for her and paid all marriage expenses shows your dedication. May Allah (SWT) reward you, Ameen.

“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. Indeed, in that are signs for a people who give thought”. [Quran 30:21]

It is my understanding that your wife has been the acting provider for her mother and two brothers. She has done this to the extent where her finances are weak, and she must take out loans.

Sadly, it also sounds like she has a lot of stress and pressure that have possibly led to her miscarriages. While we cannot say for sure that this situation caused the miscarriages, if you cannot find any medical reasoning then it is not unreasonable to think it could be a factor.

Wife Supports Her Family, but What About Our Future? - About Islam

Obedience towards Parents

I respect your wife’s feelings; her intentions are pure and Allah (SWT) knows how much she has given to her family. Dutifulness to one’s parents is an important part of Islam and she holds this dear to her heart.

“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” [Quran 17:23]

That being said, as she is your wife, she has a greater responsibility to you and your home than she does to supporting that home financially.

I am not a scholar, so I will only slightly touch on legislation. Please understand Islamic jurists hold to the idea that a wife must find a healthy balance between her parents and her husband. If any conflict does arise within this balance, as to demands from parents, the priority is given to the wishes of the husband.

I understand these are words, but you said to yourself “I cannot tolerate this anymore and this is creating distance between us”. It must stop, or it could destroy your marriage.

Brothers

Her brothers are not young kids, they fulfill, able-bodied young men and very capable of supporting themselves and their mother. Your wife has done enough for them financially and it seems to me they are taking advantage of her generosity and not showing gratitude.

Your wife stepped up and became the father of the family, now it is time for her brothers to step up and act like men instead of spoiled boys. While they may not be able to get jobs in their respective fields, they can find something else to build up their resume while aiming for higher roles. This would also give them a sense of accomplishment which can help them mature into providers.


Check out this counseling video:


Their mother is enabling this behavior which is possibly related to the mother feeling abandoned by her husband, so she wants to keep her sons co-dependent and have a man in the house.

While I can understand her feelings of loneliness and abandonment, that is not an excuse and if she does feel that way then she should seek out remarrying. If she is open to this prospect, why not offer to help her find a good match that you know can provide for her.

How to avoid and end the conflict

You and your wife need to have a very honest conversation about this and it needs to be made clear that your marriage cannot handle this anymore. Both of you need to be in agreeance and on the same page or this can erupt badly. Speak from the heart and do so gently as this is a family.

You can approach the family once ready and make it clear in a loving way that she will no longer be their financial provider and it is time for the brothers to step up. In an effort to make this easy on them and not hurt the bond between family, you can attempt to help sell the home if that is their desire.

Additionally, you can offer a smaller financial amount for a limited time to make the transition smoother. Such as 50% for one more month. This way they will not feel rushed and your wife will not feel like she is hurting them. Both of you can decide on a reasonable monthly amount purely for her mother, but it should not cause any conflict between both of you and should be for the mom, not siblings.

If her mother is not willing to work, then seeking out remarriage would help or all three siblings working as a team to support her.

Just imagine how much easier it would be if the brothers and sister were contributing a reasonable amount together for their mom instead of expecting the eldest sister to carry all the weight. This would also improve the family relationship as I am sure this is putting a strain between the mother-daughter bond.

Final Thoughts

Your wife’s family has rights that should be respected, but that doesn’t mean they can hurt your family and take advantage of your wife. Speak with your wife from the heart and don’t leave that conversation until you have come to an agreement.

Then speak with her mother alongside your wife and do not give in to blackmail or crying. She needs to see both of you united in this and it will give your wife strength to have you at her side.

Remember, you are not hurting her family or denying them their rights. You are simply asking for your rights as a family to finally be respected.  

May Allah (SWT) make this easy on you and bring the family closer without financial conflict,

Ameen.

***

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:

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"