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How to Deal with a Narcissist Family Member?

16 March, 2024
Q Assalamualaikum. My questions are the following: 1. What does Islam say about a wife who punishes by silent treatment - even if it is in Ramadan? While she is fasting, she holds grudges for long periods. 2. At what cost do we need justice in life? I mean, for example, my cousin got a 2nd wife. They fell in love with each other for 3 years and finally, they contracted Nikah. Things were not too good in the first 2 years but then later on his first wife accepted the 2nd wife. My cousin has 2 children now with the 2nd wife ( boy 5 and girl 12 years ). Although they lived 13 years until now together but the 2nd wife is OBSESSED with rights and justice to such an extent that she can divorce anytime and most of the time keeps fighting with her husband for years now for JUSTICE though my cousin did give justice and stays with her, too. Another problem is that she has a Narcissism personality and refuses to accept it - everything matters to her and she always wants to know where she stands. This is the main motto of her life. Love is no more important, she only wants justice. What advice can you suggest?


In this counseling answer:

“Don’t cut ties with family members who appear to have bad attitudes, but do limit contact. Any contact you do have, make sure to stay firm in your Islamic values and speak well with them or remain silent if you can’t.”

Wa ’Alaikum Salaam wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuh brother,

Assuming that all your questions are related to the narcissistic nature of your cousin’s wife, there are a number of things you can do to make things easier for yourself and those affected by her behavior.

The first thing to point out is to be careful not to get too involved in the relations between a married couple in case, at some point they work things out or go their separate ways and then turn to place the blame on you. It is, therefore, advisable as much as possible to refrain from involving yourself too much.

However, if your cousin is in need of support as a result of his wife’s behavior, then, of course, you can be a very important source of support for him. Whether it be directly by asking him if he needs it or simply being there so that he knows he can turn to you if needed.

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When it comes to behavior like this within the family, you have to be aware of keeping a fine balance of not cutting family ties.

“Kinship (rahim) is derived from Allah. If anyone maintains ties of kinship Allah maintains ties with him. If anyone cuts them off, Allah cuts him off.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad)

But at the same time try to distance yourself from her or any toxic family members like this. Minimize contact with such people where possible as it can be very easy to become drawn into inappropriate conversations or get angry with them, which will take you away from the deen and bring you down. It can become very draining and stressful to engage in lengthy conversations with people like this, so you can avoid this by minimizing contact where possible. Put their remarks down to their narcissism and move on without letting it affect you. By feeding into such behavior you are giving her the attention she is looking for and will continue. Ignore it and she will realize her behavior is not getting the attention she is looking for and will stop.

During the times when you do actually interact with such people, there a couple of things to also keep in mind to ensure the most positive experience during a potentially difficult interaction. Remember the reward of bearing the situation with patience.

„The believer who mixes with people and bears their annoyance with patience will have a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not put up with their annoyance.” (Ibn Majah)

And do this by speaking in the best of ways

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should not hurt his neighbor and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should speak what is good or keep silent.” (Bukhari)

Most importantly, don’t let any interactions take you away from Islam. Stay firm in your Islamic values by repelling what is bad with what is better. Stay calm, maintain good character and remain patient. This way you can feel confident that you are doing the right thing in the eyes of Allah (swt).

„And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” (41:34)

Overall, be careful about involving yourself in others relationships, but be there for those who might get hurt. Don’t cut ties with family members who appear to have bad attitudes, but do limit contact. Any contact you do have, make sure to stay firm in your Islamic values and speak well with them or remain silent if you can’t.

May Allah (swt) make it easy for your family members who are suffering at the hands of people with negative attitudes. May He reward you for looking out for them and give you the strength and patience to help them.



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 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. (