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My Spouse’s Toxic Mother Still Causes Troubles

08 January, 2022
Q My spouse’s mother left when he was a child to be with another man. He was brought up by his dad. He did see his mother for custody visits often and grew close to her growing up. But when he found out that she left him as a child for another man, he felt betrayed and upset.

Now he has no relationship with his mother and hasn't for years. He can’t bear it and it emotionally distresses him and makes him angry when she contacts him.

He wants nothing to do with her. Islamically, he still owes her obligations as a son, but he does not want to have her in his life whatsoever. Even just thinking about maintaining a bare minimum level of contact with her is too upsetting for him. He can’t stand to look at her or speak to her and says he doesn’t think he will ever be able to fulfill minimum obligations towards her due to the hurt she’s caused his family.

Not only that but she can be manipulative and use him also. She still causes problems for his family. He’s seen this for himself and realized that he’s much happier and content without her in his life.

I can’t even convince him to try to maintain basic relations at this point. I don’t know what to do anymore as I’m worried about him. While she’s entirely at fault and knows this, I know she will be accountable to Allah for this. But for my husband, I’m worried this is a test that is beyond what he can bear because he believes there is no chance he can have her in his life.

I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve tried so hard to reason with him, but it upsets him even more. Any advice is appreciated.

Answer

In this counseling answer:

When a parent leaves a household, children often blame themselves or feel the parent didn’t love them.

Insha’Allah your husband will realize that as we want Allah to forgive us, we must forgive others as well, especially mothers.

Perhaps counseling will help your husband heal.

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Sister, please seek out Allah for strength, mercy, and blessings.


As salamu alaykum dear sister,

Sister, I am sorry to hear about the issues that your husband is going through due to finding out why his mother left when he was young.

Apparently, she left her marriage and family for another man. When your husband found out (as an adult), he was devastated and wanted nothing to do with her. Naturally, this has hurt you as well because of his behavior and how he now feels. Sadly, it is a situation that is affecting the whole family.

Husband and Mother-in-Law

Sister, you stated that until he found out, he and his mother had a close relationship while he was growing up. However, since he found out she left her husband (his father) and family for another man, he feels betrayed and upset.

While this makes sense in some ways, in other ways it doesn’t. He is an adult now with greater insight than a child; however, it does not negate the hurt.

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The reason his mother left is between his mother, Allah, and his father. It is not like his mother thought “oh, I don’t want my son anymore, let me leave for another man”. It probably had much more to do with her marriage or other issues and weaknesses within herself.

I am sure that you know this already and have told your husband, but he apparently is so hurt over the discovery of this information that at this point he cannot hear anything.

Feeling Loved, then Abandoned

When a parent leaves a household, children often blame themselves or feel the parent didn’t love them. This is truly devastating for the children involved; however, you said your husband and his mom had a good relationship while he was growing up, so he apparently felt loved by her.

Time and Healing

It was a few years ago that your husband found out that his mother left his father for another man, however, he is still not able to assimilate this information, process it, and deal with it yet. In sha Allah perhaps over time he will. Sadly, he is still very hurt and it is showing as anger. Insha’Allah your husband will realize that as we want Allah to forgive us, we must forgive others as well, especially mothers.

Counseling

Sister, perhaps counseling will help your husband heal.

In sha Allah, speak with your husband when things are calm and see if he would be willing to go for counseling. If he wishes to, assure him that you will go with him as a support.

Instead of using the rationale that you wish to see his relationship repaired with his mom, you may tell him that you just wish to see him heal from the hurt that she has caused.

This is true, and this is the first step in healing.

Negative Behaviors and Trauma/Mental Health

You stated that his mom is manipulative and she still causes problems for his family. This is sad. However, there is no knowledge of her mental health status, nor anything about his dad or how he treated her. Not that this has anything to do with what she did.

Of course, what she did was haram and a sin. However, certain traumas from other things in life such as abuse or witnessing violence can make people do things they ordinarily wouldn’t; such as commit sins, be manipulative and make poor decisions. I suppose that what I am getting at is that things are not always the way they seem.

Mercy

In sha Allah, your husband can one day feel merciful towards his mother and forgive her. What she has done is between her and Allah. Nobody knows except for her and Allah if she repented.

It could be that she sincerely repented to Allah for this grave sin and was truly sorry. Perhaps she has repented but is suffering from subsequent mental health illnesses or other issues which make her manipulative and cause problems for the family. Only Allah knows.

A Loving Wife

Sister, you really cannot blame your husband for feeling this way; however, it still is his mother and you are so loving in your desire for there to be peace between your husband and his mom.

May Allah bless you for your efforts to try to help your husband with this problem. Your husband must know what a wonderful wife he does have!

Taking a Different Approach

As you know, we cannot force people to do anything. Especially when someone is hurt which leads to anger, they can’t hear what we are saying even though they may love us.

At this point, it may be best to just discuss with him the possibility of counseling for his own healing and leave it at that.

In sha Allah, perhaps if you stop asking him to make amends with his mom, he will slowly stop being so defensive and angry when she is brought up.

I know you are giving him gentle reminders, which is what you are supposed to do as his wife. However, at this time he cannot hear.

In sha Allah, he will go for counseling, if not leave it with Allah and make duaa for him, sister. Please also make duaa for his mom who may be suffering as well from things that you or the family do not even know about. Allah knows best.

A Personal Decision

In sha Allah, at this point, I would kindly advise that you stop talking to him about reconciliation with his mother and focus on asking him if he would participate in counseling so he can heal.

In sha Allah, if he agrees, this may lead to a reconciliation. People who are deeply hurt are usually not able to reconcile. They are not ready. The healing process and any reconciliation if it will happen, is step work. The step work begins with his agreeing to want to be healed. It is a personal decision.

Conclusion

In the meantime, sister please seek out Allah for strength, mercy, and blessings. Try to pray with your husband as much as possible, read the Qur’an together for strength and knowledge, make dhikr in remembrance of Allah, and try to do Islamic things together that are both spiritually educational as well as social.

In sha Allah by continuing to build your strength and foundation Islamically,  this may encourage your husband to see things differently, possibly more mercifully when it comes to his mother.

We wish you the best,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general. They are 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 Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.