I'm writing to you from Dubai. I am going through something which I don't know what to do with. My brother recently got married, and the problem is my sister-in-law. She doesn't work or help in the daily chores. She used to at least do little bit before, but since she got to know about her pregnancy, she doesn't even come out of her room. She says that she is very tired, sick and so on, but then she goes for shopping and outings with my brother.
My problem is that I don't expect her to work all the time, but I do expect a little help from her side. The thing is that we have a big house and my parents don't stay here. They occasionally come and go, so mostly it's me and my sister-in-laws' responsibility to take care of the house and my other two siblings as we don't keep a maid. My only depression is that I am a human as well; how much can I work alone? There is no one who helps me. I can't even say all this to my sister-in-law, because we might end up in a fight and I don't like fighting. Also, I haven't complained about her to anyone, because I try not to commit the sin of backbiting. I feel like a maid who keeps cooking, cleaning, washing… etc.
I don't feel like I can have rest. What should I do please tell me? When I think about this, I feel I am losing my respect, and that I am treated like a doormat. I try forgiving her and my brother, but the next day I get depressed again. The only reason I am bearing all this is just to avoid arguments at home. Should I continue this way: Sacrifice my ego for the sake of Allah and feel like a maid all the time? Please help.
In this counseling answer:
• Speak up about how you feel.
• Speak first with your brother about your feelings and explore options on how to decrease that amount of stress and work you have to do.
Come up with a solution with your brother that both of you see fit.
• Please, do not feel like you are being mean or uncaring if you ask your family members for help!
Salamu ‘Alaikum Sister,
Thank you for sending us your question. It seems you are very exhausted from taking care of a complete household all by yourself!
I ask Allah (swt) to help you, give you strength, and give you the courage to communicate your feelings and needs effectively.
Sister, you should not feel that you have to do all the work on your own!
Certainly, you need to let your family members know that you are tired and feel overburdened from such a big responsibility of keeping the household intact.
I understand that you do not want to disturb the peace in your household, but at the same time you cannot go on like this with very limited help.
What needs to be done is to speak up about how you feel.
I am in no way saying that you should come across as mean or insensitive.
What I mean is that you must be assertive in the way you communicate.
Being assertive means that you communicate your feelings clearly and respectfully while seeking a win-win situation in the conversation.
A “win-win” situation is when both people feel like their needs were addressed respectfully and a compromise was put into place.
In your situation, I would advise you to speak first with your brother about your feelings and explore options on how to decrease the amount of stress and work you have to do.
Come up with a solution with your brother that both of you see fit. It could be anything, examples may include: bringing a part-time maid, assigning fixed chores for each member of the family, bringing food from an outside source, etc.
I also understand that you expect your sister-in-law to help you with the chores which are certainly not unreasonable since she lives in the household, and all members of the family should take part in the chores.
However, it seems like you do not fully know the extent of how much your sister-in-law can safely take part in physical chores since she is pregnant.
Check out this counseling video:
There are some women who have high-risk pregnancies and are required to do the as limited amount of physical activity as possible.
If your sister-in-law is one of those women, then certainly no one should expect her to put herself and her unborn baby at risk.
But in order for you to know the status of her health, you must speak up respectfully and talk to your brother about your concerns.
He, in return, would let his wife know about the household responsibilities and have a conversation with her about how much she can do.
Again, please do not feel like you are being mean or uncaring if you ask your family members for help!
You are an important part of the family and all members of the family must work together to support one another.
I ask Allah (swt) to help you to overcome the anxieties in your heart and to gain the courage to be an effective communicator.
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.