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All I Want is a Happy Family

18 December, 2016
Q My mother-in law doesn't talk to my father-in law because of the intolerable behavior he had with her for about 25 years. It includes almost everything bad a husband can do. Both of them are great with me, but I want a happy family where everyone is together and I keep thinking of a solution for the situation. Another problem is that my sister-in law stays in her room all day and learns about Islam, but her age of marriage is getting over and this bothers my mother-in law and my husband. My sister-in law doesn't talk to anyone and asked that no one disturbs her. She has no friends and refuses to meet any family member. She doesn’t really care about her parents and doesn't have a normal life. These family conditions bother me because all I want is a happy family. Can u help me with a solution for both problems? Thank you. Waiting for your reply

Answer

Answer:

As-Salamu  ‘Alaikum dear sister,

May Allah (swt) reward you for your concern as well as caring for your in-laws to reach out for advice. It seems as though perhaps these issues with the family have been going on long before you entered the family unit. Sometimes, when behaviors persist for many years, other family members get “used” to them, so after awhile, it doesn’t seem as unbearable.

It is a wonderful thing to hear that both of your in-laws are good to you. It is important that we have good relations with our spouse’s parents. In this, you are blessed, while I understand their personal relationship issues bother you. It is understandable that you would want people/family that you love to treat each other kindly. However, expressing your opinions and emotions too loudly and vehemently in front of your in-laws automatically reduces your worth in their eyes and their opinion of you. While they are your family and you are loved by them, there is a line that should not be crossed when it comes to parental relationships (unless it involves abuse, homicidal or suicidal activities, or statements). If you were to say something to your in-laws, no matter how well meaning it is, you may be seen as meddling in affairs which are not your business.

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My advice to you, dear sister, would be to talk with your husband and tell him how much you love the family, and so wish his parents spoke to one another. Also, ask him how you can help your sister-in-law to “break out of her shell”. In sha’ Allah, when he sees how much love and caring you do have, he may offer you some insights as to why he has not attempted to help heal his family. Or perhaps he did but it was unsuccessful. In any event dear sister, it is up to your husband to directly address the issue, not you. You can, however, address it in a non-direct way by suggesting doing family activities once or twice a week such as board games, or dinner and movie night and so on. This may, in sha’ Allah, be greeted with enthusiasm and help rebuild family harmony.

Concerning your sister-in-law, it sounds like she may be depressed, possibly due to previous and current familial problems. As you came into the family via marriage, you don’t really know what has occurred in the past. As a sister-in-law, you also have some rights over your husband’s sister. As your concern for her truly comes from your heart and from love, make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) to guide you to present the proper advice and to cause your sister-in-law to accept it with the same sincerity with which you deliver it. If possible, dear sister, try befriending her by asking her if she would like to go to the masjid with you or invite her out for tea or a walk. Engage her in a discussion about Islam (as she is studying Islam).

However, don’t discuss your feelings with her about the family problems or wanting a close, happy family. This may only shut her down further. Just try to establish communication and trust with her. Later, if in sha’Allah she responds to you, and you form a bond, then you may want to bring up your concerns for her in a loving way as sisters do for each other. But you must gain her acceptance and trust first. The greatest gift you can give her now is your friendship as a sister-in-law. All the rest may come in time in sha’ Allah.

Please let us know how you are doing, you are in our prayers.

Salam,

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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.