Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you for participating in the session.
Please find the 4 questions to which our counselor provided answers. If you do not find yours here, check out our upcoming session or submit it there again.
Question 1. Dealing with a narcissistic mother
My mother has been taking anti-depressants for as long as I remember. She had a pretty tough life and I understand that. But she never fought against them either and played the sick role. To the point she started developing narcissistic behaviour that influences all of us siblings very much. We are always mentally exhausted because of her behaviour and sometimes it becomes too much so we even argue with her. But again, all her talk is concentrated around her own problems and we can’t even share anything about our own issues with her. I want to ask if in this situation I try to distance myself from her is it wrong. Because if we do, she emotionally puts us in guilt by bringing Islamic rulings. It’s almost like always being manipulated to do what she wants. Pls guide what should I do. Jazakallah kher
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,
I understand that you and your siblings are feeling like your mother is manipulating you. You feel like this as she uses emotions to make you feel guilty and then strengthens her case using Islamic rulings. This makes you feel manipulated and is emotionally draining for you as everything seems to focus on her leaving little or no room for your and your siblings.
When your own emotional needs are not tended to and everything seems to focus on one person, in this case, your mother, it would be natural to feel drained because you are using your own emotional resources to serve your mother, yet on not having your needs met. This will lead to the mental exhaustion that you are feeling now.
What makes it difficult in your situation is that this is your mother that we are talking about. As your mother, of course you have responsibilities to take care of her. She has experienced chronic depression and so perhaps requires more attention than others might. However, this is also coming at the detriment of your own psychological wellbeing. So, where to draw the line such that you fulfil your obligations, but yet also have your own needs met too?
Distancing yourself from her might seem like the ideal solution to escape the emotional trauma that you are currently facing, but i would first urge you to consider if this really would be the most appropriate course of action to take. This may come with irreparable consequences if not approached appropriately. It may end up causing more harm than good so you might consider less harsh solutions.
You mention that she had a tough life and has been depressed for a long time. Perhaps her actions and seeming narcissistic behaviour are her way of dealing with her own emotional trauma and are her way of getting attention and having her emotional needs met. Given the extent of possible trauma she has been through, perhaps she doesn’t even realise how her behaviour is making you and your siblings feel.
What you might try instead is to offer her attention in more positive ways. You be the one to initiate so that she doesn’t have to seek it from you in inappropriate ways that cause emotional damage to you. For example, you be the first to ask how she’s doing and guide her to do things that will support her wellbeing.
Organising some kind of outing together, even if just going for a walk together. Getting out and doing something together is a great way to strengthen bonds whilst also improving wellbeing. You know what her likes are so you might pick something that you know she enjoys doing. Surprise her and do something a bit spontaneous. This will give her the attention she is looking for without having to look for it in the wrong way. It’ll give her something to look forward to a treasure also.
If this is still something that you feel would this would be draining of your emotional resources, you could switch between you as siblings. So, one day you might take on this responsibility and give her the one on one attention, and one of your siblings take another day and so on. This will reduce the load for all of you, whilst giving you all some respite too. In the meantime, you mother will get the attention that she needs.
Additionally, it is important for you and your siblings to acknowledge how this is affecting you to and for you to also focus on your own well-being as well as your mother’s. Certainly, doing things with her is one way to support this, but you also need to look at ways to do this independently of your relationship with your mother and even your siblings. Don’t lose sight of the things you enjoy doing and the people you enjoy being with.
By sharing the responsibilities with your siblings, this will also give you the time to do things for yourself too. When you are not caring for your mother, take the time to meet with friends and go and do the things you enjoy. Taking care of a family member with mental health problems is not an easy task so it is of utmost importance that you see to your own needs too. Not only will it boost your own wellbeing, but it will give you more patience when it comes to dealing with your mother’s behaviour.
May Allah reward you for taking care of your mother. May He ease your burdens and guide you to what is best for you and most pleasing to Him.
Question 2. My husband is listen to his mother and are not in contact with me for 40 days.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahamatulahi wa barakathuhu!
Hi, I have been married for the past 6 months. My in-laws and parents always have some quarrels the next day of our marriage and my husband was standing beside me but has not opposed his mother who was completely wrong. 2 months ago, me and my husband went on a trip at that time my mother-in-law rummage my room and found out the imitations jewels I have been having for time being, because I gave my gold jewels to help my family and my father said he will retrieve them back after 2 months. I have said about this to my husband before giving to my parents and he agreed. All of the sudden he said I don’t know anything about this to his mom and we had a quarrel which lasted for more than a month and now his mother is treating me like a slave and even slandering my parents by abusing them. Even my husband is not ready to support and always standing behind his mother because her mother threat to cut ties with him, if we both tried to live separately, or if he tried to take my side.
She is treating me like slave and verbally abusive all the time. After convincing my husband, I tried to stay with my parents by asking his permission.
But all of the sudden, he said I didn’t ask her to go to her parents’ house and my both in laws are making me to cut ties with my parents, which I didn’t agree.
Eventually I step out of his house and he is being manipulative due to her mother’s threatening words.
My mother-in-law even threatened me like he will make his son to get 2 marriage, which he said he won’t agree.
Right now. I am at parents’ house for the past one month and my husband has blocked my calls and everything and even he blocked my parents’ calls. My in-laws are not picking even mine or my parents calls.
My husband is being in contact with one of my uncles, he said like if I want to live with, I have to agree to three conditions.
1. To cut ties with my parents completely till death
2. To not have cell phones.
3. To leave my wfh job. (This condition because they were asking my salary completely and my husband is also not providing me any allowance and I am taking caring of me and my husband, (as his salary were handed over to his mother) with my salary. Now they are making me unemployment, because my mother-in-law said she made me married to his just to work for her)
What should I do in this situation? I don’t want to leave my husband, because my marriage got held only 6 months back. Salam.
Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,
This really is a tricky situation that you are in and it is not fair that your in-laws seem to be making things particularly difficult by getting involved. You are newly married and so you want to make things work and wouldn’t consider leaving the marriage this early on and rightly so. You have barely had much of a chance together to know each other, and have had even less time to do so out of the eyes of your extended family.
This is placing a huge strain on your marital relationship already. You don’t want to leave you marriage, and rightly so as I said, but at the same time, the conditions being placed on you in order that he will accept you back are completely unacceptable! It is not right that should impose on you that you should permanently cut ties with your own parents. Islamically, this is crossing boundaries unacceptably.
We are encouraged to maintain family ties, not cut them. If he is not allowing you to work, then as your husband, he must provide for you. He cannot deny you this either. There does not seem to be any logical justification for these restrictions as well as not allowing a cell phone. This seems to very controlling and not OK and especially not OK if you are to have a happy marriage together. Certainly compromises must be made in marriage, but this shouldn’t come at the detriment of sacrificing family relationships with others, especially the parents.
In this case, I would encourage you to seek the support of an intermediary who will be able to listen to both sides and arrive at a suitable compromise for both sides that is within the acceptable boundaries set out in Islam. This will allow you to both express your feelings in a safe space. This would ideally be something you do as a couple without in laws on either side.
It may be that you do also bring them in at some point, but at least begin by straightening things out between you as a couple first. Bringing in a neutral party will enable you to make the initial contact after having been outed for so long. It’ll allow you to make this contact and address the inappropriate conditions that have been placed on you if you are to go back to him in a safe way in the presence of someone else who is not emotionally attached to neither family.
To initiate this, you might approach a local imam or person of knowledge who will be able to hear both sides and advise accordingly. This way you can be confident that you will both be advised accordingly to Islamic principles and you husband and his family will have no grounds to force you to cut ties with your family or enforce any other restrictions against what is acceptable Islamically.
Once you and husband have settled things, it might be a good idea to involve the in laws so that they too can hear the opinions on the matter from a respected person of knowledge in the community. In sha Allah this will open their eyes to what is and is not OK to enforce upon a spouse.
This whole process may take some time to work out since emotions are currently so heightened for all parties so it will be necessary to patiently stick with the process and be prepared for difficulties in case they may arise. Also understand that even beyond this, relationships have been affected and this too will take time to fix and become more comfortable again.
It is important to rekindle relationships with the in-laws to ensure peace between the families. Again, this is something that will take time and patience and I would suggest doing this slowly. Have gatherings together as a family regularly, but so long regularly that the over familiarity becomes a problem. You night keep things very casual generally, but once every week or 2, have a get together dinner or something similar.
Show interest in you in laws and talk to them about things they like and enjoy. This might be quite difficult to begin with after all the trouble they have caused for you, but by stepping up and being the better person so have the power to take back control over the situation without being bound by irrational rules.
We don’t know everyone will respond to this, but given how early on you are in your marriage you might mentally set a time target that you will patiently manage yourself and the situation before you consider alternative options that may be harsher. If you give yourself this time and try bringing in the support of a third party, you can always look back with confidence that you did everything you could to make to worrk.
May Allah guide you to what is best. May He soften all your hearts towards one another such that you can all li e peaceful and content lives in this life and the next.
Question 3. Mental health becoming a big part of life and in the way
Past few years I’ve been tackling anxiety and depression, currently, I’ve been going to therapy regularly for over a year and feel like it may be an ongoing thing. Due to lack of support in childhood, and adolescence, I find myself here now, feeling alone. I feel less alone than before and I’m grateful for how far I’ve come but still have a long way to go. I’m well off onto a different route from my peers, the route I could have also been a part of if I were not to deal with family issues, resulting in mental health issues, problems at school and education. This made me feel alienated at times from society and the traditional education route however with great effort I’ve managed to come to some sort of acceptance regarding my situation, and this helped me focus on myself rather than everyone else around me but of course, still struggling at times.
I have some worries about future stability, eg getting a job, or continuing education as I find myself just alone at times with my family not really there. Hence seeking support elsewhere such as friends, therapists, career advisors, support workers or mentors, trying to fill this gap with all these external people, and doesn’t really fill up the gap or make up for what’s really missing. When I return home from a day out with friends, a therapy appointment, or college, I’m subjected back to this emptiness that I frequently feel, like I don’t really have a home or a place to call mine, somewhere to unwind and just feel relaxed. It’s not as frequent as it was, but sometimes still manages to creep up on me at times. The history of this place was unstable for me and previously with a support worker I was given the option to stay with my sisters or go into foster care however that situation has died down and I’ve managed to make my living situation somewhat bearable. Is this what home and family suppose to be, just people that live with me, a place to just stay since it’s bearable? I would appreciate any advice regarding my situation, thank you.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,
With a long history of mental health problems you are feeling quite lonely. Although things seem to have gotten a hit better over the last couple of years you still feel lonely in your home which is causing the most distress at the moment. This is understandable as the home should be the one space, even if there are no others, where you should feel safe and supported by your family. Clearly you are not experiencing this unfortunately. There are however some things you might try to ease this scenario.
Firstly, try to understand and look for reasons why this atmosphere might exist. Is it just a pattern of behaviour that exists solely because that is the way things have been for so long? If so, then to overcome this, the pattern needs to be broken.
You could take the initiative yourself to try and do this. Encourage everyone to do something together, either go out together somewhere, or even just at home. Do something together as a team that will encourage bonding once more and break this pattern of coldness towards one another. If there is something in particular that you know then other enjoy then try centering it around this. For example, if you know they love soccer, then invite them out to go and play soccer together. If there’s a particular food they love, then cook and eat this together as a meal.
Or, is the behaviour of others in your household just the way they are normally? It may seem unusual to you because you are expecting a warmth that they are not giving but yet the way they normally get on in life is to be a bit more reserved with their emotions, even with family. Some people are just like this. This is just way their personality is and that is ok too. We are all different. It may not make you comfortable, but if this is just their normal way, then you needn’t accept that and love them the way they are. People may look to you too and question your behaviours, but again, this is just the way you are and people around you should learn to accept you as you are too. It works both ways.
So, were they always like this anyway? Or did something change? If they weren’t always this way then something must have happened for their behavior to change. If so, is it just that their behavior towards you has changed? Or are they like it to others too? If they are also like this with others and their behaviour is not unique to you, then understand that they are perhaps facing their own difficulties.
In this case their behaviour may be their response to this and actually they could really do with your support. You might not be comfortable talking to each other about such things, or maybe you are, but either way, facilitate a warm caring environment that provides a space where they can open up if they want to. Just simply checking in on them everyday and asking how they are can often be enough to start the process. Even if there is nothing up, it’ll start the process of fostering a warm home environment that provides the comfort that you, and perhaps they need and are looking for.
If it is that this behavior is only directed towards you and not others then one wonders this is the case and what happened to make them like this towards you? There may not be anything malicious in it and they are just not sure how best to approach you even though they want to. In this case you could even use the above tactics here too by initiating conversation with them. This will get the ball rolling and encourage dialogue between you. In time, what might be awkward initially, will become a whole lot more comfortable.
Alternatively, given your history within the home, this may simply be the way you are interpreting things. Maybe nothing has changed and this is the way things ways were, but because of the history everything in the home feels so negative. You go out and escape it all with your peers…etc.. but then when you get back home you’re faced with old haunting memories that make you feel emotionally cold and vulnerable.
So, in comparison to the warmth and support you feel outside, what you experience at home now presents with a void. In sha Allah with continued therapy, you will overcome these feelings and be able to recreate positive memories in the home such that it is no longer a place you go and feel this void. You could work on this with your family which would be best, but you can still do this by yourself, without them, too.
Keep your home alive with Islam. Pray together, read Quran together, watch lectures together, study together. Even if your family don’t join you with these things, there is nothing to stop you doing them by yourself and in time, maybe they’ll join you. These are the things in particular that can add warmth and comfort to a home. Otherwise things like cooking the food you love and adding some decorations can also foster a warmer environment.
Aside from this, alhamdulilah, it seems you have a large and useful support network outside the home so continue to utilise this. As things in your home stabilise, you can continue to rely on these outside sources for your wellbeing also.
May Allah ease your affairs and bring you comfort wherever you seek it. May your heart find peace in the remembrance of Allah
Question 4. Husband wife problems
I was afraid of having sex…as I don’t know about it…I told my husband to take things slowly as I need time to feel comfortable with him…cause I was too shy…As I have never interacted with boys brought up fully with pardah…as my family strictly follows Islam…most of my time was alhamdulillah spent with my family and I don’t have any idea about s** so…I don’t want my husband to know about this ..that I don’t know how to even kiss…so I managed to ask him some time…to which he agreed politely…but want me to mast* him….when I used to mast* him….he wants me to do more than 2 times a day…like this it continued till 4 months….that time he was so sexually active but that time…we used to fight a lot…cause he was too immature for his 28 years and after somehow my family came to know about this as I was not getting pregnant…a situation came I had to tell…and they wanted us to have intercourse…after that he stopped showing interest …he was more interested in mast*…When I get my periods he again comes to me to mast* him…but as soon as my periods stops he stops showing interest…it gave me stress thinking about him …was he not interested in me…or he likes someone or…is he has problem in him I don’t know…as he is a good man prays five time…his family is also good…who practice Islam very well….but he make me depressed and confused…I love him so much he also says he loves me but…I can’t even feel his love…he treats me like his little sister all he do is taking me to ride and wants me to enjoy playing with him Please help me….what should I do…what could be his problem? Is this my fault?
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,
Your initial concerns regarding your sex life with your husband as a new couple are completely rational. Until now, you have not been exposed to these things so are feeling somewhat lost in how to deal with them in an acceptable manner. Of course, you are now husband and wife so these things are now acceptable, but lack of experience is making this a challenge for you.
As you are now married, it is perfectly acceptable, and encouraged in fact, to have open dialogue about what is going on. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it is often necessary to overcome this type of difficulty within a marriage. If you don’t inform him that you don’t know about these things, or that some of the things he is doing is making you feel uncomfortable then he will not stop. He will assume your silence means you are OK with it and will not change and your needs will continue to be unmet. As a result you will continue to have the thoughts that you have had that he is interested in someone else and not you.
Conversations like this can be quite uncomfortable, especially given the topic and if it is something that you are openly talking about for the first time. He may also be uncomfortable about it too. With this in mind, there are some things you could do to make it easier. Initiate the conversation casually when you are both at ease rather than making it something to formal and organised.
This way you will both be feeling relaxed and more likely to open up freely. You might find that it takes a few goes before you can finally make the big move and start the conversation. Alternatively, you could put on a lecture about marriage that loosely touches on this topic that allows the flow of conversation between you naturally lead to the conversation you want and need to have.
This conversation might seem more natural in the home, but alternatively, it might be something better to be had whilst somewhere else, like going for a walk together. It is a topic that you feel shy about and perhaps he does too, so having this talk whilst out for a walk could make it easier by reducing the amount of eye contact you will need to make and offering other micro distractions that could eliminate possible awkward silences. You may not have a full deep conversation on the topic here since you would be outside, but it would lay the foundations and break that initial barrier in having a deeper conversation again at a later date.
Alternatively, you could have this conversation with a third-party present, ideally someone of knowledge who not knows nor attained to neither of you, not necessarily to address to more intimate matters as this should really just be between the 2 of you, but to initiate a conversation of matter relating to marriage and the rights that should be upheld by each person for example. Like with above, this can provide a means to start the conversation on this topic of concern.
You say they he is a good man, from a good background who prays regularly so in sha Allah he will be willing to have these conversations, however awkward, for the sake of preserving your marriage and pleasing Allah.
May Allah ease your difficulties and guide you to a solution. May He make you and your husband the coolness of each others eyes in this life and the next.
Monday, Aug. 07, 2023 | 09:00 - 10:00 GMT
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