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  1. This is a very good article so far, I wish I had had the chance to read this before my experience with my mother-in-law. She however was very accommodating and was not really the issue, it was more his sisters who also reside in the home. As a north american, this living situation was not something I had ever experienced before and the adjustment was cataclysmic! There were so many nuances I didn’t understand, nor they for me either. Cultural, language etc.. it was not an easy transition. I look forward to the next instalment.

  2. MashAllah very useful advice. I have also been raised in a culture of ‘independence’ and dreaded living with the in-laws. Alhamdulillah I have learnt to see the good sides to it, but of course there are still things, situations and differing opinions that bring tension. In my case it is most often the style of bringing up children. I keep reminding myself that no one is doing anything against me and living in a joint family is a great practice of patience. After all the harder the test the more I can learn and benefit from it.

  3. Jazaki Allah kul khair sister umm Muhemmed…and look forward many parts to come on the subject. How can one keep the peace and respect without allowing too much interference?

    • You are always welcome. IA we will tackle this question in the subsequent posts, but I would recommend: a) have a relatively well defined schedule (for yourself and children); b) to the extent possible, creat discrete spaces for different activities; c) be respectful, but honest/open (about excessive interference) and avoid communication going through your spouse exclusively; d) when you do communicate on challenging substances, avoid the accusatory approach: the ‘when you do this…and instead try to adopt the ‘I feel…’; e) venture outdoors, to the extent possible, and f) always use prayer to work through the difficulties.

  4. salaam as a islamic counseller and mediator I deal with many similar problems and the main advice I give how would you like your son and daughter in law to treat you when you reach that life journey.

  5. Thank you so much for posting on this topic. I’m currently experiencing this exact struggle and any information is helpful especially when it has an Islamic touch. My mother in law is a wonderful person but it is inevitable for any two people to have their differences. I don’t know how to approach these issues without hurting her feelings or making her feel uncomfortable in her son’s home. At the same time, I don’t want to feel restricted in my own home. Also as you mentioned, I want to do it in a way which is pleasing to Allah. Any further advice would be appreciated.
    Jazak Allah :)

  6. Dearest friend i saw your mail accidently but since then i am not missing any. I live in pakistan where this problem is quite common .i loved my mother in law and had great relationship with her but she died after two years and i miss her alot.i always share my mail with all my friends and students cause i also work on line.alot of prayers for all your team ,MA SHA ALLAH AND ALHUMDULILLAH WE ALL ARE LEARNING FROM YOUR WORK.JZAKALLAHOKHAIR

  7. unfortunately i had the same bad first impression:two ways of thinking , two extreme different situations handling , and my husband is always by his mother’s side , that makes me feel terrible , uncomfortable , & for sure (may Allah forgive me for that ) much more hate to my mother in law … how can we deal with that ? for example ,how can feel comfortable dressing what i want without feeling that there’s someone there will judge me?

    • Assalamu’alykum. In the next article we will touch IA on spiritual dimensions, and how to build the relationship, but would like to raise/reiterate a couple of quick points; they are general points but hopefully they will apply to your myriad challenges including in dressing/judgments:
      1) aim for direct communication wherever possible, ie communicate with your mother-in-law directly and your spouse directly and try not to have anyone as intermediary. If there is a sense of any ganging up, try to diffuse the situation, by being humble but honest with each of the parties involved;
      2) take the relationship outside, yes, outside, sometimes a change of environment does wonders to change people’s perspectives, and literally give everyone a breath of fresh air;
      3) when the going gets really tough, as the Islamic counselor commented above (Afshan Khan), try to imagine being the mother-in-law and how you might feel in this situation;
      4) try to maintain a somewhat independent schedule, where ever possible;
      5) but also look for areas in which to collaborate (and it need not be the kitchen); again we will touch on some spiritual collaboration in the next article, but it is so important to try to develop the relationship, not simply deal with it;
      6) if there is no improvement, then you may need to seek outside help from couselors who may be sympathetic but ultimately focused in helping you work toward sustainable solutions;
      7) and finally always be relentless in your prayers/duas on the subject and look to the Seerah for insights. Our deen is intended to help us in every situation IA.

  8. I am very happy you brought up this oh so complicated subject, but in reality can be very simple if we think of the bigger picture———–> Allah.
    Thank you and May Allah make you happy in this world and the Hear After.

  9. Assalam alaykum
    Such a timely topic.
    I just gave birth to my first child and my mother in law came from overseas to help me out and enjoy his grand son. Any advice on how to bridge the educational gap and deal with conflict between what doctors recommend vs. what the old generation thinks is right without undermining her advice?

  10. i honestly dont agree with the article..i m sorry but some times i have so much work n pressure that i find it difficult even to pray my five namaz. too much pressure n traditional masalas n many people n just one woman show at the kitchen…i guess some people cant understand…or relate …

  11. Wa alykum salaam. Mubruq on the birth of your son. May he come to be the coolness of your eyes IA. Your question is an important one, and relates to the ‘inference’ question above. First though we must examine ourselves. Time for introspection. Is the dichotomy between doctors vs. old generation true/fair? Many of our elders carry with them considerable knowledge mashaAllah and the medical community is ever-evolving. There may be real value in some of the pieces of advice (sometimes, however, it’s the manner of communication that is difficult and the feeling of powerlessness as a new mother bombarded by advice). Also sometimes it’s simply the person. Imagine your own mother giving you (similar) advice and how you might respond/feel. Try to listen and assess the value and then take action. And remember your most important role is to be a good mother to your son right now, not solve age-old debates about child rearing, so, again, I would take input, weigh it carefully and keep moving in your important role mashaAllah. Also, choose your battles. If the visit is short and there are certain things that you can give in/up to make your mother-in-law feel valued then try to make some concessions, knowing that this period is indeed short. Avoid confrontation, but do communicate, i.e. perhaps explain why you chose what you chose. Most people are very reasonable in the end (and the beginning), alhumdulilah.

  12. I wish you would also touch on the topic of personal space. Living together does not need to mean that the daughter in law’s life needs to be dictated by the elders which is often the case in many situations with husband standing by and not able to set up boundaries politely..especially in the indo/pak culture where the boundaries are almost non existent.

    Also the wife does have right to her own living space so when her husband houses her in the same space as his parents, some burden to smooth things over does fall on his shoulders.

    Also I don’t know if I completely agree with the idea of daughter in law communicating directly with mother in law. I have a really nice mother in law alhamdulillah and on any sticky topics about which we know she has alot of feelings about, my husband and her deal with it. He has asked me to let him take care of issues like that. That way I’m never the bad guy. It makes my mother in law realize he has some strong opinions and that I’m not ‘pulling his strings’ or anything. So me and her are then left to have a more smoother relationship. He tells her good things about me and doesn’t ever relay my frustrations or vice verca. I think this is a point where the couple needs to guage which option is best.

    I think the inlaw issue is very much about the son..and also about the basic concept of rights/boundaries. If those are in place, it’s not the toughest thing to get around. but when people have reaaaaly strange expectations and daughter in law is not granted any rights, that’s when I think issues mainly happen.