She Speaks We Hear

Bringing women's voices together, unaltered, unadulterated

My mother in law made my first year of marriage hell

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muslim woman wedding

My honeymoon. My wedding dress. My glasses…

These are just some of the examples my mother in law (MiL) felt justified to tell me I’m in the wrong. I was in the wrong to go on honeymoon for two weeks because she “might die”. I was in the wrong to wear a wedding dress that had short sleeves because I’m a hijabi (I didn’t wear hijab on my wedding day, a whole ‘nother conversation with my MiL – but my husband wanted to see me look extra nice for just one day). I was also in the wrong to wear my glasses day to day because “a new bride should always look beautiful”.

“When me and my husband have been so close to divorce several times in this first year, it feels unnecessary and inaccurate to “celebrate” our first anniversary.”

I’ve just marked one year of marriage. I say “marked” rather than celebrate because it has been a such tough year. When me and my husband have been so close to divorce several times in this first year, it feels unnecessary and inaccurate to “celebrate” our first anniversary. What would we celebrate? Surviving? That we held on? That I spent so many nights and days crying, begging my husband to give me – and us – some distance from his family so that we could work on us. I know the first years of marriage are always tough, I never expected it to be a bed of roses and all romance and glamour. But I also didn’t expect my in laws to criticise me on every little thing. And it is EVERY little thing.

It started very very early. Before I was even married. I was told what I could, and more importantly, COULDNT wear on my own wedding. I dreamt of my outfit, like all girls. The princess dress, the jewellery, the tradition. But I was told “no, that’s old fashioned. I don’t like it. You should wear this.” I respectfully disagreed and said this is what I’ve always wanted. So I wore what I wanted – and more importantly, what my husband was happy with. And boy, a year since my wedding and I STILL hear about how wrong I was…

I don’t live with my in laws, there’s no space in their house. Everyone told me this was a blessing. And considering the strain they’ve had on my marriage, I know for a fact if I did live with them, I would have been divorced by now. But everytime I do go round – which used to be several times a week, but now less – I was always always criticised. For not wearing jewellery. For not wearing make up. For wearing my glasses. I dress modestly. Abayas and long dresses, I’m not a flashy person. But my MiL wanted me to be more “beautiful”. Then I was constantly made to feel like a bad wife and daughter in law. Pointing out things to me like my husband hasn’t had a hair cut, or he’s wearing an old tshirt – apparently it was my fault that my husband chose comfy clothes over dressy ones, it meant I wasn’t looking after him. Because I didn’t spend every single day with them, “so and so’s wife stays at home everyday and cooks with her MiL”. Then there was the time I was in an and out of hospital for over a month, seriously ill, close to multiple organ failure if my illness hadn’t been caught in time. My MiL didn’t come to visit me in hospital. But she would ring me. To ask when I’d be home again because “my son is alone and I don’t like it when he’s alone”….

The best was when we had to go to a relatives house soon after marriage. My husband chose my outfit, a pretty black abaya with turquoise sequins and embroidery – AND I wore make up. In front of my husband, my MiL said I looked nice. As soon as my husband left the room –

“You shouldn’t listen to him when he tells you how to dress, you look rough.” And then when my husband would question her on it “I was just joking, where’s her sense of humour?!” If had a penny for everytime she’s used that after saying something to me…

All marriages come with strains, pressures and expectations. But when they come from the in laws rather than the couple itself, it can have devastating effects. My husband and I have barely managed to scrape through our first year of marriage. And it saddens me, because it’s not due to us. We haven’t failed as a couple. We love each other, and obviously have our normal ups and downs. But our culture needs to change. Our parents generation needs to understand that their boys don’t get married for the sake of their parents, that their son’s wives aren’t for them to belittle and dictate to. They need to understand that their son’s wives are human. That they’ve sacrificed everything when they got married. They left their own family behind, possibly even moved cities. And the last thing they need is to be told they’re not good enough. Instead they need to be welcomed. To receive kindness and love. This woman is your son’s happiness. She is someone’s daughter. And if you wouldn’t speak to your own daughter like that, then why would you think it’s ok to speak to someone else’s daughter that way…?

by Anon

Image credit: https://flic.kr/p/5xfM1X

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website

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Author: She Speaks We Hear

Bringing women’s voices together, unaltered, unadulterated. Platforming stories and experiences of Muslim women, so they can own their narrative.

17 thoughts on “My mother in law made my first year of marriage hell

  1. This makes me so sad to read. I’m in the process of getting married soon, and the whole in-laws thing scares me so bad. I hate the desi parents mentality – they ruin their kids lives! I hope things better for you soon! ❤

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    • Congratulations! Hope you have a wonderful wedding and do not face similar challenges.

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    • Please, please train yourself to understand that it is their opinion and has nothing to do with you. The only person whose opinion should have any impact(and not always) is what your partner feels. And if you listen to them enough, it will become clear what their insecurities lie – address that. I’ve known Mothers-in -law who have nursed their daughters in law through life threatening encephalitis in hospital for over 6 months – when the girls own sisters/mother would not. So, I hope you have the best of In-laws, however, don’t take everything they say to heart.

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  2. Similar situation when it is sister in laws as well….similar to the mother in law here…multiply that by two or three or more.

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  3. I think once you marry you do need your own space. I lived with my own parents for a while as he came from abroad….. and even that was hard…they would know exactly what was going on in our marriage and criticise things and that wasn’t good either. Maybe if we were with his parents we wouldn’t have survived at all.

    Parents need to learn to back off once kids are married

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  4. It’s so sad to hear such stories. I hope things get better for you.

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  5. This is crazy! it amazes me that these mother in law were once a daughter in law too!! it’s sad how a woman ruins another woman’s life!

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  6. I definitely could not live anywhere near my mother in law as she makes my life hell too. Good thing we love in different countries!

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  7. Wow this sounds so rough SubhANAllah! That’s just torture, they say when you marry your husband you marry his whole family but sometimes people are more blessed than others to have good inlaws. I’m sorry this was such a horrible experience for you and pray that your union is blessed with happier days.

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  8. This was so disturbing to read. I honestly do not understand where women find the time and energy to do this to one another. I also feel like Asian TV – the shows – do nothing to help. In fact I think that’s where some of them get their ideas!

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  9. I’m so sorry you are suffering like this. I have to ask, is there anything your husband can do to intervene on your behalf? Keep your head up and know that it isn’t about you. This dua helped me when I was going through something rough.

    Take care of yourself and all the best!

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  10. I think people mostly women talk less on this…but I bet this happens to many….you have written it so beautifully …..the pain, the agony and the relationships….it is hardship….when the initial years for bonding trust and nurturing love…many relations end up just living in the name of society…..

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