My mother in law made my first year of marriage hell

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

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42 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! <3

    1. 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.

  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.

  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

  4. 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.

  5. 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…..

  6. I can totally relate! I love that you agree that there is not celebration on the anniversary it’s a we made it, even though we were in last place, we still made it! As someone who has been stuck for over a decade, it doesn’t get easier, I think it gets worse. When you have kids, its unbearable. My advice, leave if you are going to before you have children otherwise you will sit like me and count the hours until the kids “are old enough”. When the kids are going to be older, you will be too, life will almost be over. Everyone deserves a chance to live, love and laugh freely if you can’t than change your situation. I also completely understand if you can’t, our culture is not an easy one. I haven’t been able to escape but I will soon! Take care and write often, it’s great therapy. Venya

  7. Very well-written and I’m sure many of us can sympathise. It’s worth remembering that it’s your husband’s duty to look after his parents, not yours. I know you don’t live with your in-laws, but just to reiterate, we aren’t supposed to live with in laws really. That’s why when you get married, your husband is not only supposed to provide you with separate living quarters but also a separate kitchen.

    Also, when the Prophet (SAW) married his daughter off to Imam Ali (AS), they did not live with the Prophet, but they had their own house. Moreover, in Ramadan, Imam Ali (AS) would spend evenings breaking his fast at Imam Hussain’s (AS) house and at Imam Hasan’s (AS) house, which tells us they did not live in the same house.

    Islam says to look after your parents – that doesn’t mean you need to live with them to do that. It is purely cultural, but it is drip-fed like it’s part of the religion. It isn’t, so stop feeling guilty.

    Please also see:

    “Maintain Cordial Relations But Do Not Reside Close to Each Other
    Amir ul-Mu’minīn (a.s.) writes a letter to one of his officers, “Order the relatives to visit each other but ask them not to reside in the same neighborhood.”

    The late Scholar, Naraqi, explains in his book, ‘Miraj us Sadāt’: “Staying next to each other breeds malice and jealousy and results in Qat’a ar-Rahm.”

    It is much easier for relatives to maintain harmony and goodwill by staying apart from each other. Proximity often results in friction and enmity.

    There is a Persian proverb that says that distance and friendship are proportionate to each other.”

    I hope this helps. I don’t know many situations where people are content to live with in laws, so please don’t feel like you are alone.

    It can feel liberating to admit you aren’t happy. Only you can change your situation and I hope it gets better for you.

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