Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
My wife finds it difficult to interact with my parents. She refuses advice from them and dislikes questions that reveal information that could lead to judgment, such as “How much did you spend on eating out this week?” If she answers, they would criticize her. I have asked them to refrain from these comments, but she is still afraid.
We live an hour away from my parents and she goes to their town to visit friends and relatives. My parents are offended if she does not visit them when in town, but she claims it is inconvenient for her to spend several hours seeing them because they’d like her to stay for dinner, etc. She also wants to avoid them if possible.
Thank you for your question. I am sorry that your wife is not giving your parents any kind of priority, and I pray that you can communicate to her how much this hurts you.
It’s true that judgment is scary and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t help matters to avoid one’s in-laws. It will definitely make matters worse. The best path is to interact with them, be who she is, and let them take the time to adjust to that. She has to learn to politely listen to their advice, and choose to apply or not to apply it. Mutual understanding doesn’t happen overnight and I feel that the more she avoids them, the more upset they will be. She is digging a deeper hole for herself that she won’t be able to get out of.
Tell her to remember this hadith when she feels uncomfortable around them, “Whoever is kind, affable, and easy-going, Allah will forbid him from entering Hellfire.” [Bayhaqi]
Be your wife’s biggest protector and defender at all costs. Make her feel supported when she is around them, and be sure to communicate that her not seeing them is hurting you as well. Assure her that your parents will play no role in influencing your lives in the wrong way. Explain to her that your motivation for being good to them is that your religion tells you to honor them. It seems to me that she is a good person and she will support you and be open to improving this relationship.
Practically speaking, she doesn’t need to spend hours with them or have dinner with them. They have to get accustomed to the fact that she is allowed to spend time with her friends and family, too. They should accept a short visit from her, and if she shows up with coffee and cake, for example, or whatever they like, they will likely be nothing but happy to see her, even for a short while.
Ask her to contemplate this hadith as well, “It was said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what type of wife is best?’ He said, ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, and she obeys him if he instructs her to do something, and she does not do anything with regard to herself or his wealth in a manner of which he does not approve.’” [Ahmad]
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.