Pakistani In-laws

Faryal Makdoom’s outburst on social media, a couple years ago, accusing her in-laws of bullying caused much furore amongst people and has seen a somewhat mixed reaction.  The usual mutterings ofcourse that private family matters should stay private whilst others praise her for actions that very much go against Pakistani culture.

 

I can’t say it caused me to raise eyebrows and whilst I don’t particularly follow her, I applaud her for being brave enough to break the silence that surrounds this issue.  For many women who married into traditional Pakistani families, to be treated like a second rate citizen is unfortunately part of the package.  It is common to talk about abuse in the conventional form as it were, spousal, however an undercurrent of family abuse particularly when it comes to in laws exists within our culture.

 

It’s a bit cliché isn’t it, to talk about the ex in-laws, so I try to refrain from it.  I feel it’s important however to address one particular aspect of my life with them, a concept which exists so widely and one which we seem to have accepted as being so normal. Living with the in-laws.  I appreciate there are circumstances in any culture where we would move our family in with us if they were struggling to cope.  This post however concerns the expected custom of extended family living.

 

It’s common practice within South Asian culture for women to be expected to live with their in-laws after marriage.  Why we have allowed it to exist however is something I find difficult to wrap my head around.  I know of no other culture where, when we hear of a girl getting married, we ask “will you be living with the family?”.  It seems absurd as to why it continues to be so normal and more so why we continue to accept it as a normality.

 

I have for the most part viewed it as an issue of control.  Families of the men shamelessly spouting that they want the girl to learn their ways.  There is also a large reliance on the generation above to be taken care of by their sons, lacking an understanding of independent living and future planning – their sons essentially growing into their future pension plans.

 

My own fate with my in-laws was signed and sealed at my refusal to live in an extended family situation.  The uproar from this was intense and I quickly learnt how disposable a woman was considered in our culture.  I became Glasgow’s latest Pakistani Jezebel, ripping a son away from his family; held up as a reminder to other would be mother in-laws in the community as to why you shouldn’t marry your sons to “girls from here”.

 

The problem exists on a much bigger level than my own ofcourse, I don’t afterall have to go very far to find stories of inexcusable behaviours which arise from in-laws within South Asian culture:

  • Constantly worn down by being told she’s not good enough
  • Made to seek permission from in-laws as to whether she can work, how often she can see her own parents, when she can go out etc
  • Told what she can and cannot wear
  • Belittled infront of her own family with a list of “shortcomings” reeled off
  • “Besti” (humiliated) by phoning her parents to complain about her behaviour
  • Forced to hand over her wages
  • Ostracised from the family upon deciding to move out

 

I’m sure you can and will give me plenty more examples.  This is just a small sample of stories I have come across that I could churn out off the top of my head.  It’s a cyclical pattern at times though, isn’t it?  Most Asian mother in-laws were treated like nothing by their mother in-laws and so it goes on.  It doesn’t excuse their actions though, it just somewhat explains it.

 

I hid many of my difficulties with my in-laws like the good Pakistani daughter in-law I was trying to be.  Like many girls born into this culture, I was brought up not to air dirty laundry in public.   However there are behaviours which require us, as women, to call them out and until we decide that we’re worth more than “being moulded”, nothing will change.

 

Maybe there was a better way Faryal could have spoken about it, maybe she shouldn’t have spoken at all.  Whatever side you’re on, the stark reality is that we do have a problem and there aren’t many people willing to speak up about it.  That in itself is the problem.

 

If you have your own insights or experience on this topic, you know what to do, comment below!

37 Replies to “Pakistani In-laws”

  1. I can’t begin to explain how this issue has been a nightmare for me for the past three months. I have been nikkahed and have had manny issues with my MIL that it’s already came down to divorce and my husband is willing to leave me Bc I asked him to live separately. He doesn’t understand anything I say to him. I just don’t know how to tell my parents about the divorce

  2. I got a nikkah almost 3 months ago. My husband and I have fought over this issue multiple times about living with the in laws .I’m extremely scared to move in with them. Because I’ve already had a few issues with my MIL she talks to me about my family and puts my family down. She doesn’t like to speak to my family members. She has not once invited my family over for dinner. And when I complain to my husband all he does is tell me that I’m selfish and I need to learn to Respect my MIL. Divorce has already been discussed in our arguments. I’m just confused and have no idea how to go about it as tell my family these problems I’m facing with him. I have recently been so stressed out that I can’t foucs on anything. And have panic attacks almost every night and that’s how I ended up on this post.

  3. Dear sister I want to share my story. I want to get married, his mum has put down a condition that she will only accept me if I’m willing to move in. This is something I never wanted to do and had told him, he said they’d have to come round to the idea eventually. Moving on my life has been like an emotional rollercoaster for the past 6 months, his mum has refused completely there will be no chance of moving out even if we decide to move in, now she has used emotional blackmail. I don’t want to move in because I know I won’t ever be able to come out and there’s already 3 sisters living there. I said I don’t mind living in for a few months then moving out but buy me a house beforehand, now I have so many feelings and my heartbreaks because he can’t see his mother upset and told me to move in when I’m not happy with this.
    I feel betrayed almost for him turning on me and seeing his mothers sadness but what about mine?
    I’ve now fallen in love but I should be strong I almost feel like I’m being unreasonable and now he’s calling me demanding after the scholars told him that when before he used to say it’s my Islamic right
    I said the only way this will work is if u stand ur ground and say mum I’ll always love you no matter what but I will see you everyday so u don’t miss me.
    She now doesn’t even want him to marry me because of all the issues and he stopped talking to his mother because of me so I’m the bad one in her eyes, even if I decide I’ll move in and sacrifice what I always wanted I know she’ll make my life hell and pay for what I did and will start the emotional blackmail again when he says he wants to move out.
    I just cannot move in to a family where they possess so much control
    Now I feel like am I being unreasonable because I know so many girls in our culture move in and I shouldn’t but I know my life will be tough I don’t need to put myself through that
    My weakness now is that I love him but does that mean sacrificing your happiness and obeying his mother she’s not my mother
    If he has to obey his mum on such a big thing I will have to stand behind her too
    Now I feel if he really loves me as a man he doesn’t even need her permission in Islam and can get me a house next door on same street or a street away
    What about I’m leaving my family to come to your town and promising to make your mother love me overtime her anger will subside
    She is being unreasonable not me, now I’ve cried and cried but I’m glad I made me stand before marriage because if he can’t make a stand for me now then he never will
    I think this is when the true love test kicks in because he should know his mum will always be his mum until the day she dies and her anger will calm down but they won’t be another me
    I said to him if your strong enough and have that mature mindset to say mum I love you but I have no reason to refuse her right and will maintain the balance of both relationships
    But if all the emotional turmoil is so over powering over bearing and he just cannot see his mother upset then I’m not the bad one for saying you marry a woman who can move in with you
    Preferably from back home
    Yes it hurts but he’s chosen his mum and lost me like I said his mum will always be there but not another me so don’t give me it’s either you or nobody lines cos prove it
    Sorry for the rant I hope this helps someone else to stay strong and never sell yourself short esp when u can see red flags already
    I’m not saying his mum will be horrible u never know she might be really nice but I will have to stay there forever and if me n him wanna move out all this heartache will start again
    I can’t take it again, everyone knows what they can bare in life and you don’t have to bow down to this.. if your man is good to you that’s the main thing which he is and tells me how much he will support me then why can’t he take a stand
    I really feel like I’m being unreasonable then I’m like no I’m not I’ve gone crazy over this

  4. These things are cultural and against what we are taught in Islam. In Islam women should not live with the in-laws. Lots of well know scholars have repeatedly and repeatedly said this but lots of people (especially those who are ignorant of the teachings) seem to put more focus on culture and their own desires even when it goes against Islam.
    It is not possible for a woman to have proper hijab (physically and emotionally) when there are other men like brother in-laws staying under the same roof. It is said in Islam that the biggest challenge is a brother in-law because it is easy to develop feelings for them when living together. I know of cases where this has happened. Once married these are not brothers to the woman as the in-laws sometimes say. In Islam these are non mahram (the rules of hijab still apply) and should not be over friendly or hug each other or treat each other like siblings. The in-laws need to remember that if they love a person or someone is important to them like a relative this person is not going to be as important to the daughter in-law. You do not automatically get feelings after marriage for in-laws but can with time and with them allowing you to do the things that make you happy and what you dreamed of doing once married. Otherwise there will only be resentment in the daughter in-laws heart.
    In the past when women got married and moved to where the man was staying it was because women were not expected to be educated. Now the men’s side sometimes think that that they will get a girl who is nice looking, will accept the way the guy looks even when he is not nice looking, will be the right level of religious for them, from a similar family and be well educated. On top of that they think she will move cities or countries and live with them. I know many guys who are looking for rishtey and are struggling to even find someone compatible. Even if they find this impossible to find person their demands can be too much for a woman to accept as she knows she will not be happy and be able to cope. I know of people who have turned down rishtey and a year later gone back to the same rishta to try to work the issues out because of the difficulties in finding someone. There is a marriage crisis at the moment and it can not be put on just a lack of women but on unreasonable demands.
    Marriage is meant to be about compromise. It breaks a woman’s heart to leave her city/country and everything she knows. For women who have not been in relationships or have been previously married the idea of living with a man and everything it involves is daunting. Then to add in moving jobs and being told she will have to live with people she is not familiar with it can be a Hellish time for women. Men need to consider what it would feel like to them if they were told to move away from family and live with the in-laws. They would find it too much. If they do not see it as easy if they were asked to do so then it is the same feelings for women.
    Men need to be taught that if they do not want to marry a cousin or someone who is not compatible then they need to give things up too. These men turn older and in to their 30s and have spent years looking for a spouse but somehow think that this magical rishta where they get everything they want will just appear and so keep waiting and waiting.
    Men need to learn to stick up for themselves to their parents. Not fight but stick up for themselves. I have seen it happen to family and friends where the marriage has broken up just because the daugher-in-law wants to buy her own home. The mother-in-law tells her son that the woman is not right for him and their family and to leave her. She tells him that the woman is dividing the family and does not want to have anything to do with them. She reassures her son that he will find someone else who has all the previous woman’s good qualities but will also do whatever they say in the typical name of what the man’s parents call “uniting” the family. The guy then leaves her and such a rishta of course does not appear.
    You said that the problem is that women are accepting these things. I don’t think they are. Not any more which is good. When you call for rishtey (like my mother is doing for my two younger brothers) the girl’s side are saying that she is not looking to move. Or that if she does move then she wants her own home from the start and that he should arrange this financially before the marriage if he expects her to move. The women who are moving cities and living with the in-laws are usually not compatible in terms of religion, social status or education. The men’s parents are forcing them to choose rishtey that suit his parent’s wishes of living with them (because to the controlling parents that is the most important thing) but are not what is compatible for him. If he can not even move a small distance from his parents how can he expect a woman to move cities for him?! The only women who will not struggle in such circumstances are ones who are related to them.
    The situations where I have seen living with the in-laws work out with happiness is rare. It’s either been girls who are related, who are definitely not a match to the man or where the in-laws have made it clear they will not stand in the way of her doing what she wishes. In these circumstances the woman is allowed from the start time to develop a bond with her husband by them going on the honeymoon, restaurants and abroad only them two. She is not forced to live with them and also go on holiday with them. The man’s parents and him have made sure to give her what she needs and likes, have not controlled the couple’s outings, and not made her seek permission to see her own parents (as preventing a woman from visiting her parents whenever she likes is actually against Islam).
    I’ve seen marriages come to an end because from the start the mother-in-law has controlled everything. The men do not see that his parents are controlling things often out of insecurity. They tell their son that moving out will be dividing the family and the relatives will look down on them. They tell him that it is the couple’s responsibility to look after his parents (it is the man’s not wife’s responsibility in Islam). Most joint family homes have led to unforgettable arguments. Actually, by moving out there will be less chances of fights with family members that are harder to overlook in the future and the couple will get a proper chance at starting a family.
    When I got married the first time my mother-in-law and father-in-law wanted to control everything. In typical uneducated style there was a hierarchy in the family with them constantly reminding of this. I was told to go on a honeymoon for only 5 days and was told to hurry back so I could learn the “family ways” like everything I had done previously was wrong. It was hard seeing couple’s around me exploring different parts of the world together and not getting the same chance. My mother-in-law would choose what I wore and it was never assumed that I might not like what she chose. She chose my valima clothes and I had to pretend I was happy. It seems a small thing to men but the wedding time is a time that is dreamed about and seeing other women have mother-in-laws who went out of their way to make sure they were given this special time was something I found hard to swallow. It was just one small in a huge list of things I felt was being taken from me. They expected that their family would automatically after marriage be more important to me than the people who brought me up and gave me freedom rather than taking it from me. My mother-in-law found it hard to understand that by hindering me she was making me depressed and that this in turn was leading to an unhappy marriage for her own son. I tried to pretend to be happy for so long. When I wanted to move out his family accused me of trying to steal him and told him to leave me and that he would find someone better than me. It was hurtful because I know that we would have been fine if they had not been forcing him to choose. All the issues came up because his family wanted to control things and this caused problems in our relationship. It was all out of jealousy and insecurity that they broke us up but I don’t think he ever saw it. Even when we were separated with him missing me he was too scared to make proper contact and get back together with me against his families wishes even though I know he wanted to. I have now remarried but I know he is still looking because his family is still not wanting to change and give him more freedom. But I suppose if they were ever going to change it would have been when our marriage was falling apart and they would have allowed him to contact me. Or he could have manned up and just done it.
    I think the cycle of abuse (because controlling people is emotional abuse) needs to stop. We need to teach our sons (and I will certainly teach my sons) to give their wife what makes them happy, to treat them like an equal in marriage and know that she is a wife first before a daughter-in-law. They need to realise that by moving out they are not abandoning the parents or disrespecting them but that it is the daughter –in-law’s Islamic right to move out if she so desires it. The rights of the wife and mother in Islam are different and often men are purposely not told of a wife’s Islamic right and encouragement to live separately. The Prophet PBUH said “The best among you is the best towards his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” (Ibn Majah and authenticated by Al-Albani)
    I came across the following in the islamqa website that puts it so nicely:
    Firstly:

    The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned against the husband’s relatives who are not mahrams to the wife entering upon her. It was reported from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Beware of entering upon women.” A man from among the Ansaar said: “O Messenger of Allaah, what about the brother-in-law?” he said: “The brother-in-law is death.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4934; Muslim, 2172).

    It is not permissible for her to be alone with any of her in-laws except those who are so young that there is no fear that they will tempt her or be tempted by her.

    Secondly:

    The husband must provide his wife with a dwelling place that will conceal her from the eyes of people and protect her from heat and cold, where she can live and settle and be independent. Whatever meets her needs is sufficient, such as a room in good condition with a kitchen and bathroom – unless the wife has stipulated larger accommodation in her marriage contract. He does not have the right to make her eat with any of her in-laws. The kind of accommodation provided must be commensurate with what the husband is able to provide and be suitable according to local custom (‘urf) and the social level of the wife.

    (a) Ibn Hazam (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

    He has to provide her with accommodation according to his means, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “Lodge them (the divorced women) where you dwell, according to your means” [al-Talaaq 65:6]

    (al-Muhallaa, 9/253).

    (b) Ibn Qudaamah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

    She (the wife) is entitled to accommodation because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “Lodge them …” [al-Talaaq 65:6]

    If it is obligatory to provide lodgings for a divorced wife, then it is even more appropriate that lodgings should be provided for one who is still married. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “… and live with them honourably…” [al-Nisaa’ 4:19]. Part of that means providing them with accommodation, because she cannot do without proper accommodation to conceal her from people’s eyes and so that she may go about her business, relax and her keep her belongings in order.

    (al-Mughni, 9/237)

    (c) Al-Kaasaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

    If a husband wants to make her live with a co-wife or her in-laws, such as his mother or sister or daughter from another marriage or another relative, and she refuses to accept that, then he has to provide her with accommodation of her own… But if he lodges her in a room of the house that has a door of its own, this is sufficient for her and she should not ask him for alternative accommodation, because the harm caused by fear for her belongings and not being able to relax is no longer there. (Badaa’i’ al-Sanaa’i’, 4/23)

    I think the days of where men got everything their way at the woman’s expense and she had to pretend to be happy is coming to an end. For women now to be told they have to do everything her in-laws tell her to do is too much to bear silently.

    1. The “door of its own” means to have it’s own access and exit to the home in general not just have a covering to the room.

    2. I loved your comment.

      I am currently going through my own divorce after 3 months of marriage. I was the type of girl who did not believe in divorce but my in laws tortured me. I was kicked out of the house 2-3 times a week with no explanation, my mother in law would swear and shout at me, they kept asking for money for a car and me not giving it made it worse.

      My husband never stood up for me and turned on me instead. My mother in law was obsessed with him and there relationship crossed boundaries and was incredibly sickening. She considered him as a husband and often competed and compared herself to me which was pathetic.

      I wasn’t allowed to wash my clothes. Shower, I kept getting called ‘haraam’ for having relations with my husband (after a nikkah!!) – he would detail intimacy details to his mother daily (yes I know…insane) yet their own daughter who was married and living seperately from in laws was so far from the deen – normally I wouldn’t judge but it angers me so much why expectations are so different for a daughter and a daughter in law. They kept asking me to quit my career and my ex kept asking me to buy him expensive gifts so they can show off to the family. He used to ask me to pay for dinners which embarrassed me sitting amongst couples where the man takes pride paying for his wife. So many incidences where my mother in law would call me stupid, infertile etc my ex would always put me down, make fun of my weight, comments on my looks – funny because he was punching well above his weight! I sadly believed all these put downs, the constant comments I was a bad wife just made me a slave to them – I’d cook the whole family breakfast and dinner and work full time in between. My in-laws never worked or did anything. My mother in law would spend her day watching star plus dramas and FaceTiming her daughter about me. The abuse took such a toll on me. I was so scared of being a divorcee and so many times I’d call him back to try to patch things up –

      Subhannallah I’m free and I honestly would choose divorce over living with his abusive family any day.

      I left silently – I didn’t shame him
      Or his family –
      I could have but chose to leave it on allah.

      I pray justice is done and I hope one day I remarry and am happier – not sure I will ever trust someone after all this abuse.

  5. Salaam Fai..I have only just seen this. I am married and also the sister of 2 brothers. I’m afraid I was at home when my brothers were married and witnessed first hand how evil a daughter in law can be. Now I know my mum inside out and I always took my sils side..my mum expected nothing but happiness for her sons and I’m afraid in the end she became the evil one. She would cook..I would clean and my sil would wake up at 1pm and go to her mums! THEN her mum would call MY mum demanding we buy her things..not her husband..my mum! Only when things ended badly did we realise my mum bless her didn’t even tell my dad half the things never mind her son! As she wanted her son to be happy! I could go on btw. Some girls just aren’t interested if the mil is being nice and are hell bent on going home everyday to ‘complain’. In the end everyone involved knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on. Just makes me so sad that my mum had to go through this. Rant over!! Oh and she took all the jewellery and clothes that my mum gave from day 1!

    1. To be fair if she was given jewellery and clothes they are hers to take after the wedding breaks up as per Islamic rules. Also if she was repeatedly getting up late and not helping that is different but sometimes in-laws seem to think it should be the daughter-in-law’s job to cook and clean all the time. It should be everyone who helps around the house as well as men like the Prophet did.

  6. This article is so on point. Makes my blood boil. I am soon to be married – soon to be living with in laws. I am dreading it and the thought of it makes me cry myself to sleep at night. (Mostly at the thought of potentially never having a place to call my own) My fiancé refuses to ever move out and told me it will never be an option because he will “never abandon” his parents. He says they are getting old and he needs to “take care of them”. At first I understood and agreed that this is the way it hasn’t to be. But as time goes on I have absolutely begun to HATE this mentality. This should not be a thing anymore. I’m really torn and don’t know what I will do. Sad to see only negative stories when it comes to this situation

    1. Dear sister hope you are well is this a love marriage? If it is and giving you only one option but to move in, that is very selfish .. how many people are living in the house right now?

  7. I know im posting this very late but I came across this website last night and I just had to share my experience. I’m Afghan and I was also married to a Pakistani guy. I can tell you that my Pakistani mother in law was also very controlling . Our marriage didn’t last very long. We were married for only 7 months. We just separated on July 20th. Since that time my life has been a living hell. While I lived with my in laws, my mother in law tried to turn me into a Pakistani daughter in law. She tried to force me to wear traditional Pakistani outfits because her justification was that I’m married to a Pakistani therefore I should adopt my husband’s culture. My ex once told me if I didn’t do what his mom is asking me to do, then there would be tension between his mom and I. In his own words “things swould change”.
    I experienced a lot of backwardness in my ex husband’s house. When we had gotten married, my ex gave all of our wedding money gifts to his parents because his justification was that his parents threw us a wedding and it’s only fair that he should give our wedding money gift to them for all their help. He never asked me if it was okay with me to give all the gifts to his parents. A few months later I brought it up to him and he became extremely hostile and argumentative regarding the gifts and told me “it’s in our culture to give wedding gifts to our parents”.
    My ex and I are now religiously divorced and can’t file for divorce until dec 9th. I’ve been separated from my ex husband for 5 weeks now. I can say that it has been the most stressful and most difficult time of my life. My ex divorced me after we got into a big fight and told me “he doesn’t love me anymore. The spark is not there anymore. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life unhappy if I do stay married to you.” I’ve know my ex for 5 years and we were married for 7 months. My ex and his family turned against me almost instantly. When I lived with them, they always told me and other people that I’m like their daughter and not a daughter in law. As soon as my husband gave me his final divorce, his family became extremely hostile, malicious and vindictive. They are refusing to let me come to the house to grab my personal belongings. They kicked me out of the house and took all the weddings gifts like dresses and jewellery they had given me at my wedding. They went through all of my belongings in my room and took every gift and hid them. I was so shocked to see all the gifts missing from my room when I did go to the house with a police escort. I never imagined anything like this would happen but I’ve been told by several people who are familiar with Pakistani people that this is how they behave after the marriage breaks down. I’ve been told that Pakistani in laws will always defend their son even if he’s in the wrong and that Pakistani mother in law’s are very clingy and attached to their sons. The most disappointing thing about all of this is is my ex didn’t even stand up to his parents and remind them that their actions are wrong. He stood by and watched all of this unfold and even participated in it. This is a message for any girl married to a Pakistani or a non Pakistani, if your husband is asking for divorce and he’s asking you or his family is asking you to the leave the house or you want to leave, please take all of your personal belongings with you.

  8. My in laws are great alhumdulillah but living with them has made me resent them massively. This is a ridiculous expectation and one that’s borne out of control and the desire to “keep an eye on the couple”. In laws wanf their son to be happy but not too happy, close to his wife but not too close and they see the daughter in law as primarily an extension of their family and then as their sons wife. Why would a grown man want to live with his parents?Because they’ve been brain washed into believing that equates to good son and moving out is bad son option. It’s not just a south asian thing but it’s definitely due to ignorance and backwardness in any society in which it happens.

    1. Hi Mariha and thanks for your comment and insight. It is odd isn’t it, they spend all this time wanting their son to get married, panic when they can’t find someone suitable but when it does happen, it’s almost as though there is some underlying competition between the in-laws and new wife. This panic that she may take the son away from his family. You’re very right that it starts from such a young age that this concept is very much ingrained. As someone said to me, we can only hope to bring the next generation of men up better……

  9. I love my in laws – can’t relate

    1. My friend, you have no in-laws! Or are you talking about your Mcdreamy in which case no wonder you have a great relationship as they don’t exist!

  10. Fantastic article Faiza. I conpletely agree with every word you write. This is a massive issue in our communities. I have experienced elements of that type of behaviour in a previous marriage. It doesn’t cease to amaze me what a girl is expected to be after marriage. From seeking permission for every little decision like a child and being chastised for all perceived wrongdoings to being a all knowing and wordly women when expected to ‘know better’. Its such a complex and contradictory code of practice to follow that its no wonder south asian women have such high rates of mental health issues. May God give these people hidayat x

    1. Thanks for your comment and I love your line “complex and contradictory code of practice” – what a great way to put it. A lot better than the one I opt to go for – “screwed up”. There clearly is such a major impact on mental health from the issues discussed that I feel a revolution needs to take place where we all stand up and say no!

  11. As a revert married into a Pakistani family I can relate to so much of what you write. MashAllah for putting it all out there in such an eloquent fashion. I absolutely agree the only way forward is for people to speak about it IT happens!
    In my situation my in laws are the masters of passive aggressive actions and their favourite talking to my husband about me (in a language they assume I don’t understand). Making digs about how they don’t do it like that but covering up their own daughters faults at no cost. Shameful

    1. IT happens! Yes! I feel there is so much bullying that exists within this culture related to in-laws. And as with most bullies, they need to be called out and a stand made against them. Sorry to hear you get shut out but obviously understand plenty despite the language barrier. Interestingly the future people want for their own daughters is usually not the future that’s expected or encouraged for daughter in-laws.

  12. Fai….wow…..my experience resonates with everything you have written and people’s comments. Only thing I didnt have to do was hand over my wages and they told me I should be grateful for that…..
    I was only empowered after my separation and I enrolled in Isyllabus and realised that as a Muslim women I had NO responsibilities towards my in laws! Probably why they did allow me to study religion…….enough said. Don’t let her educate herself and she can’t ever find out or realise that what they do is abuse…..enough said! Fai I applaud you for bringing this out in public domain to be discussed.

    1. Ugh the gall to say you should be grateful because you could keep your wages. Awful. I appreciate the issue isn’t a religious one but a cultural one – however I feel even religiously there is a mistake at times made, whereby even in these issues, women are told to often to bear with it with “sabr” (patience) and that it’s a “test from God”. Thanks very much for your kind comment x

  13. Living with the in-laws was a life sentence (well 5 years but it felt a lot longer!) If he’s old enough to marry, he’s old enough to have the apron strings cut! I’ll never understand this mentality and hope there will be a radical shift in this toxic mindset. Going through my marriage and subsequent divorce has confirmed I will never live with in-laws again!

    1. So many divorce stories which seem to be arising from the in-law issue. I’m sorry for the difficulties you went through. I won’t really ever understand why it still happens and why it’s still so ingrained! But the problem is we, women, also continue to accept it as a conditon for marriage so maybe we need a revolution to take place – “I know my worth and my worth is higher than having conditions placed on my life”

  14. As a Pakistani man, yes guy’s parents love being in control of things big and small surrounding the guy’s and wife’s relationship. However, Pakistani women I find are sickingly attached to their own parents/siblings and love to complain and cry like babies.

    1. I am trying to be reasonable in my reply – you acknowledge that men’s family like to control things in a couple’s relationship……would this not be the reason the need to “complain” and vent their frustrations to their family, their safe space ultimately?

    2. So like a typical Asian male, you say the issue is females who are “sickingly attached to their own parents/siblings and love to complain and cry like babies”.
      1. It’s actually the Pakistani men who are sickingly attached to their mothers, I’m sure you lot would still breastfeed if you could. You are the ones who can’t move away because you are too attached.
      2. The mother’s in law are also too attached to their sons. It’s funny how you dismiss the fact that the guys parents are controlling and instead blame the girl. Parents have no business in their kids’ marriage…NONE. The reality is that Pakistani men are too weak and scared to stand up for their wife and that their mother won’t make them rotis and wash their clothes for them. You have been treated like babies your whole life, you lack basic life skills… That’s the real reason Pakistani men won’t move.

      Please do the female race a favour and never marry, your mindset is pathetic. And read what Islam has to say about marriage

  15. I am non-Pakistani woman, I am Chinese and your situation is just the same here in my country. Chinese women marry and move into in-laws home, MIL are the same as Pakistani MIL. It is not cultural problem, it is the situation. Women should keep their own jobs, be financially independent no matter what, in this case if your husband’s family start to give you hell, move out, divorce, whatever, just dont be a slave. Once you move out with or without your husband, they start respecting you more. If you stay and slave for them, there is not respect or gratitude to you, you are a nobody and they will let you know. In such times like that dont marry anyone if you know what is in store. If the man cant man up and rent/buy a separate home, dont marry him. Screw the cultural traditions, or the society is going to kill you little by little

    1. Thanks very much for your comment and yes I wholeheartedly agree that women should retain their own sense of self even after marriage. Interesting that this scenario is also played out in Chinese culture and comes with the same problems x

  16. I was reading your blog and it seemed its my story with diffrerent names,
    I am a dr and I married my x-husband with a lot of dua and positive thoughts.
    But, things started going down from day one.
    Mu X mil never accepted me. There was so much interference that I cant even put in words and the best was that One time i confronted her that you complaining my husband all the time about me is going to break my marriage and she said no i have to share thoughts with him. He is my son!
    Alas! one after an other. I left the house my husband didnt care. I stayed at my parents we tried to talk things out by mediator from their family.
    but, they instead said we have to solution.
    So, I opted for divorce as I was so depress that i tried to kill myself.
    six months down we parted our ways.
    Just because he couldn’t set boundaries with his parents!
    These guys shouldnt be called men. They should be called chickens!

    1. I’m really sorry to hear about your circumstances and I’m really sorry that you felt so alone that you felt suicide was your only option. I hope you have support and love around you and are in a better place now that you are no longer around such negativity. You touched upon an interesting point, whilst I spoke about in-laws, it does also rely on men being able to set healthy boundaries with their parents something which seems to be an issue in our culture.

  17. These stories, if read by non-Pakistanis, sound such non-issues do you not think? However rich our culture is, and no matter how proud I am of it, there are certain aspects which do make me cringe!

    1. Oh God, so cringe!! These shouldn’t even be issues!! Why are grown adults still living with their parents in their parents’ home after marriage?

    2. it makes me see them as less of a man when they cant move away from their mum

  18. You are so right .i went happily moving in bought them gifts buy them dinner help in the house it was never enough. he was a 29 year old baby who never made enough to move out, i was supporting him myself and my single mum financially, all the while he wasnt telling me how much money he really had (maybe even giving to his family). Im divorced now surprise surprise but youre right you wont get thanked for it instead i would get seen as the ‘bad’ one everytime i would actually say ‘no’ to something, im not your slave im a human being, if i dont want to go somewhere i wont, if i dont want to do something i wont. sure i’ll help you but you dont own me. everyone glosses over the whole rights of the daughter in law all the while praying five times a day, for an educated working muslimah who tries her best to practice by the book, i dont need these cultural people in my life. I had enough and my speaking up(and at times shouting at my husband who could go out til 12 everynight going gym with his friends but suffered sitting in the same room as me when all i wanted was to cuddle). My speaking up was seen as me’being argumentative’. me wanting to move out as ‘selfish’ despite the constant invasion of privacy he would even invite his sisters to our trips out or, they would just invite themselves. My MIL literally thought she was my mum and yes that sounds sweet, not so sweet when she thinks that means she can ring you everyday when youre at ur mums, tell you what to wear, what housework to do before you go anywhere. (Once trying to force me to sit at a family dinner when we live with her everyday when i had to do a job for my mum helping my mum move out – a perfectly valid reason but why shoulda grown married woman have to explain herself anyway?) it is seriously ridiculous and unislamic the expectations these people have. I am not’bad’ for wanting to split eids – why should such an important family holiday be dead for me with my family when i left them for you all, and then pretend im never gonna see them on eid? Since when did the ‘mans’ family become more important islamically anyway? Yes do for your mothers but im sorry you can move out and easily do that. Its like these men (not all) regress and start clinging to their mums even more some even accusing their wives of ‘trying to take them away from their family’. um, yes, that was kind of the point when you get married to create a NEW family. Ugh, rant over.

    1. I’m really sorry to hear what you’ve gone through but almost glad for you that you;re away from something which was so emotionally unhealthy for you. I can resonate with most things you’ve said and you’re right it’s not a religious issue – it’s completely a cultural one. I think in our world, once you marry, you are expected to forget about your family. You are now “one of theirs” and are a “guest” amongst your family. I think this amongst so many more deeply rooted beliefs which are passed onto the next generations are what we need to kill! xx

  19. All I can say as an American girl who married a Pakistani man, life with his family has been pure hell. I have never seen so much emotional blackmail, manipulative messed up people in my life. I had two nervous breakdowns because of them

    1. So sorry to hear this and you are completely correct, unfortunately emotional blackmail is an extremely useful and horrible tool used within our culture particularly! I hope you have support around you now and are able to set some boundaries to create a healthier space for yourself?

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