Strengthening family ties beyond Ramadan

As we approach the end of Ramadan, now is the time to start thinking about all the changes you have made during the Holy Month, and how to implement them in your daily life moving forward. So many of us approach Ramadan with a zealousness which is reserved for this special month and aside from fasting and prayers, you may have aimed to spend additional time with your children, spouse, in-laws and focus on charitable affairs.

The relationship between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law is notoriously precarious and made infamous by many real life horror stories and soap operas – but let us look at the real picture. Is your mother-in-law the ogre depicted in so many movies or are you the temptress who stole her son and weakened family bonds? Whatever your story, there is no denying one thing – your mother-in-law is not going anywhere! Whether you have been married 10 months or 10 years, it is in your best interests to work on and strengthen this most delicate of relationships.

Although a cliché, we all know that the first woman a man falls in love with is his mother. With that said, it is safe to assume that while you may now be in the throes of first love, once the gleam of the early days of your relationship wears off, the last thing that your husband wants is a nagging wife and an unhappy mother. Given this, here are a few mature steps you can take to work on your relationship with your mother-in-law:

  1. Accept her faults – as long as this does not extend to abuse of any kind, then it is fair to say that while she may be difficult, the relationship probably is far from irreparable.
  2. Stop complaining to your husband – mothers are amazingly skilled at pulling at their son’s heartstrings, and you will come off looking like the bad one. I have rarely seen a Muslim man defy his mother in matters between daughter and mother in law, so this is not to be expected in reality.
  3. Make an effort – let’s not go over the top, but a few compliments would be a good start. Do not be extreme on this point, but when you see she does something genuinely nice or something that you know your husband likes, it wouldn’t hurt to mention it.
  4. Ask for advice – elders love this! They want to be needed, loved, admired and respected (don’t we all?) and as they get older, the need for this only increases.
  5. Stand your ground – this isn’t about “giving in” and being a submissive wife; it’s about accepting family bonds for what they are. Many women, especially in more traditional cultures, may be tied to abusive families and can be continually unhappy; but in contrast, in western societies we often do not see the importance of close family relationships and go out of our way to show that we are the boss! This is about compromise and respect – not submission and neglect.

You may now be thinking, “hang on a minute – this is so unfair!” and you may be right. Lots of trials that are put in our paths throughout our lives may be difficult to understand, but this is out of our control. What is important is how we deal with these trials. Every single trial that we receive is a test of our faith, and while we may sometimes think that there will be time later in life to repent for these, there often isn’t. While encountering these difficulties, let’s take time to remind ourselves of the examples that were set for us by the Mothers of The Believers. When in doubt, why not think “What would Khadija, Aisha or Hafsa(RA) do?” and you might just find the answer.

Noora Laila

Born in the UK, living in Dubai, married to a Sri Lankan. Yes, life does get complicated! Passionate advocate for dialogue and unity among women, and open discussion on relationship issues and marital intimacy.

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