Tag Archives: conflict management

Caught between the Mother and the Wife

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By Zaki Imtiaz

 The best thing about getting married is partnership, isn’t it? Ask those who are happily married. A marriage may survive without money, but can’t survive without the mutual partnership. Newly married couples enjoy their lives in the most halal way. Allah has described them as Libas (garments) of each other, covering each others physically, covering each others faults and helping each other to cope up with the external damaging elements. SubhanAllah, what great wisdom there is in this analogy! [1]

 Whilst they enjoy themselves, they might not realize the change that this union has brought not just in their lives, but also in the lives of their parents and siblings. If we see it from the groom’s perspective, before marriage, he just had to take care of his family and be dutiful to his parents. After marriage, he has to take up the responsibility of his wife also, the woman who has left her comfortable home and loving parents far away, and has come to live with him, despite all of his negative and bad habits.

Every house has a pre-defined set of norms, and it takes time for a new person to settle in and get accustomed with everyone. In such situations, there may arise conflicts between the wife and the husband’s family over simple issues. They will obviously have a difference of opinion on how to handle everyday big and small affairs: be it cooking, handling the home chores, arranging and scheduling daily tasks, dealing with the the servants etc. The notoriously famous battles are the ones which take place between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law. If timely firefighting is not carried out, minor tussles can erupt into major fights.

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 Stuck between a rock and a hard place is the poor man, the son and the husband, trying to restore calm in the house, and keep the two most important women in his life happy. The role of this poor man is indeed very crucial. He has to balance the rights of his wife and his mother. He has to ensure that no injustice takes place. He has to walk the tightrope. He has to be the firefighter, the juggler and the peace maker. My whole-hearted sympathies are with this man! For the benefit of this man, here are some tips and tricks that I have learned through different experiences in my own life and in the lives of others:

  •  Never say no to your parents, especially if it doesn’t harm your personal life. Allah says:

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حُسْنًا ۖ

“And We have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents”. [Surah al-‘Ankaboot: 8]

  •  In case of conflict between wife and parents, listen to both sides carefully and analyze the situation. Don’t jump to conclusions. Allah says:

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ

“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers” [Surah al-Hujurat:10]

  •  Talk to each party separately and try to clear the misunderstandings by explaining the matter, without making it seem that you are taking sides. Trust me, this works. They want someone to listen, sympathize and talk rationally.
  •  Love your wife much and unconditionally. Avoid scolding her and gently explain the importance of being good to the your family and its benefits. The Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:

 “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” [Ibn Majah]

  •  Love you parents unconditionally and lower your wings of humility over them, no matter what. They are old now; bear with their quirks; their age may have left them with no other choice apart from behaving the way they want to behave. They still love and care for you. Allah says:

وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا

“And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.” [Surah al-Israa: 24]

  • Make everyone understand that things shouldn’t be based on the way they are carried out, rather they should be based on results. Make them sit together and decide the outputs of things which are causing friction. As long as everyone agrees upon the output, they do not have to fight on how things get done. Focus on the destination, rather than the route taken. [This principle taken from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey works wonders.]
  •  Be emotionally strong; be the man. Forgive them and hold no grudges.

وَإِن تَعْفُوا وَتَصْفَحُوا وَتَغْفِرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“But if you pardon (them) and overlook, and forgive (their faults), then verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah at-Taghabun :14]

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May Allah make our homes among the gardens of Paradise.  May He make us the coolness of our parents’ eyes, and make our wives and children the coolness of our eyes.

[1] See Tafsir Ibn e Kathir 2:187 for details

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