Why I decided to live with my in-laws

You know what I love? I love when something we’ve created touches another soul. I love when our efforts give life to discussions in exactly the way we intended. I’m thrilled that one our readers reached out to me and graciously shared her story with us. There are many precious gems hidden in her story. I am in awe of how someone so young can practice love with such wisdom and grace. I hope her story and her compassion touches you as much as it has touched me inshaAllah.

Sofina Begum is a 20 something year old mother of two. She’s currently living in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, kids and in laws. 

What message to do hope to share with our readers?

I reached out for one particular reason. I’m quite saddened by the level of selfishness in our community today. I’m referring specifically to the younger generation to which I also belong. I want to talk about tarbiyah and sabr and sacrifice; values which seem to be sidelined by our personal desires. I want to remind everyone, myself included, that we are in this world temporarily. This dunya is nothing but a test. Why are we trying to create a paradise on this earth when we know it won’t last forever. Why are we trampling on the rights of others for our happiness, which by it’s very nature is fleeting.

I’ve seen many homes break apart and marriages end because we’ve stopped practicing Islam in the way that it was brought to us by our Prophet (peace be upon him). Rather than solving our differences in the light of Islam, we’ve opted to follow our desires as a road map. I’m referring to the increasing rates of divorces and infidelity. I’m referring to children who leave their parents’ homes once they are married and to parents who leave their children with babysitters and at daycare canters in pursuit of their careers. I understand the need to put food on the table but honestly, our needs have exceeded those simple necessities.

Can you give an example? 

When both parents enter the house at 8pm and their kids are already in bed without goodnight hugs and kisses, how can we expect our children to provide love and support for us when we’re elderly and in need of their time? How much quality time do we give our children when they are young? I don’t have all the answers but I do know that, when our life is devoid of the love of Allah and His Prophet, our relationships will eventually suffer.

I want to share an example from my own life, where I gave up my desire for an “ideal life” for the sake of my husband’s happiness and agreed to live with my in-laws after marriage. I try to practice patience on a daily basis so that I can create a peaceful environment in my home.

So you’re not living your “ideal” life. You sacrificed your happiness for the sake of your husband’s happiness? Were you brought up to believe that this is what’s required of Muslim women?

No, I wasn’t brought up to think that at all. I don’t think Muslim women have to sacrifice anything, least of all our happiness. It was a personal decision I made. I was born and raised in this country. I consumed my fair share of mass media and had heard enough in-law “horror” stories to know what it’s like after marriage. I made up my mind early on that I would never live with my in laws after marriage. I used to joke, “I will never let my in-laws to mistreat me. I will never give up my independence.” Naturally, we mature and change with time. So do our decisions.

What changed with you? You said you were always against the idea of living with your in-laws.

Yes, like most girls today, I was strongly against it. But then, one day reality hit, as it always does. I got my first official rishta (marriage proposal). I wasn’t even close to being ready to get married when someone called my mom about the proposal. It seemed as if this rishta had infiltrated our lives. It was everywhere, part of every discussion, awaiting patiently to hear our final verdict. I couldn’t find anything wrong with it, except for the obvious red flag: I would have to live with my in laws! That alone should of been enough to say “No way! I’m young! I can wait to get married. I won’t settle!”

Then these unfamiliar thoughts started entering my mind. What if we had sent a proposal on behalf of my younger brother? What would I want another girl in my shoes to do? Should she reject my brother because my parents came with the package? How would my parents handle life if my brother decided to move out of their house to start his new life? I found myself conflicted and uneasy.

I naturally started questioning my own take on living with in-laws. I shocked myself because a decision which had always been a no-brainer had now become my biggest source of inner conflict. How can I say no to living in a “joint” family when I would hate for anyone to reject my brother for the same reason.

What helped you resolve that inner conflict? 

What helped me the most in my final decision was my strong belief in Allah’s mercy. I had been studying Islam more at this time. The more I studied, the more I wondered what would would be most pleasing to Allah swt? Would this one sacrifice on my part be something our Prophet (peace be upon him) would encourage?

I was sure of one thing. Our sabr and sacrifice for the sake of Allah does not go unnoticed or unrewarded. There are greater rewards in the next world, God willing.

I had an otherwise perfectly good proposal from a wonderful Muslim man but it required a huge sacrifice from me. So even though the situation was not what I considered ideal, I decided to accept it anyway. I knew that I would be the one sacrificing but constant reminders of how temporary this life is helped me find peace with my decision. This and knowing that I am giving my husband something that I hope, one day, my brother’s wife will give him; happiness.

You’ve been married for a few years now. How has life been living with your in laws? Are you happy?

Check out part 2 of my interview with Sofina Begum. We will continue our discussion on what types of challenges she has faced since getting married. We’ll touch on changing family dynamics once you add kids to the equation. 

Please leave comments and add to the discussion! What is your take on the topic?

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  • Uzma

    Excellent 🙂

  • Sulaiman Binta

    Subhanallaah! Indeed it’s touching and a lot of wisdom is hidden in it…

    • Sadaf

      Glad you liked it 🙂

    • JazakaAllah Sulaiman Binta! I’m glad you enjoyed her story.

  • Syeda

    Very thought provoking article, thanks for bringing this subject to light!

    • Sadaf

      Thank you for your comment 🙂

    • Thank you Syeda for taking part in the discussion. Stay tuned for part 2 of her story!

  • Interesting subject… I’m sure many of us have a lot to say about it… hope things are working out well for this sister, may Allah give her strength and protect her from harm. Ameen

    • Sadaf

      Ameen to your duas. I agree that everyone has their point of view. That is why I want to share everyone’s opinions so that we can better understand each other inshaAllah. Stay tuned for part 2 of her story!

    • Ameen to your duas UmmAda. May Allah make it easy for all of us in our struggles.

  • I don’t think living with in laws is viable for everyone. And they most certainly aren’t being selfish. There are numerous factors involved.

    • Sadaf

      You’re right. Everyone’s situation in life is different and I feel it’s important to hear each other, even if we don’t necessarily agree with them.

    • Yes I agree with you Muslimah22. All of our realities are so different and unique. That is exactly why I started this blog so we can hear everyone’s stories and learn from each other. And hopefully try to understand each other without judgement inshaAllah.

  • I enjoyed reading your post! I think in today’s “materialistic” world it’s become very rare for a newly wed couple, or any couple to live with in-laws but sometimes that’s our only option. I too, live with my in law’s at the moment – Alhamdulillah for everything. With patience and prayer you can get through anything. No one knows the future but Allah, so rest assured that one day you will find yourself in a situation better than your wildest dreams, as long as you are grateful.
    May Allah reward you and bless your home with Barakah.

  • Princess

    MashaAllah may Allah preserve you and reward you for your sacrifice. However , everyone has their story and some times, in order to save your relations with your in laws and maintain the respect, you have to take a move to settle down seperatley. It’s not called selfishness but another wise way to handle things. And if the relation of the son and his parents is shaky and not stable, how much can a wife do? As much as I am a strong supporter of living with in laws, I am also very concerned about the life of that girl who’s left everything behind and taken the decision to get married – she deserves mental sanity and needs to feel a purpose in life too. All cases are different and can not be dealt with the same solution or mindset – and that was also the practise of the Prophet p.b.u.h that he death each one according to their level.

    • Thank you for sharing your point of view. I love hearing all sides and open discussions. Her decision is not for everyone, I agree. Relationships are always complicated and should be nurtured in the best way we can. I presented her story to inspire us to be more compassionate towards our elderly for the sake of Allah swt. Please continue to share your thoughts with us 🙂