Noble sister in Islam, whether you realize it or not, you are greatly indebted to your mother-in-law, and you are surely aware of the fact that dutifulness to her is as tiring as it is hard. You must bear in mind, however, that the husband you love and honor was raised not by you but by his mother. She carried him in htinuing to do so throughout his childhood and adult life. She remained tired so that he could relax, remained hungry so that he could eat, and stayed up at night so that he could sleep. In short, she made all necessary sacrifices so that he could grow up to be a noble human being and a good husband; the fruits of her toils are there for you to enjoy. Also, remember that from your husband’s early childhood, his mother was waiting for you, longing for the day when her son would grow up and enjoy a happy married life. To be sure, mixed in that hope for a wife that would be compatible with her son, she was also hoping that that wife would be kind and respectful to her. Can you not then find it in you to live up to her hopes, nay, live up to your duties? May Allah guide you and protect you.
My believing sister, that a person loves for others what he loves for himself truly brings happiness, in this life and in the Hereafter. You hope to have children, and if you have a son, your hopes are exactly the same as those that your mother-in-law entertained for so long. Help fulfill her wishes just as you long for yours to be fulfilled. And know that one of the greatest of rights that your husband has over you is for you to help him fulfill his religious duties, one of the greatest of which is to be dutiful to his parents, and to his mother in particular. You must remind him of this duty, and you must then help him fulfill it. If you help him in this regard, you will be blessed with having a husband whom Allah (SWT) will then bless in his lifespan and in his sustenance. The Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Whoever is dutiful to his parents, then Tuba (a name for Paradise, and it has been said, a tree in Paradise) for him. Allah will increase for him his years.” [Reported by Al-Hakim (4/154), from Sahl bin Mu’adh. And AlHakim ruled it to be authentic. Refer to Majma’ Az-Zawa’id (1/140)]
And Thauban (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Nothing increases one’s lifespan except for dutifulness (to one’s parents), and nothing wards off Al-Qadr (divine decree) except for supplication. And indeed, a man is deprived from sustenance because of a sin that he perpetrated.” [Ahmad (5/277, 280,282), Ibn Majah (4022), and Al-Hakim (1/493). And in Faidul-Qadeer (2/333), Al-Manawi ruled it to be authentic]
So help your husband be dutiful to his parents and kind to his relatives, and remember the following Hadith, in which ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“When my nation does 15 things, affliction will befall it…”
And one of the things he (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) mentioned was:
“When a man obeys his wife while he is undutiful to his mother, and (when he is) dutiful to his friend and cold to his father.” [At-Tirmidhi (2210) related it, and he said, “Gharib.”]
Remember that when you become a mother, you will expect obedience and respect from your children. The following is related in a narration.
When you are dealing with your mother-in-law or other in-laws, consider the following:
Treat your mother-in-law as you would treat your mother. And if she is hard upon you at first, earn her respect through patience, compassion, and kindness – and all aspects of a noble character. Your mother-in-law also deserves your respect because of her old age.
When you are addressing your mother-in-law or father-in-law, use the words, “My mother,” or, “My father,” for doing so will have a wonderful effect in softening their hearts towards you.
To win over you mother-in-law’s heart, give her extra attention: call everyday or every other day to see how she is doing, visit her frequently, give her gifts that you know she will appreciate. Not only will she appreciate your efforts, but you husband will be pleased with you as well, and he will show the same respect to your parents.
Show her – but not artificially – how impressed you are with her cooking and with her household management.
Make her feel important by asking her for advice in personal matters or in how to manage your household affairs.
Speak well of her in the presence of others. Some women look for opportunities at social gatherings to speak ill of their husbands’ mothers.
At least every so often, invite her and the rest of your in-laws over for dinner.
Overlook her faults and don’t feel her presence in your home to be burdensome. It comes down to a state of mind, and you should be positive, hoping that Allah will reward you for the kindness you show towards her. In fact, you should insist that she stay with you for as long as possible.
Act in such a way as to make your children love their grandparents, and teach your children to love and respect them.
Beware of criticizing your mother-in-law in the presence of your husband, and beware of criticizing your husband in the presence of your mother-in-law.
When your husband’s sister comes for a visit – even when it is a prolonged visit- treat her as an honored guest. Always show her a smiling face and your good manners, and open up to her, so that she truly becomes your friend and sister in Islam.
Many marital problems begin when a wife does not get along with her in-laws. One of them might say or do something that is inappropriate, and the wise woman is she who knows how to suppress her anger and invent excuses for their behavior. Being such a wife, you must in no way hold your husband culpable for their offences.