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OnIslam.net

Sexless Marriage and Controlling Mother-in-Law

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 August 2013 17:47

Ask Dr. Bachmeier: Counseling Session
By Family Editorial Board
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You Ask, Dr. Bachmeier Answers
Online Counseling Session
 

Editor's note: Read the full live session with Dr. Dr. Maryam Bachmeier, where she answers readers' questions about husband- wife intimacy and relations with mother-in laws.

 

Question 1: Sexless Marriage

AOA, I have a question related to husband wife relation in the light of Islam. It's one year and almost 3-5 months to my marriage and we didn't have intercourse since, my husband is facing a problem and doctor has suggested him medicine but it seems like it doesn't work much and I believe it’s lack of my husband's interest as well as he doesn't seem like putting much effort. He has even gone through a physical check up and doctors said he is physically fine he don't even have depression. I don't know what's wrong with him and the problem we are facing is creating complications between us and it’s affecting other relations too. What should I do?

Answer 1:

Wa Alaykum Assalam Sister,

This is a very new marriage and you have not been together for very long. There are many factors that could contribute to one partner lacking interest in intercourse with their spouse. The approach of Islam is peace. To achieve this, we seek understanding. As a psychologist, I am not qualified to suggest Fiqh. You may benefit from submitting the question to our Ask the Scholar section here at Onislam.net as well. It is very likely that you have a right to divorce, and it is likely that you can get an annulment rather than divorce if you do not engage in intercourse. But again, I would have you clarify that. Here, let’s explore ways in which we might find a resolution to this problem while preserving an amicable relationship with mutual respect and positive feelings toward one another.

The most important component in any relationship is communication. I do not know the conditions of your marriage, or how long you knew each other prior to marriage. I do not know if this is an arranged marriage, or if this is a marriage that you both mutually chose to enter into. Whatever the foundation of your marriage, the single most important skill to learn is communication. If you are both able to communicate with each other, you will be able to understand each other’s needs as human beings. Then, you will be able to either develop a level of intimacy on an emotional level that will create a safe environment to learn how to be with each other sexually, or you will be able to part ways amicably and dissolve the marriage.

Let’s look at some reasons a man may avoid intercourse with a new wife. One reason is that he honestly does not want to be married, or to be married to the person that they are with. If this is the case, it is not personal. It may be that he felt pressured to be married and was not really ready. It is also possible that he is shy and/or has what is called “performance anxiety”. He may be afraid that he will disappoint you, or he may be embarrassed to be seen without his clothes on. He may worry that he won’t be graceful or competent in the act of sexual intercourse. This can cause a lot of anxiety in a young man. You can see why communication is so very important now.

Begin by letting your new husband know that regardless of what happens in your marriage you want to be his friend. Let him know that you want to talk, but that you will also be a safe friend. Create an environment where he will feel safe telling you the truth about himself and about what is going on with him.

Keep in mind that you are not “trapped” and that there is a workable solution. It will take time. At this point, I would advise you not to have any intercourse until after you have both had an opportunity to revisit your marriage situation and to determine if this marriage is what you both want. This way, if you decide to dissolve the marriage, you will feel good and you won’t be as attached to your husband. By proceeding in this manner, you can also establish and maintain a supportive friendship with this man.

Remember, Prayer is always a part of any Islamic solution. So remember to pray for a healthy an amicable solution, pray for your husband’s happiness and for guidance for yourself.

Salaam,
Dr. Bachmeier

Question 2: Feeling I'm a Loser for Losing Him

I had written to you in your session 2 weeks ago. Thank u for replying. This email is connected to the last one.

I want to know how to break the connection between that guy and religion- the connection that I have in my mind. I kind of keep looking down at myself because he did not pick me. And since I thought that he knows religion better than other people around so I feel religion looks down upon me too. Similarly, I feel his wife, that girl, superior to me since she ended up with him. And Allah made her end up with him (as per his words). I know this way of thinking is very wrong. I do know that. But how do I fight it?  Even when I try imagining myself with someone else in the future, same thoughts hit me. I feel that he (the guy I wanted to be with) told me to adjust with someone in the future, so I feel it’s my defeat if I finally do adjust. I want to stop waking up with this feeling of being a loser. How do we condition our thought pattern? I told you in my last email that not many avenues are open to me.

Answer 2:

Salaams Sister,

The Light of Allah is found within your heart. This is the light that will draw you closer to Him. Indeed, this is the light that must become strong if you desire to unite with a man who has a strong light. What you were attracted to was not religion, but spirituality. Religion is a path, a way of life that will facilitate our spiritual growth. Religion is the way that we keep our environment, and the way we behave so that we can experience spirituality and live a spiritual life. Religion is the “how to”; Spirituality is the state of consciousness that we live from. Spirituality is the paradigm from which we operate. Our level of spirituality will equal our level of awareness and the ability to live from the core spiritual part of our being, i.e., our soul.

You are not a “loser”; you are a learner and a liver of life. Your attraction to this man was that you saw where you want to be on a spiritual level. Though you cannot see this yet, from where I am sitting, I perceive this man coming into your life, and then leaving as a gift from Allah. If he had not left, you would continue to be dependent on him for the real relationship that you seek to have in your own bones. The root of who you are, the core being inside yearns for the same relationship with Allah that you perceive this man to have. Your next “lesson” is to realize this relationship within yourself.

It is an “ego” state of consciousness that perceives oneself as a winner or a loser. And the spiritual connection with Allah is without ego and produces love. Love for your true self, love for your family, love for you community, love for humanity. This love is indeed, love for ALLAH. When you understand this, you will realize your relationship with Allah.

The way to break the connection that you have of this man and religion, of your belief that your ability to become a pious and religious woman is dependent on being with this man, is to shift your focus onto your own inner experience and explore for yourself some very important life issues. Ask yourself what kind of woman you want to be; what do you want to give to your family and your community? What attributes of Allah do you want to cultivate into your personality, inner experience, outer expression for your sake and for the sake of the people that you care about? What are your core values? This will be the beginning of a spiritual journey for you. By shifting your focus onto your own development, you will break this belief  that your ability to experience Allah and a spiritual life is dependent on any other individual.

In the meantime, here is a way to stop the negative self-talk (chatter) in your mind. Get a journal. Begin the habit of writing in it daily. Write down the negative self-talk that you “hear” yourself saying. Capture this. You will begin to know what you are saying to yourself that makes you feel like a “loser”.

Now, you can write affirmations that counteract the negative self-talk. For example if you think “I will never amount to anything”, write “I am a worthwhile, talented, and valuable person.”  “I am always becoming even better.”

Then keep a list of a few simple affirmations and work on getting a habit of saying them silently to yourself whenever you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself. For example, “I am worthy”.  Say that one statement over and over again for several days. Then, when you catch yourself thinking to yourself something negative, say silently to yourself, “I am worthy”. Make this become a habitual thought for yourself.

This is a long process and you have to make the effort to do the work. It takes time to journal, to capture the negative thoughts, and to come up with positive replacement thoughts. However, reprogramming your mind in this way will help to clear the way toward understanding spirituality.

We do not know what Allah has destined for you. You live in an area where there are many restrictions. However, this will not stop you from growing on the inside if you keep working on yourself. It is the Light of Allah within you that will transform you. In this transformation will come opportunities that you are not aware exist.

Salaam,

Dr.Bachmeier


Q3: Achieving Satisfaction in Life

Aslamu alyikum...hope you are doing good... I have confusion in my mind ...actually I’m upset...not satisfied from my life...actually I have seen lots of hardships in my life...our father isn’t with us he is separate from us and my mother is wholly and solely taking care of us from very beginning ....she was doing service...she did a lot for us...my sis got married and her husband died coz he was drunkard...he used to harass my sis physically and mentally....my brother is also not concerned with anyone may be he tries or he doesn’t bother....I’m  teaching' and studying side by side...I’m not satisfied don’t know why but I’m not...:(

Answer 3:

Wa Alaykum assalam dear sister,

It seems as if you have a lot of responsibility resting on your shoulders. You have a family that includes you, your mother, your sister and your brother and you appear to be the primary support for your family. In addition to worrying about the welfare of your family, you are working toward bettering yourself and your life conditions by attending school and working. This is a lot for anyone.

If you can solicit one family member to be your partner in your family situation so that things are harmonious at home, you might feel like you have more time to focus on work and studying.

There is something called healthy discontent. Keep in mind that on Earth, there isn’t really a destination. We have goals to strive for, but destiny will also have play in our affairs. This contentment that we seek will come from the peace that we feel when we know we are going in the right direction. When we are in the midst of our own dramas in our own family life, in our own town or city, it can seem like other people have happier or easier lives. But in reality if you were to walk in another’s shoes, you would likely see all kind of obstacles and issues to deal with that you would never be able to see on the surface. The way to achieve what is your destiny to achieve is to work through what is in your life here and now. So, as there is a healthy discontent prompting you to move toward a happier situation and motivating you to work toward that, you will also be unveiling the condition of true contentment within your own core self as your journey brings you more and more knowledge and awareness of who and what you are on this level and in relationship to Allah.

My words are not mere sentiment. I am not a stranger to hardship in my own life. I am telling you this only to encourage you to trust the process. Each challenge in our life is an opportunity to learn something. You will learn about human nature, or about navigating through this world, or about the love of Allah, or about your own self and your strengths and weaknesses, the list is endless. We can look at our challenges in life as extreme and depressing hardship, or we can look at them as gifts bestowed upon us in the form of challenge and opportunity to learn and grow. When you find yourself suffering, ask what is the lesson in this situation for me? What skill do I need to develop in order to overcome this? What attitude would most benefit me in this situation? What understanding and wisdom can I gain from working though this challenge? Then, authentically ask Allah to guide you through the process, protect you from all harm, and help you to achieve that which is His will for you. Take things one day at a time.

Salaam,

Dr. Bachmeier


Question 4: Our Past Refines Us, It Does Not Define Us

Assalam Aleikum W W Dear Counselor,

I am thirty and soon will turn to be thirty-one. I am struggling to move on from a haram relationship that I have had for the past two and half years (I believe I have mentioned this to you before). The problem is that I feel wretched every time I remember how gullible I was and how dirty I became with that Muslim man (he is not married but very sexually experienced). I had never been with any man before and he came along with false hope of marriage. We did all things a husband would do with his wife short of sexual intercourse. I really want to move on but the memories keep plaguing me and pull me back and down. I wish I had amnesia and forgot this man. I have so much hate toward him. He even called me a hypocrite saying that I have been with other men but pretend to be untouched when I am with him. As Allah is my witness no man has dared touch me except this man. And I had let him. I hate this feeling of feeling dirty. How do I get better? How can I get past feeling dirty and so low? This man makes me feel like a whore (sorry for my language). But how do I make myself better and move past this torture that I do to myself? If you say forgive yourself, please tell me how can I start doing that? How do I forgive myself, this man, forget everything, stop feeling wretched and get better? Please help me. (Please counselor, address everything mentioned in my paragraph. I want to move on but I just don't know how).

"Women impure are for men impure, and men impure for women impure and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity: these are not affected by what people say: for them there is forgiveness, and a provision honourable." (24:26)

 Like I mentioned before we have not had the actual sex. It hurts me very much to realize that I have done this filth which I have always known was haraam. I used to be very proud of my taqwa and had this self strength and assuredness that things like zinaa don't/won’t happen to me. And I also feel like that part of me might have had something to do with the fact that I refused to go all the way with him and Alhamdulillah did not have sex. But I was still weak and did other nasty stuff. Am I considered impure? I feel really impure but does the above verse apply to someone like me?   Jazaka Allah

Answer 4:

Wa Alaykum Assalam dear sister,

Yes, I do remember you. Thank you for writing in again. There are many women who struggle with issues of their past and your willingness to share might help a sister as well.

Once you understand yourself a little bit better, you will be able to forgive yourself. And more importantly you will feel yourself as a pure woman. One thing you must understand is that a woman your age is going to be sexual, in that you will have sexual desires. If you can accept this, and then protect yourself from unlawful sex, you will learn that you are not supposed to be ashamed for having sexual feelings. We just want to keep them to ourselves so that when we do marry, we can share this special part of ourselves with our own husbands. Though it is important to continue to protect yourself from temptation as you have learned, purity is a state of being that begins in the heart.

The lesson here is to understand how vulnerable you were and are. This, in itself is not impurity. You did not have evil intentions. The man had evil intentions because he manipulated you into a bad situation. Even when a woman does not want to violate her physical purity, if she is molested, her body will respond sexually, even though she does not want to engage in the act. This is confusing for women. This is why women need to protect themselves by refusing to be alone with a man, especially one that she is attracted to, because he will have this power over her. So, understanding that your desires are not impure will help you a lot with understanding that you are indeed a good and pure woman.

This is something that time can heal. Realize your innocence, and understand your own nature. Remind yourself that it is your heart that requires purification. This is true for all of us. Shift your focus from the past as soon as you can and live in the moment as much as you can. Look around you and see what Allah has given you. Become busy with charitable activities and develop a new sense of who you are in relationship with Allah. The pure woman has first a relationship with Allah. If she has this, then nothing can defile her soul.

The sexual acts in and of themselves are not nasty. They are what the body craves. The body is not bad. Allah gave us vessels of flesh and bone so that we can experience being in this world. Your body is good, and so are you. The idea is only to learn how to protect yourself and your body. From our correspondence over time through Onislam.net, I believe you have.

How then, can you possibly think ill toward yourself at this time? My own understanding of the verse that you wrote is that like attracts like. So, become the woman that you want to be. If you want to attract a pure man, a man of honor who is honest and has pure intentions, then ask Allah to guide you so that you can develop into the same kind of woman. Don’t worry about past mistakes. When you are in the process of change, a past mistake will only refine you, because you learn from it-but it does not define you.

Personal growth and bettering yourself in any areas that you feel would make you a better person is the positive approach to change. If you busy yourself with this, the memories of this man and the behaviors that you engaged in will fade. You will begin to identify with the activities and social relationships and work that you are doing now.

Again, our past refines us, it does not define us. Take it one day at a time, but move forward toward new goals while seeking the guidance of Allah.

Salaam,

Dr. Bachmeier


Question 5: Unmarried and Lonely

I followed you on the old website a few years ago and wrote to you often. I am almost 42, professional, unmarried. I have wanted to be married and have a family of my own for many, many years, but if you recall, the regular Islamic channels never worked for me, nor did my family take an interest in my goals despite my pleas to them. I don't live in the US so I don't have access to a large, intricate Muslim community which will afford me the opportunity to live in a "bubble" within North American society-- and I do feel that living in such a bubble is the only way a Muslim can survive in a non Muslim world. After much thought and reflection, and working with a psychologist, I have come to conclude that my religion and culture have orphaned me, in a sense. I have followed my Islamic duties to my parents and siblings, stayed chaste, honored my family's cultural traditions, followed all the rules, but received nothing in return but loneliness and the responsibility for aging, sick parents who, to be frank, do not pay me much heed.

 My struggle now is finding the seeds of a happy life, in a world that is very lonely for me. I have not abandoned my faith, I still pray, fast, make zakat, read suras and dua, dress appropriately, and talk to Allah. I believe in the Quran. It's the institutional aspect that bothers me, but that is another story. Anyway, I feel like the years are stretched out ahead of me in a grey, harsh fashion. I have prayed for years for change, and tried many activities and hobbies to effect such change, and also tried the online matrimonial world for years. I try to make new friends, but that is hard, although I will try to engage socially (movie with a friend, meet someone for lunch, email someone, etc). I see my parents daily and help them as much as I can (no easy task, they are not always kind to me). I volunteer my time in a few charities, and my work -- while stressful -- is certainly consuming. Sometimes, if there is enough money, I take a trip somewhere. But I feel "that's it." These are the strategies I learned in my 30s to deal with the loneliness as I watched my peers and co workers have their weddings, families, babies, homes, etc...but these same strategies are running their course now. 

 Two years ago I met someone, we loved each other but he wasn't Muslim. It was a miracle, at the time, that I even crossed paths with him. I tried to make things work but to no avail, I had to end things and that did hurt him -- but he met someone wonderful shortly thereafter. I wanted to continue to try to find a way for us to return to each other but he said no. I remain hurt by that loss, especially since he was a wonderful, loving man and it was my only shot at a family life, being a spouse, and motherhood. The last 2 years have been quite sad and lonely despite my efforts to move on in life, and like I said I am a bit hurt inside still. I continue to dream about this man, and the dreams are so vivid that I find myself wondering what they mean while also mourning all over again each time I have one (it takes about a week after each dream for me to go back to status quo). We do not have any contact with each other, nor will we ever, unless it is via a bridge created by Allah. I have accepted the situation, even though the pain remains.

 I’ve reached the end of my childbearing years although I did get my eggs frozen last year at a fertility clinic. Still, I feel exhausted at the prospect of living my years ahead alone, at trying to find "new activities" to do to stay busy, at watching my older brothers live their lives with their families, and at spending the next decade or less balancing my work with my aging/sick parents over and above managing my unfulfilled emotional needs. I do feel as though life forgot about me. I often wonder if God will show mercy on me and give me an illness that will end my life early. Because if this is all there is, it's bleak.

Answer 5:

 Assalam Alaykum Sister,

I do remember you. I do understand how lonely your life has been. I know your pain is real. There are really three deep issues that you are bringing to light in your writing here. The first problem is with the culture of the Islamic community leaving unmarried mature women alone and unable to connect with the Muslim community unless such a woman is born into a Muslim family. Next is an existential problem that you are having in finding meaning in your life. The third is the loneliness that you are experiencing having no one in your life that you feel close to and feel safe with.

Let’s begin with “western based Islamic community”. This problem exists even in North America USA. It is the size of the Muslim population; it is that the designs of the communities are not inclusive of mature single women. Indeed, there is often a push to marry in the USA to a complete stranger so that she is conforming to the “Islamic” community. Yet, this can also cause much heartache and hardship to both spouses. Yet, if Allah is One, then Allah is not East or West. Morality is not an Eastern or Western virtue. Love is needed by all and we all need Allah equally. You are not alone in your loneliness. Many men and women in western cultures came to Islam only to find themselves somewhat “ex-communicated” or unable to develop deep meaningful bonds where one can find that mutual guarantee of caring and support. 

 In the west, the Churches filled that gap for many many years. The problem is, we in the west learned the truth about the flawed theology of the Christian Church, and many, like you turned to Islam for their faith. The problem is, there is no support, there is no “church family”, and such westerners find themselves alone. Meanwhile, a western man, who is single and lonely has no problem going to the masjid and he will meet men who will become his friends and they will have sisters and daughters, and if he wants to marry, he will likely marry. The woman, is not at home in the masjid for all the other women are either married or have family, and she is an outsider. Yet, due to the fact that she has embraced Islam, such woman is not always welcome or accepted or able to integrate into the communities of her own home culture either. This leaves such a woman with no support, no friends, and very alone.

 The people who come to the west and build Masjids, bring with them family, extended family, and a “Church like system” build into their family system, and they have no desire or need to change that. And there is no reason why they should. This is a dilemma that will be looked at by our Islamic leaders soon, I pray.

Given the way things are, the question is, how can a mature western born Muslim woman integrate into a support system so that she can make close heart to heart friendship and not be left out in the cold? Even to make women friends, if she is not going to marry? I’m as saddened by this phenomenon as you are, and unfortunately, there is no easy answer. I can only encourage you to continue to keep your heart open to the friends that you do have near you and try to see if you cannot develop a friendship to a deeper level. 

 We still have the issue of finding meaning in your life. You present yourself as a person who is suffering from depression. This may be circumstantially induced, or it might be organic. If you are depressed, this may also make you want to isolate and/or make it difficult for you to feel comfortable enough with other people in order to make the friendships that you need. If you are able to work through your depression, you can also look for a passion within you. It is the fulfillment of your passion that will help to bring meaning in your life. For example, if you have a passion for children, and you are involved with charities that offer you opportunities to work with children in need, you might be able to satisfy your passion. You might even find a second career that you can transition to later on in life. I am happy to know that you continue to work with your therapist. I pray that over time you will find this passion and I genuinely feel that if you can identify this and find a creative way to express this passion in a way that will help humanity, you will begin to feel alive, and your desire for life will increase.

 And this brings us back to loneliness. If you address your need for community and you do not limit yourself to the Muslim community, while seeking ways to work in your charity life from the core of your being with passion, it is likely that you will be able to consciously and pro-actively network and develop a “community” of your own where there is a mutual guarantee for reciprocity and opportunities for deep bonds of friendship and shared goals and visions. For example, if you love animals, and your passion and life work is to save abandoned animals, you can do this through organizations that are not necessarily Muslim. You can make many friends through your passion that you really do live in a community of people who also love animals. They won’t all be Muslim, but they will all have a shared passion and shared vision and shared goals. 

 The light that Allah puts in our heart can only find fulfillment when we express it through our life and actions. Light attracts light. You do not have to leave your practice of Islam in order to connect with other human beings. Food for thought.

Salaam,

Dr Bachmeier         


Question 6: Depressed and Suicidal Girl

Salam I'm a 16 year old girl and I really need help. I have had some major issues with my parents and now everyone else as well. I don't get along with my mom and it seems like she hates me and regrets having me as her daughter, only sometimes things are good between us but otherwise my life is a nightmare. I also feel alone most of the time. I used to offer all prayers and think that Allah will help me and He does, maybe I’m just someone that is meant to be tortured by everyone and my friends also have me as an option, I feel like they use me when they need something. I don’t feel comfortable sharing my problems with people. I have searched a lot of counseling communities online. I am having suicidal thoughts for a very long time now and I have hurt myself a couple of times. And I’m aware that suicide is haram in Islam but can't Allah forgive someone like me? I mean I really have no other option and no one to help so killing myself is the only way. Will Allah also hate me like everyone else if I do commit suicide??

 

Answer:

Salam Dear Sister,

I hear what you are saying and I really do understand how deep and dark a world can become when we feel like we do not have the loving connections and anyone to understand us can become. Loneliness is the absolute most painful emotional state to be in. That does not mean there is no hope. Your mother does love you, I can tell that you know this by the way you mention her in your post here. It may seem like she hates you, but in reality, she’s probably living a stressful life and she probably can’t be with you the way that she really, really wants to.  It is likely that she is feeling frustrated and is hurting also, wanting to connect with you also. It also seems like you could benefit from learning how to be firm with healthy boundaries while improving social skills. This will help you build confidence so that you can proactively make healthy friendship.

I would like to know more about your situation. I am able to provide more detailed responses if you write into the counselors section. Ask for Dr. Bachmeier. I would like to know where you are living, and what options for counseling you might have. Although these responses are clearly only consultation, I am interested in hearing your problems and seeing what we can do.

Additionally, it is very important that if you feel suicidal that you tell at least one other person in your physical social circle how you are feeling. I need you to promise me that you will do this, and that you will also get three people that you know to agree to be on standby should you feel this sad and feel this way again.. you should not be alone when you feel suicidal. When you write in again please assure me that you have done this work. 

Finally, get into counseling ASAP. You need face to face counseling, this is extremely important even if you feel better in a couple of days. I want to hear about your attempts to find this counseling for yourself when you write in again. If you find yourself in crisis please call your local crisis number. Get a list of crisis numbers and post them somewhere that you can access easily wherever you may be.

So, to recap, this is what you will bring to me in the next post that you send to Onislam.net to the Ask the Counselor Section:

  • 1.       Primary person that you will tell about how you are feeling
  • 2.       Three total safety people that you can turn to if you are in crisis
  • 3.       A description of your attempts to get counseling and what the barriers to such counseling are, if any. And/or news that you are schedule for face to face clinical counseling.
  • 4.       A list of crisis numbers that you will keep with you at all times.

5.       To connect with me through the counseling section, select Ask the Counselor, then select Submit Question and mention me there. I will respond if you specifically ask for Dr. Bachmeier in your submission.

I hope to hear from you very soon.

Salaam,

Dr. Maryam   


Question 7: Building Relationships

Dear Dr. Bachmeier,

This is N.A. from East Africa. A continuing update of my relationship status & things going on continues.

I am listening and practicing your guidance along the way starting from before two weeks, thanks again. Below is for this week.

We (Me & my "Girlfriend") are communicating often this week. She called mid this week and she sounded like she missed me & I was a bit surprised by that. I called her today and we also talked how things are and how her work was & also about my status here.

But Doctor, there is something that I am not able to do & that is how to approach her in to the mood of asking her when she wants to set the date for marriage. She doesn't raise that issue at all. May be she's busy & tired or maybe not. What do you think I should do? As you have told me to wait for at least 3 weeks for her communication, I waited but she is communicating on her first week (This week). What next? I want to approach her about this (Marriage or Nikah) but she doesn't even raise the issue of marriage or living together. I don't want to ask her because I think that she may act negatively & I don't want to push her.  Let me know what you think about it.

Regards,

N.A. from East Africa

 

Answer 7:

Assalam Alaykum Brother,

I am happy to hear that she called you. You are doing a great job. Now you have some more information about her work. Wait for two more weeks before you ask her about setting a date for marriage. Hopefully the two of you will talk again. Focus on asking her how she feels about life and possibly even ask her some open ended questions, such as, what her hopes or dreams for the future are. It is important to know if both of you have the same ideas about marriage before you moved forward to commitment. It is you that she is hesitating due to not having these things discussed and agreed upon. So, make sure if she wants children, and how she imagines marriage would be. But do not mention the date for another two weeks. Just engage her in conversation.   

Keep me posted. We will see what happens in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to hearing from you next week. 

Salaam,

Dr. Bachmeier  

 


Question 8: Mother-in-Law Problem

 Salaam,  Hope you are fine. Please advise on mother-in-law problem. I have been engaged for marriage but I am sensing a future mother-in-law problem from my mother's side. Generally, my mum is a disciplinarian who scolds very frequently. She scolds almost every one younger than her especially those close and related to her. She is the eldest in their family and she likes exercising authority as a result. I see that this can be a problem because she can be scolding her daughter-in-law on almost everything she does wrong. My mum is also a very demanding person with high expectation from whoever is going to be her daughter-in-law (she never had a daughter, I am the only child). She is very demanding in terms of work and chores (mum is hard working), and call upon her sisters, nieces, brothers, nephews to carry out a duty or chore for her. She calls "come and plait my hear", "cook this for me", "do this, do that". This can also be a problem because mum is most likely going to be demanding from her daughter-in-law. In fact, she has mentioned to me several times that she wants her daughter-in-law to treat her like her real mum, and she will treat her like her own real daughter. She expects a very close relationship with her daughter-in-law and we will be living close in same town and probably same house. I see these as likely problems, please advise.

 I know the place of mother in Islam and that Jannah of a son is under the feet of his mother. It is a very delicate relationship and the son has to be very cautious in relating with his mother. Remember the case of a companion of the Prophet (saw) who was unable to pronounce the shahadah at the verge of his death due to an unknown misdeed he did; he was only able to pronounce the kalima after Prophet's (saw) intervention by asking the mother to forgive him. In the light of all of the above, please advise me. Also recommend some Islamic biased articles and text on mother-in-law relationship/problem if you know any.

 Thank you.  Muhammad

 

Answer 8:

Salaam Muhammad,

Have you attempted to talk to either your fiancée or your mother? Is it possible for you to live in a separate home to minimize the conflict? It is important to care about your mother's feelings. Still, you might be able to talk to your mother and talk to her about how a sudden change in environment will likely be difficult for your soon-to-be wife and encourage your mother to be a little softer.

If it is at all possible to talk with your fiancée and prepare her, she may be able to learn diplomacy also. If you are going to live under the roof of your mother, however, it is likely that she will be expected to do chores also. Again, it might be helpful to talk to your fiancée about this and prepare her so that you can both talk about approaches that you will use with your mother so that you have healthy boundaries but are also able to honor her feelings.

Likewise, it will be helpful to talk to your mother and ask her to be patient with your wife and to help her to adjust to her marriage and new way of life. It will be especially helpful if you are given some privacy and time to spend with your new wife so that the two of you can develop good communication skills and to bond in a healthy way, and then then you can prepare approaches with family members.

 

Salaam,

Dr. Bachmeier


About Dr. Bachmeier:
  • Dr. Bachmeier is a Psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a published researcher, former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant to her Muslim community in the areas of mental health, cultural, family and relationship issues, and more.
  • Dr. Bachmeier currently writes for OnIslam.net and also works for GUAM DMHSA (Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse) as a clinical psychologist providing general clinical services, consultation, and teaching Behavioral Management system wide.
  • She previously worked at Napa State Hospital which is both a forensic hospital and a hospital for non-forensic patients providing a wide variety of services, assessment, and consultation as a clinical psychologist. Over the years she has provided both individual counseling in the areas of Family Issues, marital counseling, drug addiction, anger management, family consultation to those who have elderly family members, many with Alzheimer’s, end of life counseling to both those making their transition and their family members, and women’s issues.
  • She previously worked in private and outpatient settings as well as in a woman’s shelter providing counseling to those who were suffering from domestic violence.
  • Dr. Bachmeier also taught Positive programming for parents and facility program directors of children who have Autism and/or mental retardation as well as in home consultation to the families of such individuals and has provided consultation to a variety of organizations/institutions.

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