Ask Marwa: His Family is Conservative, Should I be Worried?
Date posted: September 21, 2014
This article was published in Identity Magazine September 2014
Hi, Marwa. I am 23 years old and have been engaged to my boyfriend of 2 years for almost 9 months now. He comes from a very conservative family and his parents are extremely religious, while I am not. After the engagement, though, his parents –especially his mom- started interfering EVEN MORE and criticizing my every move, the way I dress and act and throwing hints about me eventually wearing Hijab. My fiancé says that once we are married things will change and they won’t get a say in our lives, but something tells me differently. What do I do?
Your message is very alarming! If you examine the development of your relationship, when you were just dating his family’s influence was minimal, now that you are engaged their influence is deeper and violating, how do you think things will be after you are married and you are officially and legally one of them?
If you think that after marriage you will not see them that much, then you are very wrong! You will see them at least once a week – if not more. You would also be expected to call his mother at least twice a week and usually it is more. Think of the lunches and dinners you will have at their place and the ones they will have at yours. Think of the outings and vacations you will spend together. Think of your kids! Yes! Eventually you will have kids and your in-laws will be their grandparents! How do you think that their interference in your life will be less? They will have an opinion in everything related to your pregnancy, birth-giving, breastfeeding, and how you hold your baby, feed your baby, dress your baby, talk to your baby, and many more details!
My point is: The in-laws do not just vanish! Their influence and opinions that were once subtle become clear and outspoken. If limits are not set from the beginning, there is no way that could change in the future! If your mother-in-law has the audacity today to criticize the way you dress and behave, then she is a nosy person who will never mind her business and stay out of yours! Your fiancé loves you and just wants to get married and it is obvious that he does not have the power to protect your privacy – not now and not in the future.
I am not telling you to call off your wedding! I am asking you to be realistic and to start working on a plan on how to keep a healthy distance between yourself and your in-laws.