Friday 24 May 2019

Squabbles and Tears

My in-laws have been here for about two weeks now. Usually one will come to stay with us for a few months in the summer and the other will stay behind in Lahore to keep an eye on the household there.  This time we thought it best they come together as it didn’t seem right to separate them as they got older.

It seems they might not have thought the same.  Mum-in-law has lost some of her sight and mobility in the last year or so and it has made her quite depressed, she seems to be grieving her independence and struggles with both pain and the guilt of feeling that she can’t help out more.  It is a way of being that makes me sad – she has worked hard all her life and is fully entitled to rest and focus on herself now, but still she feels that she has to “pay her way” almost by doing her share.

Dad-in-law has lost his hearing and had an operation to have stents put in his heart.  He refuses to wear his hearing aid, out of pride and a little vanity I think, also I don’t think he likes to be considered old (at 75).  He also refuses to change his diet and just about takes his medicines with much harassment from mum-in-law and my husband.  The loss of hearing seems to leave him a little isolated.  It must feel lonely to miss so much of what people are talking about and to feel left out of conversations.

Someone once told me that the first twenty years of a marriage belong to the man, the next twenty years to both the husband and wife and the last twenty is when the woman is in control.  Perhaps not anymore, but in a traditional context, this seemed to make sense.  The man used to be the boss, until the children grew up and supported their mother, then she would have the upper hand. In both my parents and my in-laws case, the husband took on a very traditional role of bringing in an income and never ever helping with the home or children – the very idea was strange to them.  Their say was final and their way was law.

So now more than 40 years on, as the men of the household lose their dominance, mum-in-law gets really upset about the fact that she never had any help and dad-in-law listens even less then usual.  So while she is protective of him and looks our for his needs, she gets really, really cross with him.  They have had a few squabbles over little things like what to cook and whose going into the bathroom next.  A few days ago she lost her temper and said she wished she had not come with him, she was too old and poorly for his teasing and obstinance.  I felt for her so much, she has had a lifetime of caring for so many but receiving so very little care in return.  So now whenever she gets really annoyed, she tells dad-in-law to go wash some dishes or go to the masjid to get him out of her hair.

It makes me so grateful for my husband who is caring, helps with the housework and most of all puts others before himself alhamdullilah. It also makes me think of the importance of self-care, investing in your own health and happiness and not losing your own sense of self in the service of your family.  A message for brothers also perhaps, don’t take for granted the wife who serves you with loyalty and love, there may be a day when she is sick of the sight of you and no longer dependent on you, you may then find yourself faced with contempt and loneliness.

May Allah (SWT) grant our parents and elder’s good health in their old age, comfort and peace of mind insh’Allah, may He grant us the opportunity to serve and car for then and be a source of happiness and comfort for them insh’Allah, ameen.

Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents.  If one of them or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them.  And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, “My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small.” ~ Quran, 17:23-24

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, "He is not of us who does not have mercy on young children, nor honor the elderly" (Al-Tirmidhi).

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: Allah's Apostle said: Let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust. It was said: Allah's Messenger, who is he? He said: He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise (Sahih Muslim).

Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said,“If a young man honours an elderly on account of his age, Allah appoints someone to honour him in his old age.” (At-Tirmidhi)

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