Living with in-laws – agreement before marriage
My mother is disabled and I take care of her Alhamdulillah.
I have a sister but she is also disabled and unable to take care of her properly. My brother is not responsible enough and also has mental health problems so he too is unable to take care of her properly. So I feel a responsibility to take care of my mother and Alhamdulillah I am happy to be able to do so.
My predicament is that I am getting old and want to get married insha’Allah, but I need to live with my mother in order to take care of her. I would be taking care of her myself and would not expect my wife to help unless she chooses to do so freely.
I read a bit about the right of a wife to her own accommodation. Since I haven’t yet married someone, would it be acceptable to stipulate beforehand in the marriage contract that my future wife would be living with in-laws?
Alhamdulillah I am in the process of buying a house which my family intend to move into, so I would still be able to provide a private, separate bedroom and bathroom (I could possibly even make it ensuite), but it would be within the house and some contact with in-laws would be inevitable. It would not be a very big bedroom, just an average-sized double bedroom. I might be able to build an outhouse in the garden but I’m not sure yet as it depends on planning permissions. If an outhouse isn’t possible, would the bedroom and bathroom be okay or does it need to be completely separated and does it have to be a certain size?
Allāh Ta’ālā says:
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship not except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of they reach old age (while) with you, say not to them (so much as) ‘uff’, and do not reprimand them, rather speak to them a noble (kind) word. [Al-Qur’ān 17:23]
Based on the aforementioned verse of the Holy Qur’ān, it is commendable that you are willing to look after your mother, and that you are happy to do so.
May Allāh Ta’ālā reward you immensely.
Though it is not binding upon them, the Sharī’ah strongly encourages doing good to one’s spouse’s parents, as it also enhances the strength of the marriage.
Furthermore, it is necessary that the husband provides shelter for the wife.
‘Shelter’ would be defined differently according to the financial status of the husband. Three scenarios are given below:
- If the husband has the financial means which is beyond average, then the wife is entitled to her own house.
- If the husband is of an average financial status, then she is entitled to a room within the house (wherein the rest of his family resides). This room should be exclusive to her, and none shall have access to it except the husband and those whom she permits to enter.
Together with this, she will also be entitled to her own private toilet, bathroom, and kitchen.
- If the husband is financially constrained, the wife will only be entitled to her own private room which none shall have access to except the husband and those whom she permits to enter.
The toilet, bathroom, and kitchen will then have to be shared with the rest of his family.
Regarding the size of the facilities, there is no set ruling with regard to this. However, we advise that the size be such that it allows for comfort and ease.
In scenarios 2 and 3 mentioned above, the wife should maintain the laws of Ḥijāb in the case where others from the opposite gender (excluding the husband’s father) are present in the household and she finds herself out of her private quarters.
Finally, whilst it is not necessary to sign an official contract, it will be highly encouraged to at least inform your potential spouse about the accomadation arrangements before the marriage. This will prevent many problems and misunderstandings later on.