By you desk
Tue, 10, 19

I am a 37-year-old married woman. Ours was a joint family system when I got married....

Dear Nadine,

I am a 37-year-old married woman. Ours was a joint family system when I got married. However, after the death of my mother-in-law seven years ago, my two elder brothers-in-law moved to their own houses. At present, I live with my father-in-law and unmarried sister-in-law. My husband is very attached to his sister. Since I got married 10 years back, I have watched my sister-in-law, Z, manoeuvre my father-in-law and my husband. To them, she is just a delicate and helpless girl they need to protect. She is a selfish and greedy young woman and keeps getting very expensive gadgets from her father and my husband without even actually asking for them. She just has this way of looking at something wistfully and talking about it in a longing way. When a new cell phone came out, she told my husband and father-in-law at dinner time how wonderful it is and how all her friends were asking her when she was going to get it. And then in the voice of a martyr she said she told them she couldn’t because her circumstances were different! The very next day, my father-in-law and husband chipped in to buy that Rs100k cell! The irony of the matter is that although I work and earn a decent amount, I have been using my three-year-old cell phone. This lady had a new cell only last year for her birthday. When I pointed this out, my husband said that Z became very sensitive after the death of her mother and he was trying to bring her back to life!

Finally, my husband’s eyes opened when my father-in-law decided to sell his house and give his children their due share according to shariah. Z demanded to be given the share her brothers are getting. She said she wants to safeguard her future. I don’t understand how she convinced my father-in-law, but he has agreed to it. My brothers-in-law are not won over as yet, and are pretty angry but my husband is not saying anything. When I spoke to him, he said we will have a very good amount and since he did not have to pay rent, he has saved a lot and does not mind his sister getting equal share. My eldest brother-in-law pointed out that my sister-in-law’s education expenses were more than what my father-in-law spent on his sons. In addition, her dowry also cost my father-in-law an arm and a leg. Z got engaged recently and her wedding is in December this year. She bought designer jewellery and the furniture she has selected is so expensive that my father-in-law had to sell his saving certificates to order it.

My point is that she doesn’t deserve equal share, so how should I make my father-in-law change his mind, in view of the fact that my husband is totally quiet? I want to protect my children’s right, which Z wants to gobble up.

Angry Wife

Dear Angry Wife,

It seems that your sister-in-law manages to get what she wants from her father and brother. They have a soft spot for her because it’s extra difficult for an unmarried girl to lose her mother. Your husband has you and your children but Z probably feels insecure. She knows that after her father passes away, her position would be different, and that is why she has spoken about securing her future. She is not entirely right, but the thing is that you have no right at all to interfere in this business. It’s not your father’s house and you have no share in it. It’s up to your father-in-law how he wants to divide his property. In his lifetime, he can give a particular share to whoever he wants. If he wants his daughter to have more, it’s his prerogative. The only people who can discuss it with him are his children. As for protecting your children’s rights, I don’t think their rights are being snatched; their father is there to safeguard their rights.

My dear, you should let your husband and his siblings discuss the matter amongst themselves and with their father. If you speak up, you will be seen as a greedy person. So remain cool and calm, and support your husband. Try to be bighearted if your father-in-law remains firm in his decision to give her more than she is entitled to, and don’t begrudge the extra amount to your sister-in-law. Your husband is doing well with the grace of God, and seems fully competent to look after his family. I am sure your positive attitude will win the respect and regard of your husband and his family. Good luck.

Problems that need a solution? You can e mail Prof. Nadine Khan at [email protected]

Write to Prof. Nadine Khan, ­c/o Editor ‘You!’ magazine, The News, Al-Rehman Building (4th Floor) I.I. Chundrigar Road, Karachi.