6 Ways To Win Over Your Muslim Mother-In-Law

As confident and crisp as this how-to title sounds, what I impart below is not boastful advice based on personal success, but rather lessons learned from a less than stellar start with my wife’s mother. It’s a typical “I’m doomed, but here’s how you can save yourself” piece aimed mostly at non-practicing Jewish men involved with agnostic women who have Muslim moms — in other words, roughly 62% of the U.S. population.

I am Jewish, which, in and of itself, isn’t all that horrible a thing — unless of course you yourself are Muslim and your daughter is married to me.

Welcome to my wife’s mother’s world.

Never mind that I do not actively practice Judaism; that is of no consolation. From a blood standpoint, I’m all Jew. It matters not that I can’t read Hebrew, can’t spell Channuukkahh, am not a doctor or a lawyer, and hate gefilte fish. I’m the enemy in the eyes of my mother-in-law based on what’s coursing through my veins.

And never mind the fact that my wife doesn’t actively practice Islam. That is certainly of no consolation to her mother, who insists that my wife is, in fact, a good Muslim girl who is simply going through a minor rebellious phase. A 20-year long minor rebellious phase.

I met my mother-in-law for the first time at her home in Bali just a few months before the wedding. (I won’t lie, I married my wife partly for the vacations.) The primary aim of the trip was to give her the opportunity to get most of the obligatory cold stares and mumbled epithets out of her system before the big day. Prior to the trip, I asked my soon-to-be wife for some advice on how I might win over her mother despite me being a Red Sea pedestrian. My paramour said not to worry about winning anyone over, as mine was a lost battle. She recommended that I focus instead on learning the currency conversion.

So, I went to Bali with no real strategy or stress. I figured I couldn’t win, so I might as well just relax and be myself. And that is just what I did.

While it is too late for me to recover, there is still hope for other Jews and Jew-like people who are in love with women who have Muslim mothers. I’ve since learned a lot about what I did wrong in dealing with my mother-in-law, and I’d like others to learn from my wisdom.

Here are six things I didn’t do that you should if you ever find yourself in my situation.

1) Convert to Islam. This is, far and away, the most critical step to winning over a Muslim mother-in-law. And all it requires is a quick reading of the Koran, a relatively simple ceremony, and the ability to conceal any and all evidence of your conversion from your Jewish relatives and their friends for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, I am unable to convert, for I, like most fallen or reformed Jews, possess the inability to refrain from bacon. Furthermore, I get very cranky if I miss a meal or even a snack between meals, thus the requisite fasting during Ramadan would be dangerous for me and anyone in my immediate vicinity.

2) Kiss your Muslim mother-in-law’s daughter’s ass, but only figuratively. Muslim mothers — and most other mothers, for that matter — want to be reminded that they have created a beautiful creature and want to see that creature adored  by her man. Be loving and doting, but don’t overdo it, as egregious public displays of affection are considered highly offensive in Muslim culture. Putting your arm around your partner’s shoulder, kissing her on the cheek and saying, “You look stunning, my dear,” is acceptable. Tonguing her ear and saying “You are so frickin hot” is not.    

3) When in doubt, take your shoes off. Failure to remove your shoes before entering an abode and certain other establishments is a sign of disrespect, ignorance and a lack of refinement among most Muslims. Granted, your Muslim mother-in-law will already think that you are disrespectful, ignorant and unrefined even if you do take off your shoes, but at least if you are barefoot or in socks you might stand a fighting chance.

In the event that you forget to remove your shoes in a situation when you are supposed to, and want to recover from your indiscretion, try dropping to your knees and kissing your mother-in-law’s feet while begging for forgiveness. Or simply set yourself on fire as a sign of repentance.

4) Don’t go into her bathroom — ever. If you ever were to catch even the slightest glimpse of your Muslim mother-in-law’s underwear, bra or other unmentionables, it would entirely be within her Islamic rights to kill you. Stay out of the mother’s bathroom — even if she slips and falls in the shower and is screaming for help. Get somebody else in the house to come to her rescue, or, if you are alone, call 911 and let the paramedic contend with the dire penalty that comes with seeing her unclothed.

5) Do not drink alcohol, or at least mask the container.  As tempting as it may be to use vodka, whisky or wine to help you endure the cold stare and piercing silence of your Muslim mother-in-law, you must refrain from doing so. Alcohol is as offensive as public displays of affection, shoed feet, and Jewy blood.

If you absolutely must have an alcoholic drink, disguise it as a regular soft drink, juice or water — especially if what you are drinking is imported from Israel or has the name “Manischewitz” on the label.   

6) Shut the hell up. Except for when complimenting her daughter or reciting passages from the Koran during your conversion ceremony, shut up around your Muslim mother-in-law. There is nothing you, as a Jew, can say that will change her opinion of you, expand her view or make her laugh out loud. Besides, by keeping your mouth closed, you eliminate any chance of inadvertently blurting out that you had bacon for breakfast, got drunk the previous night, or finished your Hanukkah shopping. TC mark

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image – Keith Hall

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  • yrfrnd

    I have never been and will never be in any of these situations but I love the article nonetheless.

  • Stenfeio

    Wow, isn’t this just a piece of original genius. Just another way of stereo typing Muslims in the eyes of an ignorant man whose marriage will not probably last.

    • Michaelwg

      ignorant man from a very stereotyped culture who is marrying a muslim girl? umm…

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508371039 Rayan Khayat

        she wouldn’t marry him if she was…remember, she isn’t

  • Guest1

    This was amazing.. so funny and well written.  And well, quite true.  Thanks & good luck! 

  • guest

    you’re going to get lots of rude comments. but that’s what happens when you speak the truth. respect. this gave me a good laugh.

  • JOSH

    Hysterical.  This is just great.  Can’t wait to read more of your work. 

  • Sarah

    Hilarious! Coming from a Muslim family (though my sister and I don’t consider ourselves to be), this is so true. My dad still isn’t completely understand or accepting of my sister’s marriage to a Christian man, and converting was the only thing that would set everything right. But nope, he didn’t convert. Great article! 

  • Oben Benol

    I can assure you, or even prove you, as a person who lives in a Muslim community, that none of this is true. Islamic beliefs differ A LOT in the countries that it is dominant in.  I’m serious, if you want I can tell you all about my knowledge, because I’m sick and tired of people being ignorant about Islam, thinking that Muslims are people living in a couple centuries back. 

  • http://twitter.com/0hry Ohry

    This is stupid incendiary bullshit.

    >implying he and all other jews, even if non practising, are completely persona non grata to any muslim.

    >subsequently implying that a muslim will only ever be remotely reasonable to another muslim.

    This is a propaganda piece not a comedy article.

  • Guest

    There are over 1 billion Muslims in the world. Don’t treat them as a monolithic group. 

  • Elledayray

    Doubly offensive because it’s not even funny.  Sitting here thoroughly unamused.

  • Anonymous

    As an Arab, I must clarify that the shoes thing very much depends on where you’re from. The Muslim lands are huge and diverse, and in the Levant it tends to be rude and vulgar to walk around barefoot. 

  • Annie

    Title correction: “How to win over your mother-in-law” and you can change the details i.e. religion if need be, and voila, it can apply to any man marrying a woman and trying to win over her mother!

  • Wizzzmaster

    Your article is full of shit! All mother-in-laws act so overprotective its in their genes! its not about your mother in law being muslim!
    Besides…the fact that your muslim wife married a jew means she’s no longer muslim just the same for a anyone who’s mother isn’t jewish cant be Jewish.After all, what you’re trying to say is awfully wrong, and i would like to point out that muslims are not represented by your mean mother-in-law, there are billions of nice muslims who have jewish friends.

  • oak

    ❤❤❤ it! Wa’llah
    And insh to you.

    Salaams bro

  • Lila

    I’m Muslim and my bf is Jewish. He didn’t have to do any of this to win over my mom and just because she was Muslim and he Jewish didn’t make her hate him. 

  • Kpmsar001

    wow people are touchy. i have muslim family (not practicing myself)…this is hilarious. why? because it’s true. you ALL know an older muslim women like this. relax.

  • marzZ

    Hey, I’m Muslim and proud and this article is funny! obviously it’s a generalisation, but chill out and see it for what is. Hilarious stuff Greg! (Gefilte fish is no good…)

  • http://www.zebra-talk.blogspot.com/ Zeba

    This is hilarious. And I am not offended. Yet. And to keep it that way I shall refrain from reading the other comments. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=637587717 Juliet Syn Lyi

    I think everyone needs to cut the author some slack and grow a sense of humor, geez.

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