I stumbled across a book called Coping with Polygamy – From Monogamy to Polygamy by Umm AbdurRahma. In this book you can find some interesting observations about the psychology of reacting to polygamy. However, pseudo scientific baloney about women and men being emotionally, physically and intellectually different species, and that polygyny is beautiful, a man’s right, divinely ordained and that a woman must submit and will be happy once she realizes that she must enslave herself to her husband and allah, the same ol’ islam bullshit, is also to be found in abundance in the book.
Some time ago, I was told by an islamist woman that my being polyandrous is abominable, while my husband’s being polygynous is beautiful. She wrote: ” To compare that a woman accepts that her husband practices polygamy to a husband who accepts that his wife has sex with another man and commits adultery is to compare apples with oranges. There is no comparison. It is not the same animal. Fiona is (an) enemy to her Muslim husband” This woman, being a brainwashed islamist, can not get it into her head that I am married to my #2 just the same as my #1 is married to his second. That somebody should have beliefs contrary to hers is obviously impossible for her to understand, more so to respect, which of course is symptomatic for the fundamentalist fanatic.
However, her statement made me wonder about what coping with polygamy has been really like for my first husband. Did we react the same? Has the ride to coping been the same?
I asked my husband to read through the description in Umm AbdurRahma’s book of how women cope with polygamy, so we could compare our reactions. Was the fanatic woman right when she said that we are not the same animals, that comparing what I went through with what my husband went through was like comparing apples with oranges? I can tell you, we had an extremely interesting conversation!
Let’s begin with the beginning:
Phase 1 – Depression
Phase 1 is the initial reaction. The woman is flooded with new and intense emotions usually resulting in depression. During this time it is made clear to her that her husband wants, will or has acquired a new wife.
Emotion: Shock – Caused by a violent or sudden emotional disturbance, in this case caused by finding out the husband’s desires.
Effect: The woman may experience a range of emotions and moods, but typically including numbness and disbelief.
Role: Short lived, the woman moves quickly into other more dominant emotions.
Verbal manifestations: How could you do this to me? Why all of a sudden? Why now`You didn’t want this before! What have I done to you? Don’t you love me anymore?
Physical Manifestations: Uncontrollable crying, yelling, hitting, silence (Source: Coping with Polygamy – From Monogamy to Polygamy by Umm AbdurRahma)
Fiona: Yes, I recognize this, shock numbness and disbelief. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, that I was in a sort of glassbauble, and I couldn’t breathe and I could only hear what you were saying from a distance, through the glass. There was a sharp physical pain too. Like I was being racked. I didn’t cry at first, because I simply couldn’t believe it was happening. I was caught in silence instead, I couldn’t speak.
Husband:I knew you would be hurt of course, but I really didn’t know what reaction to expect. I thought you would scream and yell, so when you just went quiet that really scared me. I thought you were having a heart attack first… You scared me really bad initially. I felt like shit for doing this to you, but I had heard so many people say that after a while women adapt and even like polygamy. I just thought I would have to ride through the initial storm. So when there was no storm at first, that scared me.
Husband: My head exploded when you told me. A red explosion of anger and hurt. I just exploded. I ran my fist through one of the cupboard doors in the kitchen. I don’t really remember thinking anything. I had no control over my reaction. And yeah, numbness. And yelling. I remember screaming. And I remember asking ”How could you do this to me?” I couldn’t believe you could have done that to me. I was close to passing out, it felt like all blood left my body.
Fiona: I actually didn’t know what to expect. I mean, in a way I thought you wouldn’t take it as badly as I did, because you had already chosen polygamy. But at the same time, I knew that it would never ever have occurred to you that I might become polygamous too, so I guess I knew really that you would be just as shocked as I had been. The violent reaction with the cupboard door scared me. For just a second I feared you might loose it… But when you started screaming, I knew I didn’t have to be afraid of that. So the screaming actually helped me..
Next, Phase I, step II – To be continued….