Coping with Polygamy: Part Two – Betrayal

20081123120727-violencia-de-generoAfter the initial shock of being told your spouse has chosen to become polygamous comes the second stage of the first phase:

Emotion: Feeling betrayed – The woman will feel as if she has been failed and deserted by her husband

Effect: The woman may feel defiled by her husband in whom she has placed her trust, hope, belief and love. Because of the enormity of the truth, or the complex subterfuge, or the completeness in which the truth was given, the pain can grow huge.

Role: May continue until the middle or end of Phase III (The period of growth/change)

Verbal Manifestations: I trusted you! You lied to me! You used me! If you loved me you would not do this. Leave!

Physical Manifestations: Intense anger, fear, exhaustion (Source: Coping with Polygamy – From Monogamy to Polygamy by Umm AbdurRahman )

Fiona: Defiled, yes that’s exactly right. I felt raped, mentally, physically and emotionally raped. The feeling of disgust was intense. I vomited repetedly. When you tried to touch me it made my stomach turn, but it wasn’t only physical disgust, it was the feeling of betrayal that made me feel dirty, defiled. I couldn’t understand how you could choose to love another woman, invite love into your heart, and still claim you loved me. And the deceit and subterfuge – the way you had done this behind my back, had a wedding night with another woman, made love to her, promised her to love her for the rest of your life, and then come home to me without saying anything. This is so much worse than having an affair – not better! Also, being a woman suddenly became unbearable. You said this happened because as a woman I had to share a husband, you had a right to do this to me. You made me hate myself, hate my sex. I felt so dirty, so violated. I hated you. And yes, I wanted you to leave. If you had said you were leaving me, I could have dealt with it. But you said I had to continue loving you, continue making love to you while you loved and made love to another woman. That made me feel raped.

Husband: I mostly felt fear and sorrow when I saw your pain. I was afraid you would leave me. I love you, and I couldn’t stand the thought of losing you. I knew a muslim wife wouldn’t be allowed a divorce on the ground that her husband had become polygamous, and I knew that you on the other hand could just divorce me. I was afraid you would, but I also know you so I thought you wouldn’t. And I also felt extremely guilty. You see, I was falling in love with my new wife at the same time. I felt happy and I was experiencing the romance and infatuation of my new marriage, so my emotions were really all mixed up, it was total emotional havoc. And when I tried to comfort you, make love to you, you reacted like I was something that revolted you. It hurt. I thought you would want to tie me to you, instead you pushed me away. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do. When I came home and found you had cut yourself I thought of ending my second marriage, but I couldn’t do that to her. I was also feeling a bit angry with you because you made everything so difficult. Now, I can understand how unfair that was, but that was my reaction then, because I wanted to be allowed to be happy.

Husband: At first, I felt betrayed and ashamed. My trust in you had been so complete, I felt ashamed that I could have been such a fool, and ashamed to be made a cuckold. I felt extremely angry, especially towards your new husband, I think I really wanted to hurt him, to fight him and make him go away. And defiled, yes I felt defiled. I had been so happy when you came back to me, to my bed, only to find out you had been in his bed before you came back to mine. I never knew jealousy before then, not real jealousy, it was a kind of jealousy that almost killed me. Thinking about you with him was like slow bloody murder. I thought I would go mad. Really, I did. When you started throwing back at me the things I had said to you about sharing, about overcoming jealousy, about wanting for my brother what I want for myself, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I suppose in a way it’s absurd, but until then I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I had done to you what you now did to me. It just didn’t feel like the same thing! I felt a very strong sexual need for you during this time, I wanted to conquer you I think, own you. When you left me to go to him, and I had to realize as the days passed that you really weren’t coming back before the four days were up, I was on a roller coaster. One minute I decided to divorce you, the other minute I wanted to beg you to come back, to leave him, I was going to divorce my second wife and everything would be alright again. Then I wanted to strike out, to hurt you. Then I cried. Yeah, I was going mad.

Fiona: Yes, I admit it, I was to a degree enjoying my sweet revenge. Making you go through what you had put me through made me feel good. Ok. But I also felt sorry for you, because I knew the pain, I knew what you were facing, there is no other pain like it. So, I felt sorry for you. I wasn’t sure you would stay, I had tried to get used to the thought that you might leave me. When I saw how badly you were hurting, I almost thought you would. But I felt this was the only way really that we were going to be able to be happy together again. You had to respect my right, my equal right, to live, to love and be happy. And yes, I was feeling guilty too. I was in love, my body was aching for another man while you were hurting. I preferred it when you screamed and lashed out, it was the crying and the begging that made me feel really bad…

(Texts are transcriptions of our recorded conversation)

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