Your spouse has become polygamous. Willingly and knowingly decided to put somebody beside you, somebody to love, care for and live with – for the rest of your life you will have to share your spouse with somebody else. Emotionally, time wise and sexually. What will this mean to you? What will become of you and your marriage?
Emotion: Fear – Often the woman will experience this unpleasant, often strong, emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of the polygamy.
Effect: The woman will have a varying degree of fear caused by the newness of polygamy and feelings of abandonment and alienation.
Role: Usually short lived
Verbal Manifestations: I’m scared. I feel as if I am in limbo, as if I am standing at the edge of a cliff about to jump off.
Physical Manifestations: Loss of appetite, sleeping a lot, uncontrollable tears. (Sourse: Coping with Polygamy: From Monogamy to Polygamy By Umm AbdurRahman )
Fiona: I was very much afraid. My main fear was to become a victim, to let myself become victimized. I hated the fact that you had the power to cause me so much pain, I wished you had just left me. Leaving somebody you love, who says he still loves you more than ever and wants to stay with you is extremely difficult, even when you said you had another wife too…Letting go of more than 20 years of marriage, of the father of my children while he says he wants to stay with me – I couldn’t do it. And that scared me! And the everyday pain was unbelievable, so of course imagining the rest of my life like that was unbearable… I think I lost more than a stone during that period…
Husband: I did everything I could to reassure you, to show you I loved you. But you kept pushing me away. I know, one time you screamed that you didn’t know me anymore, that I was a stranger to you. I knew you were scared. I felt very powerless, because you wouldn’t let me help you. What ever I said or did, it just made you angry. And the way you lost weight and stopped taking care of yourself scared me too. I was afraid of hurting you more, so I backed off, tried to pretend life was normal. This was also the period when I was really getting to know my second wife, and I had to invest emotions and time in that marriage too. I left my new wife a couple of times to go check up on you, but that put a lot of strain on my relationship with her. The situation was extremely stressful.
Husband: Yes, I experienced a lot of fear. I was afraid you would leave me, afraid that if you left I would never be reconciled with the children. I was afraid because I felt so much anger, so much bitterness, it made me fear myself. And I feared what kind of man I would become if I allowed you to walk all over me too… I couldn’t eat couldn’t sleep. When you spent days with him, I stayed in our house, because if I went to my new wife I would take my fear and anger out on her, lash out, and I didn’t want that. She hated loosing her days, but I couldn’t help myself. And by staying in our house, I could feel close to you and show you that I was willing to give up anything if you just stayed with me. I couldn’t sleep, I kept having nightmares of you with him, you leaving me. I had to get sleeping pills in the end, to be able to sleep.
Fiona: I told you right from the start I wasn’t going to leave you, but I could tell you were afraid. I could tell you had troubles with your self image, what kind of man am I to allow this, that kind of thing. I could sense your fear, your struggle. I think your prejudices that women are different emotionally and sexually, the crap I know now that you got from islam but that I didn’t really know about before, made you believe I would eventually leave you, or him, I think you had trouble believing that being a woman I would actually want to be polygamous. So, you had some kind of identity crisis too. I tried to comfort you, but it was difficult because you were so resentful. And I was also busy creating a life with Graham, getting to be a part of his life, working on building long lasting love out of infatuation. I felt emotionally drained by trying to meet the needs of both of you.
(The text is a moderated transcription of our recorded conversation)