“We used to be able to talk about everything” – The Silence of Polygamy

Some time after my husband had become polygamous, I texted him shortly before he was returning from his four days with her.

“Could you go pick up some groceries on your way home?”

Got the short answer


I couldn’t believe it! In the middle of all pain this small act of spite from my husband hurt so much! Was he punishing me for not accepting his second “marriage”? Was he just looking to hurt me? To show me who was the master?

When he came home I raged. I screamed and cried and asked him how he could be so cruel as to deny me even such a simple thing just out of spite. After a long while he stopped me by admitting that the reason he couldn’t go by the supermarket on the way home was that he and #2 had been out with some people from her English class at the masjid, and he couldn’t well ask them to stop by Tesco when they were giving him a lift home. He hadn’t wanted to tell me, both because he didn’t want to hurt me by mentioning her, but also because he had promised #2 never to talk about her with me or let me know anything they did together.

This is what happens when your partner becomes polygamous. Even the simplest issues are turned into a quagmire full of hidden land mines. You just can’t talk about everything anymore. It’s not just secrets you can’t share any longer, your everyday kind of issues will be difficult to talk about too. “A penny for your thoughts” will be an impossibility.

So polygamy creates a wall of silence between husband and wife. This wall is a shield to protect you from hurt and jealousy, to keep everybody’s integrity as intact as possible, but it also means that the marriage you had is dead and gone. You will never again be able to share your thoughts, what you did yesterday, your plans for tomorrow, without carefully making sure first you’re not speaking out of turn.

Examples of questions that might suddenly prove to be infectious:

Did you see that movie?

Where did you get that mark?

How come you suddenly like Vindaloo?

There’s a stain on your jacket. Do you know what it might be?

Where are your trainers?

You understand what I mean? There’s nothing really you can talk to your polygamous partner about the same way you used to. You have to keep your everyday talk about the here and now, accept guarded answers and guilty looks, try to avoid the worst pitfalls.

So love becomes guarded, honesty becomes cautious, togetherness changes into parallel loneliness.

4 thoughts on ““We used to be able to talk about everything” – The Silence of Polygamy

  1. I believe men who are happy with their first wives and still marry a second wife believe they can just be twice as happy. They think they can keep the happiness they have with their #1 and get twice as much by marrying #2. They believe #1 will be sad for a while and jealous but will come around the way islamic websites tell them. They don’t understand that even if #1 decides to stay, which is rare, things will not be the same. They will not be able to share their lives like before, share secrets, plans and everyday events like before. There will always be this vacuum between them, the hurt and distrust and the half of their lives that is now spent apart and the love he feels for somebody else. And #2 will change also after marriage. Accepting to be a second wife is not the same as being one. She will maybe hope that he will leave #1 and do what she can to make that happen. She will maybe read their e-mail, tell their secrets, she will always be there and many times not happy. The husband will end up with nothing of what he wanted. This is what men should know before they choose polygyny. They choose having no true partner in life, but two or more women who can not share his life entirely, can not be part of his days and nights, can not alk about everything. Fiona, when you write “parallell loneliness” it almost made me cry because it is so true.

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