How to Deal with Jealousy in Polygamy

What men's jealousy looks like all too often in the muslim world

What men’s jealousy looks like all too often in the muslim world

Jealousy is extremely painful.

In polygamy, jealousy is, I’d say, unavoidable,

If you are forced into polygamy, the jealousy, betrayal, pain and sorrow could actually kill you. Even if you manage to survive, the pain will never really go away, you just learn to live with it. But even if you want to live polygamy, even if you have entered into it with open eyes, accepting or even  embracing it, it will be painful. Jealousy will become part of your life, and sometimes, maybe when you least expect it to, it will show up like a migraine, turning your life into blazes of agony.

So, how does one learn to live with polygamous jealousy? How do we manage?

One thing I know now is that jealousy can be lived through, dealt with, faced, contained or run from, but it can not be managed. It’s simply not to be managed.

There are different kinds of jealousy. Many times, jealousy is irrational, based on low self esteem, insecurity, fear of losing somebody. But in polygamy, we know that our jealousy is rational. Our partner IS making love to somebody else, falling in love with somebody else, building a life with somebody else, comparing us to somebody else, giving things that used to be ours to somebody else. So jealousy in polygamy is rational. Remember that when people tell you women get jealous when their husbands marry another woman because they are emotional and irrational. No! We get jealous because we are rational!

You can find islamic websites where scholars claim that polygyny for the first wife means gaining something, not losing. They mean that she will be gaining a sister wife, rewards for being patient and obedient, and a husband who is growing in deen because he is providing for plural wives. Well, ok, I won’t even go there.

What they don’t dwell on is the fact that the first wife loses out on half the rest of her life with her husband, half a father to her children, half the moneys the family used to have- maybe they were planning on sending their children to a public school but now they’ll have to go to a comprehensive instead. AND – she is losing out on being able to share secrets with her husband, trust her husband to always put her and her children first, everyday talk without being guarded about what to ask and what to say. She is also losing out on half the sex, instead she will know that he will be carrying bacteria from his second wife to her bed, acari and body fluids, no matter how carefully he does ghusl. She will have to imagine him having sex with the other woman all the nights she is spending alone at home. Not only having sex, but making love – building and sharing love by sharing the intimacy of lovemaking. It is rational to be jealous!

But it might not be rational to let jealousy eat you up.

In the early stages of polygamy, I used to wallow in images of my husband with his new woman. I would lie in the dark and let the images of the two of them together swallow me. It’s excruciatingly painful, but you know I believe it’s good. A lot better than brushing it under the carpet or making yourself believe that their love must be platonic. After a while the brain simply tires of coming up with new images. You start being able to slowly begin thinking of other things too. You get through it. In a way, you simply bore the sexual jealousy to death.

I admit though that I had not been able to let my husband back into my bed before I met Graham. I couldn’t stand the thought of letting him touch me with traces of her on his skin, kiss me with traces of her in his mouth, invade my body while I had images of him with her in my head. When I first made love to my husband again after he became polygamous, I had traces of Graham on my skin and images of our lovemaking in my mind. That’s what enabled me to make love to my husband again.

Even now, I still have to live with jealousy. I can tell that my first husband misses his #2. He’s a scribbler, and sometimes I find things he has scribbled while talking with her or Skyping with her. I hate those jottings that show me he is part of another love, another marriage that means he doesn’t always prioritize this marriage. If he had children by her, I think this kind of jealousy would be unbearable. The way I cope is simply by reminding myself he has granted me the same right to prioritize somebody else. I think this is where muslim women instead go for the “focus on allah” deal. Well, if it helps.

Another important thing has been to let each other know what hurts the most. Tell the spouse what things set your jealousy going. Not all of them, because many things can’t be avoided, but the things that hurt like knives in your heart and can be avoided. Things like mentioning her without warning, things like answering texts in front of you, smiling at what she wrote, things like suddenly introducing new things in bed that will make it apparent he tried it with her. Communication is a must, and your spouse MUST respect these pleas for consideration. If not, it’s time to leave.

59 thoughts on “How to Deal with Jealousy in Polygamy

  1. MsPhDiva,

    //What amazes me is that many women accept and turn a blind eye that their husband is screwing women outside but will never accept the logical thing: agree to an open run down of the sexual history of all parties involved in the prospective polygamous marriage and confront and deal with it. But rather you’d prefer your husband to do his business behind your back whether he practices safe sex or not so one day he can come and give you AIDS or some other STD so long as your jealousy is under control because in effect you chose to turn a ‘blind eye’ while he was having sex with other random women outside the marriage?//

    Bitch, please.

    Even if this were true (it’s NOT), maybe it’s because while we can’t control their dicks and where they put them, we have every right in the world to refuse to allow men to elevate their side whores to an equal position to us, their WIVES.

    Well, okay, I admit I did just that. But oh, how I paid for that mistake.

  2. I’m always wondering about the term “love for your sister what you love for youself”. I mean is this only valid for first wives or universally? Because if this is a universal truth then why would anyone marry an already married man?

  3. “But rather you’d prefer your husband to do his business behind your back”

    OMG you make men sound like dogs Ms Diva doing their “business”.

    I feel really sorry for you that you have such low expectations from a husband.

  4. I’ve been married for 32 years. And my husband married a second wife without my knowledge about 5 years ago. Made up a story how he had to work in another city in a medical clinic 3 days a week. The other 2 days and weekends in Jeddah. Yes, Saudi Arabia. At the time we had 3 teenage boys.. The last pregnancy our son was stillborn making him our fourth child. Doctor told us we shouldnt have anymore chlldren. My husband really wanted a girl. So I suggested adopting. We soon adopted a newborn girl from an orphanage. About 3 years later he married a second wife. Kept it a secret. He suddenly got transferred to work outside the city 3 days a week..I know stupid me. The lies were endless. Love is blind. He soon got his wife pregnant. They moved into our apartment building. Nothing like living in hell. His wife soon lost the baby. When she miscarried the doctor tells them they shouldn’t have children. Omg. I’m not problem! Long story short..She’s 25 years younger than him and we’ve become good friends. She comes from an African country and is very grateful for the life she is living. I would have never imagined that she has become an important part of my life. Jealousy still comes and goes. And I’m not sure if that ever goes away. But i believe I’m the winner in this situation.

  5. Lynn, perhaps he has many years with his first wife where she also did not get those gifts in the beginning because the means weren’t there. Now she as his first wife helped him to become as established as They are, of course, she is entitled to what they worked for. Those things that enhance her life also enhance his own and perhaps that of his children, maybe she pays their bills or teaches their children from that computer. expecting what you did not have a hand in working for is childish.

  6. salam alykum
    i would like to ask about
    how to deal with that part of physical sharing in polygamy.
    i always try to understand how a man can be able to make love to one ,and next day share the same with another one.

  7. My boyfriend of 6 years thinks that he loves two women at the same time. He has been seeing her for 2 years before I found out about her. I’m trying to be understanding and patient with him because I do love him unconditionally however he isn’t taking our finances nor my feelings into consideration. The other woman act as if she can’t pay for the hotel room so they can carry on their sex acts and I ask him not to allow her to come to the apartment where I help pay rent at. He feels that he should use our money to pay for the room and I tried to explain to him that he is still taking away from our obligations by doing this. It’s hard on me mentally, spirtually, and emotionally because I am in love with this man unconditionally however I really don’t want him to partake on this path and I really just want it to be us exclusively again I am choosing not to make him change the choices for his life. I feel like I’m paying to be with him and I feel if she wants to be with him she should also pay to play. It’s bad enough I have to smell her scent sometimes on him in his place, it’s bad enough that I can’t have all of him, it’s worst because she has herpes and I always worried when he will pass it along to me or worst how does he knows what she is doing? She isn’t a woman that I like at all her way of using people and getting over on society with a free ride makes me believe that she will lay with the highest bidder. He trust her and I trust him however he forgets when he tells me savage things about her and thinks that it gives me peace of mind. It didn’t because she and I are not cut from the same cloth and that’s why I think I’m choosing to exit for now. The impact it had on me was to damaging and it cause him and I to do damages to eachother. Sigh, I wanted it to be a utopia trio but the fact is, it will never be and I may just have to accept the fact I will never ever be with him or another for the rest of my life. If it’s not him I am choosing not to lay with anyone else.

  8. Very nicely put.
    The feelings are exactly the same.
    It’s been 9 years since my husband married his ex-girlfriend,but I must say I still can’t get over the jealousy even though most of the time he’s with me!
    Can’t say the same about love ,though.i believe he loves her more than me!

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