Not Knowing in Polygamy – What is going on in the Other Marriage?

ThreeringsPolygamy means there is never only one marriage in the family, there are at least two.  In islamic polygamy, these marriages are to be kept separate. The spouses have a right to separate housing and separate economies and usually wives choose to have as little to do with each other as possible since interaction almost inevitably leads to jealousy, envy and fitna. So the polygamous spouse must juggle two different marriages, two separate families, two different lives. Most of the time, the best way to handle this is by becoming schizophrenic. By being two different people living two halves of a life you can save your spouses from unnecessary hurt. But it also inflicts hurt. The polygamous spouse hurts because he or she can not talk about all of his or her life freely and unguardedly with both his or her spouses. The spouses are hurt by being excluded from a major part of their spouse’s life.

I know of course when something is going on between my first husband and his #2. I know because of the way he becomes fidgety, by his look, by his frequent checking the e-mail and so on. But I can’t ask. And I can’t help. I know he avoids talking about it as much for her sake as for mine, and this in itself is hurtful. He is protecting her privacy, protecting her from me and I hate it. I just hope that by not fighting this, I make him extend me the same courtesy.

Right now there are major things going on between my first husband and his #2. He said he would tell her he will never divorce me, she will never be able to come to the UK as his wife. And he said he will tell her he can never father a child. These things will have a huge impact on my life too of course, but I can’t talk to him about it, I can’t ask him what is going on.

Last night on Skype he looked really sad and tired. He said a week passes really quickly and he is looking forward to going home but also feeling really awful about leaving #2. I appreciate his honesty even if that hurt… I wanted to ask him about what has been said, but I can’t. And he can’t tell me. We just looked at each other with pain in our eyes..

And then there was a knocking and he said it was #2 who had been taking a shower and he had told her he needed to talk to me to let me know he’s ok, and he had asked her to knock before coming out in the room so he could end his call with me, to save us all from embarrassment. Oh dear, how absurd is that? We ended the call on that note.

I want him to come home now. I want to know what’s going to happen with my life.

16 thoughts on “Not Knowing in Polygamy – What is going on in the Other Marriage?

  1. Hi I understand it’s not his place to tell her private matters, but this doesn’t seem private, it’s major, like if they are divorcing or what’s their plan and it affects you, why can’t you ask? Or will you ask when he’s back?

  2. Hi S,

    Trust me, I know where you are coming from. But you see, in real life the only way for many people to be able to cope with polygamy is by creating a watertight cylinder to live in where the other spouse doesn’t have access. Many wives don’t even know when their husbands have a baby with the other wife. I know one second wife who didn’t find out the first wife had been sick in cancer for years and then died until half a year after it happened. To all other people this sounds like madness. Polygamous people know it’s a survival strategy.

  3. While I’ve never been in your exact situation, I’ve done the waiting in another country trying to make sense of what’s happening to my life, waiting on my husband to finally make a decision. The not knowing is the worst. It helped me to lean (heavily, I might add) on my friends.
    Sending you hugs from Saudi!

  4. I agree. That’s why it’s so important to talk about it. This is a part of polygamy that is usually swept under the carpet. By men, because they don’t want the inhuman backsides to polygamy to be known, they don’t want it to be obvious that polygyny is a crime against women. And women are too ashamed to talk about this, and muslim women are told that they are disapproving of what allah has made permissible if they talk about it and they are told not to scare other women so they will oppose it when their husbands want polygyny. That’s why I need to tell my story.

  5. Thank you ever so much undertheabaya, your support means so much to me! Especially since I know that you really know polygamy and polygamous culture from the inside. Hugs!!

  6. Yeah I agree I’ve learnt a lot from you so thank you!

    But Allah swt made it peemissible not obligatory and you don’t have to want it or like it and encourage. There is a hadith where they offered lizard to the Prophet pbuh, he said no, so they were worried and said is it haram, he said no its permissible but I don’t like it, which shows that we don’t beed to want or like everything, but we have to accept that it is a choice and can be a way of life for some people.

  7. I survive by pretending she doesn’t exist. He has learnt never to bring her name to our house.

  8. I always hate it when my husband is with his other wife and he tells me he has just taken a shower or he says she is in the shower. We all know why they take showers don’t need it down my throat.. 😦

  9. Heart = breaking. Christian polygyny is not like this. In a sense, we were all married to one another. I don’t know which is worse. Maybe my privacy being shredded drove me crazy. Maybe I still have not recovered. I have never thought about that. In the end, there were still secrets.its just that most of our lives were open to the scrutiny of the other wives’.

  10. “In a sense we were all married to one another” Intriguing! I don’t know how anybody can cope with that. I do understand if you felt your integrity was shredded. I would have gone raving mad. Still, I can not help but be affected by my husband’s relationship with #2. I hate it when she becomes part of my life. He made her a part of his, but he has no right to make her part of mine. But of course it is unavoidable.

  11. As much as you would like to deny it – the fact that you love him and care about him – makes everything that is a part of his life, a part of yours. Luckily for you your 1st and 2nd husband have already figured this fact out and have come to an acceptance of their reality. It would make your life so much easier if you would also come to accept this fact about his 2nd, and move forward with the situation as it is, instead of fighting it so much. Denial is a wonderful tool in helping us keep our emotions at bay, however it is not a strong enough tool to change the realities we are running away from.

    You are right when you say – he made her a part of his, but he has no right to make her part of mine. But what you are not clearly seeing is – it is only because of your choice that she is a part of your life. You chose to keep him a part of your life – and she is part of the package you chose. By keeping him a part of your life, you are the one making the choice that she be part of your life – because anything that is a part of his life is part of who he is and affects his life, so therefore it becomes a part of your life too and will also affect your life – that is just a fact. If you truly don’t want her to be part of your life – then you need to let your husband go both physically and emotionally so that he is not a part of your life anymore.

    All polygamous women need to understand this. You can deny the other wife all you want too and pretend she is not a part of your life – but she still exists and there will always be some part of her in your life as long as she is a part of your husbands life – and their marriage will always affect your marriage in some way and visa versa. It is reality!!!

  12. True. 😦 I need to think about what to answer. I need to try and figure out why I still can’t accept her as part of my husband’s life. I’ll get back to you, but I don’t want to write in haste. It’s too important.

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