Problems with Boundaries in Polygamy

7c565-keep-calm-and-you-can-do-it-13I’ve resumed my schedule, which means I’ve been with Mark until yesterday.

I was intensely happy to see how Mark connected with Tamsin. It was love at first sight. And she’s been wonderfully happy in his arms, so I’ve been able to get some sleep in between snacks.. 🙂 I could tell that Mark had decided to make an effort, but that everything changed as soon as he saw Tamsin. He didn’t need to make an effort, he loves her. It’s amazing.

During my first evening with Mark, Graham stopped by once to check up on me and baby, and once to say good night to Tamsin. Mark didn’t say anything at first, but I could tell that he objected. We have always had this rule that after 18.00, my time with one husband would be respected by the other, as long as there’s no emergency. I can understand why Graham didn’t respect that rule now, and he didn’t really come to see me, he came to see his daughter.

But Mark was hurt. We talked about it when we had gone to bed, and he said that he won’t be able to cope if Graham starts interrupting our private time. He says it will be hard enough to handle the situation without having our husband-and-wife time disturbed. I can understand, and I agree – Mark’s rights must be respected. I’ll have to tell Graham this is how it must be.

But how do I tell Graham he can’t visit his daughter when he feels the need?

5 thoughts on “Problems with Boundaries in Polygamy

  1. That’s a difficult one… I think also in polygyny the same problem happens, such as the new father going to check up on his child with one of the wives during his time with one of the other wives. Polygamy in general is a difficult and unusual family settlement, and overstepping of boundaries is probably common, hence creating pain for someone. Just saying. Although Fiona I would say you did and still do try your best to be good in managing this all, and the fact you understand all this is a very appreciative quality. Your husbands are lucky to have someone like you.

    No wonder at the very least the consent of all the partners should be a must, with such a great change in the family structure, including having to share your spouse and see him/her having children with someone else while being with you. Monogamy should and still continue to be the law in general in the world.

  2. That IS a tough one.

    On the one hand, the schedule is between the adults in the marriage, NOT the child. She should not be subject to the clock. Parenting is a 24/7 undertaking and if children need their parent who is with the other spouse, well, that’s the way it is. Suck it up, I say.

    HOWEVER, Tamsin is a newborn who is not really aware of much other than her tummy and her bum, though of course bonding is an issue, a very vital one but one that she’s not yet consciously aware of. The 18:00 cutoff time really doesn’t affect her, so long as the aforementioned tummy and bum are taken care of which of course they are.

    Since Graham lives next door, a good compromise may be for you to meet Graham outside, weather permitting, to say good night and hold Tamsin for a moment before you retire to your home with Mark. It’s still an interruption of Mark’s time with you I suppose, but in many polygynous families, the husband gives a goodnight call to the wife he’s not with before retiring for the night with the wife he is with. My husband did this and I gave him his time. He usually would take the dog out for a quick walk when he made the call. Granted, I was watching the clock like a hawk and if it was a half hour or more he was gone, I’d be pissed, but that was just my own insecurity yammering at me. Ridiculous really, but it was a huge issue at the time.

    Other Muslim poly families give Maghrib as the cutoff time, and no further contact except in emergency until after Fajr. That’s fine insofar as the adults if they’re agreed, but as I said, the kids should not be held to these rigid timeframes IMO. I’d reassure Mark that it’s temporary, once Tamsin is older she can stay with Graham while you’re on Mark’s time (tell him to have sabr, as they say to us wives all the time!) and remind him that there were plenty of times he spent Skyping with Bimbo on your time….maybe not quite the same thing but still….

  3. Ack, I totally screwed up the first paragraph. I meant to say (since it applies in your case), if the child needs the parent while the OTHER parent is with the other spouse, well, that’s the way it is. But the original wording applies as well in other families 😛

  4. I think Graham is a pretty understanding man. As long as you approach the subject and let him know how Mark is feeling, Graham seems the type to be respectful. Yes, it’s hard to tell Graham he can’t see his daughter whenever he feels like it, but what can you do? The situation is what it is. Perhaps go bring Tamsin right before the cut off time so Graham can physically see her and get his goodnight hugs and kisses in with Tamsin.

    I know Tamsin is a newborn and needs to be with you in these very early stages, but a little later on when she develops a sleep schedule maybe it’ll be ok to leave her with Graham overnight every once in a while when you’re spending time with Mark. Graham seems the type that would be happy. You’ll get a break and I’m sure Mark will be overjoyed to have your undivided attention like old times every once in a while, I think Mark will most definitely need some alone time with just you every once in a while- something to look forward to for him.

    I’m really happy to hear Mark loves Tamsin. 🙂 I’m sure it’s a relief for you. I’m sure it’s a relief for Mark to finally be faced with the baby and to know that yes everything will be ok and not only that, he actually really loves her. 🙂 woohoo!

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