Polygamy – What Hurts the Most?

wives7I often get e-mail and comments asking about the unbelievable pain of polygamy. The most common questions are how to cope/survive and what hurts the must.

How to survive has been the theme of many posts, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried to answer the question: What hurts the most? So here goes:

* The very worst part of polygamy is watching your children suffer, without being able to help. My children were adults when their father chose polygamy, but still they were totally devastated by his betrayal, his arrogance, selfishness and perverted morals. They are still hurting. My son says that the worst pain was realizing that he hated his father. The dad he once loved had become a stranger he hated.

* The “love for your sister what you love for yourself” sanctimonious, warped, religious toxic goo – BS. Listening to the hypocrisies of polygyny from a religious point of view from a husband who expects you to accept that there would be a god who claims that men have a right to maledom polygyny, a right that isn’t even restricted by a duty to get permission from or even inform his wife, is enough to make you vomit your soul out over and over and over.

* The lies, the everlasting betrayal

* To realize that your husband sees you as something less, something different, something that lacks the rights he has.

* The images of their lovemaking, the bacteria and acari from their lovemaking, that he brings into your bed and into your soul.

* Having it dawn on you that the man you loved was never the man you loved – the marriage you had was never the marriage you had.


30 thoughts on “Polygamy – What Hurts the Most?

  1. ///Having it dawn on you that the man you loved was never the man you loved – the marriage you had was never the marriage you had.////

    As much as everything else hurt, this really ate away at the very core essence of me. I told M over and over “I don’t even KNOW you anymore – and I don’t WANT to know you.” because this? was not the actions of the man I’d loved. Despite his protests to the contrary – in fact, saying that he’d been able to keep it from me as long as he had without me suspecting a thing, i.e. that as far as I knew, everything in our marriage was “normal”, was proof positive that he never stopped loving me, that he could in fact be a polygamous husband successfully. The worst thing is, I couldn’t argue that. Not at the time.

    But over time, when I stopped allowing myself to be brainwashed, instead of seeing that as some indication of the great “love” we share, I saw it as evidence that the man I married was nothing but a liar, a manipulator, a con-artist. Time and hindsight has only cemented that sad fact.

    And that’s where some of my worst pain and anger and bitterness lies. It’s humiliating that I let myself get so easily roped into his fucked up world, and let myself get further manipulated for another 2 years after that. Ugh.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. “A con-artist”. Yes. Forcing my eyes in the wrong direction while he was moving the queen around. That’s a polygynist.

  3. Fiona,

    I am so sorry you were deceived by you husband in the manner you describe and I am sorry for the pain he caused your family. I know you blame Islam and I understand that. But it saddens me. Islam teaches us to treat all people with respect. Yes the Quran states that men are allowed four wives if they can treat their wives just. And no, it doesn’t say that a wife’s consent or knowledge is required for a man to marry a second wife. Not explicitly. But it does say that we must treat all people with kindness and honesty and honor. And lying to your wife and keeping such a secret from her is of course not honest and honorable. So by doing so a husband breaks the commands of the Quran. And if one wife is a legal wife with the honor and benefits of a legal wife, and the other wife is illegal with no status and no protection from the law if eg the husband should die, of course he is not being just to his wives and will be punished. Some would say such a marriage is not valid since the Quran states that if you fear you can not be just “then only one” and a husband who knows that one wife will be legal and the other not of course knows from the start that he will not be able to give his wives equal benefits and then is prohibited from polygamy. So you see, there are safeguards from bad treatment in Islam. Men who break these commands will suffer, I am sure. So please, be angry at your husband if you choose, I hope you can let go though for your own sake, but don’t blame Islam for the bad choices of men.

  4. Islam is what gives men carte blanche to do this crap, though. Sure, you can look at the ayats in the Quran and say “well, there’s this and that” which command people to be just and kind, sure. But getting to the point you made, no, the Qur’an doesn’t say a man needs to consult his first wife before he marries again. There’s the crux of it. It doesn’t, so he doesn’t.
    The points Fiona makes are from an Islamic standpoint. The wanting for her sister bullshit (and that’s all it is…sanctimonious, condescending bullshit), the lies (because a man is permitted to lie to keep the “peace”), and the truth you touched on – a wife isn’t even worthy enough to be consulted before hubby goes off and beds 1, 2, or 3 more women, taking away his time and his income from his existing marriage.

    So excuse me if that whole “treat with respect” and “kindness” and “just” thing reads just a little hollow.

  5. I think what makes the hurt even worse is the realization that whatever is hurting you at the moment, will continue to hurt endlessly…. There’s nothing you can do about it and neither can TIME!!

  6. Fiona, have you forgiven Mark for what he did to you? What are your plans for the future in general? What are your plans for your marriage with Mark? I’m sorry if the questions are too personal. You can ignore them.

  7. Izzie, Islam has opened the door for that crime. Why has it not explicitly banned the crimes of polygnists that are practised? A religion should be very clear about what is right and what is wrong. Islam was always clear that eating pork is haram, for example. Always clear about things that don’t cause as much damage as polygyny does. There are so many repeated verses in the Quran that are about things that don’t even matter. They literally offer nothing new. Why couldn’t Allah replace them with more meaningful things instead? We have every right to blame Islam. Bad people will always do bad things, but it takes religion to justify that and make their bad actions seem honorable.

  8. I agreed, it’s totally nonsense how some Muslim men think they can do this to their wives and expect them to just go along with it. They don’t care how she will fell, all they care about is their selfish desires.

  9. Hi Xanthe, welcome. No, I have not forgiven Mark. I know, because I can still feel the anger. Most of the time however, I have moved on. Moved on, but not forgiven. When all traces of her are gone, I think that will help. My plans? I like my life as it is now. As long as both my husbands want to stay with me, I’m happy.

  10. If you visit islamic webfora, like islamqa e.g. it becomes quite clear where muslim men get the ideas from that it’s their right to do this. They get these ideas from imams, fatwas and islamic websites. And, sad to say, from the quran and hadiths.

  11. For me biggest pain is cowife. Seeing her or seeing fb status or hubz mension her or talk with her on phone or say I must adapt because she need certan day or hubz come late home for she need him for somthing and hear she say to hubz I should wear niqab like her it just make me want to kill her.

  12. I just want to add a perspective to this, in all fairness.
    I divorced my first wife after four years of marriage. It was she who wanted the divorce because she had met another man. I was very sad and hurt. Our daughter staid with my wife and lived with her and my ex wife’s new husband. I had my daughter on weekends and on school holidays. Me and my ex managed to stay friendly so we could cooperate in taking care of our daughter. After two years, I remarried. I was very happy to marry a wonderful woman who also gave me two beautiful sons and who also loved my daughter and took her as her own when we were allowed to have her. A bit more than a year ago my ex-wife was divorced. Her husband left her to move back to India and he had been a bad husband to her before too. So my ex-wife was all alone with our daughter and a little dauther with her second husband who didn’t want the girl. My ex-wife was so miserable and in dire straits. So after long discussions with my wife and my ex-wife I took my first wife back as my second wife. I want to care for her as a still have love for her and she is the mother of my wonderful daughter, and I also care for my stepdaughter gladly. My wife agreed to this and said she understood I could not desert my first family when they needed me and I did not want the risk that my daughter would grow up with a new, maybe even worse stepdad. Polygamy was not what I wanted or intended but destiny wanted it for me. My first wife is very sad but never complains. But every time I have to part from her my heart breaks because I want to be with her and my sons, and the little ones cry when I go and I see the heartbroken look in my wife’s eyes. And now when my second (used to be first) wife loves me again too I have to see the same heartbroken look in her eyes. This is very painful to me and I always long for the children and wife I can not be with. But at the same time I am happy that polygamy is allowed so I can protect my children and take care of their mothers and love them.

  13. Ali, I wonder, would you approve of a woman going for polyandry if a similar situation happened for her? Such as if a woman marries two men to prevent a child from her ex-partner to grow up with an even worse stepmother, and everybody agrees to it? If you don’t approve of such polyandry, then I am afraid it is still what Fiona had called earlier; maledom polygamy. Polygamy being allowed for men to deal with their side of issues only, but not the same for women for their own side of issues.

    So I would say Islam seeing this example itself is not compatible on a universal basis for the world. Unless some re-interpretation and re-translation is being done for it. Fiona has attempted on her part to do some re-interpretation to make Islam more universally applicable in it’s rules and more on par with human rights. So yeah, Muslims need to see more through their cultural and religious conditioning to start seeing through Islam’s issues. It’s not easy, I definitely agree, but there is nothing else one can do unless one is okay ignoring reality and inequality in terms of human rights, to defend their faith and their religious comfort zone as well.

  14. Ali, sit both wives and children down and explain to them exactly what you told us here. Find out their thoughts and opinions on the matter and see if the two ladies can come to an agreement. How often is the entire family together. Suggest the two ladies spend time together by themselves while you watch the kids. You case is rare and you seem compasionate so you have my respect.

  15. Ali, I fail to see how you benefitted your ex by remarrying her, at least how it benefitted anyone any more than if you simply provided support for your child (a legal obligation of yours anyway) and helped your ex out financially if you were able to – and apparently you were, since you married the woman again. The only difference polygyny makes as far as I can see is you can have sex with 2 women and both have to be okay with it. Seems to me that all 3 of you are miserable, not to mention the kids who had absolutely nothing to do with any of this. That makes me really angry, to be honest.

    Your ex-wife cheated and went off with another guy. It didn’t work out (relationships that start by cheating seldom do). That’s her problem. Now, why your current wife and your boys should have to sacrifice because your ex-wife found herself in in a mess of her own making is beyond me.

  16. Ali, if your current wife has no problem with this arrangement then i don’t see any problem. Just make sure that she is doing this because she wants this not because you talked her into it or she did it under pressure because of other reasons like feeling obligated because religion, being economically dependent on you and afraid of divorce or abandonment. Also like Mariam said, you too should be prepared to accept if the current wife’s ex-husband/bf or some new man comes into her life. Like Fiona wasn’t happy spending half of her time alone but found happiness again after meeting her second husband Graham.

  17. @ Ali & Unchained

    Ali, Unchained has a great point here. Your new wife signed up for a family of her own, and now has only half a husband.

    I also agree with Unchained that you could have easily – and according to laws in most countries were obliged to anyway – provided for your child from your first marriage without taking your ex-wife as your wife again, with all the sexual privileges that brings. I believe you have another advantage here, which does not sound so noble: You secure exclusivity over someone who was once “yours” in marriage, exclusivity which this time is not mutual. Remarrying her I bet is less about “providing” for her, but to ensure no one else will be her husband, and stepfather to your child. Even if that costs her half a husband and the child half a father, same for your new family, who was nothing but loyal to you and now has half a husband and half a father as well. The only one who gains is you, who need not be jealous of a new husband and stepfather to your old family, who can be possessive of them again, especially in the sexual sense.

  18. Sometimes I feel the majority of people entering into polygamy simply had no idea on what it would bring, and go with the flow expecting it to be smooth enough (otherwise why did religion permit it with such limited conditions?) Then when they face hard obstacles they lie and pretend to themselves to avoid facing reality. And then may get miserable, which is somewhat inevitable.

    I wish there would have been a realistic training on polygamy. Just saying. And of course, for both males and females. Maledom polygamy don’t exist in my dictionary.

    In Ali’s case I wonder why he took his ex back like this, who had cheated on him, and now his current wife has to struggle in this scenario. Like Unchained said, he could simply have continued to provide child support and have visitation or child custody rights. If polygyny is allowed for such a case, I absolutely don’t see why polyandry would also not be allowed for female side of cases. It just highlights male’s superiority in their wants and needs, with religion acting as their cloak.

  19. Chris, you made a very good point there. These are all human tendencies and weaknesses, which get revealed the more one probes beneath the surface reasons. Ugh, I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I actually feel sorry for the people involved in this mess, and partly their inability to see and accept their own human weaknesses instead of trying so hard to cover them up.

  20. I just found out that my husband of 12 years was seeing another woman behind my back for 2 years who he work with and I didn’t suspect anything. I have 3 children by my husband, all I ever wanted is to make him happy and to keep our family together. My husband started talking about polygamy and I clearly told him that I’ll not accept it but if he wants it then I will not stop him but I’ll get out of the marriage because I know what polygamy can do to wives and the children as I was from a polygamy family. My father was polygamous my mother sufered so much, we the children were left out to struggled for ourselves. Till now I can’t forgive my father for doing this to us. This is the reason why I told my husban from the start of our marriage that I will never accept polygamy. My husban didn’t tell me he was seeing someone and even thinking of taking her as a second wife till when I found out about the woman and asked him, all he could say to me is that she is his secound wife the pain I felt that day was indescribable I couldn’t believe my husband could be so heartless to break the news to me the way he did. All my husband could say is what was wrong in what he did. I later found out that my husband went on holidays with this woman when I was at home rising our children. I did my investigations and found out that the woman in question was not a Muslim and she is married to someone else but her husband allows her to have other men because he can not give her sex. This made me even more angry that my husband that I respected and love so much could do this to me. I felt so betrayed and stupid to allow myself to be treated this way. The reason he finally gave is that he was with this woman and that he is traped because her family don’t like Muslim men that they are bad people so now he can’t back off that it is a question of his religion, he wants to marry this woman to prove that not all Muslim men are bad. This is what he wants me to believe, so I ask him you rather destroy our marriage to satisfy someone ales? Then I ask him to show me where in the Quran that Allah said you should marry someone to prove to them that your religion is the best and you will get blessing for that. My husband did not have an answer for this. He was doing all this because he want me to accept it so that he will then go ahead to get marry to this woman. Since I found out and confroted him he has disappeared out of shame, that is if he has any left in him. I’m waiting to see what he is going to tell me when he turn up. I’m in so much pain I don’t know what to do.

  21. I am with Chris on Ali. Ali is still a HORRIBLE AND SELFISH misogynist, albeit one that is many levels away from the others. I hope your first wife finds someone who respects her more than you ever did.

  22. Uhm.. I’m waiting for the anti-Muslim family’s reaction when their daughter breaks it to them that her “husband” is married to another woman. Whom he has three kids with. Who did not approve of his “marrying” a second time. Who is heartbroken over his being with their daughter, but can’t do much about it, islamically. Who comes from a broken family due to polygamy. Who resents her father to this day for her upbringing with a suffering mother.

    Yeeeah. They’re gonna think a lot better of Muslims I bet.

  23. Fiona!

    Gee, I love your story! I’ve been reading every post now and it’s gone straight to my heart. Thanks! Let me tell you, a couple of years ago my hubby told me he wanted a second wife. Not that he had anyone in mind, just that he wanted one. There was a lot of shouting and throwing things going down and yeah a lot of crying to. I just couldnt understand why he would do that to me, I found the whole thing degrading and disgusting and my hubby just sat there with cockerspaniel eyes saying he wanted another wife. In the end I gave in. He started looking for a wife and the months he spent on marriagesites it was sheer agony. I could telll he was enjoying it soooo much, the flirting and the thought of happiness to come and all the while I was crying my heart out nights and falling to pieces days and he just held me and looked stupid and said I should love for my sister what I love for myself just like your did. Well at last he found a woman and he told me he would marry her and the time spent while they were planning that wedding was hell. HELL. There are no words to describe the agony of watching your husband glow with happiness while you’re dying inside and my husband always had that smiling but guilty look that made me wanna puke. Well, they married. Let’s not talk about that but we started off on the endless two days here two days there schedule. I just couldn’t find my way to get out of the low, I was beyond miserable, I felt numb and dead. My husband did everything to make it easy on me but somehow it just made things worse, I wasn’t even allowed to hate him know what I mean? Finally my friends almost dragged me out into life again took me to the gym and after a while to a cooking class. To make a long story short I met a man and I fell in love. It took some time before I realized it was sooo unexpected. I was honest with him from the start and he took it in stride. He’s from India and he wasn’t averse to polygamy, female or male. So since I couldn’t consider a relationship we got married. Since my hubby and I only had a nikah I could marry legally this time. I waited three months and then I told my hubby. I can so relate to your husband’s reaction! Mine went into shock and disbelief but then o boy the shit really hit the fan! He ended up leaving me. I always knew that could happen and I was ready to let him go. BUT he came back. The way we get addicted to each other if we are given a choice to keep the relationship is really sort of scary. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found your blog, I havent been able to stop reading. I want to know, how have you been able to deal with the questions? How much about your private relationship with Graham have you told Mark? My second husband isn’t very curious about #1, but my first hubby wants to know everything about #2. I don’t tell him squat! Do you think that’s the way to go? Lots of love,

  24. Allin girl. Im so happy for you!!!!! it excites me to see that I can still find love if my husband decides to find another woman. I have so much more confidence then when he first attempt ed to get someone else. I made it ver very clear to hubby that I do not want another woman in our lives. I cant control him though. But if he does…my new half life is just that. My new half life.

  25. Allin,
    You already said it. Don’t tell him squat. It’s your life, and it’s the only thing you can call your own.

  26. How do I find courage to leave my husband? I don’t want to be in polygamy. He believes I will not leave and simply walks right over me in this. When he marries her I want to be gone when he comes back. How do I find the strength?

  27. Were you ever the wife he thought? I wonder sometimes if I am the wife my husband believes. The person he thinks he knows. I have seen sides of myself I had no idea existed. Good and bad.

  28. Anonymous, depending on where you live, there may be groups of people who can help you find a new life for yourself. If you live in the United States, there are plenty of women’s groups and shelters to help women leave their marriages. Allstate Insurance founded the Purple Purse Foundation (http://purplepurse.com/) to give women in financial abusive households opportunities to learn what financial abuse is and how to manage their own finances. If you can tell us where you are, I’m sure others can chime in on other resources available for you to leave your husband.

  29. I can’t speak for anyone else Jen, but if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s my complete lack of guile. I am who and what I am. What you see is what you get. M knew me perfectly well, knew me better than maybe I knew myself, because he was confident I’d stay once he brought #2 in. And I did, which shocked me, even if it didn’t shock him.

    I did become someone else, but only after we started living polygyny. And I HATED the person I became. Absolutely loathed her. I’m glad she’s gone.

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