Polygamy – Is it Possible to Love Two Spouses Equally?

En_boca_cerrada_no_entran_moscasQuestion:

Hello Fiona,

I have been reading your blog eagerly. My husband is about to marry again. We have been through every possible issue regarding polygamy and we have tried to agree on practical problems so as to minimize friction, like the schedule, moneys, holidays, talking to each other on the other wife’s day etc. I’m still worried though. I’m trying to keep my nafs in check but I’m worried about envy, jealousy and losing out.

But what worries me the most is losing his love. What am I to do if he loves her more? How am I to cope with watching him fall in love? I am HORRIFIED when I think about it, having my husband in my home, my bed but falling in love with another woman. And I do understand that he will, that it’s inevitable.

So I wanted to ask you, is it possible to love two people at the same time? To love them equally? Or will I be losing him, when his love for her grows?

Thank you for an answer,

Hasnat

Answer:

Dear Hasnat,

You’re in for the mother of all pain.

Watching your spouse falling in love, deliberately opening his heart for another woman to enter as a visitor here put it, is the most soul wrenching experience one can ever go through.

Will you be losing him? Probably not. A man who can have two women who love him won’t give one up if he doesn’t have to. You will however lose what you have now. Never again will you be his number one or only priority. Never again will you be the only one he turns to late at night to talk about happiness or sadness. Never again will he be an equal partner to you, one who invests as much of himself in your relationship as you do.

It is possible to love two spouses at the same time. Equally? Well yes. 2+3 equals 5, and so does 4+1. I wouldn’t say that 4+1 and 2+3 are identical, but they are equal and they both add up to 5. I don’t think you can ever harbour the same love, or identical love, for two spouses but you can love them equally.

I wish you didn’t have to go through this. I shudder at the thought of what lies ahead of you.

Every person is worth being loved as much as he or she loves.

75 thoughts on “Polygamy – Is it Possible to Love Two Spouses Equally?

  1. Assalaamu alaykum solani,
    If you are looking for orthodox Islamic advice, this is not the site for it. Some of the women here (including the site owner) are not Muslim at all. The women who post here who are Muslim, many of them would probably best be described as non traditional.

    I personally tend toward the more conservative and traditional views on most issues. So for that reason I wanted to reply directly, since that seems to be what you’re seeking.

    Islamically, you do not have the right to put conditions on his marriage, or ask him to deny his or his new wife’s sexual rights with one another for any length of time. He is right that according to Islam, you don’t have the authority over him that he has over you.

    He also has the right to take that second wife without your permission. I understand that the legal structure where you live is to get a signed document from the wife, but technically he could circumvent that and have an Islamic nikkah with her “off the records” that is just as valid in the eyes of Allah.

    That being said, he doesn’t have the right to force you to live in polygamy if you don’t want it. He cannot make you endure something painful against your own wishes, and if you chose to ask for a divorce in light of him taking a second wife, he must give you one. It is your right.

    My personal feelings is that a man that goes ahead with his right to polygamy in spite of his first wife’s misgivings and protests is not practicing Islam properly. Islam goes beyond rules and procedures. It encompasses how we treat one another as human beings. So there is no place for a man following a rule that winds up making him act without compassion toward another.

    Here are what your options are, from an Islamic standpoint:

    1. You can agree to the marriage immediately, and ask him to wait to marry her for a while to give you time to adjust. He, however, is not under obligation to grant your request; but if he truly feared Allah he would not do ANYTHING that could hurt your heart.

    2. You can refuse to sign the document agreeing to the polygamy, and buy yourself the time you need that way. If you feel ready to sign it later then you may do as you like. The risk you take with this is that he get an informal nikkah like I mentioned above, or he grudgingly goes with your lead but you both end up having more conflict and trouble between yourselves because he is not doing it willingly from the heart.

    3. You can request a divorce and go on with your life without being troubled with all this. Though you believe you won’t have support or security, please keep in mind that is a direct contradiction to what Allah says in the Quran that He will provide for both the man and women who divorce. He has promised to take care of you and has even said in Surah talaq that it will come in ways “you do not expect.”

    You need to reflect on these choices and then make istikhara to determine what is the direction that is best for you.

    One final thing, it’s wrong of you to see another wife as a source of help for yourself. It’s dehumanizing to her. No matter what the circumstances of her coming into your husbands life may be, I don’t believe it’s fair to see her as less than a full human being. I’m sure you would be offended if she was seeing you as that right now also.

  2. ///Bullshit. I wonder if women truly believe in such a saying for even a second.///

    I don’t know if anyone actually believes it or not, but it’s one of those things that’s so often repeated that I guess they fool themselves into believing it.

    ///I am not really in position to say not o husbands marriage.///

    Yes, you are. You’re a human being with feelings, with a set of vocal chords and a mouth and a brain. To say you’re not really in position to say no is a result of brainwashing. Now whether your husband will actually treat you like a human being with feelings is an entirely different matter.

    And this: /// he say he is my head and guardian I am not his ///

    tells me he’s nowhere near treating you like a human being with feelings. He’s exhibiting his sense of “ownership” onto you and you know what? That’s not love.

    So when he acts like this: ///My husband is sometimes so kind and say this will make him love me more///

    bear that in mind. Suppression, oppression, and ownership isn’t love. It’s control. It’s building HIS ego and satisfying HIS wants and desires, at the expense of yours. Don’t lie to yourself, or let him lie to you.

  3. Thank you jamylah,

    Out of personal interest – you write “My personal feelings is that a man that goes ahead with his right to polygamy in spite of his first wife’s misgivings and protests is not practicing Islam properly. Islam goes beyond rules and procedures. It encompasses how we treat one another as human beings.”. That’s the thing that has always puzzled me. I do understand how some people can buy in to polygyny being beneficial for society. But I have never been able to get my head around the fact that anybody, least of all a person who is striving to be good, could say that a man has a moral right to marry a second wife without the consent of his first wife. That anybody could claim that it’s morally acceptable for a man to marry a second without even informing his first wife. I simply don’t understand it. It is so ethically revolting. Is there anyway you can make it comprehensible? How could any god, if you believe that this god has good will towards mankind, allow such a thing? I mean I accept polygamy if it is completely voluntary. But these conditions, that he has a right to do it without informing his wife, his WIFE, and without her consent – it is sheer evil. I don’t understand how anybody can accept it.

  4. I just read this on quora.com website. Someone posted the question, and another answered:

    Q. As an anti-theist, what was the one detail about religion which was the straw that broke the camel’s back for you?
    A. (By Sandip Ramakrishnan)
    The status of women in religion. Every single religion that I have been exposed to seems to be consistent in only one thing, how to discriminate against women and how much can be done, without driving them away from it. It is shocking to me that women accept a lot of the crap that religion piles onto women, like Christianity and the Original sin concept, Hinduism and periods, Islam and oh so many ways the restrictions can be interpreted, etc. Society and religion revel in making life miserable for women, and although people call out society and other human beings for being misogynistic, no one seems to be calling out religion for it, or the outrage does not seem proportionate to the degree of discrimination in religions.

    I can understand though why women stick with religion, I myself included. It is the only field we have been exposed to where connection to Divine Being and source of morality is founded on, and also socially accepted and understood. And so many of our lives, living and thinking is tied to it. So much inside religions are good and beneficial for mankind. Yet they require a much needed reformation, such as regarding women’s status, on multiple paths to God/Higher Self instead of just one “only right way”, etc.

  5. Dear Solani,

    From my experience when a man has got polygamy into his head it’s very hard to get it out. I’ve only known 2 instances and both times it was the teenage children of the first marriage that changed their fathers’ mind. Do you have patents to talk yo your husband?

    Your husband says he will love you more for allowing it. Perhaps tell him you will love him more for sacrificing it. And remind him he will get more women in jannah and that this life is so short he will cope fine without polygamy 🙂

    Have you discussed the fact polygamy is not recommended or compulsory in islam, it is simply allowed? Why would he risk punishment after life for something he doesn’t have to do?

    Tell him your marriage will change. Even if you remain married tell him your feelings towards him will change and you are afraid you may stop loving and respecting him.

    Lastly Solani, have you thought about asking your husband for a large sum of money in return for signing? Then if it gets unbearable at least you have the option of leaving? People may say it’s not islamic but as far as I know there is nothing preventing women making business contracts, even with husbands. If he thinks you have the option to leave he may be more careful with your feelings.

  6. Unchained regarding human psychology, yes you are right. We can fool ourselves into a number of things. Before I was not quite aware of how much of a fear-based doctrine the Quran and Sunnah is. Now I look back, I shudder in fear of how the God in the scripture is demonstrated as, as well as the Prophet, confusing and leaving the average Muslim bewildered, and thinking they must have missed out on something, since so much of the religion is also very good and openly beneficial. I myself probably appear to an average person as a normal practising Muslim, till they hear some of my mindset regarding the religion and the list of things that I clearly disagree with.

    But then I have been warned by my family to learn to control to keep my mouth shut on these matters lol, for my own safety and to avoid creating unnecessary turmoil in a normal peaceful setting, so yeah. I am just continuing living what best suits me.

  7. Darn these circumstances due to which these normal good Muslim women are trapped in. And DARN anybody and anyone at all who even slightly supports their oppression.

    Might be funny when they die and the religious oppressors find out the oppression and hypocrisy on behalf of their version of God was unnecessary and provides for them no benefit in the next life. And their prayers for sustenance for inflicting themselves in a living hell in this world for looking up to the promises of their fake version of God was also in vain.

  8. Reading Islamic answers make me feel like I strapped myself on a time travel machine and whooshed to a previous time and place where patriarchy, superstition, oppression and power play between individuals was high.

    Jamylah, I appreciate your comments on this page. I hope you do not mind if there are things that I may not agree in some words otherwise.

  9. “Your husband says he will love you more for allowing it. Perhaps tell him you will love him more for sacrificing it.” Love it.

  10. //Your husband says he will love you more for allowing it. Perhaps tell him you will love him more for sacrificing it.//
    Good one 🙂

    //And remind him he will get more women in jannah and that this life is so short he will cope fine without polygamy//
    Could work. But Good Lord these rubbish ideas about the next life. In Islamic paradise you see eating, drinking, resting and opposite gender companions being emphasized upon. Basically human longings being projected onto the next life. Christianity seems to have comparatively more spiritual ideas regarding the next life.

    Anyway, you guys are being very good in your responses to Solani 🙂

  11. Hi Fiona,

    You asked me ” How could anyone say that a man has a moral right to marry a second wife without the consent of his first wife. That anybody could claim that it’s morally acceptable for a man to marry a second without even informing his first wife. I simply don’t understand it. It is so ethically revolting. Is there anyway you can make it comprehensible?”

    I don’t know if I can make it comprehensible, because comprehension is dependent upon several variables and I don’t have control over all of them. I will do the best I can to tell you how I personally see it.

    You stated two different aspects- a man marrying without INFORMING his wife and a man marrying without getting his first wife’s PERMISSION. Personally, I don’t believe Islam teaches that it’s permissable or moral for a man to marry without informing the wife first. I know some scholars and many muslims believe that, but I don’t think it’s islamic nor his right. The most I can admit is that such a marriage is still binding according to sharia, but that doesn’t make it right. There are a few types of circumstances under which a couple marries who do it “wrong”, but it’s still a valid marriage.

    As far as a man marrying without his wife’s permission, I would say that while it may be his right legally according to sharia, that doesn’t mean he’s going about it in a moral fashion. There are many laws that can be carried out as they should in a moral fashion, but some are carried out immorally. At least for me, I’m defining morality as the personal conviction to act in a way that does not bring harm to self or others. So people can be “legal” but immoral, as well as moral and “illegal”. For example, Fiona you are someone I would say is a moral person, in essence. But are you following sharia?

    My personal belief is that when it comes to issues of legality vs. morality, the complexity between the two as they intertwine is part of what each of us is going to be tested with and accountable for. I believe Allah wants every person to act according to the law (sharia) but doing it also within a moral and compassionate framework. Some people succeed at that and some people don’t even try, because their hearts are already corrupt. People who are sincere and God-fearing don’t need lectures on morality because there is already a conscience in them that wouldn’t dream of acting any other way. If we need to talk about morality as far as practice of sharia, then we are most likely talking about some folks that are going to face some hefty punishments in this life and/or the next.

  12. Mariam,

    I don’t mind at all if you disagree. Trust me, if I had a problem with people disagreeing with my views, this would be a terrible site for me to visit and participate in.

  13. Mariam,

    I think people are drawn to religion either through (1) upbringing, (2) a desire to find “truth” (3) to better their lives or (4) they fall in love with a person who believes.

    Upbringing is strongly ingrained and very hard to change, I was raised roman catholic and it still lingers in my blood. A desire to find truth took me to islam. Continuing to explore that truth then turned me away from islam.

    I watched a documentary on human trafficking yesterday. They defined modern slavery as a situation from which a person is prevented from being able to leave. Seems exactly what we are talking about in this thread. Are women who are forced to stay in polygamy, through no ability to leave, in slavery?

  14. Salaams

    I am a muslim living in Norway. I can honestly tell you that here, nobody would consider polygamy a man’s right. It’s an arcane practice that has no place in Islam. I agree with the parabel with slavery. Both are warned against in the Quran, both used to be sunnah, and both have been abandoned. These crazy people on the internet – I don’t know where they come from. No muslim I know would say a man has a right to marry 4 wives, and the stuff you’re talking about – living in the west and still marrying 2 or three behind your wife’s back or against her will it’s just crazy. Maybe a handful of weirdoes do that but hey, nobody would say they are in the right! These Saudi Arabian sheiks who say polygamy is a right today, they speak to a small group of fanatics outside the arab world. Please believe me. Even jamylah here who seems to be a very wise person represents a conservative islam that very few outside of the arab world would recognize. Don’t think bad of us because of a small group of bad people.

  15. Ali H, I feel the reason Muslims outside the Arab world are more liberal in interpreting Islam is because they are not Arabs, and they rely on English translations of the Quran and a more cherry-picked version of Hadith, which is why they have not been exposed to the full and actual doctrine of Islam. And anyway Arabs have never been quite famous for their morals, so when combined with a more raw version of Islam, it produces a more constrictive version of the religion.

    //These Saudi Arabian sheiks who say polygamy is a right today, they speak to a small group of fanatics outside the arab world.//
    Okay, this is too much, you guys are aware right, that the Prophet Muhammad himself took multiple wives, with or without their permission? Look up to the story of the marriage of Juwayriyya bint al-Harith, and Ayesha’s commentary about her:

    “She was a pleasant woman. No one saw her except he became captivated by her. While the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was when suddenly Juwayriyah (RA) entered asking him concerning her ransom agreement (with Thabit). By Allah, as soon as I saw her, I disliked her entering the place of Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) for I knew that he would see what I saw in her.”

    Later on Muhammad proposed to her marriage after a dialogue with her. Now in modern days this would be considered completely unIslamic behavior by the “westernized” Muslims, because Ayesha clearly disliked her for her attractiveness and charm, yet the Prophet decided to marry her without seeking proper permission of Ayesha (or other wives)!

    Also there was a time when the wives of the Prophet had a squabble with him for which it was his fault from the beginning (the story I don’t want to start explaining here), and 66:1-5 verses explain some of it.
    “Perhaps his Lord, if he divorced you [all], would substitute for him wives better than you – submitting [to Allah ], believing, devoutly obedient, repentant, worshipping, and traveling – [ones] previously married and virgins.” [66:5]

    So here it is not only the Prophet, but his God as well sided him that due to the annoying squabbles of the wives, THEY may be REPLACED by another SET of wives who have a number of better qualities about them, and can be PREVIOUSLY MARRIED OR VIRGINS!

    So yeah, the sugarcoaters for Islam can stop their sugar. At the end Islam is what Muslims make out of it. If they focus on the good parts and follow their conscience, that is their Islam. If they focus on the negative and constrictive parts too and call the conscience screaming against them as “Satan’s whispers”, that is their Islam.

  16. Jamylah, thanks for the acceptance regarding some level of disagreement.

    //So people can be “legal” but immoral, as well as moral and “illegal”. For example, Fiona you are someone I would say is a moral person, in essence. But are you following sharia?//
    Um, why on earth should Fiona follow Shariah? She is not even a Muslim! Well it shows the supremacist attitude of conservative Islam, where the adherants not only force their version of Shariah on their own people, but also on non-adherents. I have barely seen any other religion this way, except for several centuries back when Christianity was the same. I wonder since the adherents are so strong with their beliefs on their version of God, did they ever ask themselves why is it that Islam is the “only right path” (besides what their clerics would tell them)? What is the actual living evidence for it?

    // I believe Allah wants every person to act according to the law (sharia) but doing it also within a moral and compassionate framework.//
    I don’t know what that really means because parts of Shariah can be practised that way yes, and parts of Shariah are innately violent and destructive. Look at the penalties for various crimes for example. I don’t think we would want lashings, crucifixion or chopping off limbs in a civilized society as healthy methods of punishment (verses 24:2, 5:33, 5:38). Or the idea that a man marrying a woman behind his wife’s back as valid, but a woman doing the same is invalid.

  17. Mariam,

    My comment about Fiona not following sharia wasn’t meant to imply she should be. Of course non Muslims aren’t expected to follow sharia. I was using the term “legal” in reference to sharia only, since we are discussing Islamic polygamy specifically. I wasn’t meaning it to include secular laws or laws of other faiths.

    As far as punishments, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. I’ve heard plenty of people say things like rapists should be castrated or pedophiles shot on site. I think we have all had fantasies of horrific punishments upon someone who has severely wronged us. I guess it’s all in the value of the offense. Apparently, things like theft and adultery were considered to be most weighty and so the according punishments outlined.

    I think you mean women marrying other men altogether? Of course that is considered forbidden whether her husband permitted it or knew about it or not lol.

  18. // I was using the term “legal” in reference to sharia only, since we are discussing Islamic polygamy specifically//
    Yes, but the question you asked Fiona sounded like if she is living in a place which practises Shariah law, she is expected to abide by it too, even personal matters such as her own marriage concerns. And this is not just in terms of following law of the land, but the people viewing her as “illegal” deem her as such in the Afterlife as well, even though she was never a Muslim in the first place.

    //As far as punishments, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion.//
    Now that’s not a good thing to say. Because Saudi Arabia is deciding punishments by taking clues from the Quran and Sunnah as well, and they are considered un-Islamic by many Muslims. This statement is more of an apologetic attempt to deflect accusation, which is cloudy enough to take multiple meanings out of it.

    //Apparently, things like theft and adultery were considered to be most weighty and so the according punishments outlined.//
    So you agree a number of punishments in the Quran are outdated ancient society concepts which should have no place in today’s evolving civilized society. Hence I am such a fan of secular law, because broad-minded, educated people can decide on penalties depending on the society’s needs, instead of having to abide by an ancient religious scripture.

    //I think you mean women marrying other men altogether? Of course that is considered forbidden whether her husband permitted it or knew about it or not lol.//
    Um yes, that’s a “lol”, because Muslim women even thinking that they have a right like a Muslim man to be interested in other men besides being a totally faithful and submissive wife should laugh at themselves. Because of course hurting male pride by women is considered a major offense in God’s eyes.

    I don’t blame people here. It’s a strong brainwashing our societies have been subject to, for the past few millennia. And putting an intense fear of God regarding change about it in the form of religion sort of prevents people from figuring out other alternatives.

  19. //I think we have all had fantasies of horrific punishments upon someone who has severely wronged us.//
    Yeah, but at least we are not actually enforcing a number of them in real life, or put them in a religious scripture and claim it is from God and people disagreeing with it are disagreeing with God. Or misandrous women writing wrong or incomplete ideas about male psychology in such a religious scripture, put the males as second class citizens with limited rights compared to women and claim it is also something that God wants and She would not be happy with overturning of such “natural” rules. And then write out what rewards or punishments one would get in the Afterlife if one follows or rebels against such rules.

    Which has happened in the case of a number of religions formed during the Iron Age in particular, which has been an intensely patriarchal and violent age compared to any other Age previously.

  20. Mariam,

    I apologize if it came off that way. I wasn’t trying to be too elaborate, was only trying to say Fiona was an example of someone who is moral but not practicing sharia.

    As far as your comment about Saudi Arabia and what they do…well I don’t think what they do in a lot of cases is authentic Islam. For many muslim countries I would say the same, actually- I just am not familiar enough with the particular laws and practices in each and every one to say more than that. All I can say is that I’m not aware of any “islamic” country currently existant that is not overly influenced by anti-islamic cultural practices. None.

    I know you have the view that religious writings are not necessarily divine, or that many of their source and/or interpretation are strictly human- particularly from men. You have a right to see it how you see it, and I won’t deny that based on your views the logic you outline fits.

    Ultimately that’s the dilemma between one view and another. Because on one hand, some people are making logic or rational conclusions the ultimate arbiter of how to look at things. On the other hand, other people are putting their concept of a deity above logic, and submitting whatever logic or understanding they have to what they believe that deity is defining. They don’t have a desire to try to make that deity or His ways fit into whatever logic they have, which seems ludicrous to someone coming from the other camp. I get it.

    I don’t know if there will ever be a way to reconcile those two paradigms. Just like I don’t know if we will ever have an ideal society somewhere on earth, whether that be from an Islamic definition of ideal or secular. There’s a lot I don’t know, that we all don’t know, but that certainly doesn’t prevent us from finding meaningful lives for ourselves in whatever shape that looks like.

  21. OMG you ladies are awesome! Crazy thing is I kinda agree with everyone…. From the Islamic side with Jamylah and the humanist points from lifeisgood Maryiam and Fiona. It’s all about treating others as you would have them treat you. Period. I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ simply because he lived that way. I give my Muslim “husband” lessons in humanity all the time because they are taught this stupid misogynistic crap frombirthand I feel his heart wants to do right but his culture and loyalty to his African family gets in the way sometimes
    He said men are considered more than women in the Quran because women lie. I came back at him with sweety the first thing you told me was a lie. He told me his name was James and it’s really anAfrican name that could be considered hard to pronounce. Then he said woman was created from Adam’s rib not being created from woman. But then I hit him with God created us because you needed us. Not because woman needs man. They know how powerful and strong and awesome women are that’s why they keep oppressed. if I had the funds I would also participate in helping. As a matter of fact I’m thinking of going to my husband’s country of origin and helping women there. that’s always a thought in the back of my head. We women should stick together. I love you guys!!!

  22. Fiona I also wonder sometimes do your husband’s colleagues that talked him into the polygamy know that he is now living polyandry?

  23. What a pity… the shock might cause them to see a maybe distant silver lining more and more women in diverse cultures might eventually fight back. This could be quite medicative to them aside being positively terrifying.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s