Journaling through Polygamy

When I first found out I was in polygamy, I really needed someone to talk to besides my husband. I needed to express myself, release what was inside of me, find out if what I was feeling was justified. It didn’t feel right to reveal everything to friends and certainly not relatives who would have been horrified. I didn’t know a counselor I could trust at the time and my only hope was Facebook where masha Allah I found a lot of support. But there’s only so much you can say to what are essentially strangers and who have their own lives to lead. So I began journaling my thoughts. And I am so glad I did. This is why…

By writing regularly in my journal, I vented all my woes and heartache to the keyboard (a pen and paper would have been just as good, if not better). This helped me get to the crux of my current emotions and my focus that day.  And in doing so, I gave my future self a good deal of material for self-reflection. Now I can look back and see that what I was feeling so intensely at that point in time will die down, that prayers for relief have been answered, and that possibly future thorny paths will be surmountable.

Journal the good and the bad

I didn’t journal every day, but mostly when I was particularly upset about an issue. I wish I had written more about the good days; there’s things to learn there too, so that is a future goal of mine.

Reading back over the issues I had written about, I can see patterns and whether there is anything I can do about certain issues or if I need to just have acceptance. For example, I can see that it was the breaking of trust that really hurt me, not entirely polygamy itself.

So I would recommend regular journaling to anyone, whether struggling in polygamy or not – here’s a link to get started. Give yourself that time for self-reflection. Just write what first comes into your mind, how you feel, and why you think you’re feeling that way. You’ll feel the weight lift off your shoulders, a least a little, from this simple act insha Allah.

Let’s hear from you in the comments or join the discussions on our Facebook page and follow Polygamy Unpicked on Twitter.

 

Justice, Jealousy and Polygamy

What is it that gets most women down when it comes to polygamy? Jealousy and injustice. These two are tightly interlinked, feeding each other; they tease or even bleed out negativity from anyone afflicted.

Injustice (on the man’s part) throws fuel on the fires of jealousy whereas the opposite, justice, will act as cooling water. If a husband spends more time with one wife than the other for no apparent reason, is it not to be expected the wife with less time will feel hurt and jealous?

One just way to vent your jealousy, if that’s your thing…

And jealousy is a natural feeling for most women in polygamy, whether there is fairness or not; there is no house cleaner than when occupied by a jealous woman! Don’t be ashamed or feel bad for feeling jealous – it’s how you react that matters. Being jealous and then being unjust yourself cannot be – sorry – justified.

A woman found out her husband had married again and poured boiling water on her husband’s back. She had her moment of revenge and satisfaction, but to gain what? A ticket to hell fire perhaps.

This is not a post to say accept any injustice done to you – that would be oppression. Accept your initial feelings of jealousy and anger and betrayal or whatever is urging your fists to smack the wall, eyes to cry a thousand tears or tongue to scream profanities. Breathe. And then work out a plan of action (not involving boiling water or burying anyone under the patio!)  Keep repeating to yourself Allah is the Just and he promises you Justice.

You will find a way, insha Allah, to regain peace in your heart. Right now it may look impossible and you have no obvious path to follow, but keep having tawwakul (reliance on  Allah (SWT).)

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Don’t Lose Yourself in Polygamy

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. There are no exciting nor interesting reasons for this, just me having a bad cold. In fact polygamy is featuring less and less in my radar as I realize I have to confront the negative thoughts about the past and worries about the future, replace them with good ones, and enjoy each day as it is.

So much appreciation is due to the author of the following article, Polygyny101, who is my guest this week on the blog, providing us with some excellent advice. Be sure to check out the blog for some more inspiration!

Living in the Light

Accept & Appreciate Yourself

by Polygyny101

Sometimes, it’s easy to lose yourself in the shadow of your co-wife. Whether you’re the first, second, third, or fourth wife, and whether you’ve been married for years or days, making comparisons between yourself and your co-wife is common. But there’s a better way to live: in the warm light of self-acceptance and self-appreciation.

When you devote your time and attention to what you’re good at, you won’t be discouraged by what you’re not. 

Overcoming the June Cleaver Syndrome

Almost every society around the world has a cultural reference to that perfect woman. You know, the unattainable woman who always looks and acts like a front page model, whose house is always immaculate, whose children are well-behaved and clean and kempt, and whose food is always complex and delicious. (In America, this woman is June Cleaver.) Buying into such unrealistic expectations is a sure recipe for making yourself feel inadequate. You may see things in your co-wife that stir up these cultural expectations. Fight Shaytan and remember that no one is perfect. We are all blessed with strengths and weaknesses. Appreciate the good in people because this is a gift from Allah (SWT). Focus on yourself and your strengths. By doing so, you’ll form a closer connection with Allah (SWT) by being grateful for His blessings to you.  

Look in the Mirror instead of out the Window

As women, we tend to compare ourselves to pretty much anyone around us. It’s not just limited to our co-wives. ‘My mother in law’s cake is always prettier and moister than mine. My neighbor’s lawn looks like a photo from a home decor magazine. My cousin’s house is so organized and clean.’

By always looking at others, you’re distracting yourself. Step away from the window, and embrace the mirror. When you devote your time and attention to what you’re good at, you won’t be discouraged by what you’re not. If there is something you feel you’re really lacking or fall short in, do your best to improve in that area. Self-improvement is always better than self-loathing and pity.

Avoid Assumptions

In those weak moments every wife has, it’s all too easy to assume that our co-wives are living a better, more harmonious life. We assume they’re happier, make our husband happier, and their marriage is better. Don’t sell yourself short and fall into this trap. Every marriage has ups and downs. What happens behind closed doors is private, and in sha Allah you will never know if/when your husband and your co-wife have issues or struggles. As a result, it can be too simple to believe their marriage is almost perfect. Remind yourself that’s impossible. Just as you and your husband go through marital rough spots, so do they. Focus on yourself, your own marriage, and how in increase the highs with your husband and decrease the lows.

As a creation of Allah (SWT), you are full of good, beneficial characteristics and manners. Remember them, be grateful for them and thank Allah (SWT) for them. Likewise, appreciate the good in others without belittling yourself.

May Allah (SWT) bless you in your journey to self-appreciation.

Let’s hear from you in the comments or join the discussions on our Facebook page and follow Polygamy Unpicked on Twitter.

 

 

 

One Day Happy with Polygamy, One Day Hating It

The roller coaster of emotions when you find out you are in polygamy, or even if you were informed, would probably  not pass health and safety inspections if a theme park were to ever install it – the Gs are just too much.

But even once starting to be settled into polygamy, or if in it willingly either as a second (or third or fourth) wife, or if you actually encouraged your husband to take another wife, the roller coaster is still there, but this time may pass those inspections. You can be smiling, teeth dazzling any onlooker,  like those women in the polygamy shows on TV who seem too happy in their situation, and then the next day, a completely grumpy mess of emotions and wanting to run away (again) from it all.

Why is this?

I am sure there are lots of reasons, and here are just some ideas of mine which might resonate with you:

Everything in life, be it our relationship with our kids, our jobs, our health – it is not static. There is always change, and this is part of what makes life interesting as well as challenging. Without the lows we wouldn’t experience the highs as, well, highs. And Allah (SWT)  hasn’t given us this life as a game, nor can we expect Jannah on this earth. Allah (SWT) gives us the good and bad times so we can see how we react; do we get that soft buzz of sabr or do we lose it and seek taubah? All are chances for growth. If everything were a bed of roses, all that would grow would be the roses.

Dealing with jealousy

So as time has gone past, and I am having one of those moments/hours/days of finding everything and anything jealousy-inducing, I know to acknowledge the jealousy, back off, seek refuge with Allah (SWT) and follow the adage that silence is golden. And soon thereafter, those negative feelings do disappear, and rather than doing or saying something I’d regret, I just get on with life. Maybe read a book, watch a video, or write in my journal. Of course, this isn’t always how things play out and over-communicating my thoughts ends up sinking the day to even lower depths.

But verily after difficulty is relief! And so the roller coaster, the ups and downs of life, will continue.

So to husbands getting confused by their wives’ reactions or moods, especially towards polygamy, please give them some slack. Have some patience, just like how many people advise the wives. Your wife may be totally happy with being in polygamy, or may even be amused at your jokes about having more wives and even joke back, but sometimes they may get triggered, they may have some other issues going on, or maybe there’s no particular reason at all.

Logically, there may be a stable attitude to everything to do with polygamy for a woman: more chance for me-time, maybe help with the kids, companionship with another sister, less responsibilities for the same amount of blessings of being a wife, absence making the relationship stronger as well as the heart fonder and the list goes on. But emotionally there is a yo yo bouncing up and down in the background for many women. Please be patient and wait for the yo yo to rise, gracefully, back up.

Let’s hear from you in the comments or join the discussions on our Facebook page and follow Polygamy Unpicked on Twitter.

 

Why Don’t You Just Get a Divorce?

Don’t like being in polygamy? Stop moaning and do something about it – you have the right to get a divorce.

That’s the gist of a comment posted by I hope a well-meaning sister about my last post. She was disgusted by the way I am apparently judging someone’s iman if they ask for a divorce and that I am apparently saying a woman has no choice but to stay unhappy in a polygamous marriage.  

Iman of course affects how someone reacts and accepts trials in their life. I’m not trying to judge someone about their faith, it’s just iman is one of many factors involved. A high level of trust in Allah (SWT) and His plan is going to help anyone through difficult periods in their life.

I specifically pointed out the ‘smell of Paradise’ hadith as this is what guided ME. No one forced me, but when I was asking Allah (SWT) for guidance when considering asking for divorce, this is what I found out in my research. I took that as a sign. I did actually have a valid reason to seek divorce – I had a ‘no polygamy unless I gave permission’ clause in my nikah contract. If someone says that that clause is not valid, then secondly things had been done behind my back which according to my urf would make that a reason for objection. But I didn’t want to chance it. For ME , akhirah is too precious to risk this.  And I was not in my normal state of mind. As I think I mentioned before, I know for sure not to make serious decisions when angry.

I also added the ‘smell of Paradise’ hadith alongside the consult a sheikh paragraph, because to recommend someone a divorce is a serious thing. Both sides of the story need to be known, and someone of knowledge and who fears Allah (SWT) rather than basing things solely on their emotions needs to assist here.

If you look back to my article ‘Polygamy is Not gonna Change‘, it shows that I felt my option of divorce was not going to bring me sakinah – peace and happiness. All it would achieve in MY case was a sense of revenge.

I would then be a single mother of six, who would be desperately missing the good times I could have been having with my husband. To find another husband in my 40s with so many children who was as great overall as my current husband would be unlikely, and there would be nothing to guarantee another man wouldn’t also want polygamy. To get married again would most likely would be only achieved through being a 2nd wife – oh the irony!

Basically, I still loved him, and he still loved me and wanted to make up for things, not do things behind my back again and altogether treat me right. Am I weak to forgive and give someone another chance? To focus on what’s good in our marriage and amplify that? To keep a family together, or to split it apart for my own ego? If things had carried on for 6 months or maybe a year and I was still finding it unbearable then maybe the divorce route could be the right decision, but often a blanket response of well-meaning people is ‘leave!’

It’s just not that simple.

How Long Does It Take to Accept Polygamy?

I’ve been asked on several occasions how long it took me to accept being in a polygamous situation. Two metaphorical pieces of string are involved here. Firstly, what is acceptance? Yes, I accept polygamy is part of Islam – how can I deny that? Whether it is ‘right’ for our family, or my marital relationship is another matter.  Basic acceptance at logical level is the first step, and shouldn’t take so long if things are being done fairly and everyone involved  is following their religion. But being happy and grateful for the change in lifestyle I think is something that will likely take a long time.

The length of the second piece of string is due to a person’s individual situation and opinions, past experiences, level of iman and many other factors – including the way polygamy is done.

I remember asking a friend in the early days, who was happily in polygamy, how long am I going to feel this bad? She replied, a couple of months. Six months later, still struggling, I asked her again and she said it could take a year. My situation wasn’t straightforward though. It involved two other cowives, a miscarriage, a failing business and what I believe took the longest to overcome – trust issues.

At the time I felt like I was occupying a dark period in my life, but at the same time, it wasn’t a 24/7 living hell. Life went on, the kids needed their sandwiches made, work tasks needed to be done. However,  I knew the daily crying sessions were not sustainable and all I wanted was to feel at peace, have sakinah. This didn’t necessarily mean that polygamy should disappear from my life altogether, although this did seem to be the obvious and quickest way back to a sense of serenity.

It is now, about two years on and no longer in that particular polygamy situation, that I appreciate a day without a pain in the stomach appearing at least once. I still get triggered by certain thoughts that randomly pop up, or other external triggers such as ‘on this day’ on Facebook, and even dreams/nightmares.

I have read about a lot of people, initially unhappy (and I put this mildly) about being part of polygamy, but in time have come to accept and maybe even thrive in it.

But what if you don’t or can’t accept it? Well then the option is to seek a divorce, which only you know is right for you and will be a better situation for you than in a polygamous one. When I myself considered this, I did take into account the hadith “If a women asks her husband for a divorce, for no reason, then the smell of paradise is forbidden for her”. (At-Tirmidhi) and I am glad I didn’t go that far. So please consult a trustworthy sheikh who may well say you have grounds for seeking khula.

So logically I am in a total place of acceptance of polygamy if it is done according to Qur’an and Sunnah with full justice and amicability between all involved. Emotionally I don’t know when that will be. Before my marriage became monogamous again due to outside factors, I felt like that the emotional acceptance would come as time goes on and the situation became the norm for me, but this would be a long process after 15 plus years of monogamy. Like someone who is used to being a couch potato, they would have a lot of painful sessions at the gym and sacrifices of their favourite foods in order to become fit and healthy. The long term benefits of a healthy lifestyle wouldn’t be noticeable for many months and the extended life expectancy wouldn’t be apparent for years. But all the initial difficulties that would have to be overcome, would in time seem worth it.

When I mentioned to someone that it felt like a period of grief when I found out I was in polygamy, someone who was fully positive about polygamy did actually agree with me. Grief involves denial and finally acceptance. We don’t expect people to get over the death of a loved one overnight, so why should anyone expect a woman not wanting polygamy to ‘get over’ her feelings in a short space of time. It may be tough for the man involved to see his wife hurt and upset, but this is likely a necessary part of the process to firstly at least logically accept things, and eventually emotionally be in place of peace.

Unfortunately there are no quick fixes to this situation – just patience, prayer and love.

Wishing these for all those having a difficult time right now in polygamy so they can feel peace again in their heart. 

Let’s hear from you in the comments or join the discussions on our Facebook page and follow Polygamy Unpicked on Twitter.

 

On Being Single in Polygamy

Unless you’re living with your cowife (wives), being in polygamy is actually a case of living two lives: one as a married person and the other as a singleton. This may sound negative, but when looked at with a certain attitude, I think you can get the best of both worlds.

Monogamy sits somewhere in the middle, and one could say, on the fence is a pretty boring place to be (if you let it). And being in polygamy can be a dark place to be – if you let it.

So who wants to be single? Plenty of us made a huge effort to find a partner and now you’re talking about enjoying some spinster-like state?!

Being on your own on certain nights, for many, is a new thing. Maybe some women have never had their double bed to themselves since they were married. This change – and all change is scary – can be too much for many women, especially because their husband has chosen to be away from them.

But if this is your situation and you want to stay with your husband, there has to be a way up and out of the dark hole of negativity. Polygamy forces you to be happy with your own company, forces you out of the thinking I am so and so’s wife and rather, I am me and I am going to achieve X,Y,Z. Force is a strong word, but if something breaks down the barriers restricting you discovering your potential, maybe it is necessary, like being offered food you’d always thought you’d hate and finding you actually quite like it, as you are forced to eat it out of courtesy.

Of course being in polygamy isn’t the only path to finding happiness in yourself, but when you see this positive aspect, it can help neutralize the acidity of the negative feelings that may bubble up about polygamy.

Do you realize how much time you spend on doing things for your husband? Quite a few hours no doubt, and however much you love to be there for him, you’ll now have that extra time for things for YOU. Just not expending the mental energy of whether you’ve soaked the rice or coordinating your schedule with him instead of doing things when you want, frees you up.

One sister said to me that as I’m in polygamy, I’d still be getting the same reward of being a good spouse but with half the work involved as it is shared with the other wife.

And one, l’m afraid less pleasant, side-effect that may be necessary: being used to being single I hope will cushion the blow a teeny bit if you ever lose your spouse before they lose you, either through death or divorce. We can pray these things never happen, but being strong in yourself and not reliant on someone else entirely for your happiness can only be a good thing.

Let’s hear from you in the comments or join the discussions on our Facebook page and follow Polygamy Unpicked on Twitter.

 

When You’re Told You Should Love Polygamy

I recently came across a statement that made me think, and I paraphrase: Whenever the word ‘should’ is used, the chances are it’s oppression.

So saying sentences like:

‘You should love polygamy, it’s the Sunnah’

‘You shouldn’t feel jealous’

are generally as helpful as throwing a lead weight to a drowning person.

And the person being addressed is screaming within (or maybe out loud) ‘But I do feel this way!’ or ‘I can’t love this!’

Maybe these responses are not always logical, maybe they’re not in line with the religion, but they’re there – despite being the opposite to what someone else wants to hear.

So when someone is new to polygamy, especially when it is not something they would pick themselves, please be gentle on them. When someone is jealous and the sound of them cutting up carrots reverberates around the kitchen as they release their feelings, let them take it out on those vegetables.

Now is the time to listen, to let them feel what they are feeling. No one chooses to feel that way. Maybe they are choosing not to consider the positives of polygamy, maybe they are choosing to focus only on themselves,  but forcing someone to block out a feeling denies their self-worth –  and a strong sense of self-worth is what is needed right now.

When you listen, rather than tell, solutions to the difficulties are more likely to be found.

Another ‘should’:

‘You should have higher iman, then you’d accept polygamy.’

Possibly their iman is an issue, but being flung into a situation they’d never expected nor would choose is likely to drag down their iman to new lows. And then you bring in the feelings of guilt, guilt for not doing or feeling how they ‘should’. All these negative emotions.

More helpful is to suggest activities that are positive and have the side effect of increasing iman – extra salah, extra dhikr, and the heart-saving raising of hands in du’a.

You can’t make anybody love something – they have to discover that feeling for themselves. Some people love polygamy and kudos to them. Some wonder what all the fuss is about, some are ambivalent, and many find it just downright hard. So if you catch yourself saying ‘should’, maybe think if there is a better way to move the situation to a place of positivity.

Maybe say nothing at all, maybe just listen.

 

Let’s hear from you in the comments or join the discussions on our Facebook page and follow Polygamy Unpicked on Twitter.

Loving Too Much

Being in polygamy has brought to mind the idea of loving someone too much. From the woman’s side, her loving her husband so much that she can never share him, and the devastation she feels when her husband takes another wife makes me question the concept of love – at least about the extreme nature love can reach.

If she ends up getting a divorce, where has the love gone? What about compersion, the opposite of jealousy where you love someone so much their happiness makes you happy? (I wrote about it here) Would it be fair to say that accepting your husband’s marriage to someone else shows a different kind of, unselfish love – the type that isn’t possessive and brings positivity all round?

But all this is easy to write, but not so easy in the real world. When the reality of polygamy hits a common question comes up:

‘Why is my husband doing this, marrying another, if he knows it will hurt me? How can he say he loves me?’

The echoes of dissonance are loud and clear here for many a woman, and some men do abandon the idea of remarrying because of their wives’ potential reaction; polygamy would be more commonplace if it weren’t so.

And I think sometimes it’s easy to think we are showing someone love, by giving in to their desires. With our children, we may think we are showing love by letting them have all the cookies they want, but long-term their health will most likely be affected.

But maybe a man sees the long term benefits of polygamy,  not just to himself,  but to the incoming wife as well as the current relationship with his first wife. Maybe he doesn’t even realize, but there is potential for the relationship between cowives to be  amazing, and I would say look for families like this to inspire you. And you might not believe it, but the relationship between a man and his first wife will blossom like a sudden heatwave in Spring has hit Winter.

So what are theses long-term benefits?

  • Helping a fellow sister, and gaining rewards for akhirah.
  • Coming closer to your Lord when asking Him to help you.
  • Passing tests of sabr, and what  rewards, long-term that will hold.
  • Practical benefits, such as sharing burdens of childcare, companionship of another like-minded woman, more time to oneself.
  • Improved marital relationship, first wife and her husband, in all areas.

Although the hurt will still be there, it may be softened a little, and eventually healed, by thinking about and eventually experiencing the benefits.

If polygamy is done in the right way, not purely for lusts  and and no responsibility,  it is showing the wisdom of Allah’s words permitting polygamy, and insha Allah also real love.

Real love is where you want what is best in the end for them, for the long term. If you love your brother or sister you will warn them against the bad – even if they may react negatively towards you –  and encourage in doing good things that will bring them closer to Allah (SWT). Real love doesn’t chain people up, expecting them to be happy that way.

Are spouses sometimes loving each other too much, or not enough? Or are they just not loving them in the right way?

Let’s hear from you in the comments or join the discussions on our Facebook page and follow Polygamy Unpicked on Twitter.

Advice to Men Considering Polygamy

Last week, I wrote about the Second Wife’s perspective in polygamy. Today I’m sharing some sincere advice for the men thinking of polygamy (polygyny) written by Hasan Clay, MBA, ABD and Naaila Moumaris-Clay

I think this is of course useful for any men out there to read, but also for women. It shows that polygamy is not an easy path to take if done properly. But the men that do their duties as they should deserve some credit.

Remembering which key is to which house is the least of a polygamous man’s worries

POLYGYNY: All Things Considered

1. You will miss your wife while with the other wife.
2. It will feel awkward initially when establishing a home with the new wife. You may not feel so comfortable and desire to be “at home”, the other house.
3. You will miss seeing your children. This may make it harder to fairly implement time.
4. You will have to resist submitting to your wife’s emotions, and may appear insensitive, to limit manipulation.
5. Find ways to be sensitive and to do more to show love and appreciation. No matter what you do, emotionally and mentally, you will come up short. Do and be extra when you can.
6. You will never be able to control the relationship of your wives. For this reason, selection is key.
7. You will be forced to make decisions you do not want to make. These women and families are intertwined due to you. Don’t ever take a back seat on leadership.
8. You may briefly lose some of the closeness you had with your existing wife as she learns to trust your decision to take another wife. It can be regained.
9. Unless you are wealthy, you will likely encounter a financial struggle with one or both homes, unexpectedly. Even if you do not have to initially, plan to take care of each household. You may have to.
10. With the additional responsibilities, you may periodically tire of the sexual benefit of multiple wives.
11. Your children deserve an explanation for your absence in the home. You should inform them.
12. Giving one wife more benefits or time will likely give her a feeling of superiority. This will come back to haunt you.
13. When you insist upon keeping your wives separate, you create doubt and lack of trust. It allows for a man to be raggedy and you know it. Don’t do it. You look like a man with poor character.

Hasan Clay, MBA, ABD and Naaila Moumaris-Clay, MS, NCC ©2017