The answer to why polygamy is so hard for most women to accept in many people’s minds might seem obvious – it goes something like this:
This is not how marriage is supposed to be. It’s not natural; what’s natural is for one man and one woman to be married, and polygamy is for exceptional reasons. Monogamy is the norm – the norm as a species and so the norm in most cultures.
So in having this mindset, when a husband takes another wife, it feels like adultery; the feelings of betrayal are the most overwhelming, pelting you down to the ground and kicking you where it hurts the most – your heart. If someone can be prepared to hurt you this much, do they really love you?
And then there is the worst of emotions, the big bad one that causes most of the issues in polygamy: jealousy. Polygamy takes away time and resources from a woman and her children, but most significantly it takes away the exclusivity of attraction and attention which for many women (and men) supports their sense of self-worth.
But what if we look at these reasonings, unpick them and try to see where our thinking might be causing us more pain than necessary. Because many Muslim women, including myself, have an internal mental struggle between accepting the legitimacy of polygamy and their own aversion to it. We can conveniently brush the topic under the carpet, reserving the need to think about polygamy only in extreme cases such as when there were many widows from wars gone by or when a woman cannot bear children. But if we look at the previous post and accept that men naturally incline to more than one mate, and evidence from real life shows this, then we have to be brave enough to look at and challenge the reasons for disliking polygamy.
So coming up in future posts insha Allah, I’ll look more closely at betrayal, jealousy and the cultural influences that make polygamy hard for women to accept.
What other factors might be making polygamy is so hard for women to accept? Let’s hear from you in the comments.