I did not write about my experiences with polygamy in order to gain any sympathy, nor to discuss the rights and wrongs of what happened. Simply, it was to show where I am coming from and the background I have in the subject. When I was coming to terms with the being in the reality of polygamy, I really couldn’t find much online that helped me, but did manage in the end to find online support groups and get different perspectives and advice from there, as well as face to face counselling.
So I decided to start writing my thoughts and reflections thus far to fill this gap, and I sincerely hope that someone out there will benefit in some way. So, let’s start unpicking polygamy!
OK, you find out your husband wants to or has already taken another wife and this was never on your agenda. What do you often hear if you express your displeasure (and I am being polite here – for reasons I plan to discuss another day, displeasure is usually an understatement) ?
You may get:
“Just deal with it!”
This is the worst thing anyone can say to you – especially a husband – if you are having a hard time coming to terms with polygamy. You’ll probably also hear, “Well it’s part of Islam so you should just accept it.”`or even that “you should love it.”
This may be advice given with sincerity but is not helpful and for those of us not having polygamy in our culture, it’s not going to make a blind bit of difference. The heartache is still going to hurt; you’ll most likely feel torn apart.
Yes, most of us want to accept and be happy with what has been decreed in our life, but no one said it was going to be easy – and it’s not meant to be – sabr and tawwakul (patience and complete reliance on God) is not something you can order from Amazon – it takes work.
Help with this work is what you need. You want understanding and acceptance of your feelings; validation that you are actually feeling rock bottom and want to wake up from this nightmare. You need time – time to take it all in, time to let the sadness take its course which is necessary or else it will be bottled up, ready to ferment and explode at a later date. A huge mental shift is being expected of you, let alone practical changes to your life.
But what do you do when the reality of polygamy hits? Talk to someone who is going to accept your feelings, someone who knows what you’re going through perhaps, someone who has travelled that journey and can show you there is a life still full of light outside the dark hole you feel you’re trapped in right now.
If you have no one to talk to, find online groups (contact the Polygamy Unpicked FB page if you need recommendations), write your feelings down. Just don’t shut it all in and be the heroine. The feelings you are having in this situation are akin to grief – the marriage you thought you had has gone (although you might not believe me now, there is strong possibility there is something better for you going to replace that loss) and no one would expect someone grieving just to carry on as if nothing had happened nor seek help.
You need someone to hear your feelings, preferably your husband, and to respect them even if they disagree with them or find them uncomfortable. Because to move towards some sort of acceptance and corner-turning in this situation, these feelings have be out and not archived for future attacks and bitterness. They need to be out so something better can replace them.