It’s inevitable the topic of sex and intimacy will come up when talking about polygamy. For many, including myself, it is a major issue. When I talked about jealousy before (here), giving examples of your husband taking different people out on dinner date rather than yourself, a cowife is the only one who would be a threat when we’re talking about sex. A mother or son could also be a source of emotional support, or a male friend someone to joke around with as much as yourself. But sex, no; why is everyone usually happy to have more than one friend, more than one child, more than one parent, but not more than one sexual partner at a time?
Choosing the image for this post was not so simple so we’ll just stick to fruity, lol.
To me, it is because sex seems like the ultimate level of intimacy you can have with one person; you are at your most vulnerable and you are physically as well as emotionally the most close. It is also the potential starting point for one of the most significant biological ties – having children together.
It is this sharing of something only between you, and thank God in Islam it is only between you two, that has lead me to also rethink the idea of intimacy at an emotional level – which can then help me accept the physical. Because before I found out I was in polygamy, I thought there was nothing my husband would need or want to keep from me, and vice versa. Of course, in reality we all have things we don’t want to share with anyone, even our spouse for whatever reason – the mundane parts of life or things we are ashamed of. But a husband’s self-imposed choice to be in polygamy and hence restrictions on complete openness (which are of course helpful in stopping very upsetting thoughts about your spouse being with someone else intimately) are a choice he has made. He’s chosen to have part of his life spent of which he’ll have to be careful not to talk about with me, rather than be free easy and open as it had been. I think this was something which really took me time to come to terms with, and I’m not quite sure I’m there yet.
But with this comes another perspective – that I myself don’t have to share everything, we don’t have to be living in each others’ pockets. My own life is also separate and if God forbid something happens to him, our lives are not so intertwined that if I am without him, it does not mean I am not whole.
So on a practical level, I have heard time and time again that when sexual jealousy and intimacy issues are brought up as a problem for wives in polygamy, that the best way is to block it off. I am normally against blocking emotions but if we can get to the thoughts before they affect our emotions then I think this is a solution. As Muslims we are advised to seek refuge with Allah (SWT) from Shaytan from such thoughts, as it is most likely it is Shaytan trying to stir things up in our own marriage. Keeping the mind busy, even if it is just counting down from 20 – the mind can not think about more than one thing at once – and putting the energy into something for yourself e.g completing a work project can help, especially if it’s late at night and you can’t sleep. Make sure you are so tired before bed when it’s not your night that you don’t have the energy to dwell on things as you’re lying in bed alone. And I’ll mention again the concept of compersion which I blogged about here. If you have that sisterly love for your cowife and an unconditional love for your husband, then wanting them to have a good time can be the way to getting past the mind-eating problem of sexual jealousy – a high target, but worth aiming for.
How have you coped with sexual jealousy – or is it not an issue for you (I have heard comments such as “It’s just sex” or “This isn’t what bothers me in polygamy”)?
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