I’ve written about jealousy before in the blog here – it’s what puts most people off polygamy, and affects almost everyone in a polygamous relationship one way or another.
I’ve recently had first-hand experience of jealousy of a different kind – that of a child towards his new little sibling. Now I know some may get offended at their emotions involved in a marital relationship being compared to a child’s emotions on getting a new baby brother or sister, but at its heart, jealousy is the same whatever age we are. It’s how we react that is most going to be affected by age. So what have I learnt?
- Behaving badly backfires
When the older sibling acts out and maybe attacks the baby, it does not increase the love a parent has for his or her child. It takes a lot of gritting of teeth to avoid increasing the jealousy and removing the older child from the room, and a lot of pretending to be more affectionate to the older sibling when your baby is being attacked. In fact it can come to a point where patience wears too thin and the baby does get all the attention and protection and the older child is practically abandoned due to their dangerous behaviour towards the baby.
- Being kind and affectionate to the new baby makes your parents love you more
There’s nothing sweeter to see than a toddler stroking the new baby carefully and planting a sloppy kiss on baby’s forehead. Showing care for a new sibling makes a parent want to spend time with the older child and time altogether as a family.
- It’s hard work trying to give the first child attention
However much you don’t want to admit it, a new baby does draw out the parental loving instincts and these sometimes have to be fought off as you try to pay more attention and show love to the older child so as to avoid this big bad beast of jealousy. This tug between the two is exhausting and feelings of guilt may crop up that the new baby is missing out somehow. That’s why point #2 has the happiest outcome for all involved in this new family dynamic – parent – first child -second, new child.
- In time, things usually get better, although there will always be some jealousy/sibling rivalry – this is normal.
Now I’ll translate this into polygamy terms: if a husband gets a new wife when the first is not happy about this, jealousy is going to happen – it’s a natural emotion that strikes the best of us. But if the first wife kicks up a huge fuss, is this going to help her achieve her aims – a happy marital relationship? Or will it backfire? Will her husband resent her, will he show her more attention because he feels he has to or because he wants to? How is the new wife affected? Is jealousy always going to be a major issue?
To the last question, I often thought ‘Can’t this just end? If it all goes away, this polygamy deal, so will the jealousy and so will the pain.’
But there are polygamous families out there that do work, that are happy; long-term, happiness and polygamy can be a reality I believe for those who find it hard to start with.
Insha Allah these two children I now witness as arch rivals will one day build sandcastles together, play hide and seek and stick up for each other at school.
As someone once comforted me in those early days of being in polygamy, ‘After the storm comes a rainbow.’