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.

 

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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.