Monday, January 3, 2011

Polygyny: The Grass is Green on both Sides of the Fence

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

One thing that seems to be a commonly quoted issue with polygyny is that one wife has it better than the other. It is often the view that the second wife comes along and gets the easy life, compared to the first wife. Often the first wife has been the one to help establish a home, been patient with financial matters, and helped to mold her husband into the man he is by the time the second wife comes along. The first wife can be left feeling that the second wife gets more money (because she married the husband when he was better off), an easier life, and is benefiting from all the improvements in the husband that came about as a result of those hard early years. However, there is so much more to it than that and as a first wife I can honestly say that the grass isn't greener on the other side, it's green on both sides.

I know I've written before about some of the benefits of polygyny, but here I want to do a real-life analysis of my thinking regarding the situation of a 40-something first wife (me), a 20-something co-wife, and what we represent to our 40 year old husband.

  • I married a man of similar age (well actually he is 5 years younger) because I wanted someone as active and energetic as I was. Co-wife has married a man 12 years her senior, so she has someone with maturity, education, and the potential for financial security. 
  • Hubby and I have been raising our family for the past 8.5 years, and our children have, for the most part, enjoyed the benefits and stability of having a full-time father. I have had 8 miscarriages (al hamdul'Illah) in the past 2.5 years, so I am not expecting any more children,  Qadr Allah, mashaa fa'al. more morning sickness, hormonal pregnancy mood swings, discomforts, afterbirth and newborn baby exhaustion....I guess I can cope with that, LOL. I am heading towards menopause within the coming ten years, when I will no longer have any "time off" for prayer or marital relations. Co-wife has a good 18 or more years of fertility, so she can offer hubby a fresh, young body and mind with many children - perhaps 12 or more, to be realistic. Children are such a joy that hubby will be strongly tied to his new family and perhaps more enamored with them, as the novelty of someone new and having sweet babies to hold again will be quite irresistible.
  • On the other hand, our youngest child is 4.5 years old, so we are starting to reap the benefits of our children being more independent. I have more time for personal interests, learning and development, and quality interaction with the children now that I am no longer preoccupied with breastfeeding, changing diapers, and potty training.  As the children grow older, we have increased freedom to enjoy vacations, outings, and activities...even some outings without them. For his new young family with Co-wife, he will  be kept on his toes and need plenty of energy. However, there will be far less freedom and one-on-one time, once the babies start coming.
  • In our home, there is less housework, as the children are assigned chores and many of the time-consuming daily tasks are delegated. It will be several years before any chores can be delegated in Co-wife's home, unless she delegates to hubby = ).
  • I know my husbands faults and weaknesses, have come to terms with them, and have found a way to handle them wa al hamdul'Illah. It's nice to have gotten through that tough stuff. Co-wife still has all that ahead of her. Co-wife has all the newness of marriage and getting to know her new husband, with language limitations early on (She only speaks Arabic, hubby's native tongue is English and his Arabic is limited.) 
  • She has to make a life for herself, structured around her time allocation. Our life is relatively unchanged, except we perhaps see him slightly less. Our household doesn't revolve around him being here, and there are too many of us to be lonely, lol. 
  • I may, bi ithn Illah,  grow old with my husband comfortably, sharing similar experiences and enjoying a similar level of maturity due to life experiences and age compatibility. Our home is a place for hubby to relax in relative peace. I enjoy the depth of a relationship that has been established for years and the closeness that going through so much in life and raising children brings. I am still a place for hubby to find his comfort, talk about things freely, eat familiar and favorite foods, and enjoy my humor and the familiarity we have. I am the one who shares the same dream with hubby of having land and living the Sunnah. We have spent years discussing, researching, and planning for it. Co-wife will offer hubby a home without children, just pure adult freedom, initially. Hubby will be able to start things as he wishes to continue. He may "train" Co-wife to do the things he particularly likes...especially those things I don't or won't do. Later on, it will be a home with babies, young children and different atmosphere to enjoy and appreciate.
  • As for practical matters, I will get more of my needs taken care of,  as I was the always the wife who didn't ask for things, didn't go shopping, didn't spend unless seriously warranted, and only bought from thrift shops.  Although I am fine as I am, the financial division and fairness will mean that more will be allocated for me inshaa'Allah. Hubby has to set up home with Co-wife. In addition, things like long overdue doctor's appointments will finally be made, inshaa'Allah. Co-wife will have appointments for pregnancies. Hubby will have to ensure fairness and good treatment of both wives. 
  •  Hubby's two children from a previous marriage,will now have two step-mothers and the responsibility of raising them can be shared.
  • Before retirement age hits, all our children should have finished school and whatever arrangements for higher education taken into account and planned for, inshaa'Allah. I will have more time for my studies, taking care of myself, and to sleep early and wake up fresh, inshaa'Allah. All of Co-wife's children will have a middle aged father, with a large age-gap. The youngest will just be entering higher education when hubby hits retirement age. The older ones may not be ready for higher education until hubby is between 60 and 75 years old. The risk of their father dying while they are still young is high, and Allah only Knows.
  • Co-wife is embarking on a family life, with pregnancies, child raising, schooling, with all the joys, blessings, hard work, and time that it entails. She will have Hubby's support through her different developmental stages and his maturity will be reassuring, inshaa'Allah. I am well down the road with the child raising, schooling, and blessings of marriage and family. I give Hubby support through his developmental stages ;P
As for Hubby, he will - bi ithn Illah - have two good wives, two good families, and many children to raise upon Islam. He will have to work doubly hard to keep it all together, but inshaa'Allah he will have the things he wants most in this dunya and be kept out of trouble so he can have good in his aakhirah - ameen.

So as you can see, the grass is beautifully green wa al hamdul'Illahi Rabbil al ameen!


  1. Salam Alaykum Sister Mai! Thanks for reminding us that marriage is soooo much more than what Shaitan makes us jealous about. Sometimes we all have to take a step back and look at the BIG picture. May Allah keep our hearts steady Amen.

  2. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Umm Hamza!

    Where have you been? I have missed you and been thinking about you a lot lately, mashaa'Allah. Inshaa'Allah, all is well on your side of the "sea", lol.

    Yes, the BIG picture is REAL, the emotional stuff is just shaytaan spreading lies. Ameen to your dua' and a BIG HUG for you! <3 <3 <3

  3. Salaam Alaikum Sister!

    I really enjoyed reading this post and I ask Allah (swt) to bless you and your family and reward you with the highest level of paradise for your patience and love for your husband. Ameen. May Allah (swt) keep your husband always happy with you and your children and treat you and his second wife with fairness and love. Ameen.

  4. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Rene!

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran for your love (because I really feel it, mashaa'Allah) and beautiful dua'. Ameen! Ameen! And may Allah, subhaana wa taala, reward you with even more that you wish for me - ameen!

  5. Assalamu alaikum sis,

    Thanks for posting this and I can definitely see where you and your husband's relationship will probably be doing really well since you will have more you and him time now that the kids are getting older! I am currently pregnant with #2 and my husband and I want like 9 or as many as Allah wills. lol. So, when I am like 40 I will get a break hopefully. :D

    Right now, my hubby has to deal with a toddler and a tired, pregnant wife. And that gets tiring for him.

  6. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Em Hamzah!

    Ahh, I can remember those days so well when I had a 2-year old and was pregnant with my second daughter. Subhaan Allah, after I had her it was even harder keeping up with the two hourly feedings and tending to all the family as well. I pray you have 9 or more! They are a most amazing blessing when born of believing, Jennah-focused parents. Inshaa'Allah, you will find that in a couple of years, once the oldest is more self-sufficient, things get much easier. After that, it is never quite as hard again (inshaa'Allah). May Allah bless you and your husband with endless blessings, mercy, a pious progeny, and lots of patience - ameen!

  7. Alhumdulillah.

    I pray you and your co-wife have a good respectful relationship InshaAllah. May Allah bless you all <3

  8. Dear Sweetlikechocolate,

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran. Inshaa'Allah, it will be respectful as we both want to please Allah, subhaana wa taala. Ameen to your dua' and may Allah shower His blessings upon you, too - ameen!

  9. I'm kind of late for this one.... but I do pray with all my heart this one works out! ..for yours and your husband's sake, InshaAllah Aameen. day at a time!! :D

  10. As salaamuu Alaikaam
    Sister Mai- I am really sort of speechless. It seems you really have a handle on your insecurities...Masha Allah. You have truly tasted the sweetness of Emaan. And you seem to have a deep understanding of the deen. So you were able to think outside your emotions. Have you met your co-wife? If not, how do you think you will feel once you actually meet her? If you have met her....Did you feel comfortable? Also, I think polygyny is practiced more often in the country you live in. Does that make acceptance easier?

  11. Ah Pingy, I pray this works out for the children foremost. These days, while he is busy getting things set up for Co-wife, they barely see him and I am constantly fending off the questions, "Where's Ab?" and "When will Ab be home?" Yesterday, my 7 year old was sitting at dinner and my 4 year old said, "You need to keep space on the platter for Ab." When I told her he wasn't coming for dinner, the 7 year old said, "He has a new wife." It was such a bald she understood that it was the reason for everything. Bi ithn Illah, this will work out and EVERYONE will benefit - ameen!

  12. WOW!!!...children are more in touch with their surroundings than we give them credit for!!! MashaAllah... she's her mother's daughter!!! It will all fall into place without any effort InshaAllah ! :D

  13. Wa alaykum as salaaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Umm Salwaa.
    As a rule, my emotions aren't in charge of me. When they affect my behavior in a negative way,I know that shaytaan is messing with me and I focus on getting rid of him. If I have a feeling of misgiving about the whole situation, I try to pinpoint what is wrong about it that is causing me to feel that way. I am at war with shaytaan, so what comes from him I focus on murdering, lol!
    I haven't met Co-wife yet. I'm sure I will feel much better once I meet her, as then I will have a "feel" of her. I don't expect any earth-shaking confidence issues, bi ithn Illah. I am not your typical 45 year old, mashaa'Allah. I don't look my age, I am have BMI of 21 and am very energetic and optimistic. I am who I am.

    Yes, polygyny is more common here, although still not that common. I don't think it makes any difference to me. When we did it the first time, we lived in the USA, and it was something totally foreign to the people in our neighborhood. It didn't bother me. What bothers me is fitnah, insincerity, selfishness, and hasad. If we avoid those things, inshaa'Allah all will be well.

  14. Salam dear Mai.... i love you so much dear sister.. you have been wonderful to me and so many other sisters.. i pray we can be the same for you... when i call it is okay not to pick up but listen to my voice.. and know i think and feel on a similar wave length to you.. people are there for you.. love from a dear sister.. minty

  15. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh my sweetest humbug!

    Jazaaki Allahu khayran. I'm so happy that I'm finally back in the "club." I felt guilty posting about polygyny when I wasn't in it. Now, I'm not just talking about hindsight, I'll be walking the walk and talking the talk, LOL.

    I'm trying to get the phone to work on my computer again...may Allah give me success - ameen!

  16. i loved this and thought of you and all my other lovely sisters.. lol...
    i dont normally do songs as such but this is well you will see.. beyond cute.. is not the right wording lol..


  17. hey sis.. i just re-read my posts.. and i think i sound like an emotional nutcase.. i just got all sentimental my chest felt all full of well softy stuff.. Sorry!!

    I know you dont feel sorry for yourself.. we both know you are to strong for that masha'Allah.. hey welcome back to the gang!! yeah and your good at walking and talking the game lol..


  18. LOL! Minty my binty...don't be sorry for loving me! I know what you meant and all that softy stuff in your chest is precious to me...Allah-sent, wa al hamdul'Illah.

  19. OMG!!! ..this little girl is absolutely adorable!!! I just want to eat her up, MashaAllah!!!! Thanks so much for sharing Minty!!! I have to sit and write down the lyrics for this one... LOL I'll be singing it all day!! :D

  20. I loved this post. JazakAllah Khayr for sharing..My perception of polygyny changes as I learn more and more about women that live through it..

  21. as salaamu alaykum Mai,

    I love this post!!!! I hope you don't mind if I post this on my blog, with a link of course ;-)

    Feel Free to Follow Me!

  22. Wa alaykum as salaam wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh Amatullah2!

    You are most welcome to use anything you find of benefit here...because that's what it's all about - benefiting ourselves and others in anyway we can.