Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.
As many of you have read, my co-wife lives just down the road from our apartment; perhaps no more than a 5 or 10 minute walk. This makes life much more pleasant for us all, because hubby can visit and go back and forth very easily without losing time on the transportation to and from our apartments.
On that subject, hubby asked me last week about our future plans for land and whether, given the choice, I would rather have the houses close together or spaced far apart or even on adjoining parcels of land. I immediately wanted to say spaced far apart, but held my tongue to think it through properly first. I have several reasons for not wanting us to be beside each other's homes. One is confidentiality. If hubby stops by to see me during the day, or vice versa, we don't need to know about it. I also don't want to have to find ways to regulate the frequency of visits if it is more than I'm comfortable with. I'm very happy in my solitude and in my own home, mashaa'Allah. Another aspect is that I don't want the uninvited intrusion of Zainab's young children in my peaceful life. We will each be in different stages of family life. In addition, I do not want to leave myself open to any situation where I will be considered a resident babysitter. I have no ill will in saying this, but I want to safeguard against things that I know will cause bad feelings and that shaytaan could play on.
In any case, I had to find a way of explaining to hubby in a way he could totally understand. I sat in the van telling him to hang on while I tried to find the right analogy and example. Then, mashaa'Allah, I found an analogy that explained the situation perfectly. I had to think of a friend of hubby's that is more an acquaintance that he likes but who is not a dear and close friend. Once I thought of someone, who I've termed as Brother X here, I could give the example. Here it is.
"If I told you that you had to live with Brother X and all his children for the rest of your life, and you had a choice between having him in the house right next to you or on a plot of land a bit further away, which would you choose?"
He immediately got it. If it was a dear and close friend, he'd want them to be right near him, but for someone who he must live with but isn't that type of friend, he would want space. Polygyny is a life choice that affects everyone because it is marriage, and marriage is intended to be for a lifetime.
It is very important to ensure that everyone has their own space. How much space they need will depend on the relationship between the co-wives. Close friends may want to be very near each other as their friendship is far more important to them than their relationship as co-wives. Sisters in Islam may want more space so that they don't feel that they are having someone imposed on them and their lives who isn't a natural choice as a friend. Others who don't have a good relationship with their co-wife, may benefit the most by being far enough away that they don't have to cross paths but near enough that they don't suffer time or visitation loss because of it.
For me, Arabic, Quran, homeschooling, mothering, wifing, and supporting others in tawheed, taqwa, and tawakkal are primary goals for my future. Inshaa'Allah, I will have the space to focus on what is important to me and my co-wife will have the space to raise her family and follow her own goals.