In this counseling answer:
- An apology to her about this betrayal will help her deal with the situation
- Try to see the situation from her point of view and how she probably felt when she found this out.
- Try to give your first wife extra support in this difficult time. Ensure that you love her.
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum dear brother,
Firstly, let me reassure you that you have done the right thing to reach out for help rather than just abandoning the relationship despite the clear frustrations you have been facing at this point.
Of course, Islamically, you can marry another wife as long as you treat them equally. Alhamulillah, from what you say, you share your time with them and you continue to financially take care of her, too.
So, from an Islamic perspective, you want to engage in polygyny in the correct manner.
However, whilst legally you do not need to tell your first wife that you married again, you chose a disrespectful way. You lied about working out of town when you didn’t. This was an act of betrayal. Your first wife will have difficulties to come to terms with this.
Before this betrayal, she probably trusted you and believed that you worked out of town. So, it is understandable why she might not believe some things you say. An apology to her about this betrayal will help her deal with the situation, in sha’ Allah.
Try to see the situation from her point of view and how she probably felt when she found this out.
The First Wife’s Situation Differs from That of the Second Wife
Additionally, it’s a big change. For 12 years, she had you all to herself, but now she has to share and compromise. Naturally, she might now be wondering what is so wrong with her that you had to marry another wife.
This is a normal response to the first wife when her husband marries again. In time, in sha’ Allah, she will get used to it, come to accept the relationship, and value your marriage to her more.
Also, understand that hormones play a part at this point since she’s pregnant.
In addition to the hormones, she probably feels frightened about the thought of raising another baby, but perhaps with less support than in previous pregnancies as you now share your time with another woman. This has probably increased her anxieties.
Understand that she probably feels betrayed since you began your second marriage behind her back. It feels like an added blow to having a second wife introduced into your relationship. It takes some time (months) to adjust, accept, and come to terms with the situation. You need to be sensitive to her emotions as she adjusts.
You might feel happier and more comfortable with your second wife, but remember that she never had you to herself as a lone wife like your first wife did. She has entered into the relationship with you as the second wife, so things will inevitably be easier for her. She hasn’t had to face the same changes and challenges as your first wife in adjusting to a different type of relationship with you.
Support Your First Wife
There are several things you can do to support your first wife through this transition that will, in sha’ Allah, make things between you more comfortable again.
Try to give your first wife extra support in this difficult time. Once she realizes that you still love and support her, she will adjust.
Don’t ask what’s wrong because you know what’s wrong. Instead, give her the time, space, and opportunity to talk about her feelings and just listen to and support her to voice them.
Let her know that you understand why she feels this way. Ensure her that you will still be there to support her and that you still love her.
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Assure her that, like you say, if you didn’t love her, you could have just divorced her and married your second wife. But you didn’t because you do love her. Reassure her that you will continue to support her as you always have.
The Benefits of Polygyny
You could also encourage her to engage in self-development such as perhaps learning a new skill or doing things she enjoys.
Encourage her to utilize the time she has when you are not around to do things for herself.
Many first wives in polygynous relationships find this particular aspect one of the best things about being in a polygynous relationship.
This helps them to move forward in this new situation with more contentment. It helps them to keep engaged in useful activities and personal growth. Consequently, it helps them have a better emotional well-being which obviously has positive impacts on their marriage.
They become more content in this new style of relationship as they relish the benefits of some extra time to focus on themselves while still being supported by a husband.
Try to help her to find support from other sisters in the same situation, either in person or search for online support groups. This is something you can do together.
It will reassure her that you support and understand her feelings. Many co-wives find this a useful way to get advice from other sisters who have been through the same emotions before.
Connect with Other Polygamous Couples
It’s always useful, in any situation even, to have advice from people who have already faced the same challenges. It is useful not only for advice but to know that she’s not alone with the emotions she has. It provides her with an alternative avenue to share her emotions and discuss them.
She will probably feel less inclined to continually press them all onto you. Often this serves as a form of counseling.
Simply sharing feelings and letting them out can often be very therapeutic. Other sisters who have been through or are going through the same situation would be well placed to offer her advice on moving forward successfully.
I hope this helps to give you a little insight into why she reacts in this way. I hope it gives you some ideas on how to move forward successfully in improving relations with your first wife.
In addition, contacting a trained marriage counselor together would be a great idea! In the US, you can find many Muslim marriage counselors who help married couples to improve their marriage.
May Allah bring you happiness and contentment in both your marriages.
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