In this counseling answer:
• What are you looking for in marriage in general? How do you expect to maintain equal treatment in a marriage where the foundation of the marriage is unequal?
• I would recommend consulting with a local marriage and family therapist in your area that is comfortable, familiar, and knowledgeable about working with Muslim families in therapeutic settings.
As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum dear sister,
After reading your question, there are three major themes that resonate with me which are: the importance of following one’s intuition, utilizing and developing insight, and the importance of having a strong sense of self-worth. A person who possesses these qualities will have a basic emotional foundation that will help the individual in navigating the world of marriage.
In your initial statements, you said you married a man, and you knew he was married to someone else when you married him. You also stated that “when he proposed I was against it because I knew he would not be able to handle the two of us.” Although Islam in the Quranic and other religious texts mentions polygamy as being permissible, there are certain criteria that must be met – that most men are not able to meet. Among these criteria is treating the women the same in every way. If you would like further elaboration on that, I would encourage you to post your inquiry on the Ask About Islam or Ask the Scholar sections of our website.
Due to the fact that the standards are so high and that multiple marriages should not be taking place unless these criteria have been met, many men Islamically are not able to obtain this type of lifestyle and fulfill the Islamic obligations successfully.
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Also, historically, the men who had multiple wives did not necessarily marry these women to fulfill some types of selfish desires. Many of the men married women who needed help financially, their husbands died in a war, as a form of protection, etc. So, as I mentioned earlier, these situations are contextual, and although it is a historical practice that is mentioned as permissible, it does not necessarily mean that it is appropriate for implementing in the modern western society which, in many western nations, is against the law. As a result, part of being Muslim is abiding by the laws of the nations in which we live and being contributing and engaging citizens and members of our community.
One of the reasons the criteria for having more than one wife are so strict and very specific is because these criteria are meant to serve as a protection for women, in general. A lot of critical factors that are often not taken into consideration are: sometimes a woman can’t get a marriage certificate with her husband or receive a firm commitment from him; she isn’t acknowledged by the family as being a wife; her property rights and inheritance rights often go unfulfilled; there is arguing or fighting between the wives involved in the marriage; and sexually transmitted diseases are sometimes spread.
Based upon the explanation of your question, your main concern is that you obtain equal treatment from your husband, that you argue with him frequently, and you only get to see him twice a week. Looking at all of these factors, my question to you is: what do you want to get out of this type of marriage? What are you looking for in marriage in general? How do you expect to maintain equal treatment in a marriage where the foundation of the marriage is unequal?
You stated that “since we have been married, all we have done is argue.” What does a healthy relationship look like to you? Do you feel that the current marriage that you are in is a healthy relationship? Emotionally? Psychologically? Spiritually? Sexually? If the answer is no, then now is the time to reflect on whether it is healthy and safe for you to continue in a situation like this.
May Allah (swt) bless you,
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.