As-Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,
It is certainly difficult when you feel your spouse does not pay you the kind of attention that you would expect from them. This kind of experience will make you generally feel down and sad in all aspects of life. That is why it is important to reach out for assistance not only for the sake of your own well-being, but for that of your marriage and your children as well.
It may well be that you are jealous to some extent as many women facing the prospect of being a co-wife, but that does not justify poor treatment from your husband. He needs to understand that whether or not you are jealous, what bothers you is that you don’t feel he bonds with you as a wife.
On the other hand, it is also your responsibility to let him know what you expect from him in order that he can bond with you in the way you would like. It may be that he doesn’t realize you feel this way because he does not know what you expect from him.
In addition, perhaps his own definition of bonding is different to yours. He, therefore, may feel that he has already been fulfilling this responsibility of bonding with you in the way he determines what bonding is. If he doesn’t know what it means to you, or how you define it, then he cannot fulfill this role. Keep in mind that men generally have a different idea of what marital bonding is and biological differences, therefore, make their ability and desire to experience bonding in different ways.
“…And the male is not like the female…” (Qur’an, 3:36)
So, you may be expecting more of an emotional bond and more time together, whereas to him it might be that he feels you spend sufficient time together and have that level of bond that he would like. Address this with him. Maybe he interprets your desire for more bonding as jealousy because he is not aware that it is actually more bonding you are looking for, but are not getting in the way you hope for.
Likewise, it may be that you interpret his behavior as not being loving enough because he does not show love and affection on the level that you expect, simply because he does not know what you expect. This miscommunication could, therefore, be what has led to this perception of the presence of jealousy. He may then see this apparent ongoing jealousy in a negative way which leads to his negative remarks towards you.
Naturally, if he seeks another wife, then you will feel somewhat neglected. But if he is to marry more women, then he is obliged Islamically to treat you all equally. This is a prerequisite of polygyny and a role he must fulfill or else face the consequences both in this life and the next. So, be confident in your faith in Allah (swt) that He has only permitted polygyny under such conditions and, therefore, you should expect to be treated like any other co-wife.
“And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].” (Qur’an, 4:3)
Aside from these events that have been causing distress in your marital relationship, it might be an idea to rekindle your marriage. After 5 children, naturally, things will change and you will have less time for each other which can lead to negative feelings between spouses. Therefore, you might consider doing something fun together to rekindle the love and remind each other why you love one another. You could ask someone to take care of your children one evening and just spend the evening together doing something fun or relaxing, whether this is going out for dinner or staying in together just the two of you, giving yourselves 100% of your attention to your relationship. Talk about fun times you’ve had together, remind yourselves of why you love each other and the things you love about each other, without becoming fixated on the negative things. Use it as an opportunity to remember these good things and remind yourselves of what marriage is about, what the purpose of marriage is from the Islamic perspective.
“…They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them…” (Qur’an, 2:187)
May Allah (swt) bring you peace and happiness in your marriage. May He (swt) help make you both the coolness of each other’s eyes.
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