In this counseling answer:
“Polygamy is a very difficult lifestyle, and not every woman – and certainly not every man – is cut out for it. You have two options before you: remain in your marriage or leave your marriage. You need to think about what you want from life – as a Muslim, as a woman, as a mother.”
I am deeply sorry to hear about your difficult situation. Based on the details you have provided, it appears that your circumstances have not been conducive to a healthy and happy marriage. The fact that you already do not live with your husband, despite having two children, is no doubt further complicated by the introduction of polygamy.
As a wife, you have certain rights that are to be fulfilled and respected. Of those rights is that should your husband choose to marry another wife, it is up to you whether or not you wish to remain in the marriage.
Polygamy is a very difficult lifestyle, and not every woman – and certainly not every man – is cut out for it. Even in the Qur’an, Allah (swt) cautions men about the seriousness of justice between wives:
„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)
Marriage is intended to be a relationship of love, mercy, and tranquility.
„And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Qur’an 30:21)
You have two options before you:
Remain in your marriage.
You can and should try to talk to your husband. Try to make him understand the various issues that are causing you such difficulty and pain. Marital counseling, with someone who is qualified in both the secular field as well as with sound Islamic knowledge, is a valuable option to seriously pursue. It may be that you and your husband will find a way to reconnect and to change the direction of your marriage so that it can heal, grow, and flourish.
Keep in mind that it will require a great deal of effort and growing pains as the issue of polygamy will come with many challenges on a regular basis. It will not be an easy path by any means.
Leave your marriage.
When your marriage is a source of pain more than it is a source of comfort, and it remains this way for a great deal of time, then it is time to re-evaluate your circumstances. Decide what you want for yourself – and for your children.
Remaining in an unhealthy marriage is not going to be beneficial for your children; considering that their father already doesn’t live with them, and they undoubtedly are aware of your emotional distress. Staying in a marriage “for the kids” is rarely ever helpful. In fact, it can far better for your emotional and spiritual health, and for your daughters’ overall well-being, that you leave an unhealthy relationship and move on to establish a stronger, more spiritually uplifting, and happier life for yourselves.
However, this decision, too, will not be simple or easy. It will require a great deal of hard work, emotional healing, and will result in a drastic change in your life. You need to think about what you want from life – as a Muslim, as a woman, as a mother. What is your vision for your future? What do you want your daughters to internalize about marriage and relationships?
As a Muslim woman, you are not helpless and left at the mercy of a man. You have your own Shari’a rights that are to be respected. You have the choice to stay or leave in this marriage. Allah (swt) does not want you to be miserable or to remain in needless suffering. Rather, He (swt) is Al-Wadud (the Most Loving), Arham ar-Raahimeen (the Most Merciful of the Merciful), al-Lateef (the Most Tender and Compassionate), ar-Ra’oof (the Most Gentle).
Indeed, Allah (swt) Himself tells us in the Qur’an:
„Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…” (Qur’an 2:185)
Regardless of which option you choose, of primary importance is that you turn to Allah (swt) and seek His help. Pray Salatul Istikhaarah and beg Him to guide you to that which is best for you in this world and in the Next. Ask Him to protect you and your daughters, and to provide you with tawakkul (reliance and trust in Him), rizq (provisions), and the strength of patience and character to do what is right for you.
May Allah (swt) grant you ease in your affairs and fill your heart with peace and tranquility,
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.