Basic Mastery of the Polygyny Puzzle: 9 Challenges to Resolve

Seemingly random cycles of growth in marriages can be annoying, but are key to personal and marital development. Marriage has many pieces to fit together. Often, puzzle pieces look like they match up. Then suddenly – NOT!

So, the couple tries something else. Aha! A match! The work is challenging and causes discomfort at times, but it is worth the growth. Wait, does this include polygyny? Can a marriage show increments of positive expansion while tackling polygyny issues? 

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Here’s a marriage counselor’s strategy on how to resolve nine common challenges within the polygyny puzzle with little or no difficulty.

1. There are men who perform better as husbands and fathers with multiple wives. Their efforts extend due to additional responsibilities. The desire to please Allah and their families increases. 

2. Sisters often state their husband cannot financially provide for another wife. Wives, be mindful of a fact. Many of you married your husband with modest means. You saw other valuable traits within him as a Muslim man. Another woman will also. 

3. Men, you seek the cooperation of your existing wife when pursuing polygyny. Prior to presenting polygyny, begin the cultivation process. Address concerns she has in the marriage with you. 

For example, your wife wants more time with you or disapproves of the way you speak to her. Seek to meet this need. Be the best husband you can be! If pregnant, support her having a stress-free delivery and to bond with the baby prior to adding to the family. Pay off any lingering debts you have. 

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This leads to increased civility when advancing forward with a polygynous lifestyle. Do the work to prepare the soil prior to planting the seeds! 

4. Wives want to know, “How do I control my emotions with polygyny?” You don’t!! Please stop seeking to control your emotions. You manage feelings, thoughts and emotions.  The seat of your affections shifts. When one or two emotions show up, soon, another feeling or thought will follow. Explore ways to maintain yourself through the emotional transitions or intense events. 

But control? It ain’t likely! You’ll have many sensitivities flowing through you, especially during the early stages. Recollect the polygny challenges the Mothers of the Believers (RAA) had. While you may want to respond with the same dignity as the wives of the Prophet (SAWS), do not forget their impulsive urges, the negative comments and the jealousy that ensued prior to the intervention of the Prophet. 

5. Men, you will miss your wife while with the other wife. This is normal. Too often, it is believed the wives are the only ones with mental or emotional transitions. Men do too!

6. Generally, polygyny is best designed for a wife who has a certain level of emotional independence. For example, after an illness, a hardship or while grieving the death of a parent, a wife will watch her husband leave to go to his other family.

The benefit of his companionship or closeness would be ideal during such times. However, he has another obligation. A wife has to have, or will need to develop, something internally to sustain her during these moments. No one tells a woman to build this skill set.

Thus, many show up in polygynous marriages without it. Many husbands don’t know how to assess an existing wife’s natural personality for the presence of these puzzle pieces! Hence, many couples don’t fit! 

7. Wives, after your husband returns from the home of his other wife, you may feel discomfort with his touch. While you may have missed him, your thoughts of the likely intimacy he’s shared with another wife can be distressful.

Being aware of this is the first step towards resolution. Your husband wants to feel welcome at home. Showing disregard for him will put distance between the two of you. This is not to dismiss how your feel about him, but a reminder to manage it. 

8. Husbands, you’ll have to resist submitting to the rise and fall of your wife’s emotions. On the other hand, doing so will cause you to appear insensitive. Be balanced, consistent and firm! You have the position of the double-edged sword. As a husband, you are a source of comfort. As a husband choosing polygyny, you are a source of emotional hardships. It is what it is! 

9. Your children are not in polygyny. While a polygynous marriage requires a fair and equal division of time, wealth, education and generosity, your children are not on a parenting schedule! Having a daily agenda for multiple wives is necessary. Yet, parenting is routine, random and full of unexpected homework assignments, a need for hugs, school programs, unplanned ER visits, lost shoes and runny noses!

Sometimes all in one day! These normal occurrences cannot be put on a firm timeline as easily as which night to spend with a specific wife. Consequently, always consider the needs of the children, distance and the time needed to ensure their lives maintain an established healthy routine. 

Polygyny is not designed for everyone who desires it, husband or wife. It does have the ability to make the best people under very heightened situations. Polygyny is still marriage and marriage is an act of worship. Go into it using wisdom, knowledge and due diligence as one would any other Sunnah. Within the Quran and the Sunnah are all of the pieces of the puzzle. 

About Naaila Moumaris-Clay
Naa'ila Clay, the wife of the husband-wife counseling duo "That Clay Couple", holds firm to the belief that Islam, clinical interventions, old-fashioned wit & wisdom will get the relief for your head & your heart in relationships. Mrs. Clay has a slew of training, certifications, created marriage & premarital courses, co-authored 2 e-books and has an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling. You can contact her: www.hasanandnaaila.com or www.facebook.com/thatclaycouple.