Struggling with Polygamy? Check this Survival Guide

A Co-wife’s Experience

Tackling jealousy

Jealousy is best tackled by focusing on what you have. “Jealousy is when you count someone else’s blessings instead of your own,” (anon).

If you feel jealous about anything, ask yourself if it’s over something that you really want, or whether you desire it simply because your co-wife has it.

Suppport AboutIslam.net

If it’s the latter, then try to forget about it and remind yourself that you don’t actually want it. If it’s something you really want, then focus on how you can get it for yourself because you would like it, not because she has it.

If it’s the relationship you’re jealous of, concentrate on building your own relationship with your husband as though she’s not in the picture.And this polygamy survival guide is meant to help you do that.

If you feel that he loves her more than you, then maybe he isn’t giving you enough attention or affection, and frame this as a problem in your own relationship that you need to talk to him about and resolve, rather than as a problem with your co-wife.

These things won’t eliminate jealousy altogether, but they should minimize it. Remember that even ‘A’isha had times when she was jealous of Muhammad’s other wives, and even broke a plate because of it.  

When things go wrong

If your husband is not dividing up his time fairly, or not fulfilling your rights in Islam then he is the guilty party so don’t blame your co-wife for this. This applies whether it’s something minor or very serious. Speak to him about the problem and tell him how you feel.

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Jealousy is best tackled by focusing on what you have.

If he’s a good husband, he’ll do something to rectify the situation. If he doesn’t and you’re having significant problems in your marriage because of it, then you need to go about dealing with it in the same way you would if you were monogamously married.

Marriages fail either because one partner is not fulfilling the rights of the other (or worse, abusing the other), or because the two partners are not compatible.

This is the same in monogamy and polygamy. Relationships fail sometimes in spite of one or both partners putting in their best efforts, and that’s why divorce is halal.

Sometimes men try to fix a failing monogamous marriage by taking a second wife – in my opinion this is like trying to put out a fire in the living room by starting another fire in the kitchen.

Other men want all the benefits of polygamy but refuse to accept any of the responsibility and end up treating their wives very badly. There are some situations where staying in a marriage is not in anyone’s best interests. If you find yourself in such a situation, then you do need to know when to call it a day.

An important thing to remember is not to blame polygamy itself for the marriage failure. The failure is due to incompatibility, or one partner systematically failing to fulfill their responsibilities to the other.

Polygamy, when done according to the Qur’an and Sunnah can work and indeed be beneficial to the wives, and it’s my opinion that it doesn’t need to be feared.

We should fear Allah, and be good spouses to each other. We should remember to show our husbands our appreciation of them and all that they do for us, and they need to do the same for us.

This is the key to a happy marriage, whether polygamous or monogamous.

Insha Allah, by following the advice above, this happiness can be maintained in a polygamous marriage, despite the specific challenges this type of relationship may bring.

This article was first published at Sisters magazine

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About Dhakiyya Gomm
Dhakiyya Gomm is happily married and currently lives in Bahrain. Her co-wife is living nearby, and they have four children between them, aged between 5 months and 6 years. Dhakiyya plans to work as a literacy and English as a foreign language tutor and freelance writer.