Thursday, November 02, 2006

I have lots of questions roaming in my head about polygyny...... Here are some that strike me.....

#1 Is polygyny harder for the first wife, the second wife or is it pretty much even? And in what way is it easier or harder or the same for either one?

#2 Would either wife stay in a polygynous marriage if they knew for a fact that their husband loved the other wife more or does each wife just secretly hope that she is the favorite?

#3 Do you believe a man can love two women equally or does he have to prefer one over the other?

Should any of this really matter? Probably not, but I know I often wonder about this.


Molly said...

1. I would think harder for the first. The second one knows what she's getting into.
2. It depends on the person.
3. Do you believe a woman can love two men equally? I do, and I believe a man can love two women equally as well. I'm not saying it's common, though.

mizazeez said...

1. i don't think it's a matter of who it's harder for...i think each wife has her own different struggles/fears/doubts/battles. like for instance, while the first wife may feel that her husband taking another wife is due to some inadequacy in her, the new wife oftentimes has fears of not being able to measure up to the first wife. so essentially they both have the same fear/battle of feeling inadequate; it just stems from two different sources.

2. now when you say "love" are you talking about love fillah or passionate, romantic love? or could you even be talking about "lust" and "attraction?" either way i would still stay, unless hubby's extra love for my co-wife started to actualize itself in him treating me unjustly or unfairly.

3. i'm not sure how one would measure if love for two people is "equal." i think a husband would love his wive's for their own unique reasons and qualities. how these unique traits weigh on the scale of love, not sure. but i do know that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala states that a man can not have "equal" love for his wives as He subhanahu wa ta'ala is refering to in His statement, "you will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire (4:129)." also, we know that rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam when asked who he loved the most by one of the Sahaabah, responded that he loved A'ishah the most and we know that rasulullah sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam would supplicate to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala to forgive him in those things which he did not have control over, one of which was being equal/just when it came to loving his wives. so basically, if rasulullah's scale of love was tilted, then who's to say that any brother in today's times could achieve equality in love. Allahu 'alim.

UmmAbdur-Rahmaan said...

#1 I am not sure but I have heard it hard both ways. I guess for me it was hard because I felt betrayed.I had no idea what I was getting into and had I know I would not have stayed but when I found out I had invested too much to turn my back. But initially I felt I would NEVER be able to live up to her....Alhumdullilah I am glad I stayed. For the fist wife, if I was the first wife I think I would feel 'not good enough' I would question myself at every turn. I mean i do that now but I think if I was in my co-wife's position I would be much worse off.

#2 For me in the beginning my husband told me FLAT out that he would always love her more than me. Now Alhumdullilah he says he loves us both the same for each of the seperate qualities that we posess. Oh and I will always secretly hope that I am the favorite, nothing against her because she is AWESOME but still.

#3 I think he can love us equally but different. I mean I think of my kids when this question arises...I love each of my kids equally but for different reasons. Did any of that make sense?

vena said...

Masha Allah....these are great answers!!! Maybe I should answer my own questions.

#1 Of course I believe that polygyny is hard for both wives, but no one will convince me that it is not harder for the first wife. The second wife usually is aware if the situation she is getting in even if she doesn't realize the extent of it all, but the first wife is usually battling feelings of insecurity in herself and in her marriage. The first as in my case might feel betrayed and placed in a corner. Usually the first wife is not given a choice that she likes. It's either stay and deal or leave and deal. Neither one may seem appealing at that moment especially if there are little ones involved.

#2 I do not believe that either wife would stay in a polygamous situation if she felt her husband loved the other one more. I know I wouldn't. I don't know if my husband loves her more or not, but if he does I sure as hell hope I don't find out. Masha Allah he is good at making us both feel very loved and special. Me too I secretly and not too secretly hope that I am the favorite.

#3 I do believe that a man can love more than one woman equally. I believe he can love them equally, but differently. I believe when a man is in a polygamous marriage it allows him to appreciate the qualities of his wives that may have once been overlooked. I know I feel that my husband appreciates me much more after being married to Lisa. Alhamdulillah! That's not to say that she is bad, but I think it made me more human to him. He now realizes that it is true that each woman has her faults and her strengths and alhamdulillah he sees my faults were not major ones.

Anonymous said...

Asalamalaykom Sister Vena,

1. I feel that I have been both 1st wife and 2nd wife with this husband. I was going to be a 2nd wife until his 1st wife divorced with him. Then, when he thought to take her back, I was like a 1st wife. I have had a much harder time being the 1st wife. I feel that their romance leading up to their decision to reunite was horribly hard. It doesn't seem as if halal comes into play with taking a second wife as much as with the first. I wasn't in a halal relationship with him when she was the 1st either. And, from reading blogs, it seems true for most.

2. I think that we will have our niche. I am the American. She is the Egyptian. He gets differences from each. If we were both American? Wow, I would have a much harder time with this deal.

3. He definately is going to love some aspects greater in me ;) and then some aspects greater in her---but I'm not going to put a sad emoticon after that one. Who cares if she speaks Arabic better and faster? Let her! If she knew him when he wore a mustache and not a beard? Whatever! I know different parts in him she'll never, ever know. Lucky me! She could probably say the same for herself. I think at different times my hub THINKS he loves one of us more than the other (like after a disagreement), but in reality...only Allah knows.

JamilaLighthouse said...

Assalamu Alaikoum,
i think people always assume that it's harder for the first wife, but i really think it depends on the individual circumstances. Second wifes don't always know exactly what they are getting into. Different people people will have different understandings of the same issue. Two people may view their marriage differently. If a second wife understands the first marriage through the eyes of her husband, she may not be getting a true picture..this is not to say he is lying, just that his perception of events may be different from his first wife. It's hard for the second wife because no one expects it to be hard for her, people often assume she's a terrible person, she often has to give up her rights in order to placate the first wife...People are often intolerant of her feelings, don't bother to find out how things occured from her perspective, whereas they will have endless patience with the first wife no matter how badly she behaves. Obviously compassion and undrstanding is needed for her, but the second wife shouldn't be forgotten...she is just as human as the first and she experiences very similar emotions, just about different issues.

It takes an enormous amount of iman for a woman to cope with her husband loving another more than her. I know i am not there yet and I just pray that he loves us equally (for different reasons). I think about how when Rasul pbuh was on his deathbed and he kept asking when Aishas' next night was, all his wifes realised that he was waiting to be with her and gave up their nights. Subhan Allah. At the slightest twinkling (usually nothing more than waswas) that my husband might prefer wife no.1 i disintergrate, I simply cannot deal with thinking that he might rather be there. This is why we need to protect ourselves with faith and not let Shaitan in to fill our heads with insecurities.

i do think it's possible for him to love fairly equally. I know with my friends I love people differently, it is difficult to think who i would prefer. Obviously this is different but not totally.

vena said...

As salamu alikum sis....

I totally agree with this comment

"It's hard for the second wife because no one expects it to be hard for her, people often assume she's a terrible person, she often has to give up her rights in order to placate the first wife...People are often intolerant of her feelings, don't bother to find out how things occured from her perspective, whereas they will have endless patience with the first wife no matter how badly she behaves."

I guess this is one of the tricks of shaytan. As the first wife I noticed that people were feeling sorry for me, but the people who truly made me feel better were the people who encouraged me that this was not wrong by Islam so therefore I was not wronged. The people who gave me sympathy usually added fuel to the fire and sparked more hostility in me.

Musleema said...


Polygyny is hard on all parties involved because most men have no idea how to be polygynous and as women we were not created to be polygynous at all. It is a painful struggle on all sides. I agree with you though vena that because the first wife is usually forced to accept it (stay and put up with it or leave and put up with it) that she has a much harder time because no one deserves to be bullied.

#2 I think each wife probably secretely hopes for the number spot. Now if the husband is actually displaying more love for one or the other that's a problem. He either should fix that or let one of them go to safe guard his own self from the severe punishment from Allah.

#3 I don't think a man can love more than one woman equally because Allah said that he couldn't. He may LIKE different aspects of his wiives more than the other, but there is going to be one who he knows no matter what she lacks in, he is in love with her and dedicated to her more than the others. When it comes to the heart, Allah created mens' hearts in the same way that did womens'.

Hasnah said...

1.I believe that it can be equally hard for the first and the second but for different reasons.The first wife tends to feel insecure about herself and has to deal with that and the second wife feels like she can never live up to her or be as good as her.The second wife often feels intimidated coming in and she wants to establish what him and his first wife have overnight but it doesn't work that way( I know i have been a first and second wife).But the second wife is fresh meat so she has that advantage.

2.Most women would not want to stay in a marriage knowing he clearly favors one wife over her.This all goes back to the men.You loving someone more than me is something that I can't see so how will I know unless you show it to me which isn't permissible anyway so as long as he doesn't show it I will never know I don't care what she says or does she could be faking it to make me jealous.

3. I don't believe a man can love two women equally.Thats just my opinion.Some people just click with other people better thats just the way it is and it doesn't just go for wives it can go for your children,your parents.I love my Mother and my Father but I can honestly say it will do something different to me to see my Father go than my Mother and that is just honest.My Father does sooo much for me and I love him so much he is always there for me.Also too they tend to love the one who is more righteous and remember Allaah controls the hearts so obviously the one more obedient will be the one loved more and that is the reward from Allaah to the one who fears him more

Muhammad said...

#1 It is hard on everyone involved. I know that most of the responses are based on what the women go through and not what the man goes through, but I tell you it is difficult on everyone involved. For the first wife it is difficult because there are insecurities there of adequacy "What's wrong with me" syndrome, and "am I being replaced". You know the situation between my wife and I and even though everything was planned out and the co-wife was to be non-threatening in everyway there was still feelings of losing something that is very close and very dear. For the man he must know that the relationship that he had with his first wife is going to change.

#2 I think that is an individual choice. In my experience there was not an external build-up of feelings outside of my relationship with my wife. I believe in situations where the man is secretly holding a relationship those insecurities will be magnified. Regardless of how it comes about there will be instances where each wife will wonder about their place in the heart of their man. The wise man always says yes. This however is point of madness.

#3 No and yes. I do know that he can't love them the same just like you can't love your children the same. You love them differently and your ability to be equal is a reflection on the depth of your relationship with that woman. Just like with children or parents or relatives.

Should it matter? only if there is a lapse or a lacking. In which case it should be addressed and worked through. It is painful but it helps. I think a lot of people increase pain by avoiding the hard talks. My wife and I have never done that, and the problems that we do have don't linger.

Muslim Flower said...

Salam alaikum, #1 I think it depends on the individual situation and person. I don't think it's fair to guess because each situation and person is different. I'm sure if I was the first I would wonder why he took another and wonder if it was a lack on my part.

#2 I am in a marriage where I don't know for a fact but I think he loves his other wife more than me and I plan to stay in it insha Allah. But again it would be guessing to say everyone is like this or like that because once again each individual is different. Of course I hope I am the favorite and I hope he makes me always think so even if I am not. These questions are answered to each her own. Honestly I feel guilty for typing that I wish I am his favorite.

#3 Men can not love two women equally I'm sure there are different ways he prefers each one over the other? Like maybe one he loves more because she can speak his language or understand his culture better (though he shouldn't care much about culture but instead Islam), maybe he feels one understands him better in ways, cooks food he loves more (most men love good cooks), is family bonded to him (I don't know if this plays a part but maybe?) Looks more beautiful or cares for him Islamicly better. (Most important and insha Allah this is the one he would love more.

#3.5 We all must try to please Allah for this is the point of this life nothing else matters.

Salam alaikum

Mumina said...

1) Generally, it is harder for the first wife. Usually, a husband and a wife have loved each other - all of a sudden, a wife has to realize the love and honour is gone. It's rough.

2) Speaking from my situation as a first wife, him "loving" me more or being his favourite has no bearing on remaining married. Because there is no real love in polygyny (for the men). There might be some level of care and maybe lust, but no love. A man wouldn't knowingly hurt his wife if he loved her.

3) I KNOW that a man can never love two women equally. I believe that, generally speaking, a husband grows tired of the same first wife so he looks for a rememdy, which becomes another wife.

Allahu alim.