Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn

September 11, 2007

scarlett.jpgThis post is inspired by my instant and visceral reaction to this post: about the feelings and struggles of second wives.  

My reaction was colored of course, by the fact that I am a first (and only) wife.  Reading the post and the comments I really could not wring out more than a thimble full of sympathy.  As I continued to think about it I realized that this emotion is not directed at second wives generally, but only at the ones who enter into secret marriages.  From where I sit, they acted selfishly–much like Ms. O’Hara– and then expect those around them to give a hoo when reality bites them in the rear.

But ill-tempered blustering is a waste of time.  It is also a not-so-favorable thing to have on my permanent record.  So let me turn this into something useful, insha’allah with a few thoughts.  First off, Peaceful Muslimah has a great post on her blog:  for those thinking of being wifey #2.

Let me add to her points with some musings of my own: 

-marriage has it’s own challenges, and a polygynous one just adds to that.

-if you think that polygyny is ideal for you for whatever reason (you don’t want a man around all the time, you prefer lots of alone time, whatever) that’s great.  Do yourself and everyone else a favor and find a man with a wife that shares your ideals

Insist on meeting your prospective co-wife, even if she lives in another state or clear across the world.  If this man can afford to support you and her (your right, remember) he should be able to pay for a plane ticket.  This way you have some idea what kind of family you are marrying into (and make no mistake, that is what you are doing) and no one can say that you snuck and got married behind her back.

-Discuss beforehand and have some guarantees regarding how you are going to handle married life, especially if you live in the U.S. or somewhere else that polygyny is prohibited by law.  For example, wife #1 and the kids are likely on his health insurance, and she is recognized by the state and society at large as his wife.  What is his plan for making sure that you and your kids have coverage?  Does he plan to keep taking #1 and those children to the annual company picnic, while you and your children stay home so he can pretend to his co-workers and boss that you don’t exist?  And are you ok with that?  In the event of a divorce, again wife #1 has standing with the court.  If the two of you get divorced he can walk away from you with legal obligations for squat (unless you have children).  Some would say that the fact that one wife having standing which the other is denied makes equality impossible, but allahualim.  Be VERY sure about his character.  You may want a sizeable mahr as well.

-Consider well the implications for your children.  Depending on where you live there will be ramifications inside as well as outside of the muslim community.  Does his mother have a close and loving relationship with wife #1 and how will she treat you?  Can she put aside her possible negative feelings about you and treat your children with as much love as the other grandchildren?  What about the rest of his family?  Are his sister’s and brother’s children going to treat your children well, or will they turn up their noses in solidarity with their original cousins whenever there is a conflict?  Are you and they going to be welcome at family reunions?  And if polygyny is frowned upon by the muslim community where you live, don’t think the whispers and stares won’t affect your children. 

Do your due diligence and proceed with caution, honesty, and respect, and most reasonable muslims (I like to think I am one) will not have a problem with you or your marriage.  If you don’t, then expect neither sympathy nor assistance. 


13 Responses to “Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn”

  1. Cozy Sister Says:

    I have no problem with polygamy, and I wouldn’t even have a problem with my own husband marrying a second wife if he could afford it. BUT I would NEVER agree to be a second wife in a country that would not recognize that marriage legally and guarantee my rights, unless I were independently wealthy. And there is NO excuse for secret marriages. I would never marry someone who couldn’t be man enough to be honest with his first wife. What makes you think he’ll be honest with you? I have read too many heartbreaking stories of betrayal and abandonment. Sisters, think with your head in these matters. If your head gives its stamp of approval, THEN consult your heart.

  2. One of the disturbing things I’ve found in the blog world on secret second wives is that many are jealous of the first wives and really want to displace them. I see a lot of hasad. They air their business out online, expecting tons of sympathy. But they walked into the situation knowing the deal and upsetting somebody else’s household. That’s not cool man. I’m not trying to vilify them, but if they went about the process right, it would avoid a lot of drama.

  3. ummadam Says:

    Hmm, just today I was reminicing about a family broken by polygyny. The first marriaged seemed good and then the 2nd wife ame along, disrupted it and now neither women are married. i have atually heard of many similar stories. I think sometimes the 2nd wife may not even be really into the man but find it hallenging to break up the marriage and once she wins the battle she moves on.

  4. There are some shady sisters out there. What about the sisters who creep up on the family acting like they’re going to be a sister’s best friend and support. Some may have good intentions to help a sister our, others are only trying to wedge their way into the situation by any means necessary. The thing I find destestable is the secret marriages or the brothers on the dawah convincing hapless sisters into wack situations. It is really dishonerable and I think our community leaders should speak out and pay special attention to the brothers who are into serial marriages. I had a clause in my contract when I got married that he had to get my permission before taking a second wife. Sisters should get that clause or at least a clause where they have to be informed. Know your rights before rushing off to get married, that’s all I’m saying.

  5. foreverloyal Says:

    In the blog referenced in my “what the hell” post, the second wife was best friends with the first wife, then married her husband behind her back.
    The thing is, she herself found out that she had been a secret second wife to the same man. He lied and said he was divorced when he married her. She found out when she was already pregnant with his child.
    It’s a despicable thing to do and clearly he has a pattern.

  6. foreverloyal Says:

    Forgot to add to my previous post, when she found out about his lie, he was in fact divorced but only had been for about 2 weeks, and she had been married to him for months at that point.

  7. ummadam Says:

    The clause in my ontrat was that he could not take another wife until/if I had a son…lol!~ I didn’t want him and no other woman running around sharing the same kunyah…petty? i think

  8. safiya Says:

    Alhamdulilah, that there are some Sheyukh advising against polygyny on the grounds that 99% of the time it causes a lot of misery – and is also illegal.

  9. muslim_gal Says:

    assalamu alikeum

    Forever loyal: mashallah great points. Reality though, very few, if any would follow such a producre.

    Margari: Interesting point you mentioned about 2nd wives being more jealous and wanting to replcae 1st wife. I watched a programme about 1/2yrs ago on ART TV (translated into english) and they were discussing this issue with a panel, 1 was a sheik, 1 a jugde and cant remeber the last (usually a xtian or jew to get their pespective on it) Anyhow they were all egyptian. The jugde said that in his exprience, it was mostly 2nd/3rd/4th wives who insigated divorce when in a polgny marriage, rather than the 1st. He explained that once the novelty and honeymoon period was over, that the relaity set in and the other wife relaised that No.1 wife was still the one who got prority. Not nesscarly in time, but say husband is having crisis, who does he go to? wife no.1. He needs advice or guidance in something, who dos he head to? wife no.1. Its because wife No.1 has been there the longest, she knows him better and has been around thick and thin, despite him getting more wives, she’s stayed and his loyality is still often to no.1 and the jugde said that this reality was what surged 2nd wives in egypt to later ask for a divorce. They couldnt hack it and it goes back to what you said, about some 2nd wives wanting to replace the 1st wife and evetually BE the first wife, thinking that somehow she can replace her and even get husband to divorce 1st wife (often being malicious and creating fitnah so such a thing happens). In some socities 2nd wives are a benefit and encouraged for multiple of reasons and the women are cool with it, because its all properly but i really despise those women who practially hawk married brothers and later complain. IMO they know what they were doing and they got cheek to come and b**** because its not going THEIR way (i.e they aint getting 100% attention from hubby as the latest wife). Either divorce or shut up and put up.

  10. muslim_gal Says:

    p.s Im not hating on all 2nd wives. My family has alot of polygny marriages in it and none of the wives are bosum buddies lol but theres mutal respect and good treatment amongst each other for the most part alhamdualiah. And in my own home country, alot of the scandlous behaviour amongst muslims over U.K and west with regards to getting 2/3/4 wives- like pre-matrial relationships, online dating other women whilst married, secret marriage etc… would not be accepted. The husbands head would roll if he played those games and no women or her family would accept such men (and ceratinly if he was found out later, he’d definatly would be getting visit from father,brother,uncle in laws!). If your open about it and go about the proper and halal means to get another wife, for the most part, socially its fine because its islamically ok and theres no big hoo-ha about polgny back home.

    I wouldnt encrouage brothers in the west to marry more than one. Too many problems are occuring as a result, the biggest ones- non halal methods of finding/marrying more than once)and the legal and financial issues. Too many lies, scams, welfare fraud, halal ‘baby mamas’ sitituaions going on. Its embrassing and shameful that muslims are carrying on like that, while claiming to be fufilling the sunnah of rasuallah s.a.w.

  11. CreoleInDC Says:

    I found this entire post and subsequent comments absolutely fascinating.

  12. foreverloyal Says:

    It’s a whole new world, Monica. You have no idea. Well… now you do! LOL.

    Honestly I had no idea muslims in the U.S. even practiced polygyny until a few years ago. We roll monogamy style in this house, and everyone’s happy with that.

  13. Gost Says:

    thanks for your nice activity,
    may be i need my self blog

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