Thursday, May 17, 2007

Refocus

ReFocus

I think I have recapped our polygamy experience before, but the following I plan to post on B’net because I have substantially debated the pros of polygamy there and I would like to provide a before and after type of spin on the whole issue.

Our good friend Safa has us listed as polygamy survivors on her blog, and I suppose that we are. I no longer have a burning urge to delve into polygamy as I did before. I suppose that if there was some sort of organic circumstance that really was a benefit to all involved there would be an outside chance, but we are talking about this would have to be a situation that Allah himself ordained and everything fell into place easy breezy which is a very slim to none chance. So I’m out of the whole polygamy circle. It isn’t something that I say I’m out of and secretly lurk about looking for unsuspecting Muslima’s needing salvation. No I’m out all together. My wife is more than enough for me.

How did I get here? Three years ago if I had the opportunity and money to jump on the Polygamy bandwagon I would have without any reservation. I suppose that my position is really based on experience. I can’t explain it better than that. There are some things that you just won’t believe until you really go through them. You know “don’t touch that it is hot” AAAAAgh! “Hey you know what that actually is hot” type of thing. Polygamy is that sort of animal. I have a friend that has been married for quite a while and he decided to go down the polygamy road, the behind the back way like most do and it is really ugly now. There is physical violence and hurtful words and things that are just uncharacteristic of both of them. Then there is the emotional scarring that has taken place between them. What was the root of it all? Poor communication, poor communication is the root of most interpersonal problems. What was the seed? As I understand, it was the inability of one person to communicate ones true feelings without reprisal or “freaking out” by the other. In all of the marital strife issues that I have come across problems with communication is the root problem. With my friend at the beginning of their marriage he tried to communicate to her his feelings, and there was some pain associated with that and the wife reacted. So what happened was he sent a message and she reacted and to keep from repeating the scenario he shutdown. So in psychology class you get this nice diagram with two circles placed apart and one is the sender and one is the receiver. The sender sends a message and it is received by the receiver. The Receiver then transmits feedback to the sender and this is the circle of communication. If there is a barrier between the sender or the Receiver then communication doesn’t take place. Now in their situation and in mine in my first marriage there is a break down of communication because of a barrier so one side is shutdown now a precedent is set. Once a precedent is set then the opportunities for more barriers are staged until they are set in place. Once triggered they position themselves and new barriers are formed until you have functional coexistence. If there was a case where you had a co-worker and you asked him about his kids and he responded “Why the hell are you asking me about my kids!” that person has just formed a barrier. It may go on so that you get to the point of don’t ask him any questions just give him the task item and move on. The same thing happens in marriages. If your husband communicates something to his wife and she blows up he knows that is a barrier at that point of communication. The more barriers that go up then the less points there are to bond on, and when someone needs to bond or just talk about a subject there isn’t an opening there, so eventually those feelings will become bottled up inside and then that person may seek another outlet for those feelings or feel isolated and strike out in different ways.

We really aren’t trained to think like we have to open ourselves up completely, and for some of us it may do more damage than good. Like if you used to be ultra-freak and marry the ultra-conservative and you hide that past from them. However even here there is a part of your house that is closed off and if that part is something that needs to be resolved you cannot go to your companion to do so. It all lies in what I believe are the two core elements of a relationship trust and communication. Commitment and dedication are others but you can be committed to someone and not trust him therefore commitment doesn’t provide inroads to a deeper relationship the same with dedication. Love is something that comes later in a relationship. In some relationships it comes quicker and in some relationships it is completely false “puppy love” but it is a product of trust the essential ingredient for a successful relationship. Without trust the foundation of any relationship is faltered. I trust you are not going to hurt me, I trust that you are not going to rip me off, I trust you will be careful with my secrets. Whenever a relationship goes wrong there has been primarily a violation of trust.

Communication consistent with actions is that ingredient that protects trust. Communication in society is primarily non-verbal giving credence to the saying actions speak louder than words. In most cases it is actions rather than what is spoken that violates trust or fractures trust. Barriers to communication are the seeds that grow walls to communication which may lead to a breakdown of trust. Communication is the water that helps trust to prosper if communication is cut off then trust will maintain at its strongest point until actions that are not consistent with the last known bookmark of trust are violated. In the case of a good friend that you have been separated from for quite sometime, if you left on good terms you have no reason to believe that this person will have turned malicious towards you. If such signs are implemented then a breakdown of trust has begun and communication needs to be adjusted.

In my experience with polygamy one thing that was a key point in the whole process was that my wife and I remained in very close communication. When I committed actions that were not consistent with our agreements there was a fracture of trust, so then we communicated to each other where the fractures where and we were able to truss those areas up, reassess our situation, and move on. There were several stumbles on our road to polygamy and we learned a great many things about ourselves. I believe that we went through all of the feelings that couples go through whenever the polygamy issue comes up. I believe that my wife felt all of the feelings that every woman feels, but our guarding of trust through the whole experience and the respect that we gained for each other really helped us to move on and now after the desire of polygamy has passed our relationship is unscathed and we are even stronger than ever, I believe. We still have our problems and insecurities however we continue to communicate the points that we have problems with and it keeps us strong.

When I used to come on Beliefnet and discuss the do-ability of polygamy I was really speaking out of the side of my a$$. Now I have first hand experience. I have met a wide variety of people, Muslima’s in polygamy. I only refer to Muslimah’s because Muslim men or men in general never talk about their relationships even close friends. Is polygamy a viable avenue of life yes in some circles, in some cultures, maybe even in some marriages, but is it mostly viable. No.

It is true that women and men see things differently, and when a man sees something and has fixated on it often times it is very difficult to pry that man’s focus away from that thing. My friend whom I know all of his information from the Women’s News Network got involved with another woman whilst his wife was away. It wasn’t intentional it just happened the way Shaytan sets all of us up slowly and surely. He is very meticulous and it hardly ever fails. In this situation there was a communication break-down early on and it was just allowed to fester and fester and when opportunity gave rise it manifested itself.

Men wanting polygamy or multiple relationships is nothing new. Men see women as very exciting creatures, visually pleasing to the eye, pleasurable to be around and even more pleasurable to sleep with. This viewpoint however does not take in the reality of the day to day facts of who a woman is. She’s moody, she gets sick, she has needs, she has insecurities, she has wants, she makes demands, she is a human being and being with her necessitates forming and maintaining a relationship which takes work. If further steps are taken to support her then that takes extra work and finances. I think for some the idea of a second wife is very surreal in terms of its effect on the reality of one’s life. I don’t believe most men really think about this.

In my experience of having two wives the stress of finances and child-rearing doubled overnight. Maintaining the primary relationship with my wife that I love very much was strained to say the least. Trying to formulate a relationship with my second wife was difficult to begin and maintain at all. It was the most stressful period of our marriage. I thought that I would lose my wife (the first one), but our talking through each and every feeling and each and every problem really saved us. The depth of the bond with the second wife really was shunted a lot and in the end it made it easy to let go. I think that my wife and my constant communication made all of the difference in that situation. We laid ground rules and policed them out of respect for each other and even though the only reason that we aren’t still in a plural marriage now is the trepidation of the second wife and her decisions for a life path. What it allowed me specifically to do is get a very real view of what it means to be a man with two wives and how to interact with them.

I can’t stress the importance of communication enough. In most instances women outnumber “desirable” men by a great margin. The instances where a woman knows a man’s marital status and still desiring and pursuing him are very great. It doesn’t matter if she makes more than him, less than him family status or whatever the second woman never has anything to lose in most cases and usually is more than willing to make it work. This is something that first wives must always keep in the back of their heads, because if that second woman knows your husband is a good “desirable” man then she will make it work if you “let her”, “tolerate it” or not communicate “effectively” your feelings.

Back to communication again, it is very important to allow your significant other to communicate anything to you even if it is painful. If your husband comes to you and says that he wants a second wife “If you love your husband and value your marriage” don’t freak out just allow him to communicate those feelings and then honestly and truthfully tell him how you feel. Allow him to talk about it as much as he wants to so that he can get it out of his system. Inform him of the responsibilities on him express your financial demands, express your desires for time off without the kids etcetera. In the case of my friend that was married a long time she had placed her career on hold and then was sideswiped with the second wife thing. I advised my wife to tell her say fine tell him that he has to keep all of the kids while she goes back for a second degree. That is a real fact, it is something that will bring someone out of the clouds and down to reality.

Now obviously you have to know your subject err husband. If he is the domineering alpha male type then I really don’t have much advice for you because I’m not that type of forceful Willy the Pimp type of individual. I know of many sisters that have those types of husbands and I am really just far removed from that whole reality of checking the scent of a woman’s panties every five minutes. So I couldn’t even begin to tell you where to start, because if you are in that situation and submissive to it he could take fifty wives and there really wouldn’t be anything you could say about it. So sorry, no advice there.

I suppose my advice would apply to the sensible man, that is capable of rationally negotiating issues. In then end I want to ask that is polygamy for MOST people? NO it isn’t, not at all. Can it work? Yes under very special circumstances. Is there pain involved? Yes there is tons of pain even if every one willingly goes into such a relationship. I remember that I was bewildered at so much pain that flowed from the hearts of all of us. It was very painful it was as intense as the pain from a divorce if not more. I don’t wish that pain on anyone but if you were in a divorce and experienced pain it is kind of like that, and the more you love your first wife the more intense that pain to watch her suffer from this part of life being changed forever. The second woman has no idea how much pain is involved. Polygamy doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come without a price.

That’s all I wish to say. Now there is a full circle perspective to my rantings.

3 comments:

  1. This is the most honest discussion of polygamy that I have ever heard from a Man. I'm impressed and your wife is lucky that you learned and GREW from the experience. You hit on an important point that some never seem to understand about plural marriage - women are whole people and need a whole mate, and marriage requires too much work for one husband and two wifes.

    Thanks!!!

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  2. The best topic ever - communication. Couples need to understand a marriage is like a bank account, what you put into it is what you get out of it. Thanks for sharing your understanding of polygamy.

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  3. Well said, Muhammad......excellent!

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