Tuesday, September 04, 2007

How to approach your wife about Polygamy?

So who am I? Well for the most part I'm just a Muslim from amongst the Muslims. For my non-Muslim readers out there I have plenty of information that you will want to read. I have been talking about polygamy for at least 10 years now. I have been divorced once where the subject was brought up (polygamy wasn't the head of the problem, but it didn't make the existing problems any easier to deal with). I have approached both wives with polygamy. My current wife I am very happily still married to. I hope to in this post spread some wisdom about the subject and hopefully save your marriage and some feelings if you are not yet married. Now I am not going to blab on but jump right into the meat of the topic.

There are two major pitfalls in regards to polygamy for the man one before the second marriage and one after. In everything the most important aspect is communication. In the beginning the main major mistake most men make is they Lie, deceive, misrepresent the truth, Lie by omission, swindle, sneak or connive. All of these things violate the foundation of any relationship, Trust. Once trust has been violated it is all downhill from there. It is almost impossible to recover from a violation of trust. Even if your woman is exceptionally forgiving when you violate the trust that she has placed in you, you have broken something very sensitive. So why would you do such a thing? The answer to that is simple, you are unable to communicate your feelings or intentions to your spouse. If this case exists then you probably have larger problems brewing than how you are going to tell your wife you want another woman.

For non-married men the issue of polygamy is something that you must bring up PRIOR to marriage. If you believe that you really want to be a polygamist then that is something that your future spouse should know. Chances are you are not going to change, if you want two now you will want two fifteen years into marriage and one day the opportunity will present itself and then what will you do? Hem and haw and probably go ahead or worse, cheat and then try to fix it up later with a subsequent Nikah. If she loves you she may be reserved and marry you anyway. She may not, however that is a decision that you should make before you marry her.

The idea of polygamy never goes away once it is seated, you will always remember it like an old song, word for word (at least the chorus). So you must be real to yourself and your spouse. In all of the conversations that I've had with Muslimahs over the years Lying and Deceit are the number one turn offs. I'm not saying that women sharing their man for the rest of their lives is a turn on, however your honesty does make a large difference. The most important thing is communication. Women thrive on attention and communication without it Shaytan is there to play all kinds of havoc on your relationship Poly or not so talk. If going polygamist is going to throw your woman into a big fuss those are fights that you are going to want to take PRIOR to actually going polygamist. Things are usually smoother once you have worked out all of the bugs and laid down basic ground rules. If you never get to that point then you need to evaluate and reevaluate your situation you might want to read this story here from Safa asking some very serious questions. If you aren't prepared to answer them then you don't need polygamy, Astaghfirallah it would be better for you to go out have your fun and when you find an empty lifestyle repent and then think about getting married. I can't recommend that though because you don't know what you will be forgiven for and what will stick to your neck.

Your ability to be able to tell your spouse anything is ultimately what is the most important. If you want to give up your $200,000 job and move out west to raise guinea pigs you need to be able to say that. You should feel comfortable saying it trusting that she is not going to freak all out. If your relationship is not to that point then you have a lot of work to do. From the masculine stand point polygamy isn't one of those things that you don't bring up because you didn't want to upset your wife, because I guarantee you she is going to be a whole lot more upset when you bring sister oh-so-damn-fine through the door talking about here she is your new cowife honey isn't it great you two can sew and knit together it is gonna be so much fun...NOT!!! That is not going to work and will only start your relationship in fitnah. If you know anything about women you know that they will remember something that you did wrong forever and then some.

I can't stress communication enough even if you don't go with polygamy the subject is a good topic to bring up. Why? Because when women talk about polygamy the are going to tell you all of their sensitivities, needs and wants. These are things that are entrusted to you and how you are endeared to her is how you protect that thing. Listen to this comment:

I know that there are instances where women have been able to forgive and move on after an incidence of infidelity but how do you do that with something that is on-going? The only way that I can see it happening is if there is no 'love' in the relationship. How do you have a real, loving, honest connection during lovemaking without imagining him with his other 'wife'. When can you relax and not wonder if you 'stack up' to the other woman?

What is she saying? Obviously she is concerned with the PRESSURE of competing on a daily basis. Which means your time with this woman if she was your wife will need to be special and your life with the other woman will need to not be mentioned. If you do any comparison in ANY realm she is going to be sensitive to it. What she would need is assurances daily, possibly hourly that you are more than happy with what she has to offer and until she feels that way she is going to have problems. Women naturally compare themselves to each other all the time however the stress of having to do it on a bi-nightly basis can be daunting. It is your responsibility to address that.

Ok now we are moving into the realm of what to do after you get your second wife so we will pause for a movie. This is an example of what NOT to do after you settle in with your second wife.

The next single most largest complaint of those who are in polygamy is fairness and time management. From the video you saw that the husband obviously wasn't being fair in terms of time and affection or attention even. No you have to be fair across the board. Time, Money, Attention to children, Sex everything. When the Quran talks about inability to be fair it if you reflect on the Sunnah is your inability to love each the same level. However everything else you can do pretty well at being equal and fair. Your job once you enter into a polygamist relationship is to be a steward of time-management and resource management. You have to enforce the rules strictly and you have to remember who gave permission to have them bent or broken (although it is best not to break any house rules). If you are not on top of your management of time and resources you will have committed a Zulm (an act of oppression). You don't want to do that.

All of the relationships that I have talked about over these last 10+ years it basically all boils down to these two transgresses, lying and mismanagement of the marriage. That is the Essence of all other complaints that I have ever heard about polygamy. So let me give you some examples from my own life so that you can see. Now I'm going to tell you that most probably the Shaytan is going to sit on your shoulder and criticize the hell out of me, but mark my words if you avoid the simple pitfalls your situation will go a lot better.

In my first marriage I had serious communication issues. I couldn't talk to my wife or I didn't feel that I could talk to my wife. I didn't feel that I could relay to her what my feelings and frustrations were in our marriage and in our lives. Note that this IS the problem. To fix this problem instead of forcing myself to hammer out with my wife what our problems were I sought to escape our problems by marrying another woman. I didn't tell my wife however I did ensure that the sister knew what my expectations were. I later within 48 hours rescinded my proposal and that was the end of that offer. I didn't wine and dine the sister, there was no romance or hot and steamy encounters, we met, we discussed needs and expectations we agreed and we left. Where many brothers fall into pitfalls is that they completely fall in love with someone before they ask them to be their wife, which even if you yourself decide that she is a poison apple you are all the way up in the tree at this point and it makes it very difficult to climb out of that hole when she's saying how much she needs you and she's never had a man as good as you before.

With my second wife we talked about everything when we were courting. Polygamy was one of those things. I told her straight out that I had a weakness for polygamy, and I said that I had already lost one marriage where polygamy was implicated. I told her that this is my weakness and that I would give her the keys to that door in our relationship. She said fine. Now there are couples out there that do talk about polygamy before they get married, however either the male isn't 100% truthful or he believes that he can squelch a desire that has been burning inside him for decades. If you have the weakness of women, if that is your fitnah then you should divulge that. If anything I would lie and say that it is my fitnah to discourage her from doing that rationing out thing that some sisters do which is all entirely stupid. Anyway don't lie tell the truth if you have a high sex drive you will want to let her know in big bold letters that is your weakness. It then becomes her RESPONSIBILITY to protect that weakness in you. I as a man, if I'm sexually satisfied I am a whole lot less likely to stray far from the trough if you know what I mean. Everyman is different however.

Now since I have told my current wife that polygamy or the desire thereof is my weakness and she has the keys to that door it is my responsibility to respect that I gave up the freedom to pursue a polygamist relationship. So what that means is if Halle Berry became Muslim saw me at the mosque and just HAD to have me I would have to tell her to go talk to my wife she has the keys to that department. Why because it is an Amana (trust) between her and I. Any woman coming into the relationship has to come through her and she is comfortable in knowing that. If I were to break that trust and marry some Bahraini girl for instance then I would have lied, and I can't stand to be called a liar. I really hate it. So for me the door is closed. When you and your wife or potential wife discuss polygamy what ever promises you make you need to keep. If you want to break them then you should get permission or not make any promises at all. Women recall facts in vivid detail, men don't so don't even try. If you don't feel that you can do it say that I don't know if I can resist if placed in exceptional circumstances. If that is the truth then you must divulge it. So with my wife and I she holds the keys up to the Nikah, after the Nikah I am entrusted with her feelings and considerations for the family and enforcing the rules that were agreed upon for all parties. Whatever terms that she has laid down prior to the Nikah I am responsible to enforce after the Nikah I have to manage resources.

So let's say you didn't talk about it and now you have been married for sometime now what? Ok just like if you were courting you need to talk about it. You need to go to your wife and have that painful conversation that you want a second wife. I think that it is best to do long before you begin looking for a second wife. It always, ALWAYS crashes and burns after you have someone in your heart. Your wife will tell you where she stands on the issue and if you decide to go ahead then be assured that she will hold you to whatever you promise her. If you can't support both women and have deluded yourself into believing that you can than you are indeed a fool and are doomed to massive failure.

Some may say that me giving my wife the keys to the polygamy door was dumb, or that it is less than manly of me to not be involved in second wife selection or approval, and to that I say that it is an Amana. Polygamy is not fard and there is no use tearing down a palace to build a shanty. What I have with my wife is solid and it has to be protected because it will come under attack. The most important jewel that I have in my marriage is trust and I am not going to surrender it to something that might be valuable.

I hope that this helps anyone sisters and brothers who need to or are discussing polygamy with their spouse/ potential spouse. If I left anything out just comment and I will be sure to respond as quickly as possible.


  1. Assalaamu Alaikum Muhammad,

    You've had some very interesting posts here regarding plural marriages. I followed that link about The Polygamous Bourgeoisie and read it all. I loved what the last guy said about there being cheaper ways........so true.

    In this post you really covered it all as far as I can tell regarding the "before" it happens. But what do you think about the brothers who do it and don't tell their wives? How would you advise them?

    A couple of scenarios for you to ponder:

    1. Man takes another wife or wives and tells none of them, neither the first, second, etc.

    2. Man takes another wife and tells none of them but one or both find out, and not from him.

    3. Man takes another wife. She knows of wife #1 but wife #1 has no knowledge of wife #2.

    4. Man takes another wife. She does not know of wife #1 but wife #1 knows about her.

    How can a man redeem himself in these situations? From all I know it is not necessary for wife #1 to know or even condone this whole thing, Islamically speaking. Is it necessary that wife #2 know? Of course the very valid points you made show how important it is to just go ahead and be upfront about it all in the beginning. But once they've "done the deed"...how can they go about fixing the mess they have created?

    And then there is the matter of love....twoo lub. How about the guys who never loved wife #1 but do respect her and stay with her because of the children and his responsibility to the promises he made when he married her. But this wife #2 IS that love of his life. What are your thoughts on this? Was he wrong to follow his heart and go for the experience of deep abiding love? Important for me to say here, I'm talking about love, not passion or lust. Just love.....twoo lub.

  2. Wa A'laikum AsSalaam Wa Rahmatullah Maggie,

    Thank you for commenting on my post I am glad that you enjoyed it. In the matter of 1 - 4 there really is no difference. Yes there is a ruling that says that the wives do not have to be informed of new additions to the wifely community however usually there is a great deal of cowardice that goes along with that position. I would suppose that it would lean on the side of polygamy abuse. It is permissible, but I wouldn't recommend it as the pain from an act of omission such as this is grave and truly cuts deep. Furthermore in this day and age I would expect that a wife would request a clean bill of health at the very least. In PNG there are cases where a man took a second wife and now the whole family is HIV positive. So there are serious health implications there and it would be common courtesy to let everyone know what is going on.

    About redeeming oneself from a breach of trust. Well there is no antidote for that. Every woman/man is different in how they handle traumatic situations. There is no fixing it. Correction is a process that will take time and a lot of hard work. There are no quick fixes, he will have to show and prove and that is a steep hill to climb. This is a testament to how valuable trust is. It is the very fuel that feeds a relationship, any relationship not just romantic ones.

    Then there is the matter of Love, well love doesn't grow on trees. It is something that is fostered over a long spit of time for men. Women believe they are in love early on and may even be committed however it is my firm belief that love is something that you HAVE to Work for. He may enjoy her company, he may enjoy everything about her however that is not love because love requires sacrifice and hard work. So this is not someone that could be the check-out girl at macy's.

    Now if there is a situation that exists where the man feels this way and many men do. They feel that they married the girl because it was the right thing to do at the time. He was saving her from a bad situation and his heart poured out. Yes it does happen, men do marry out of a feeling of obligation. In this case where he is truly attracted to a woman and he wants to proceed further then he should just follow the steps. Bring it up to his wife, get her opinion and let her know what his intentions are. At this point she will have everything before her, and in fact I believe an occasion such as this is where it was revealed you may wish to replace a wife with another.
    4:19 And consort with your wives [19] in a goodly manner; for if you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something which God might yet make a source of [20] abundant good.
    4:20 But if you desire to give up a wife and to take another in her stead, do not take away anything of what you have given the first one, however much it may have been. [21] Would you, perchance, take it away by slandering her and thus committing a manifest sin? [22]

    I believe that it was an instance where a man sought to marry another and defraud the first wife of what was due to her. I believe that it was counseled for the man to keep both wives as this would have been better for the first wife to have a husband rather than to not have a husband and a source of protection.

    So in this instance I would believe that if the man believes that he can keep the limits of Allah and give to each fairly then he should keep her if she wishes to stay under those conditions. If not then he should divorce her out of fairness.

    True love doesn't come in bubble gum wrappers it is harvested over a full season.

    I hope I answered your questions.

  3. That is only partially verse 4:19 I forgot the ... in front of the And. I'm sorry.

  4. Hey there Muhammad, I have to say that I really enjoyed this post, out of all of the P posts that I have read this was very informative.

    I also want to say that I see that Alot of people (males) are taking on P marriages just out of the idea that they can bed many many women and not be considered adultry. I know that I am just rambling to most people that read this and they might think that I am just so much against P marriages that I will find away to poke more holes into this, but If the wife is happy with the arrangement as well as the hubby then that is wonderful and I wish them well... but like you say I wish that all of them would just communicate and make sure that this is what they want instead of entering into something that will tear up the first marriage to the woman that they really loved..

    Again Muhammad, Thank you for this. I really enjoyed it.. I also linked your I think I love my wife on my blog I hope it was okay...


  5. Release I am very glad that you enjoyed my post. Writers always wonder how they will be received after they write something so I'm glad that you got a lot out of it.

    Yes there are men out there who wish to justify breaches in trust with the veil of marriage. However what they fail to realize is that the breach still stands, and they have to fix it by any means necessary.

    You linked to me so now I must link back to you. Look for your name in my side bar.

  6. I do not know how to put you on my side bar only in a blog can I link I am just a 21yr old
    "BLONDE" lol I do not know how to make things happen in the world of technology

  7. Muhammad, you did a fine job answering my questions. It's good to hear a brother's perspective in all this.

    Every situation, no matter how much alike in some respects, is different and so are the people involved. What works for some may not work for others but I agree with you, trust is the key to it all.

  8. as salaam alaikum:

    i thought your post was well thought out and agree that keeping the trust, being real about polygyny, being communicative and knowing how to treat women lovingly and kind is the bottom line for a workable polygynous marriage.

    I have to correct you though my brother: men being polygynous is not a weakness. i personally believe most men are naturally attracted to more than one woman, i mean attracted enough to consider marrying them. Most probably will not do it, either because it's just easier to sneak and have flings, or because they simply don't want the hassle, but, there should be no shame if a man considers marrying more than one! Dare I say that God made yall that way???

    And by the way, a super high, 'lusty' sex drive IS a valid reason to marry more than one. A couple of first wives i have met said that their husband never got past the age of 19 sexually--coming home for lunch even---lol. After 2-3 babies, not only did they realize their husbands were 'loaded,' but they were just TIRED. They said, Masha'Allah, thank GOD for polygyny and the ability to 'share the wealth.'

    I also have to take a little issue with this concept of women always comparing themselves to each other...yeah, i guess insecure, petty women---which this and many societies encourage as typical female behavior. However, it really doesn't have to be, and many times is not. honestly, if the brother is honest, God fearing, pious, treats each woman well and is equal with his time, most women do not sit around dwelling on what he's doing with his other wife. Her sexual life with him is hers, and her sexual life with him is theirs. It really ain't none of our business. In that vein, the brother has got to take his TIME to make sure he sexually satisfies his wives...that is HIS duty to them. If both wives are happy, they don't go there...

    I'm going to send your post to Ali and see if i can get him to weigh in. It's wonderful to see brothers talk real about this subject (letting us females be privy to the convo.) And you're right, Ali was very upfront with my co-wife when he married her. He told her he would probably marry another woman in the future. I think we got married about 5-6 years afterwards.

    Asiila Imani
    I'm the same person! sorry for the confusion.

  9. I am confused, Help me out Muhammed, because you have a high sex drive gives you a reason to take on another wife? What happens to controlling your Sexual drive? So if "T" and I were to get married or go to the next level if he decideds that I cannot perform (in other words I dont want Sex as much as he does) he should have the right to go out and get another wife)? Please you need to really Make a post on this, I need to see this from a mans point of view and I know you will need more space than the comment box.. Help a Sister out with this question that I am yearning to know the answer to.....


  10. BTW I have you on my sidebar now.. wooo... I have to take a nap now..I worked really hard trying to figure that out

    okay I will stop commenting for the day .. lol


  11. Assalaamu Alaikum Brother!

    Masha Allah, nice blog...havent got to reading all of them though..

    Just want to ask your permission, if its ok with you, for me to add some excerpts from your blog (obviously crediting to you by mentioning your blog) in a Polygyny article that I am planning to write for a Islamic e-Magazine, al-Bayyinnah..

    Awaiting your reply..


    Umm Afraz

  12. AsSalaamu A'laikum Umm Afraz,

    Well Umm Afraz I would be honored if you included excerpts from my blog. Thank you.

  13. Wa Alaikumussalaam brother,

    JazakAllahu Khairan.