Polygyny and Me

Co-wives speak out!

This is  a nice story on how co-wives can get along…if there is patience and love and support from the husband…. But in a lot of cases the husband isn’t supportive… But this man supports and loves both of his wives…. I think its great how they get along… And even support each other. Too bad all of us cant get along with our co-wives as these do… And some of us even unaccepting of this kind of situation, even though it is recommended according to Islam. Love, support and fairness are of course the key to a good polygynist marriage.

Cowives Speak Out

By  Selma A. Cook

Staff Writer, Poet, Author – Egypt



The following arose out of an interview with two cowives living in Australia.

* * *

The first wife, Khadija (not her real name), has three children and the second wife, Amina (not her real name), was single with six children when she married into this situation. 

 “I have always admired her,” said Khadija.

Khadija’s family roots are in South Africa, but she said, “Culturally speaking, I’m Australian.” The husband is Algerian, and Amina is a revert to Islam and an Australian.

 Khadija and Amina agree that there are a number of polygynous marriages that are not successful. However, both wives believe that the fact that their husband has traveled a lot has taught him much wisdom and has enriched his thinking.




Khadija had to defend polygyny many times, even to her Muslim relatives, who, one would think, would know better. “If I’m upset, they blame my marriage situation.”  Khadija admits that, in the beginning, she had low self-esteem, but it got better after her husband remarried. “I felt valued because my husband treated me so well. I’ve grown through the experience, because the situation forced me to grow,” she said. 

 Her family and cultural background had taught her to think that she would be put on the shelf with this kind of marital arrangement. On the contrary, Khadija was part of the process of her husband getting remarried, and that made her happy. “I supported him through it and left the decision to him.”  When the wedding day arrived, Khadija attended the wedding. “I was criticized by my family and friends, and I told them it was none of their business and that it was important for me to go. Both my husband and Amina wanted me to be there. I’ve shared all my life with him and this was part of his life.”

 “I love my husband and if he’s happy, I’m happy. I want to be loved and cared for, and that has never changed.”

 Khadija believes that society is insecure with itself.


“When this kind of marriage works out, it becomes scary for people because they are worried that it might happen to them and that they will not be able to cope. They are actually happy when they think there are problems and are very happy if it doesn’t work out.




When Amina looks back, she wonders how she ever managed.

 “The biggest thing for me as a single mother was the level of responsibility when making important decisions — there was no one to consult with.”

In the beginning of the new marriage, it was difficult for her to get the older children used to the idea of sharing a family. Now after two and a half years, the oldest daughter, now in her late teens, says if her mother is happy, she is happy. She sees that the family is content and stable, and that’s what really matters.

 Amina was not sure how her non-Muslim family would react because this kind of marriage is unusual to them. Khadija began speaking to them about polygyny for some time before Amina remarried, allowing them time to think about it and understand better.

 Now they are fine with the arrangement and she still visits them. “They just want me to be happy,” said Amina.


Common Ground


Khadija feels it is an advantage to have had some years alone with her husband, which built a strong relationship. Amina commented, “It takes longer for bonding to occur as the second wife, so patience is necessary.”

 Both wives agreed to give permission for him to stay with the other wife before and after giving birth. They admit that when they do something like that — something noble — they feel enriched. They are happy that they live in separate houses and consider it to be healthy to be apart. Being too close together could breed jealousy and bad feelings. They stay in touch and visit each other as they live only a ten-minute drive away from each other.

The children have grown up with this marriage arrangement and therefore find it normal. They feel secure in what is a strong family network. Khadija is very calm with the children, and this has an affect on the parenting style of the second wife, Amina.

 “I feel secure, so that if something happens to me, my kids will be OK, and if something happens to our husband, we have each other. I admire the way Khadija communicates with the children. She is an interactive and very loving mother. I always see her being positive and active. She makes me feel like a part of the family and the children feel that way too,” said Amina.

 If someone asks the children how many brothers and sisters they have, they always include the children from both families. As this marriage has worked out,  the children might not rule out a similar marriage situation for their future. Amina’s eldest daughter has been in this family set-up for two and a half years, and she commented, “I look at this kind of marriage as a maybe. I’m just open-minded about it. It depends on many things.”

 Khadija said that many of her friends have been supportive even though personally they would not accept to be in such a marriage. Sometimes people feel that the second wife is a “home breaker” or that there must have been something wrong with the first wife which made the husband seek another one. Both women commented that people are often disappointed because they are actually friends. People are even more disappointed that there are no major problems.


Advice for Men

A man who is thinking of taking a second wife who has children has to remember that it is a huge responsibility. He will have an already established family that has its own ways. It will not be like his present family. It’s a different one with a different character and dynamics. He has to take its members as they are without being determined to change them too much.

 He has to be flexible and not expect to get his own way in everything. At the same time, he has to be very clear in giving the new family boundaries and offer a sense of security to the children. He will have to possess leadership qualities — be assertive, have a strong identity, and not be easily manipulated. A husband with two wives will have to be wise, fair, patient, and have good self-esteem.

 Khadija commented, “People must be sure their marriage is stable before considering this kind of marriage, and the first wife has to feel secure within herself.”



 The man will marry someone who already has experience with children, and both wives will have guiltless time with their children when the husband is at the home of the other wife. 

 “It takes the pressure off a bit, and I get time to myself,” said Khadija.

 As for the second wife’s point of view, she knows he understands how to make a marriage work. Khadija and Amina noted that no one should go into a second marriage thinking that it will fix the problems in the first one.

 Because the relationship between Khadija and Amina is good, they can send their children to each other’s homes for a visit and feel assured that the children will be well taken care of. Khadija said that she learned a lot about raising children from Amina. Amina is very calm and never raises her voice even though she has six children.Amina said, “The house is very happy and loving,” and referring to Khadija, “I know she will always be there for me.”




Polygyny is actually worse for the husband. The cowives have their own place and are stable, but the husband has to


  • Struggle to keep up with both homes without a break
  • Shoulder a lot of responsibility
  • Solve each family’s own set of problems
  • Take care of two lots of children (take them to school, the doctor, extracurricular activities, and so on)

“There are many more advantages for the cowives,” Khadija and Amina agreed.


Final Word


For the marriages to be successful, everyone has to play their part. The relationship could be strong, but bad behavior could break everything that has been built up.

 Generally, human relations are fragile, so even if the marriage failed, it would not be because of polygyny itself, but because of the behavior. Both Khadija and Amina said it is better to love the one your husband loves.


12 Responses to "Co-wives speak out!"

I am second wife , married only 8 months……struggling right now as my husbands first wife has demanded he divorce me ……i have only seen him once in three weeks when he told me this…..he fears losing his children if he does not divorce me. I am frustrated and hurt that he does not respond to me attempts to contact him or answer emails i send him stating i do not want a divorce and that she cannot demand he leave me. I feel like a bit of an outsider here, they have been married over 20 years and have 5 children.,. I was a divorcee with three children before we married and i love him more than anyone before in my life. My hope was to one day be friends with the first wife , as i feel they are now part of my family too.

I dont know how to proceed and dont really have anyone to talk to…I am a revert and dont have any family or friends that understand this situation.

Dear Khadijah,

Try to stay strong. Gently remind your husband that it is haram for him to abandon you, see if you can gradually work out a situation where you can get more time with him, with or without his other wifes knowledge, as you too have needs and he has responsibilities. Pray istikhara often, and ask for Allah’s guidance and help in the situation, and to give you and your family what is best. Over time many first wives’ hearts will soften, patience is a virtue. Please try to stay positive for both yourself and your husband, only show him and his wife the good side of you so as not to give her any ammunition, and then you can truly say in front of Allah that you tried your best. May Allah ease the situation and put love between your hearts, Amen.

I have sent him emails stating this and to try and work out this situation. He has not responded in any way and i do not even know if he is still in Canada or gone back to Saudi.
I pray every day…since he does not answer my calls or emails..I think he has abandoned our marriage……..i am hurt..I dont know what will be the outcome of our marriage…….he is showing no responsibility to me , is not giving me my rights financially or time wise..and his lack of communication is not kind. When we met he told me he divorced me once….

So i pray and wait…but at some point i must accept reality …

U complain this affair to Allah,,, he will change the mind n heart of the person…….he is the best controller of it.. Everything will be alright sis….don’t worry we will pray for u,,, Allah is with these who hold patience


Yes bigamy can work but it is like you said a big responsability and it is not for irresponsable brother who think they can do it because it is their right. I am a first wife and my husband who doesn’t work and lie to have more benefit decided to get a sister in Finland he can’t even give her her time.He stayed 6 weeks with me and go there for 2 weeks. Meanewhile i am with my 4 kids who range age is from 13 to 2 years old. We have problems but he doen’t want to hear them. So sorry but i don’t want to get on with her iam jealous and i don’t understand why a woman would choose a man through internet who is 15 years older than her and has 4 kids and no job. Some days i think they suit each other as they are both so selfish. Anyway i tried to be friend with her but it didn’t work and now i don’t know w hat Allah wants from me. I just see how unhelpful my husband is. For as long as we have a house and money for food i don’t have to complain. But i feel a lot sometines like a single mother as he doesn’t really want to educate his children. So you don’t understand why co wivves can’t get on well maybe a lot it is due to this brothers who have the arrogance to think it is their right but maybe some of them are not responsable enough to take on such big responsability and their pride just blind them. And instead of making bigamy something positive it becomes difficult and painfuyl for co-wives. I believe it is their rights when the brother is right down Allah’s path and free of arrogance and pride.

Salam Alaikum, It has nothing to do with arrogance or selfishness – it has to do with hormones. As a woman we should understand another woman and not blame her for anything. The word “sister” means something but a lot forget. We here in the world not to play up our rights and make us bigger as we are or waste our time with excluding other people. 4 hands can help more than only 2 hands – and we have not to burden the man all the time with all. Two women can support the husband more in difficult times than one. We are all a big family in the world and what every situation needs is to act sensibly and according to reality. No emotions have place in this. If a situation changes we have to act sensibly and include other people in our life.

Perfectly written articles, appreciate it for selective information.

I am revert and married since five years as second wife to a man with family of 4 kids in his first marriage. He had hardly spent time with me as he excuses that his kids needs him and as I have no kids and earn my money myself, pay rent and food myself he doesn’t even bother to give me pocket money. He said his budget is already tight for his first marriage. His first wife speaks in a commanding way sometimes to me. One day the first wife had to go to the hospital with the new born and he had to drive her. I made the suggestion that before they take all kids with them in the evening to the hospital I could come after work to stay with the other three but I have to go first quickly to a very closed friend of mine to bring her some keys as I promised this. When I entered the house the first wife asked me in a harsh tone why I have to go first to my friend and not come directly to them. I explained it to her but I felt very hurted as this was my free decision to help them out. Another day I did their garden in planting flowers, picking the wheeds etc. I went inside and we sat to have tea after I have done all and then the first wife started to say that she never liked the house they are living in and that she wanted to have a bungalow as she has seen one of friends and she wanted to move further north in another house. I felt really upset as I did the garden just right before and all this hard work to look better and then this. I really don,t understand this. She always moans about not having a dishwasher or car meanwhile I also not have these things but have to go to work meanwhile she is sitting in their house.

I am the first wife my husband just recently married his 2nd wife. I’m now having second thoughts of her moving into our home. Help need some advice.

Firstly, I dont agree with a husband making two co-wives living together. Its allowed, but i am one that certainly would never think of it. I have my house and my co-wife has her house. We live about a mile apart. we actually we planning to live next to each other. But decided it would hurt each other to see our husband going into each others houses. So we chose houses near but not seen by each other.

Polygamy not polygny … just saying 🙂

Actually dear, Polygamy is more than one spouse but polygyny is more specific… it is more than one wife.

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