Polygyny and Me

Unfair treatment of 2nd wives

I do know that 2nd wives are not the only wives to be treated unfairly. Many first wives I have known have been practically abandoned by the husband after he marries another wife. However, I want to talk about the practice of men taking another wife, usually without the knowledge of the first and mistreating the second.

In Islam, to be fair and just to one’s wives is not just a must; but it is a command from Allah subhannah ta’allah. It is a very important aspect of Islam. The man that has not treated his wives justly will endure a terrible punishment on the day of judgment.

There are many 2nd wives I know that are not being treated fairly by their husbands. These men treat their wives ways they would never have ever treated their first wives. Many times they are hidden away, the husband in question spends little or no time with them, and the wives of course feel abandoned, neglected and deserted. Each one is feeling the pain of abandonment,  yet many times she doesn’t want to speak up…why? Because she will be belittled by her husband and just told to shut up! She is married but yet feels unmarried.

Is this any way for any man to treat any of his wives, no matter what the number she may fall to?  What are the men’s excuses for this kind of behavior?

1. If my wife finds out she will divorce me, and I will lose my family. Ahh., The most famous excuse. I have known many husbands who have told their poor wives this great story!  From the second wives I have talked to, each and every one of them said that IF the first wife left, they inevitably came back. One sister told me, on the night of the wedding, her husband’s first wife called up and told him she was leaving with their children and not coming back… He said ok, have a nice life…. and the wedding went on….. and 4 days later she was back in his house…. This was because of the strong will of the husband. The man was strong, stood his ground, and was not afraid of his wife… Mashallah, it would be wonderful if all men could be like that. But, unfortunately, most men run scared when challenged by the first wife. The truth is: if they leave they will be back. They usually love their husband and he is the one supporting his children. They will not bite the hand that feeds them. We must encourage our husbands to challenge their wives.

2. I will kill myself if you marry another wife: Another good one… This is done only to completely panic the husband. Number one… if she is Muslim, she will not kill herself unless she wants to go directly to the blazing fires of hell. Number two, if she is in her right mind, she would not ever think of doing such a thing if she has children, for she would know that children need their mother. This is attention based and used to control the husband.  The husband should be firm with this… and if he has any doubt about this, he should have someone stay with his wife… such as her mother, sisters, others he can trust.

3. It’s not the right time… – Well if now isn’t the right time, and tomorrow isn’t the right time, and NEXT WEEK isn’t the right time, then WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME??? After we pack up and leave, in hopeless despair because we believe our husband doesn’t love us enough to speak up? Or maybe it’ll be after years and years of constant pain, hopelessness, a feeling of abandonment, and loneliness when he thinks he’s finally worked up that courage–only, of course, to find that it sinks down the drain as soon as he looks the first one in the eye.

Our husbands need to be fair!! We have a right to it, and they make us feel as if we don’t. We’re treated like unnecessary baggage, kept in storage until we are needed again. It isn’t fair, and it’s not right.

The time has come for us to stand up as wives and demand our rights… our ISLAMIC rights to be treated justly and fairly…. its doesn’t matter if you are the first, second, third or even fourth…. FAIRNESS is our right, we deserve it and we have to demand it!


27 Responses to "Unfair treatment of 2nd wives"

Asalaam Alaikum,
I agree that 2nd wives deserve fairness. But I think its natural for the first wife to fight tooth and nail for her husband not to marry.

The only way that polygyny works is if the husband is absolutely fair all around. Otherwise its just plain torture to either side.

I also think the second wife needs to be more sensitive to the first wife’s situation.

We all know that men act like kids in a toy shop when they get married again. That alone is absolute torture. Not to mention the fact that the 2nd wife usualy takes that as a sign that she is preffered and most loved. And whether intended or not, it shows in the way the 2nd wife and her husband talk and act.

I think a little kindness and humbleness from the 2nd wife can go a long way to pacify and calm the first wife.

No woman likes to feel that they are being replaced. Women are mostly all the same..and if any of you were in that situation, you would probably feel and act the same (except for the suicide part…thats just ridiculous and wrong. There are always limits to everything).

Anyhow…i really like your blog. Masha Allah.

Walaikum Salaam, Fatima

i agree with you sis fathima. 2nd wives need to be more sensitive to first wives circumstance. if she place herself in the shoes of the first woman, it’ll be a bit easier to understand. and i think when the first wife threatens or yells or leaves, its not all to conrol the husband but the mere grief and raw emotion at work. if the 2nd wife can think that thru the situation cud be much calmer.singular or plural marriages are not a battle ground for one wife to force or encourage a husband to face or stand up to the other. it should be of peace and understanding.

Asalaam Alaikum,

Oh…I also wanted to say…that you are absolutely right. It is all in the man’s hands on how to make this situation work for both sides.

If the man is handling himself properly, things will go much much smoother.

It takes a real man to be firm to make sure no foolishness is going on.

And in regards to the man that doesn’t treat his 2nd wife fairly. He should have thought twice about getting married again before uprooting another woman’s life.

There are men who go through phases or mid-life crisises and run out and get married on a whim. Then they decide that the situation isn’t right for them but feel guilty. In the end…..the poor woman gets the short end of the stick. And the man acts like a complete coward.

I guess no matter what there will be situations of wives in general who are mistreated. Some men are just not made to be in situations like these. They don’t know how to cope.

Walaikum Salaam, Fatima

Sorry for the late reply…. i am so horrible about replying… but i was editing the text on this post and i saw ur comment again…

One of the problems I have found with 2nd wives, is that they think once they marry this man, she thinks she will replace the first wife… Sorry, gals but that is not the case… if he loves you, he probably still loves her too…. YOU ARE NOT A REPLACEMENT!

I think BOTH 1st and 2nd wives (3rd and 4th for that matter)) need to be sensitive to their co-wives situation. If they see the husband not being fair to their co-wife… they really need to speak up! I do, when i see my husband not doing the things he needs to do for my co-wife, i tell him to do them….

I love him, and i am afraid of what he will face on judgment day… ALL wives need to think about this, instead of being selfish and thinking about themselves and their desires in this life…

I am coming to dublin early july.I want to explore the muslim community in dublin.Please may any one guide me as to where I should go.And places to visit.It will only be a coulpe of days stay so I really need as much info as possible.thanx

I think that the woman shouldnt accept to be a second wife if she has any doubt that the husband will not be fair with her or with the first wife and dont forget that it is the woman choice to accept or deny the marriage to a marriad man so and only in my opinion no woman has the right to claim from unfair treatment if she knew that her future husband will not be fair and she accepted the marriage

Salaams Wael…
I agree with ur comment, however most women go into a marriage whether it be as a first wife, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even only wife believing their husband will be just to all parties involved. I don’t think there is a woman that went into a marriage with the understanding that she was not going to be treated fairly. Sometimes the husband promises her the moon and stars and never delivers…. Also, sometimes the husband tells the wife i want to keep this away from my wife until after the marriage so she wont make a problem at the wedding party… i think everyone can understand this request… but then he doesn’t live up to his end of the bargain and lets it go on for a long while before he gets up the courage to tell his first wife.

I have no words much to add god bless you all try and live you live he comes well and good and if he don’t show up as well as long as he completes his duty,,for the kids and home, my side he is more committed with the 2nd house more then the 1st and i guess there is his haven…its so painful for a women when a man finds another house, a another women to love another person to share an life no 1 can imagine the pain no 1 can take, take it easy on your self’s enjoy, i am now as am tiered of asking, complaining or even argue,,, no today i cant come and today i was busy then am travailing and you find out he is with the 2nd wife…!!!!
Walikum Al Salam…..life is short just pray and live peasfully with all the time you have. each day never returns…

dear umm aziz

may allah ease ur pain nd may he give you happiness and a better life. i can imagine the pain nd complications that come with husband remarrying. sumtyms i feel like packing up nd leaving. but thinking of earning allah’s pleasure nd the fear of His wrath stops me. may Allah make it easy for you

Here it is:

I understand where you are coming from and what you are saying but I have to throw a monkey wrench into your logic. Any woman who knows her worth and the rights given to her by Allah should know not to enter into a marriage without fully understanding and knowing what she is getting herself into. If a sister knows that the man she is about to marry is willing to be less than forthcoming with his first wife about her existence she shouldn’t suddenly expect him to honor her and their marriage when he has already shown he isn’t honoring the first marriage by being deceitful. Often times we as women look past these little clues the man gives us as to his character thinking he will be different with us. It is never understandable for a man to keep getting married a secret if he is really being a MAN.

Also, A man is only going to do what he is allowed to get away with. If the second or first wife stood up to their husbands and demanded their rights, he would not get away with doing the bare minimum. Bottom line is that when there are these kind of issues in polygyny, the source of the fitna usually is the husband. If you want to marry a man who is already married, make sure it is a man with good character, who fears Allah and has no reason to lie and deceive others…otherwise you will get stuck with a man described in your post

jaazakillahu khairan for this comment. its quite poignant.I think many times sisters sell themselves short and just settle.Often this is caused by lack of patience but also the general societal state.Allah help us all. Ameen

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

Sister, you are very right. This is a big very big oversight on the part of most of us as women. We do things to please our husbands and overlook the rights of our sisters in islam and at the end turn back and expect them to do right by us. Honestly, as being in this situation that I chose for myself with my own free will I call it a recipe for disaster. Once the man cannot do right by you as a second or a first wife I think it best to just run run run in the other direction. It simply puts you and your family through unnecessary turmoil. In order for polygyny to be successful you need God Fearing people (3 or 4 or 5 of them). The man and his wives. Once they cannot especially the man bring himself to fear Allah above all else. Then forget it. And sisters always make sure you check these things out very thoroughly else you will end up in deep regret.

May Allah reward us all with the best Ameen

Assalamu alaikum,

May Allah ease the pressure for all Muslims and overlook our short comings especially for those living in polygamy. Ameen.

The way I see it, if you want to be certain your rights are fufilled as a second wife, then you need to make sure the first wife knows about the situation before marriage. If he won’t tell her before then why would you realalistically expect him to tell her after? Sure the first wife’s reaction will complicate things, but I think sisters should realize that marrying some one’s husband will cause the first wife a lot of pain and upheaval in her life. Both the second wife and husband need to face that. If it is really going to be too much fitna to handle, wouldn’t it be better to know that before the marriage takes place? Maybe that would prevent one or both women from ending up divorced especially considering possible children and pregnancies. And to be honest with you, if the brother is willing to marry behind his wife’s back, that is not the kind of man I would want to have as a huband. Yes, he need’s to “man up” and the sister wanting to marry a married man also needs to stand up to him and insist the wedding doesn’t take place until all parties know the man is getting married again. That is how you get your rights, by not allowing yourself to be a secret in the first place. It might also afford you some more respect.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah.

Asalaamu Alaikum,

I like your blog very much, I am sure it will be of benefit to all kinds of people. It is a serious problem, polygny, not in what it is, and its legality in Islam, but that it is SUCH bad dawah when it is abused.

My own family’s relationship with my kids’ father was ruined because of his practice. Although they are Christians, they did research into what polygny is, and realized that he is practicing it incorrectly. They actually have no problem with it in its essence, but his mistakes have turned my parents away from him, and by extension probably others in my family as well. SubhanAllah.

May Allah guide the men of the ummah, they should be stronger, more self-controlled, and marry in order to strengthen their families, not weaken or hurt them.

JazakAllah sister for this insightful advice. Men take woman’s emotionally charged threats, ultimatums too seriously. We are raised weak, in a society that perpetuates weakness among men.
Thalia my first wife tried all sorts of threats and ultimatums. My wife Fitri, threatened suicide if I abandoned my plans to marry her. The first time I heard it I was scared to death, after about the third time I heard it, even after we were married I firmly but politely remind her to stop talking like that under the threat of my ending the conversation. Thalia also made an attempt on her life, and threatened another one previous to that. To see her face down in water traumatized me at the time. In retrospect when I replay the scenario they were probably more attention getting then genuine but they were still very traumatizing. Over the course of the past two years I have become stronger as a man due to these circumstances. I have also realized that I have to step up to the plate as a husband because my wives will be weak in certain areas. I tend to look at the situation in the following analogy.
A toddler may know how to walk but it is in his right to be carried by his parents when he is tired. Therefore if he refuses to walk for whatever reason you can stop the show all the time and wait for him to come around, sometimes you got to carry him in order to make it to your destination in a timely manner. Bottom line is that sisters will give you a hard time, it is in their nature, and you are right sister as men we can’t let this get in the way of our obligations to be just.
I hope that my words are a source of guidance for me and others and I pray that they do not bear witness against me.
Ramadhan Mubarak

Asalaamu Alaikum

this is sort of funny for me to read, because most of the situations that I know of, its the first wife who gets opressed. he’s so engrossed in his New “stuff” that he won’t buy something for the house that his wife needs, he won’t show any affection towards wife # 1, but will kiss and hug wife # 2 in front of her. won’t sleep at her house for days and weeks, sometimes months at a time. Just because a first wife is older and doesn’t look 16 doesn’t mean she doesn’t have any needs from him. Allahu alim.

Yes, I know what you mean. Here, sometimes the men completely desert the first wife all together. However, when i got married i told him he had better never do such a thing, because a man that does that is not a man.

We are working on the fairness issue and it has gotten better. I have found out from ppl in the family recently that it is not my husband that doesn’t want to be fair, it is his other wife cause a lot of problems for him at the house that is keeping him away… she cries and shouts and i don’t know what else…. but in front of me she says i am her sister and all… but dont u want for your sister, what you want for yourself??

I think the problem with polygamy is not the practice itself but how it is done. I defiantly think the husbands should be fair to everyone. But i also feel the 2nd wives as well as husbands need to be sensitive to the first wife as she is going thru a very difficult emotional adjustment. Also 2nd wives need to respect and value themselves and not just settle for anything just to get married. If the first wife has a nice big house and car ect, but the husband has already spent years building this lifestyle and cannot maintain the exact same standard for another wife. If the 2nd wife accepts a small apartment knowing that the husband can only afford this, dont get mad later and complain. Women have to be realistic with what they are getting themselves into. And not blame the first wife for everything. Everyone involved has to be responsible for their own actions and decisions. As women yes we should want for our sister what we want for ourselves, however I wouldnt want my sister going through the pain and stress of polygamy. And as women we should respect ourselves so that our rights are heard, and not just give up our rights to be married. The husband will lose respect for you as well as others.

Yes, I do agree… I think that both wives need to be sensitive to each others feelings… If the first wife sees that the husband isnt treating the 2nd fair, she needs to encourage him to do so… and same goes with the 2nd wife.

those sisters urgue each other why not go backet to the history of islam and see each others love care. because we are not going to stay forever. ours is the hereafter. if all the sisters think and believe ther will be no prblem

Dear Sis Muslimafrom Alaska
the reasion why it is going on in the muslim family because they do nt I repeat They do not comply perfectly to the islaamee rules preceedure customs love and care. the the Sahaabaas in their time have complied it. Even now if all the muslims start the way of Praphet’s way or the Sahaabaas way, there will be no problem at. But the question is who is willing to do that now/

sometime it takes a while for men to get their things in order…. just be patient with him…

Yes this thing happen to me mention above … On our wedding day my husband first wife said that she is going to her parents home and will not come back… My husband after our nikah excuse me and left me for that night… I always been patience for all situations… That’s make me the one left behind…

Salam sisters, there is an aspect we are not looking at, a man does not wake up one day and says I want another wife! Allah did not make it mandatory to marry more than one wife but gives room for it, why? Because Allah the most merciful knows the human nature and weakness, first wives don’t go crying when you dont hold your home and the man goes looking for affection elsewhere, the love between a man and a woman is conditional otherwise there won’t be a clause in the Quran for divoce , every man wants a home without torns, and will look looking for a woman that will bring the best out from him.

This is a very intresing topic, by the way we all know jealously is nature from Allah by first wives to their second. and second wives always think that they are more loved to their husband than the first wife. Without thinkin or knowin the reason why he want to get married, That’s why is very imporant for the husband to address both wives the reason why he want to marr the second wife doesn’t mean he didn’t love the first no and should also tel the first wife of his reason of gettin married to a second wife,vesi versa, is Allah that knw best and may he guied us through Ameen!

I am a second wife and I have to say it is so hard i hidden away I was wid my husband from an early age abd we ended up getting married. I was a bit nieve at the time and excepted his first wife I do t know how I thort it would be I just new I loved thus person and wanted to be with him. Now nealy 4 years on mashallah I have a beautiful little boy but I’m always alone my husband sees me bout 12 hours a week and sometimes not even that me and my don are just a secrate to him and his whole family. He has 2 children with the first wife and it breaks my heart that my child misses out on so much. I really don’t know what to do anymore I’m so concussed the first wife feels as if she is his everytins I can’t call him when I want see him when I want but she gets everything I have kept away from his marriage and kept quite because I don’t want to hurt anyone and he says she will leave with his children I feel really Lonly and un married I’m just fitted in to his life when he can and when ever I smart to tell him how I feel all he says is I have excepted it and he does his best he can for me and if im not happy i can do what makes me Happy he is so unloving towards me and exoects me to be understanding bout eveything What am I ment to do I don’t know but I would not recommend anyone to be a secrate second wife because it really breaks your heart and when children are involved it hurts even more. The worst thing bout it all is iv been so nice bout his other wife I see his kids as my own and my inlaws that do t even know of me I send them what ever I can when ever I can in some way

the article is exactly whats is happening to me and my husband, i am also a second wife. Im being extremely patient becasue my husband has to make the first wife accept the situation without divorcing him. I do not want them to divorce and just want to have a simple and happy life.

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