The third post in a guest series by Sister H
Changes which Polygyny brings to your Marriage
One of the most difficult things for first wives to adjust to is the change in the dynamic of their relationship with their husband. When you were the only wife, the 2 of you were best friends who kept no secrets from each other. You told each other everything and did everything together. Now half (or two thirds, or three quarters) of his life will be spent in activities which will be kept secret from you while he honours and respects the privacy of his other wives and their families. It can feel like quite the blow to keep being open with him about everything, and to continue to have him in the know-all about you, whilst he hides so much from you (as he should).
But there are other issues which affect first wives in the west, which many don’t think about until they arise. As we all know, men have to be just and fair amongst their wives. Some situations are clear cut, whilst others are not.
If a man is legally married to a first wife, and he benefits from income tax reductions or refunds, or she benefits from his health insurance, due to that legal marriage, but the other wives don’t, then is that fair? Does that mean that in order for it to be fair that he should legally divorce the first wife, and have each wife file her income taxes as though she is single?
In Islaam a man has to maintain his wives. Should he give each household the exact same amount of money, or should what he gives be based on the number of children within the household? If the latter, then would it matter if some of the children are his step-children and not his bioligical children? If a man put each household on a different budget, but the first wife was used to having access to his bank account and all the info associated with it, then should he now deny access to the first wife, especially if he is not yet prepared to allow the other wives to have access to the same info? Would it be unfair of him to leave the first wife with access but not give the same to the others?
What about more personal matters such as his e-mail addresses and social media accounts? If a first wife has all of the passwords and he allows her to access it, but then more wives come in, should he give them all access or cut off the access of the first?
Whether you wanted to be in polygyny or not, if your husband changed the way in which he dealt with you as a first wife in these and other matters, how would you feel and deal with it all?
Also, how would you react if you found out that your husband allows your co-wives to do things which he does not allow you to do? For eg. he refuses to allow you to drive, however other wives have cars and drive themselves around. He insists that you be a stay at home wife and mother, but other wives are allowed to work outside of the home and hire help to look after their children? Or what about if he enforces a particular dress code on you, but not on the others? While it is none of your business how any man runs any of his homes with any of his wives, would you really be able to just shrug things like this off or would they bother you? How would you deal with them if they were issues to you?