This is post 4 by Sister H in the the polygyny series.
Unfortunately when a man marries a second wife, she comes under a lot of criticism and scrutiny. Friends and relatives of the first wife, as well as in-laws who like the first wife, tend to look at the second wife as a home wrecker This is unfair. There is no hierarchy of wives in Islaam, and she does not need to justify to anyone why she accepted a proposal to marry a married man. Western society does not necessarily see things that way though, so second wives tend to be heavily observed and judged for potential flaws, way more than first wives are when they marry and are the only wife. Therefore, many first wives are seen as victims and second wives as villains.
On the flip side, there are some second wives, as well as friends and relatives of second wives, who assume that the reason why a man is looking for another wife when he already has one, is that there is some flaw or deficiency in the first wife, and he is unhappy with her and his marriage to her. While this probably is true in a handful of situations, it is not the case the bulk of the time. Some second wives come into a marriage with an attitude that they are the prized possession whilst the first wife is being kept solely out of sympathy. This is also very unfair.
Many sisters, including myself at one point, want to marry as either third or fourth wives to avoid these stigmas. But why does it have to be this way? Why can society not realize that some women know that men are polygynous by nature, and are actually OK with it, and when they marry as the first wife, they don’t expect to be the only wife and support and encourage their husbands to multiply their family? Do we believe that it is only the Mormon women of TLC’s ‘Sister Wives’ who believe in and practice plural marriage in this way?