Big Faith

The show is called Big Love but polygyny really takes Big Faith

Second wives have emotions, too!

While I’m not a second wife, I have been in contact with many of them and I can assure you that second wives encounter their own share of adjustment issues, and indeed are sometimes completely blindsided by them.

Many people assume that since most second wives entered their marriages knowing it would be a polygynous situation, they are not entitled to their share of adjustment issues. This is not only unfair, it’s downright stupid.

Every marriage, polygynous or monogamous, involves an adjustment period and goes through different stages – some harmonious, some discordant. So second marriages should be allowed that room to struggle just like first marriages. The thing is, with second marriages this is happening in the “shadow” of the husband’s experiences with his first wife. So if his first wife was more acquiescent or more domestic or more strong-willed (whatever the case), the second wife will feel she’s being compared to that. And some unwise husbands even harp on such things to their wives (“The other one doesn’t talk back,” “The other one dresses up more,” “The other one [fill-in-the-blank]”). So there may be a sense for a second wife that she has to “live up to” or “excel” her co-wife.

A second wife is also often going through the ups and downs of early marriage at a time when her co-wife is far past all that. Early marriage involves power struggles, boundary setting, cooperation style finding, etc. These things don’t usually happen in complete bliss. They are struggles. They involve conflict and emotion. Can you imagine going through all that feeling that your co-wife has already ironed it all out and is more stable in her relationship with your husband? And what if your style is completely different from that of your co-wife? Some husbands deal better with such a situation than others. Some husbands expect to behave with their second wife exactly the same way they deal with their first, and this does not always work. So sometimes second wives have a double-hard time of it because they have to find their own way and disabuse their husbands of the idea that they are a clone at the same time!

In my opinion one of the worst things second wives have to deal with is the wagging tongues of others. People who are normally kind and generous and forgiving can grow forked tongues and horns when the subject is a second wife. Not only is she accused of being a home-wrecker, but any problems she has are considered deserved, so she suffers twice. This can make for a very lonely road.

So being a second wife can be as much of a struggle as being a first wife. Of course the methods of coming out healthy and victorious are the same: du’a, sabr, and leaning on Allah. If a polygynous family can agree to meet all their challenges with humility and trust in Allah it can be the most rewarding kind of family, because it offers so much room for spiritual growth, maturity, and the gaining of wisdom.


April 17, 2007 - Posted by | Coping with polygyny, faith, Islam, marriage, Muslim women, polygamy, polygyny, religion


  1. I must admit…I am surprised by the struggles that my co wife is having about her relationship with my husband. When they first got married…she called me and told me how much she loves me and the kids…and how happy she is to be a part of our family….(All this of course, after I found out)…..but then she started doing weird things….she sent me a douche….she sent my my husbands clothes with lipstick on it…etc etc. It gets worse, really.

    Now we are in two seperate countries….and my hubby presently owes me close to 8 mos….she could easily close her eyes and pretend that I don’t even exist. I never call hubby at home…only call him at work….I am NOT in her face. And I have opted not to talk to her, once she started doing these little irritating things. I haven’t talked to her in over a year!

    And I am one of the stupid ppl who have difficulty understanding what her problem is? He was very upfront with her, she has the majority of the time with him….what on EARTH could she be adjusting to? Maybe that’s something that Allah has not opened my eyes to yet….but many times I thought about this issue and I would say to myself…”I’d rather be the second wife, walking into this relationship eyes wide open….than the first wife, who struggles with the change and the adjustment…..I’d rather have had a choice..”

    Comment by safaseeknsolace | April 19, 2007 | Reply

  2. Oh, Safa! Allah yateeki’l afieh!!! It very well may be that she walked into this reltaionship thinking you were on your way out and she’d be the only wife, and the reality that that is not happening has riled her. Suphan Allah. Sometimes there just isn’t any understanding someone else’s motives or actions.

    Masha’Allah, it sounds like you are being very considerate and kind in not calling at her house, etc. Above and beyond the call of duty, even. May Allah reward you for your patience and your struggle to do the best thing for your dunya and your akhira for you and your daughters. May He guide you to it in sakeena, whichever path you end up taking, ameen.

    Any news on the baby? Are you still looking at a section? I hope all goes well, insha’Allah.

    Thanks for commenting! Please keep in touch.


    Comment by juwayriah | April 21, 2007 | Reply

  3. salaams

    i am a second wife (aka Queenie). being a second wife is much harder than most people imagine. my experience as a second wife wasnt a very happy one at all. yes, i knew that he ahd another family, but i didnt bargain for what took place

    constantly being compared to his perfetc first wife. its heart breaking for a woman. i had to listen to how much he loved her, how she made him laugh, how she did things a certain wat. one day, out of anger, i told him that if she was so perfect, then why did u marry me? he had no answer, obviously

    then the abuse from the firts wife. nasty messages, nasty remarks. she almost assaulted me while i was highly pregnant. thank God he was there to protect me.

    then the comments from members of the community. being labelled an immoral woman. a home breaker. a man snatcher. having people wish me ill. some people even stopped talking to me and hubby. we made many enemies.

    Comment by ummyusuf | April 23, 2007 | Reply

  4. Actually Juwayriyah…she didn’t come into the marriage thinking I was on my way out….she asked my hubby to marry her…knowing full well that we had a happy marriage….she had heard many things about me. My husband refused marriage to her, and I thought that was the end of it….but when he went back to Cda…she persued him until finally he agreed. Agreed….but again,….didn’t tell me. So I don’t think that was the issue.

    I’ve been patient with the whole thing, and from reading Queenies’ comment…I think I understand where her insecurities must come from. I remember my husband telling me that one time she got upset and told him….”NOT EVERYTHING IS SAFA, U KNOW!” To which he was surprised. So maybe that’s what he did….talked about his kids, talked about our life, our way of eating, our way of enjoying ourselves…us, us and more of us. It’s what we’ve both known since I was 18 yrs old.

    Allah knows where things are headed…..but the final wave has been a long time in coming. I’m so happy you found your way here, Queenie….I’m sure ur reading and benifitting from the wonderful posts here. I hope you are still taking care of YOU!

    At my DR’s appt yesterday….she sees a possibility of an induced labour. I have to watch my sugars, and do a lot of exercise this week……Allah knows. Next Sunday will be my final DR’s visit, insha Allah!

    Comment by safaseeknsolace | April 23, 2007 | Reply

  5. AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    Asiya, I’m sorry you had to suffer on so many levels. Suphan Allah. It goes to show that it is not the place of anyone to assume they know the dynamics of a relationship just because they know which “number” wife someone is.

    Safa, I’ll be making big time du’a for your labor and birth! Are you still cleaning up the aftermath of the sandstorm??



    Comment by juwayriah | April 24, 2007 | Reply

  6. Wa alaykumus salaam….

    What a great way to put it! Yes…still cleaning up….and got one HUGE broom to prove it!! May Allah give all muslims who are struggling, his promise of ease….ameen!

    Comment by safaseeknsolace | April 24, 2007 | Reply

  7. Assalam o alaikum,
    i’m new here and glad to have ppl around who can understand this side of life….although my dad has two families and i’m from the second one,ppl just come up to me and tell me what would you go through if your husband were to do the same to you…like get another wife…

    i ahve a friend who’s dad got married again after staying married to her mom for 35 years… so when i met the second wife my friend got really upset and told me to chose a side…the second wife…. or my friend and her family?

    its stupid because there is no side apart from the side of Allah… if He is All-wise and All-knowing and He loves us more than 70 moms than why would He allow men to get married again so that we can go through pain as women… where is our faith in Him, Where is Our trust in Him…. what would a woman do if after living in a palace and all world class facilities and money she has to leave all that and start living in a shack built over the gutter line with no gas or electricity.. would she not say “its not fair, Im not used to this.., my life is ruined, why did Allah have to be like this…” well even then like Hazrat Ayub A.S, a good Muslim woman should say Thank you Allah for my eyes and nose etc… and even if she becomes disabled she can say thank you Allah for taking away my eyes so i’m prevented from seeing things that give me gunnah…
    i know we’re not angels but in the real world we can strive to be like one … shouldnt we??? if we lose our husband after 35 years or he goes crazy after 35 years then even we have to be thankful, for Allah does the best for us…. always…..always…..always

    my dear sisters… no matter what… always remember allah is greater and more powerful than any one or any body

    some one once said to me…

    if God takes you to the edge of a cliff, he’ll either catch you or he’ll teach you to fly…

    please lt me know your point of view…
    prove to me from the quran and sunnah where getting a second wife(not talking about the equality issue-just the act itself) is a sin…

    love to all

    Comment by fatimahagha | May 12, 2008 | Reply

    • thank you uhktee, as a first wife you have taught me something. Alhamdullilah, i am saddened that we did not view it as beautiful as you have placed. i think we are caught up in the un-islamic behavior shown to us by other uhktees. in the quraan it teaches that we should want for the next muslim what we would desire for ourselves but how do we do that when someone only wants to cause you pain?
      we cant generalize and say all second wives are bad, insha allah someone has had a better experience but we can only speak from what we know.

      some first wives are terrible and that needs to change but i also urge the second ones to know that there is a fine line and once you cross, Allah will deal with you for we wont accommodate you.

      Comment by uhktisharee | April 20, 2010 | Reply

  8. as salaamu alaykum,
    ALhamdulillah, I am glad you stated this. Ia m a second wife, and sometimes it is asked, why are you sad? angry? crying? Its especially hard when you have to come into a situation, and the first wife may treat you like inferior or like you have to try to fill her shoes.

    Sometimes you are looked at as not being valid, especially if a first wife feels she is all that and more, ma’sha Allah its a test from Allah, and its trying at times, but Alhamdulillah I love my family I have, and wouldn’t trade them for the world in’sha Allah.

    check out my blog you can add me to your links if you like in’sha Allah

    Comment by ummfawlaana | June 20, 2008 | Reply

  9. AsSalaamu Alaikum, Sr. Umm Fawlaana,

    I will add you to my links! I cannot visit your blog, though, because blogspot it is memnu’a in Syria – blocked. It’s very sad and frustrating. Maybe all you blogspotters could import your blogs to wordpress and run dupiclates so we Syrian-bound people can read them.

    Thanks for your comments!


    Comment by juwayriah | June 23, 2008 | Reply

  10. Salaamun ‘alaykun

    What would make a sane, healthy and beautiful woman who isn’t lacking anything marry a married man?

    I mean I could understand if a woman was ugly, getting old, widowed, divorced with kids and things of this nature, but a normal healthy beautiful woman without any lackings… WHY??

    Why would you want to hurt an entire family? Why? Especially when there are so many single brothers.

    I must say, even though I know it’s islamically wrong, my feelings do control me in this area and as such I don’t feel you second/third/fourth wives deserve any sympathy for the emotional pain you go through… You caused an entire family immense pain and now you’re getting it back… You brought upon yourselves… When you cry, just remember the tears from the innocent young kids from the first wife you caused…

    As I said I know I don’t have sharee’ah on my side as far as the above stated goes and I wouldn’t want for second wives to be mistreated, but as far as emotional pain goes, you get what you dish out… I mean how would you feel if your husband took third and forth wives on you… In fact I imagine myself in such a situation (God forbid) and I think, I’d make him take a third and fourth wife, so the second could feel what I felt and then I’d ask for a divorce…

    Comment by gennemrejse | October 21, 2008 | Reply

    • Salaam alaykum

      I am a new Muslim and was just informed about this second wife business… And now I found out the man I plan to marry in a few months has been asked by his family to marry a second woman.
      I don’t understand why he needs a second wife, I really don’t. We have the most beautiful relationship, you know… the kind where you finish each others sentences and we have the same ideas and goals. We plan to have lots of children and we are madly in love…
      I don’t think his family is crazy about him marrying an American so they want him to marry someone from his country too.
      I know that I should like this idea and welcome her with open arms but I am finding it to be very difficult…
      I’m not sure that he even wants to go through with this but he thinks he has to since his family is so persistent.
      I want to be good and do this for the sake of Allah but it just doesn’t feel like it is the right time…
      I wouldn’t mind having a co-wife at some point but right now I just don’t think it is appropriate, plus I don’t see a valid reason.
      If anyone has any advice or could help me to understand this I would greatly appreciate it.

      Comment by kissessaml | July 4, 2010 | Reply

  11. okay i am sorry if i come across ignorant but i am hurt and i hope someone can shed light! like the first uhktee i accomidated my husbands wife! but then she started telling lies about me and saying that i was having an affair and then said that my husbands daughter was not his, then she convinced him that i was stalking her. and before i knew it i was the evil one! this all happened while i was pregnant! he didnt tell me about her i found out, and salt to the wound she deliberately got pregnant and he neglected to tell me! while adjusting to that she wants me to be nice… she gossips about me and sends herself terrible messages. how can she be the one having a tough time… i dont wish her harm… i love her for the sake of Allah but more than that, i am sorry cant do that.

    Comment by uhktisharee | April 20, 2010 | Reply

  12. Asalamu Alaikum,\\Inshallah Allah will reward you for all the good you do. think about the Akhira!! that’s what I keep telling myself………… as a second wife for the past two years and my co wife will not exept this still and is abusing me and I am sick of the situation and worried about the reaction of my sweet baby when he grows up……..
    and I keep reminding myself that Allah is the best of planners and all will be good…

    Comment by safiislam | July 24, 2010 | Reply

  13. Sallam.

    I am a second wife too and was so relieved to read and find out about this blog. I must admit it was too exhausting to always be in between two rubbing stones. Our situaltion has always been complicated right from the husband’s proposal. I have always believed that a complete marriage will never be broken by any element. Whether stress, monetary problems, peer pressures it should always stand the test of time. But what is really the painful fact here is that we second wives completes the missing piece in our husband’s life and yet we are always hated. We are hated for filling the missing piece in their life, let it be their fantasies, or just by simply be a possession. We are thought of as a home wrecker but some people dont understand that we sometimes complete the family. First wives always addresses us as a bad woman(and they have unlimited bad words for us) but FOR ONCE, just once they never thought what they failed to do to make their husband feel complete and satisfied with them. They look at us as a curse, but they always forget the one simple truth about life…WE GET WHAT WE DESERVE.

    Comment by jannah01 | August 29, 2010 | Reply

  14. Salam, I actually had a question about being a second wife…I know that the first wife gets rewarded, but I was wondering about the second wife? Does she get rewarded since she is sacrificing and struggling just as much as the first?

    Comment by ghadier | November 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Not sure, but I think all of our trials are rewarded. In any case, marriage is half the religion, right?

      Comment by theunexpectedwife | November 22, 2010 | Reply

  15. Asalaamu alaikum to all. Alhamdulillah, I am happy to have found this blog. I have only read this page so far, but it has been a comfort to share this experience with my sisters. Jazakum Allah khair to the hosts and commenters.
    I am the daughter of a second wife, now also a second wife to a man who is the son of a second wife! I really married my husband for his religion, which I saw to be masha’Allah very sincere. After nearly 6 years, I think we have all found our places and are living harmoniously in separate homes in the same city. My sister and I have never had any ugliness. She is very independent and really seems much happier today compared with how I found her. The time I spend with my husband, she is able to do other things she enjoys with more freedom. In my free time, I spend time with my family and friends. I think we’re just lucky, because I know it can be more difficult sometimes. I expect there may be a 3rd wife someday soon, because my husband hasn’t yet married a lady from his family. Insha’Allah, I hope it continues to be harmonious if we grow!
    I know it’s not for everyone, but if we find ourselves in the situation, may Allah make it easy for us and use it as means to increase us, Ameen!

    Comment by alqala | December 25, 2010 | Reply

  16. Assalamu’alaykum all,
    I am glad i found this blog,i am now contemplating of being the second wife and i need support and advise from the sisters here. I have read all of the comments here and thankfull that i am not alone. I love this man, he is the nicest person and he has been married happily for 17 years with 3 gorgeous kids. We are from Indonesia and polygamy is quite rare. I am planning to propose him by his wife, because i want his wife to know about this, and i respect her so much. I think, when a man remarried without telling his first wife, it is most discouraging and dissapointing for any woman. Therefore, in the next few months i am preparing myself, mentally, physically, emotionally, to persuade his first wife to accept me.

    Comment by chicken little | May 21, 2012 | Reply

  17. Asalam aleykm i am glad i got this i am a young muslim lady in love with a very old guy he really really loves me soooo much n wants to marry me as a second wife,,,honestly am really scared i dont know what to do,,first he is really old like at his early fiftys but i love him,,secondly am getting a proposal as a first wife where i most probably will not be in a happy marriage,,,what do i do?????advice me dear muslim sisters

    Comment by muniiz52 | June 19, 2012 | Reply

  18. Assalamualaykum to my dear sisters in islam.. Im truly madly deeply inlove with this guy.. he is already engaged.. by 2015 maybe they will get married with his fiance.. I am his bestfriend/girlfriend.. Im really frustated right now.. He tells me he loves me, and he loves her too.. I dont want to ruin their future marriage.. :(( it hurts a lot.. We are muslims.. i know its forbidden to have haram relationships.. Its a big shame 😦 I cry everytime i think about this.. he can never be mine.. although we were planning to get married in the future but i think its not serious. ya Allah help me with this.. 😦 dear sisters, any advice???

    Comment by hazzra20 | August 13, 2012 | Reply

  19. May Allah bless you sisters! And so do I.. I wonder how would it be when the person I love would take me as a second wife. I love him and I am willing to take all the struggles you have been through. However, I pray always that Allah will make it easy for me, for him… Inshallah, his wife, his family, and society will be able to accept me… But then, we also have struggle between us… May Allah bless us all…

    Comment by Arnel Dee Cabunag | September 22, 2012 | Reply

  20. To the sisters seeking advice on their haram relationship, Fear Allah. What if qiyaamah came tomorrow? What answer do you have for Allah to justify your haram relationship? None will suffice you that day so Fear Allah and Obey Him for He is your only helper that day.

    And the sisters who are first, second, third or fourth wives, Fear Allah regarding your relationship with your husband. Just worry about that and take care of that. Don’t let any of the wives play a role in effecting your relationship. Even is hubster is messed up, you just worry about your side and fulfilling his rights because that’s what Allah will ask you about.

    And please, don’t let the kuffar brainwash our minds and personalities. Our idealogy should conform with the sharee’a no matter how jealous a person you are and how emotional. Fear Allah as He should be feared and hope for His reward.

    There is nothing more that you need than Jannah so just work towards that.

    Wallah, I am reminding myself by writing all of this as I had a big and loud fight with my husband last night. May Allah forgive us our sins and surround us with righteous friends who will help us to please Him.

    Comment by Umm Osama | January 26, 2013 | Reply

  21. Salaam alaikum,

    I was happily married to my husband for 4 years. About 1 or 2 weeks before my university ended he came to me asking if he could do a mutah with another women as she was interested in learning about islam. I really appreciated that he asked me and trusted my husband a lot but recommended that he ask the advice of his family before doing the mutah. My husband ensured me that it was not due to any problems in our relationship and that although it could potentially lead to mutah it would only do so if we all got along and that he would tell his and my parents when the time was right. I felt reassured by my husband and agreed to the mutah after my exams however the second wife was apparently being harrassed where she was residing and therefore my husband brought forward the mutah and moved her into our house with my consent. I tried to accept her into my home but with her being of a different culture it was difficult. I often found that I would say things to her and she would interpret them wrong and then complain to my husband. She practically rearranged and tidied everything in the house to the way she liked it as if to show off to my husband and when I told her that she doesnt have to clean and that I would do it myself I got told that she’s a guest and I am not treating her like one. Anything she said to me I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she didnt mean anything by it till much later on when I started to realise that while I thought she was being nice to me perhaps it was all an act and these little comments all started to add up.

    She started to complain to my husband that I was torturing her and my husband started to dislike me for this reason. In addition she would always have some excuse or another to stop my husband coming to bed at night and I started to feel lonely and depressed. On top of this my parents and my husbands parents had found out about the situation and were not happy at all and forbid my husband to do a nikah with this women. Things she was saying to me just didnt add up so I had a look through my husbands phone once and then felt bad and admitted to him. Slowly I felt less and less loved with both my parents and husband disliking me. I was such an emotional wreck that I would just cry and cry all the time and even felt suicidal to the extent where I told my husband I would kill myself a couple of times. I also went to my husbands family to try and help me and they were so good to me but my husband hated me more for this.

    I just didnt know what to do and my husband seemed to hate me for things I felt I didn’t even do with bad intent. This made me angry and upset and I would cry and shout. However she used to shout and complaint to him also. She used to really wind me up and shout and swear at me but it was like my husband never beleived me and when he was there he never stood up for me and this would make me more and more depressed. Then one day my husband came home and said to me he just doesnt trust me or love me anymore and wants a divorce and this time it was for real. I feel really guilty that I drove my husband away but I was so depressed I just wasnt thinkking straight. I cant help thinking that how could she continue and go through with nikah knowing what she was doing to my relationship with my husband and my husbands relationship with his and my family.I really wonder whether he’s under some sort of black magic, or she’s controlling him, whether this was her plan all along, whether my husband will realise after some time that he doesnt love her?

    Comment by Abdul Hadi Hakeem | September 8, 2014 | Reply

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