Heart to heart
When there are bad feelings between believers, the remedy Sh. Hamza Yusuf shares in his course on Purification of the Heart is to do kind things for the other person or to give him or her a gift. This can cause their heart to incline toward you, which in turn helps your heart to incline toward them. We should do this for the sake of Allah, as an act of ibadah, and insha’Allah it will ease our relations as well as.
Here are some kind acts that a sister can do for her co-wife that can improve, solidify or beautify the relationship between the wives:
Offer to take care of her children while she does her grocery shopping or other errands.
Send a baked treat or some of your meal along with your husband when he goes to her house.
Attend her children’s recitals, plays, soccer games or other activities.
Speak well of her to others.
Send her a little card or note in the mail or email once in awhile.
Have your children make little artworks and, if they’re old enough, sign them as gifts for her on ‘Eid or just anytime.
Ask for her advice or suggestions in an area where she is particularly skilled, such as cooking or sewing or teaching or filling out tax papers.
Take a road trip or a day trip together, either with just you two, with you two and the kids, or ask your hubby if he’d consider taking you all somewhere special for a weekend.
Invite her kids with you when you’re taking your own children somewhere fun.
Pick one day a month to be “kid’s night” and watch her other kids while she spends time with one child alone. She can do the same for you once a month, so that all of your kids get at least semi-regular time to have fun alone with mom. Sometimes we also take out one of the other’s children, especially the older girls.
My cw loves baklava. If I go somewhere where they have it I always try to bring her back some.
Stand up for her if you hear others speaking about her. Sometimes people will “confide” (read: gossip) things about your cw to you. Don’t ever, ever tolerate this. She won’t know you did this but suphan Allah, don’t let others badmouth her – or your husband for that matter.
If you have small children you can take turns going on dates with the hubby. You watch her kids while they go out, she watches yours while you and he go out. Sometimes our husband takes my cw and me out to eat or to a movie together. If this doesn’t make you uncomfortable, try it! It’s great fun, allows for lighthearted communication time and it is hilarious to watch all the people peeking at you, wondering if you’re both married to him.
When my cw orders things from online she sometimes orders a scarf or a second of whatever she’s ordering for me.
If your cw’s kids are school-age and they are selling things as fundraisers for school, always try to order from them if you can.
It’s really cool when both cw’s children grow up together as siblings. We have “camp outs” sometimes where all the small kids get to crash at one of our houses on the living room floor and sleep in sleeping bags. They love this and sometimes drive us crazy begging for camp outs!
Be as concerned about your husband’s fairness to her as you are about your husband’s fairness to you.
If a special night like her anniversary falls on your night, offer to switch with her (be sure to check with your hubby first).
Always, always, always make du’a for her, your husband, both your marriages and all your kids.
Sometimes neither these tactics nor anything else will seem to soften a cw’s heart. If they don’t, that’s OK. Just keep doing them – at least the ones you can. Sometimes all you can do is be concerned with fairness to her and make du’a. If that’s all you can do, do it. If you can do more without upsetting her or your husband, do more. Just be kind to her as an act of ibadah and Allah will bless you in ways you can’t even fathom. It may not come as a direct response to your kindness – you may never break through her wall of resistance. But Allah never suffers the reward of the righteous to be lost.
“…never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: Ye are members, one of another: Those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, or fought or been slain,- verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath;- A reward from the presence of Allah, and from His presence is the best of rewards.” (Al Imran, 195)