Through our Counseling Q & A series, we published last week a problemfrom our counseling service database about a lady, who is suffering from depression after knowing that her husband is planning to have a second wife.
This is not an easy matter to deal with, and I understand your frustration with your husband and intention to keep your family together. I think it is important for you to understand and contemplate the following:
“The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manners and kindest to his wife.” (Abu Dawud-Bukhari)
There is the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. Some men quote the verses of the Quran that discuss polygamy and claim justification that they do not need to consult their wives or get permission to marry another sister. This may be true when it comes to the letter of the law and the madhabs (school of thought) of fiqh(Islamic Jurisprudence). Technically speaking, a man can marry another woman, but there are certain conditions and principles that must be honored in the process.
When it comes to the spirit of the law and other virtues that Islam as a whole guides us towards, the letter of the law – the surface – may not always seem just and honorable. For instance, marrying another woman behind your wife’s back is dishonest and disrespectful. It also lacks compassion due to the hurt it will cause to the current wife. Hence, it is important not to claim justification solely through the letter of law, but one must examine the intentions and methodologies within the spirit of the law as well. And God knows best.
In your case, you mentioned that your husband was seeing this individual before they decided to get married. This potential second marriage has already been starting off on the wrong foot and will likely fail if the relationship began unlawfully. The blessings of such a marriage may not follow due to it being a marriage of lust. And God knows best.
Sister, you must consider your attitude around this matter and remember that you are not necessarily only “the second best wife.” Do not put the full blame on yourself. Both you and your husband have a part in all of this. I do not know exactly why he is seeing this other woman, but the way in which you have described him doing so shows that he needs to take responsibility for his actions as well. The further proof of this is the fact that his own family disagrees with this arrangement.
Lastly, men, who can’t handle a first marriage, will likely fail in another one, especially if they are happening at the same time. The human psyche sometimes thinks that avoiding struggles and escaping into another reality/experience (in this case a marriage) will somehow magically “fix everything.” Maybe, your husband will treat you better and spend time with you as he claims, maybe he will not, and maybe this new sister will not tolerate you and your family.
I believe a polygamous model is possible, but it requires a lot of honesty, openness and communication to keep
a harmonious flow amongst its members. If your situation is starting on the type of footing you described, it will be risky.
You should research and reflect on what can be improved in your marriage around communication, respect, and sexuality. Try to understand your husband and yourself in a deeper way. Why does he want to get married to another sister at this time? When a person seeks another relationship, they are either escaping something or not getting their needs met. The two of you should definitely seek couples counseling whether he marries the other sister or not.
God bless you and yours on your journey sister, Amin.