Polygyny is not selfish nor is it settling

‘You would be settling, how could you be open to the idea of sharing a man with anyone else? Would you not rather open your heart to someone who is not attached or won’t want to attach himself to another? Would you not rather allow yourself to experience real love with one who can give it, with one who is so deeply in love with you that he doesn’t need another?’

Shortly before that, ‘Why would you open your heart to the idea of plural marriage, are you that desperate to hold onto someone? Is that not just being selfish of you or him? ’

I paid in financial terms for that judgement, by my therapist. I have no idea if she was pushing buttons to get me to engage or to think but at that point in time, I was not in the mood to have to deal with self-righteous judgement.

Her statements make less sense when I reflect on the fact that the most intelligent women I know (both street and book smart) are single or in polygynous relationships.

I know who I am, what I need and what I can offer. I know my worth. A man not able to step up, who indulges in offering the bare minimum, one I need to beg, manipulate or coerce to be with me, share his feelings or is unsure is not for me. I used to think it would take courage to step up for someone like me, but that’s not it. It takes truth, honesty and the right guy.

But her comments forced me to look inward and ask myself why had I become so accepting of the idea.

I know I want to be with someone where there is an eternal level kind of love, loving someone deeply and being in love with them and vice-versa, a love that is functional, practical and easy even when it’s not. A love that has Allah/ God at the centre of it all. One can only truly love someone properly if he does it with God at the heart of it all.

I want to be with someone that WANTS to be with me, to protect me, make me feel safe in every way possible. I want to be with someone that WANTS to fulfil my rights and take care of my needs, hear about them, find solutions to problems and challenges, compromise and work together, and WANTS to have the tough conversations, who is able to tell me exactly what he wants, and needs and what he doesn’t want.

I am not talking movie-level romance. I am referring to a deeply spiritual bond. I believe in soulmates because my religion has taught me to. I believe in doing the work, making an effort, forgiveness and conflict resolution and meeting each other from a place of compromise and reality.

Yes, I want the love, the best of friends relationship, being the priority often enough that it makes sense. Ultimately marriage is very much about compatibility and deep companionship. A health situation just emphasised this more so now.

My needs are different. I am simply not able to engage with someone when my needs are not being met or they are simply ignored. I cannot even tap into the level of intimacy physically or otherwise if I am not getting what I need. I am not a white picket fence, 2.2 kids, cat/dog and hamster, big house and fancy car kind of woman. Let me have my small apartment/tiny house, a decent car and less is more material possessions and I am happy.

Is that selfish? Yes! Every relationship is selfish in some way or form. Except we don't call it that. Yet, people get together because they need companionship, they have emotional needs, physical needs, financial needs, spiritual needs and even just their ego to be satisfied. Relationships, healthy ones anyway, would not develop if our needs aren’t being catered for.

A one-sided relationship is not a relationship.

But every single meaningful relationship is a give and take. Am I desperate for it? NO! I have a really full life without anyone in the picture.

I want someone that is genuinely himself with me and honest. So how then can I reject someone who says that this is who he is, that he wants to love someone else (still loving me), that he wants to take care of someone else, that he has needs/wants that I am unable or unwilling to to to fulfil?

Why should I put myself in a position where he would lie to me, where we would have to live a lie.

We keep seeing the image on social media that serves as a warning, “If God wants two hearts to meet, he will move them both, not just one.” I get this as I am sure that you do. But here’s the flip side. If God has turned my heart and my significant others to be united and in the same token he has done the same for my husband and another woman how can I question it? How can I reject it? The Almighty knows what I don’t. In the same token I would hope and pray that if I was destined to be the second wife, the first would open her heart to me and get to know my truth before shutting that door. I would open my heart to that reality because my creator has put me in that place where my significant other has another. That if it helps my faith, then it is a blessing for me too.

What I do know is that it would be selfish of me to deprive a man of his needs. I can’t see me having kids of my own. I am willing to welcome someone else's kids with open arms, so how then can I deprive someone I deeply love of having that if it's what he wants.

It would be selfish of me to weaponize the idea of kids, or his actual kids, our relationship, his relationship with my family (or vice-versa), his/ my career or anything else that is important to him, me or us to get him to do things my way. This is supposed to be a partnership. Not a dictatorship. If I need to resort to manipulation, or he does the relationship is destined to fail to start off with.

I thrive because of my independence. While I have my moments of domestic brilliance I am not domesticated, I am not driven by extended family and I function in my own space. I am curious by nature and I have interests and hobbies that extend beyond the workspace. I love learning new things, trying new things and am self-taught in points of interest and doing courses that have little to do with my actual work. Add to that I love working, I need to work and I love being able to look after myself.

I learned a long time ago that being independent is a blessing for me, to not be dependent on anyone (more often than not there are strings attached, and it keeps you in places you are better off leaving- I am cynical). I like my space and I need my alone time. God knows me best. He has created me in a way that means I must utilise my intellect and my ability to connect with people as I pursue my own path.

It would be selfish of me to deprive my partner of the additional support and attention he needs that I cannot give. It would be selfish of me to expect this man, to cut off pieces of himself, to pretend certain needs don't exist just because he truly loves me and our relationship. He will resent me someday for that. He will lose himself because of that. I want to be with a fully functional healthy man. Not a fraction of one. I would resent him for this. It would be stupid of me to give up a special relationship that caters to my needs and leaves me fulfilled, inspired, challenged and whole because of that.

There are many cynical minds about the concept of polygyny and many who don't practice it correctly. There are others who would choose to refute it and they have their reasons in the same way that I have my belief in it. I have seen people make it work in the most beautiful ways. I heard of those wives who sought the second wife for their husbands. We see it practised in so many different cultures in different ways. We see it in the hidden/ informal space with no rights relationships that countless men and women from the ‘superior western civilisations’ have. To deny it as many choose to, does not mean it doesn't happen. It is everywhere around us. Why should I not practice it in a healthy open way?

The therapist's words came to mind. I would be settling she said. I would be sharing she said.

The things I want as listed above are the basic human needs that people over centuries have needed. It doesn't matter if I want them with a guy who chooses polygyny or one that needs monogamy.

I don't like the idea that the therapist tried to enforce. I don't consider being with a man who wants co-wives sharing. This reduces these relationships to objects, pastimes and distractions. A man is no more an object than women are.

I can say with conviction that as I approach my forties I have yet to meet a man who wants two, three or four wives simply to feed his ego or for sexual gratification. The reasons they get involved in other relationships are far more intricate and complex ranging from change of needs, wanting kids, wives needing space, wanting to take care of families and uniting families (yes for real).

The first thing for me is that a man choosing to marry co-wives is that this step has nothing to do with me, it is not a deficit within me. It is important to note that my relationship with this man is completely independent of his relationship with another wife. It would be only my ego and pride that would convince me otherwise. I am confident enough in myself to know this and recognise it for what it is. I don’t need to be fighting another woman for what is his choice for one and for what God has intended for him and her as more important. It takes a massive amount of courage from both men and women to accept this reality to start with, to open their hearts and mind to it.

It is not a spur of the moment decision. I really wish that the Muslim leaders would talk more on this subject because it would be so helpful to the many men and women who wish to practise it, especially the leaders who are practising themselves. We don’t need to know the intricate and intimate details of their marriages at all. But their insights help.

If one is with a man that is able to fulfil my needs within reason and do the same for another woman how would that be settling? If I have a deep meaningful friendship with this man and he is able to do the same with another woman how is that settling?

It doesn't matter if I am the only one or if there is another, but it would be settling if I never felt emotionally safe. It would be settling if I chose a man in any situation for the sake of saying I have someone. It would be settling if I was with someone I knew was with me for all the wrong reasons, someone who would rather be someplace else altogether, someone who was with me because he felt he HAD to be there (pure obligation) rather than WANTING to be there. The thing with being an obligation is that you never really get the best of that person. I wrote about how I never wanted to be settled for in the past. This remains true today.

I read Maggie Q.Collins article Shattered Illusions about the Reality of Married Life with interest and my heart broke for her, for people in her situation and even people like me. I have seen similar relationships up close. I have seen the resentment, heard the passive-aggressive comments which sometimes become subtle emotional, mental and even spiritual manipulation and/or abuse, and the yes even the impact on the kids. Some kids appreciate that sacrifice, others not so much. That reality would not work for me, maybe because I have seen so much of it. Perhaps it’s easier to say because I don’t have kids.

I don’t need a man by my side every single day. I don't even need to be living in the same street, same city or even the same country if I am perfectly honest. The different country does pose some challenges that would be discussed with me and him.

If I am with a man who wants kids or has kids, my feeling is that he should be staying with them on a full-time basis. Yes, we would get our nights and days together and it won’t be an equal split but I am okay with that. Why I hear you ask? Because his kids need him far more than I do. His kids will treasure those moments far more than me or his other wife would. Obviously, if there are no kids involved then the dynamics do change a bit and I expect more time and effort. This is subject to specific situations and expectations. For instance, a terminally ill wife would need more attention than I would.

It took A LOT of introspection and getting past my ego to get to this. I would want to see this guy and spend time with him and I expect him to take the time to do the things the various things that we do as human beings to pass time, bond or carry out the rituals of life, but I expect him to do the same with his other wife. It will not be the conventional arrangement for me.

I would want him to show up to the really important family functions/ events on my side but those are few and far between. I barely go to any myself as it is. I would like to be invited to his family events once in a while, but I know that a woman who is more family orientated would be suited to go to the majority of them.

I would like to be treated as special and important but my definition is different from another. I don't need jewellery, heck I don't even expect a wedding ring or even a wedding- nikah it is for me please in any situation- plant me a tree somewhere. I don’t do birthdays- those come from paganism rituals as do the rituals such as the burning of candles. Besides, I have no control over my lifespan so why celebrate it as if I have contributed to it. Celebrate the milestones that mean something, that came with sacrifice and effort and yes with divine guidance and blessings too, like graduation, or publishing my first article or winning my scholarship, the stuff I have earned.

I don’t need anniversaries to be celebrated when most often they too are rituals that don’t necessarily reflect the true situations within. What’s the point of celebrating an anniversary at a job that one despises or a marriage/ friendship that is toxic, falling apart or is simply existing? Rather focus on the real stuff, celebrate the good days, find days to make each other feel important and special randomly. Doesn’t that count for more? But I digress. This is me, yet another woman may want the Hallmark moments.

No, I don't need to be liked or even understood by his family, but I would like respect. Yes, I believe that he needs to make time for himself. He MUST take time for himself. This is all really top of the line stuff and I imagine that in any healthy relationship scenario these needs would evolve and be discussed every so often so that we know we are on the same page, what we need to work on and where we are doing really well.

I believe it is truly possible to cater to more than one women’s needs and neither would be settling. It is very possible that a man can fulfil the rights of me and another with ease when doing so with the right intentions. I am convinced that the man I marry would be my real partner, the compatibility would be there and important. He would be a man that is worthy and capable in mind, in heart, in wisdom and honour. I have seen the beauty of this kind of relationship more often than I have seen the opposite in recent times. Thank you, Covid for your hidden blessings.

Why am I so comfortable with this?

Simple. Because the world is not designed for the way we have been told it has to be by the Western Media. Because feelings and emotions, needs and wants are complex and yet so very simple. Because we can’t help who we fall in love with sometimes. If God has opened this man’s heart to the possibility of it and has opened the doors for him to fulfil those duties, who am I to argue with Allah’s will? How do I know this is meant for the good of us all? Because even in the most challenging of circumstances, faith has to reside in the heart and ease and comfort is found in the most amazing ways. I have experienced it enough to know this to be true.

I believe it’s possible to get past our egos and be civil to each other at least and actually get along and help each other with life at best.

I believe it’s possible to make this kind of marriage work.

I believe that even with the inevitable conflicts if we are all able to engage in open honest communication, we are able to discuss our fears and challenges if we plan and comprise everything is possible. It is ego and pride that hold us back and perpetuate problems creating toxic environments.

A wise friend told me that if I simply choose to marry someone purely for my ego, I will get hurt and will hurt him. He pointed out that if I didn't want my husband to marry another woman or if I chose to reject the option of being a co-wife for the sake of pride, it is I that would lose.

If I was concerned about what people would say, if I was concerned that suddenly his money was being shared and I felt that I was being deprived unjustifiably it is me that would be the loser. Giving up on someone who is that special for the sake of pride and materialism would harm me. I would be depriving another of their intended rizq (sustenance/blessings/provisions) and mine too. He is one who has proven his character many times over.

He said that to deprive another of something that fulfils a deep need for you or another (Not just in marriage but in any aspect of life ), then it is important to get past the ego and the pride. Work on its success pure intentions, a pure heart and integrity.

Allah has given us solutions. He has opened doors and opened our hearts to situations, and people for a reason. He has given us the solutions to even the most difficult issues even if we don’t understand them, even if the road to navigating it is not an easy one and yet he will provide ease when we stop questioning him and embrace his truth. He has designed each of us with our own needs, wants, emotions, connections and gifts for a reason. To deprive others of their blessing only causes more harm than good. This is a form of charity he said. It's a form of trust in the creator and his missions, it's a test, a blessing and so much more if we allow it to be.

He spoke from experience. He chose his ego and had to learn the hard way.

It’s not utopia or an ideal world as many of you may think I believe it to be. I haven't closed my heart to the possibilities of being single for all of time, having the monogamy or the polygyny. Far from it, every version comes with patience, faith, communication and effort. Allah does indeed answer our prayers in the most unlikely ways. He shows us truth and wisdom when we need it most and opens our hearts and doors even when we didn’t know they existed. Alhamdullilah.





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