Confessions of a Co-Wife
Today I got a phone call from a close friend. When I answered she said "we have a lot to talk about" I laughed, because I knew where this conversation was headed, I was at work busy with customers so "the conversation" would have to wait. When I hung up I started to think of how many people who I've been distant with over the past month and a half. My distance wasn't planned. Allah knew that I needed this time and space to become comfortable and confident enough to deal with the questions and possible negative energy that would be sent my way by people who genuinely love and care about me. Allah knew that even though I thought I was ready for this, I was walking into uncharted territory and I needed solitude and quiet to prepare myself for this new journey. Allah knew that the choice I was making may even cause me to lose the support of my family and friends, Allah knew that I needed time to adjust, Allah is the best of planners, I am truly a witness to that.
My first wedding was super traditional. The church, white dress, flowers, photos, tons of people, reception afterwards, the whole nine! Everyone was so happy for me and I couldn't wait to tell people that I was married. I wore my ring like a crown. I was a wife and I was content in that role. I saw it as a blessing from the almighty and was so pleased whenever my husband introduced me as his wife. I was married to my first husband for 9 years. I learned a lot about love, pain, accountability, growth, and forgiveness during those 9 years. When I got divorced I was broken. I had lost my best friend and the only thing I knew to do was to turn to the Creator for guidance.
I was grieving for something that wasn't destined to last forever. I made D'ua everyday for Allah to make me the best Muslim, mother, and Wife that I could be. I prayed for sustainance, I prayed for forgiveness, and I prayed for a believing husband strong, wise, and compassionate enough to lead me. I was doing a lot of praying, but I wasn't being patient. I was asking Allah to handle my situations but wasn't waiting on Allah to handle them. So I rushed into relationships with two individuals who were not capable of being my husband. They were place holders; in retrospect I just wanted someone, I was use to being married so not being in a relationship felt awkward. I felt like I had failed at my first marriage and I wanted to redeem myself. Me and those men weren't compatible and I wasn't happy. To top it all off I was diagnosed with Lupus and Cancer during this period, so I was just glad to have someone around to help take care of me and my kids when I was too sick to take care of us. Being ill was a blessing though. At times my illnesses made me helpless, which showed me the power of faith and prayer. My illnesses made me eat better and take better care of myself. In essence being sick brought me back to life and taught me how to truly love myself and be content. The closer I felt to death the more excited I became about living. Then it was like the more content I became the more blessings began to flow. Allah removed the negative forces from my life in ways I couldn't even fathom, and I learned to love me with all of my imperfections. I still prayed my same prayers, but with a content heart; understanding that I couldn't put Allah on a schedule. I knew that when I was ready Allah would take care of me in the best of ways, as always.
I've never been against polygyny, I just felt it wasn't "for me". I would say that I could be in a plural marriage if it was about comfort or to keep from fornicating, but not if I was really in love. There was no way that I could knowingly share the man I'm in love with, or at least that's what I thought, Allah had other plans.
When I married for the second time. There was nothing traditional about this wedding. I can count on one hand how many people I told beforehand , I wasn't even sure it was going to happen. I kept thinking that he would call me on my way to the Masjid and apologetically tell me that he couldn't do it. I had prepared myself mentally for a let down, because the whole thing seemed surreal. Besides myself and my husband there were 7 people in attendance at our wedding. My 17 year old son was my Wali, and although my 15 year old daughter may not understand the beauty or purpose of Polygyny she was right by my side supporting me the whole time. I couldn't stop smiling. Everything felt like a dream that day, and then the next day it was back to reality.
I'm proud to be married, and I love my husband tremendously, but I wasn't all "scream it from the roof tops" this time after the wedding. I am my husband's second wife and I wasn't necessarily ready to talk about that while still in my newlywed after glow. I knew that my friends and family may not understand. I also knew that it was a huge adjustment for my co-wife and didn't want her to have to deal with the questions and fake concern from messy folk. It was difficult holding all of that joy inside, I began to feel like it would be less stressful to just keep my marriage a secret. When I did tell the family and friends that I trusted their first question was "isn't he already married"? True to character I shot back with a witty or sarcastic response and acted as if it was nothing. When in reality the dry and rehearsed "if you like it then I love it" comments that were given to me by loved ones made me cringe with insecurities. All I could hear in those statements was "this will never work" and "can't you find your own husband". I began to feel like a charity case, like I was valued less because I share my husband willingly . I was on an emotional rollercoaster, my normal go with the flow aloofness was no where to be found. I was lonely because I didn't want to burden my husband or co-wife with all of my crap, I knew that they were dealing with this monumental life change as well. But I couldn't hide that I was uneasy and didn't know quite how to navigate this uncharted terrain, it was taking everything that I had to function with any sense of normalcy. Days ran together, and if not for the beautiful relationship that i have with my co-wife I don't know if I could have made it through the first few weeks. She was who I confided in and vented to, she understood my emotions and fears better than anyone else. We allowed each other the space to be open and honest without judgement. Surprisingly my relationship with my co-wife has taught me about true sisterhood, unconditional love, and loving for the pleasure and sake of Allah.
When my work day slowed down I called my friend back. Of course we had "the conversation" and of course she asked the typical questions, I answered them honestly and without any baggage attached, she doesn't understand but she also didn't judge or make light of my marriage like other people who act as if it isn't a real marriage. I still have some growing to do. I'm not all the way there, but I'm getting more comfortable with being open about my polygynous marriage. I don't feel any shame, even though I stall sometimes before saying "my husband" or "my co-wife" to someone who doesn't know the situation. But I see this as a test as well. I can't participate in and agree with polygyny while hiding being in a polygynous relationship. I have to trust Allah more than I care about the opinions or feelings of Allah's creations. Today was the first time that I've been honest with myself about these feelings. My friend calling turned on a light showing me the things that I had been hiding in my shadows. I'm thankful to Allah for always finding beautiful ways to show me how I need to work on myself.
Copyright 2018 Amber Hasan
Edited by Cheryl Williams (my co-wife)