How to Deal with My Husband’s Decision to Have a Second Wife?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I have been married to my husband for 15 years and am pregnant with my fourth child. During our rough marriage, he divorced me twice, but we reconciled. He had been speaking to another woman from his country for marriage, and he met her, but it didn’t work out. He also started seeking employment outside our city because he says he can’t live with me. He moved 5 hours away from our home, lives on his own, and visits bi-monthly.

I recently saw a picture of a woman on his phone. He told me he is not doing anything haram because he intends to marry her. I asked him how to speak with a woman privately and send pictures back and forth halal! We have been exchanging hateful texts, and I want it to stop. He said I have two options in the future: either to accept a co-wife or divorce. I feel betrayed and hurt. I know polygamy is halal, so I will accept it because I want the kids to have a father. We have been through so much financially, emotionally, and mentally with both our families. Now, he has a good job and can finally support us entirely, but he wants to bring in another person! It’s not fair; she will not have to go through all the pain and fighting I had to endure.

Answer

I am so sorry that you have had a troubling marriage. I pray that Allah Most High gives you success, love, and respect and unites your family again.

Reconciliation

Your husband has not left you, so there is hope for reconciliation. However, you will have to make some significant effort on your part to heal this marriage. Are you willing to bend over backward? Although it seems that everything is his fault, it does take two to break a marriage, so you should work on your end. Because he lives separately, you should start by being kind to him:

Steps

  • Be the first to stop the hateful text messages, and don’t ever return to that nasty habit.
  • Read the following two books and start applying the principles: “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert” By John Gottman and Nan Silver. Another book is “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” by Gary Chapman.
  • Have the children call him every week, so he feels that you care about fostering their relationship.
  • When he comes for his bi-monthly visit, be kind, serve dinner, and don’t complain about anything. Do this for at least a year.
  • Tell him that you want to change, be nice, and keep the peace for everyone’s sake.
  • Look nice and smile.
  • Make sure you pray five times a day, give charity, learn your halal and haram of everyday life, wear hijab correctly when you go out, read some Quran every day and pray the Prayer of Need for this marriage.

No Pain, No Gain

I know you are in tremendous pain; any woman in your situation would be. But if you want this pain to go away and fix this marriage, it will take a back-breaking effort. You can do it, and I feel deep down that your marriage is not over.

The Most Hated of Permissible Things to Allah Is Divorce

You are wise to choose the co-wife over divorce, but I still feel that you have a chance to save this marriage before he marries again. You might even change his mind, and he might come back home.

See the following links to articles and courses that you should take. Learning your obligations and rights is the first step to marriage, and I feel that you have somehow skipped it. Learn it now, and it’s never too late.

Don’t lose heart and focus on this hadith: It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what type of wife is best? He said, may Allah bless him and give him peace, ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, and she obeys him if he instructs her to do something, and she does not do anything with regard to herself or his wealth in a manner of which he does not approve.’” [Ahmad]

Check these links:
Making Love Last: Prophetic Principles for a Successful Marriage
Keys to Successful Muslim Marriages: Practical lessons that explain the Prophetic Spirit of Marriage
Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriage
Love, Marriage, and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
How Can I Fix My Empty Marriage?

Given the considerations in such cases, we urge you to please consult reliable local scholars or counselors about the specifics of the situation. Jazakum Allah khayran.

May Allah Most High strengthen your bond and unite you again in happiness and taqwa.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.