Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kids and polygyny

I've been thinking about kids lately.. having a baby of my own. It's starting to occupy my mind more often nowadays, I am not really sure why. Sometimes I’ll be driving somewhere and I have these daydreams of me with my baby. How would that be? A small desire to be a mother sneaks up in me.. to take care of a baby and nurse it and give it all the love I could possible give.

When I think of the practical consequences I get very sad though. As a parent you have such a major impact on your children, and in many cases there is no telling beforehand whether you are doing right or wrong. 1st is a public wife, so you’d think that for the kids it’s quite easy – they have a mom and a dad, and then dad has some more wives, which is weird, but it really doesn’t impact their daily lives. Well, it’s more complicated than that. The thing which they absolutely hate is when their dad goes out with another wife. Their friends might see him and that embarrasses them so much. Once I was with Mr.Hubby in a cafĂ©, when one of 1st’s daughters passed by with a friend. Even though we were just sitting there, at the table, we could have been co-workers, it resulted in such a huge fight between them. They don’t want to have to carry the burden of secrecy for something which they did not choose for. Their friends don’t get why their dad is gone for three days of the week…they get tired of saying he’s working. I feel sorry for them.

2nd’s kids – they are small still, but once they start talking freely – what then? Her family does not know about her relationship with Mr.Hubby because she was friends first with 1st and her family knows him as 1st’s husband. They think she just got knocked up. How to explain to the little ones that they shouldn’t talk about daddy in front of relatives? How to explain that they shouldn’t tell at (pre-)school that daddy has more than one wife?

What would happen when I get pregnant? My family thinks I am single. I might tell them I am in a relationship with Mr.Hubby someday. Though I dread telling about it. He has picked me up before with my sister and she saw 1st as well. I don’t know, that hurdle could be overcome by saying he’s divorced.. but really would that be an idea? What would we tell our child? Can you keep it a secret that daddy has more than one wife? Should you keep such a secret from your children? What’s worst – them finding out at an older age that we live in polygny and be shocked – or them having to carry a secret from a young age already?

I don’t know. I have no idea what’s best. I try to think that if you provide a loving and safe home for your children nothing will matter. But is that really true?

27 comments:

ammena said...

subhanallah sis.. I didnt even realise your family didnt know.. wow, at the moment my family doesnt know about my h2b and its cracking me up... I cant even begin to imagine how it is for you... you stick with it girl masha'allah, I will remember you in my duaa insha'allah and the whole of your extended family

Meggin said...

I think that if you really want a child, you should have one, assuming you can take care of a child emotionally and financially. There is never a perfect time, and your situation is much more complicated than most. I think that would be an awful regret to have when you are older, especially if your reasons for not having one were based on worrying what others thought! How do your hubby and the other wives feel about adding in more children?

Anonymous said...

I think you need to ask yourself how good and healthy can a lifestyle be if it's chock full of lies and deception?

I also think you need to ask yourself what kind of message are you sending the children. They feel forced to be dishonest and forgive me for saying this, but that is sad, shameful and irresponsible on all the adults parts.

It's dangerous enough these days for kids emotionally with the bullying. A plural marriage gives the bullies a boat load of dangerous and hateful ammunition to emotionally abuse these kids who did nothing but have a parent/parents who participate in polygamy.

I am amazed at the lamenting, the insecurites and yes, the whining I see on plural marriage blogs (by women)about the dynamics and tribulations in sharing a husband. Everyone acts dumbfounded as if they were totally caught off guard with the reality of the situation and now they don't know what to do. I honestly have no sympathy for anyone who intentionally subjects themselves to negative situations and emotions and then has the audacity to complain about their life.

If you cannot live honestly and feel the need to hide how you're living then you probably shouldn't be living the way that you are.

How can you expect your extended family to embrace and accept your lifestyle if you are deceitful about it which implies that you are ashamed of being a part of it?

Does this way of living truly enrich your life and is it worth all the lies and compromise of your of self-respect?

UmmAbdur-Rahmaan said...

I say tell the world.....scream it from the rooftops that you love your husband and wanna make babies with him....Whoever has a problem can blow it out their butts....

new#3 said...

3rd- My husband's children all live here and all know obviously. It bothers the oldest somewhat, not that he is embarassed but he is the only one who remembers slightly a monogamous household. The others don't seem to mind at all. The highschooler tells all his close friends and has introduced his gf to all of his moms. I didn't live here when they were very young but there are grandchildren and we don't hide the truth from them.
My children are grown and live at quite a distance. They suspect, they comment and we leave it at that. It's not the worst secret a child would have to hide. If you and hubby want children and can afford it, go for it.

Anonymous - I don't find the lamenting, or whining from plural wives all that different than from wives in a monogamous marriage. Marriage is HARD. It takes WORK. You can have your eyes wide open and still be surprised at how much work it can be. Wives in plural marriages complain about things like sister wives, schedules, division of chores etc. Wives in monogamous marriage whine about infidelity, being taken for granted etc.
Children in ANY marriage can at times be embarassed by their parents, or forced to lie to friends..afterall, very few children talk about their parent's alcoholism or abusiveness to their friends or teachers.
You seem to have a disdain for the plural lifestyle, so I'm wondering why you read blogs written by people who are poly in the first place. Could it be that you have been insecure or unhappy with your own lifestyle and are looking for a new one?

UmmAbdurRahman said...

what's up with all the lies? seems like such an awful burden for children and adults.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing against plural marriages or same-sex marriages for that matter. What ever works for all involved, I say more power to you and God bless.

I find alternative lifestyles interesting from an emotional standpoint, and visit sights such as your own to gain insight into the motives of those who choose to deviate from "mainstream" social norms that are not ordained by religion.

My relationship is very healthy and I'm very happy. In fact we're going to be married next month. It is a relationship based on unconditional love and respect. It is not littered with negative behavior or emotions. My life with him is bliss - something I've never experienced before in my other two previous marriages. This relationship is my proof that marriage or any love relationship is not HARD WORK.

Everyone buys into the myth that marriage is HARD WORK, but it isn't nor should it be. If there is mutual love and respect being reciprocated and if you work together as a team it's the easiest "job" in the world. The myth merely validates and excuses the lack of love and respect one or both people are showing. Whining is an indication that there is discord, frustration and a sense of having no control.

The complaining I am referring to that I see on sites such as yours is how perplexed you all seem about how sharing a husband with other women fuels jealousy and insecurities. I wasn't referring to the daily chores of life that we all have to deal with regardless of what type of love relationship one is in as you point out in your post. I'm referring to grief you all suffer at the manipulative behavior of sister wives, of jealousy and constantly comparing yourself to the SW's to see how you measure up and where you might land on Hubby's Affection Scale. Surely you all would have given that a great deal of thought before entering the relationship. Why are you surprised? Women can barely work together in a job setting let alone share a husband.

I find it very interesting that you compare polygamy to abuse and alcoholism when you defend the position that children are forced to lie about home situations. A possible Freudian slip?

I noticed that you did not comment on my remarks about you hiding your relationship from your family or about living your life openly and honestly. Is that because what I said hits a little to close to home?

Dale Kemp said...

UmmAbdur-Rahmaan said...
I say tell the world.....scream it from the rooftops that you love your husband and wanna make babies with him....Whoever has a problem can blow it out their butts....


You took my answer, sort of.

Third, don't be ashamed. You should be proud of your husband and if your family just doesn't understand don't fret. Remember that your husband and sister wives are your family first.

PM said...

Why don't you just tell people honestly? I think I might have asked this before but if you are not doing anything illegal and you all believe that what you are doing is right, why the secrecy?

This is the part I don't get. I understand that some people think polygyny is religiously and morally valid, even though it is illegal in the US to legally marry more than one person. But as long as they are not legally married to more than one, what's the problem? I especially don't understand adults that feel they cannot be honest with their families. Is it just because you don't want to hear their opinions or concerns?

Now, the fact that you all hide this and that the children are embarrassed would send a message that maybe this situation bears some thinking over. I believe that Polygynous families need to have everyone on the same page -- including children -- and that failure to reach that level is unfairly imposing something them that will have long-lasting consequences. Has your husband not thought of this?

Regards,
PM

Anonymous said...

My concern about the deceit and lying associated with plural marriages is the mixed signals it sends to the children.

I'm assuming that the parent's of the children and SW's raise the kids with the expectation of being honest and telling the truth, yet the kids see and hear the adults being dishonest about the lifestyle when they're put in a position by society that might reveal the true nature of family environment (polygamy). They might as well tell the children, "Be honest about everything in life except the fact that your dad is married to three women. It's okay to lie about that."

It's hypocritical and a double standard.

My motto is: If you have to hide it or lie about it then you shouldn't be doing it.

If you truly believe in what you're doing then you should have the courage and conviction to live openly and honestly and embrace your choice rather than shroud it in deception and lies.

Deception and lies are the products of shame, embarrassment, and cowardliness.

Crysmissmichelle said...

Marriages aren't supposed to be secret.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the social isolation polygamous families deal with.

Is that a problem with you and your family?

Anonymous said...

I'm also in a polgamist marriage.
We don't hide it. Everyone in our community knows. They sometimes comment but mostly they watch. My husband has children and so do I. His children respect me, my children respect him. I wouldn't hide it. I would argue hiding it is a sin. God doesn't want us to hide marriagees. It's supposed to be announced publicly. I think you'd be happier if you announced it. Why not tell your mother? I told mine. She was surprised but I told my mom I'd rather know where my husband was and when he was coming over than to have him with his girlfriend and I think he was at work! She agreed. She met him and she likes him. She asks me about my co wife and she's not even in the same religion as me! My mother respects my choice and my relationship because I have presented it to her the way it is....respectful and fulfilling!

Anonymous said...

Good for you Poly-Anonymous! How liberating for you and your family.I

I think your honesty cultivates respect from others and elevates your integrity. It also reflects your conviction and committment to your marriage.

I think that by being honest with the nature of your marriage you're sending a positive message to your "mainstream" friends, family and neighbors that the marriage is healthy. It's like positive PR work and demystifies the lifestyle.

American Muslima Writer said...

I knoe the pull of wanting babies very well and in your situation you need to first get down to providing stability in your life. WHich means no lies because sooner or later you will want children and you will get Preg. A 7month tummy is not ewasy to hide. If you have to live a lie you're putting undue stress on yourself and thus on your child who is innocent and doesn't deserve such nonesence. I really resect you and your fmaily arrangements but you have to make it clear to all and esp to Hubby you can't have this be a secret if you're going to have kids, which is your right by God to have. His older kids and new younger kids shouldnot be going around lying. Presenting it matter of factly to all and with a tone of respect ill go a long way. Teach the kids not to lie by not lying yourself. It takes courage and a thick skin yes but sometimes you have to suck it up and do it. We Muslims are vowed to tell the truth even if that truth harms ourselves. (not everyone does this but it is our IDEAL) Always strive to what God has intended for us to really be. Not lying and in permissable relationships (marriage). The point of marraige is not to have to lie about who you were sleeping with last night (or every third night). It's an obvious answer -"my husband". WHo knocked you up they will ask your swollen belly .... don't you want to say simply "my husband" instead of a long 10 minute conversation intoi the benefits of Poly and THEN break it that you're married in Poly. Lots of thought and work for you dearest sister. May God make it easy for you. Be Brave. And Comunicate.

Donald said...

Anonymous… You're not even married to this guy yet and your relationship with him is 'proof' that marriage doesn't involve hard work? Get back to us in 10 years and let us know how you're doing. I'm sorry, but your post is laughable. One would think after a history of failed marriages you might be a little less full of your own wisdom on the topic.

3rd, I started reading your blog fairly recently and I've really enjoyed your thoughts and insights. This is my first comment. I'm in a monogamous marriage of over 10 years, and as other people have commented, every marriage is going to have its fair share of complications and trials. The way I see it, polygyny seems to have certain advantages, but undoubtedly many complications too — the secrecy aspect being a really difficult one.

I find it fascinating that our liberal western culture largely tolerates all manner of sexual promiscuity, yet condemns those who choose to enter a plural marriage based on love and commitment. If 'Anonymous', who claims to 'have nothing against plural marriages', can judge your lifestyle with such venom, I can only imagine what comments you might get from someone who does have something against it! Obviously you want to protect your children from that kind of bigotry. I respect that.

I had thought that if was in a plural marriage, I would probably want to keep it a secret from extended family too, but I'm reconsidering that. It would shock them no doubt, but I'd like to think that they would come around and be supportive when they realized that we were united in our decision.

I think certainly your children need to know the truth, but like anything, the way you explain it can be age-appropriate. Sometimes I think we don't give children enough credit. Just the other day I was chatting to my kids about the difference between legalism and the 'spirit of the law' — how there can be times when you might have to break a rule to uphold a more important principle. Jesus used that argument to defend his disciples picking grain on the Sabbath, referring to how King David and his men ate the consecrated bread when they needed food even though it was not technically legal for them to do so. It's right to teach our kids not to lie, but do we leave it at that and give the impression that they should indiscriminately volunteer any and all information about themselves and their family when questioned? Isn't it reasonable, even responsible, to teach children that some information is only for a certain audience? Isn't it wise to withhold information from those who would only use it against you? Keeping a secret does not automatically imply that you are 'ashamed' as 'Anonymous' wrongly asserts. Jesus even said, 'Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.' Am I taking that verse out of context by saying that your marriage is sacred? I don't think so. It is your string of pearls. Protect it and teach your kids to do the same.

Anonymous said...

Donald:

We've (my fiance and I) lived together for a few years now. Been through some horrendous experiences that would have torn most couples apart, but we sailed through with flying colors. Please remember that for most people wisdom is gained through failure and hardship. Have you not grown personally and become more the wiser from your failures and mistakes?

I haven't been venomous just sharing observations and my opinions. My dialogue here is one of debate. I've not been hateful or disrespectful to your or anyone else. The only person I've seen being malicious is you and your insult to me.

Playing devil's advocate is a way to promote thought and reflection on all sides and enables discussion.

I see that you use scripture to advocate deception and half-truths. Very disrespectful to The Word.

For most men I would think that plural marriages is their ultimate fantasy. Why wouldn't it be? Getting to have sex with several women with their consent, no less, would truly be a dream come true.

How would your wife react if you approached her about bringing another woman into your marriage?

Better yet, why not let her bring in another man?

That's the question that I've asked repeatedly on these sites yet no woman in a plural marriage has or will answer it:

How would your husband like it if you or one of the SW wanted to bring another man into the marriage?

I suspect I know what the answer would be, but I'd like someone to be honest enough and answer it.

In the future Donald, I hope you won't be so rude to another person just because they have thoughts or opinions that have been communicated with appropriate language and context. You were out of line. It's okay to disagree with someone, but it's not okay to mock them or belittle their life experiences.

That was very un-Christian of you.

3rd... said...

@all - sorry for not replying to all ur comments earlier, I was away for the weekend. Since there were so many comments I decided reply by means of a new post..

@donald - thank you for the reply, I agree with your line of thinking fully! :)

@venonymous - I'll answer your question: No my husband would not agree if I or my sisterwives would bring in another husband because it's no part of our religion. I would not agree if a sisterwive would bring in another husband even! There is no need to have equal duties and rights in order to be equal in worth..
And to be honest, your comment was indeed full of venom, not according to Socrates' teaching - he posed question without passing judgement. You pass judgement and ridicule... that being said, you are free to comment and share your thoughts - i'll probably ignore most of them.

Mum-me said...

I can't begin to think how hard it must be for you to be getting 'clucky' but having to worry about the ramifications of having a child in your situation. It is horrible that you feel the need for secrecy. I wish society would be more accepting of 'alternative arrangments' - as long as all involved are consenting and no one is being taken advantage of or getting hurt, why should we all be so judgemental?

Donald said...

3rd, thanks again for your kind words. :) I've responded to your new post.

Anonymous, I agree that we learn from our mistakes. Failure, if we learn from it, does not disqualify us from sharing wisdom. But that being said, one might expect you to share with a little more humility and grace. If I am guilty of mocking you, it is not for your past failures but for your apparent arrogance. You seem most willing to judge the views of others while rejecting any criticism of your own attitudes.

Mum-me, more power to the big family! 6 happy children (they look happy on your blog) is quite an accomplishment. We have 4 and I thought that was a big family these days (for a monogamous marriage anyway!) My wife chose to stay home and look after the children too, which is so important for building that connection with them, although it's hard sometimes without the support of family living close by. I think our culture has lost the art of real 'community' and tried to replace it with commercial enterprise. I guess that's one of the benefits of polygyny — more people truly committed to supporting each other and nurturing the children. But I'm rambling a bit now… :)

Anonymous said...

Donald

Where was your humility and grace when you belittled me? Where was your humble heart when you threw that barb about my history of "failed marriages"? Was it not arrogance that lead you to disqualified me as having any valid opinion because I choose to challenge rather than coo and fawn over behavior and ideology that is full of double standards?

If you want walk your religious talk then I suggest that you lead by example rather than exhibit the same kind of behavior you're accusing and chastising another for.

As for you 3rd:

I'm sorry that you felt I was being venomous. That was not my intention and I do believe that the reason why you may have perceived me in this manner is because I think it's possible that my thoughts and observations have pushed you out of your comfort zone and possibly made you confront certain aspects of your lifestyle that you may be conflicted about.

Also I saw your post regarding me on another blog where you were judgemental and disrespectful calling me boring and fearful and void of emotions. As with Donald I suggest that if you're going to condemn another for certain behaviors and attitudes then you should be without the sin of them yourself.

Donald said...

Anonymous… In context, my criticism was of your know-it-all attitude, not your 'failed marriages'. It seemed to me that you had not yet lived a long and happy marriage, nor lived in a polygamous one, so it bothered me that you came across as such an expert on everything. However, I can see how my comment could be taken, and I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that one remark to become the focus. I have made many mistakes too. We live and learn.

But now this is just muddying up 3rd's comment page, so I think I will follow her lead and ignore any more comments on that topic.

egianqueen said...

Just had to comment about your last statement about what children need - yes children need a loving and stable home life - they also need to have honesty - I raised a son on my own - was not married - my son knew who his father was, knew that his father was married to someone else, knew he had siblings - and from experience this is very important - because if you are not honest about everything - no matter how unpleasant or unpalatable the truth is - they will never trust you when they find out that you have lied to them.

I am in a polygynous marriage - my family and friends know - and I am not Muslim - neither are they - my sister wife has chosen to keep it from her family and thus I am kept secret and it causes a great deal of angst on my part - as I do not like living in the closet and being kept from family gatherings to appease her inability to face the truth - as I gave up my family to move to Egypt with the promise that I would be included in his family. He has 3 children - they have opted to follow their mother's lead and have nothing to do with me - I had been quite involved in the two boys lives - but no more. I think that if it the situation is handled properly - i.e. no secrets - it works out better for everyone. My two bits.

3rd... said...

Thanks for the comment egianqueen.. your situation sounds quite hard - how long have you been living it?
Your blog does not seem to be about this.. am I right?

Diana said...

I don't know where you live... is it illegal there?

If you are in the US (and I swear, I just found out yesterday that Muslims are practicing plural marriages here. And, yes, I am blonde!) then I say use this to further a larger cause. Use your voice to help change laws.

Personally, I don't like the idea at all. But, I do identify the fact that it is due to my own inability to see past jealousy. At least I know myself! :)

As for your concern over having children, I feel deeply for you. I am actively trying to get pregnant and I can't imagine having to stiffle that need due to the need of keeping my relationship a secret. I hope. that if it comes down to it, you choose to be open with your family and friends about your marriage. Those that mean the most to you will eventually accept the fact that it is your life and that you are happy.

Telling the kids to keep it "secret" is like telling them that it is wrong or something to be ashamed of. I know you don't believe that to be true.

3rd... said...

@diana -

"I just found out yesterday that Muslims are practicing plural marriages here. And, yes, I am blonde!"

LOL!!

And thank you for the advice!

Anonymous said...

Dear Bliss Anonynmous,

You state marriage isn't ahrd because of your knew found bliss filled relationship. But I beg to differ. It must have been very ahrd the first two tiem cause obviously somebody quit!!!

To the OP get the infor out share, have holiday dinners together and live an authentic life.

You are a deliberate extended family, fill it with love and ignore the naysayers.

I'm just curious however, what does the law say? Or are the 2-4th wives just married to Hubby under islamic nuptials and not stateside law, assuming you are in the USA that is.