Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Advice on being the second wife?

second wife

Assalamu alaykum,

I am posting here because I could really use some advice on the situation I am in.

A few years ago, I was in the middle of a divorce with my husband. We had filed the paperwork and were separated; I had moved out of our home and he had a new girlfriend (we live in the US and are both Christian). I should say that at this point, my soon-to-be ex husband and I had been physically separated for about eight months, but the relationship had been over for longer than that. However, due to some financial issues, the divorce was taking some time.

I went to a muslim country to work, as I had been doing every year for many years. While there, I met somebody at my workplace - let's call him M -  and we fell  in love. We weren't physically intimate, because of M's strong faith, but we were friends before this happened, and spent a lot of time just talking, so we know each other really well. He is the kindest man I know. M told his family about me, and while they were not exactly thrilled he had met a non-muslim, they wanted him to be happy, and we were planning to get married as soon as my divorce was finalized.

However, when our relationship became public, it caused quite the scandal. The place where I work has mostly muslim staff, though the director is a foreigner, and most people strongly disapproved of us being together, they are not really big on inter-faith marriages there, particularly between a muslim and a divorced western woman. I lost my job over it (after ten years of working there), and  M got in serious trouble as well. When all of this happened, I told my soon-to-be ex husband about it, because I didn't want him to hear it from anybody else. My ex did not react as I expected; instead, he promptly broke up with his girlfriend, cancelled the divorce proceedings, and insisted I come back to him, lest he'd make it very difficult for me financially. I am not American, but I was living there with my husband, and didn't really have much friends of any family there other than my husband's, so he really could make trouble for me if he wanted to - I would have had to drop out of grad school before finishing my PhD, for example, and move back to Europe, if he did what he threatened to do.

To make a long story short, with everything going on, and so many people telling me it would never work with M, he was too traditional to have a foreign wife, and that the relationship was not appropriate, I did what I thought was best for everyone and I broke it off with M and went back to my husband. M begged me not to leave, but I really thought he would be better off marrying a local muslim girl.

So we both went our separate ways. I ended up having a son with my husband, and when M found out about this, he finally married a girl his family had found for him. They now have two children. For me, it didn't go so well with my husband. As it turns out, he didn't really want me back because he loved me, he just didn't want me to be with anyone else. So we ended up getting divorced anyway, when my son was 3 years old.

Last year I finally went back to the muslim country to work for a while, for the first time since I had my son, and I ran in to M again. I didn't know he was going to be in the area I was working, and to be honest I may have thought twice about taking the job if I had known. In any case, when we saw each other, it became clear that we both still have the same feelings for each other, even though it's been over six years and we both started families with other people. We didn't have an affair or anything, but our close friends that we work with all know our story, so they let us sit in a corner and talk for a bit when we all went out in public.

We both tried very hard to forget about each other for the past six years, but it obviously didn't work. So when M found out I was divorced, he asked me to marry him again. He wants to tell his family, and his wife. Like I said, he is very traditional, so he feels he can't divorce her, and I would not ask that of him either, knowing the stigma it would create for both his children and her. So he wants me to be his second wife, and I don't know what to do. I can't believe I am even considering it, but I really do love him so much, and I know he loves me, we're still crazy about each other. I am just really torn about what to do.

First, I feel like we are both being selfish, and it's not right to do this to his wife. He says he told her before they got married that he may want to get a second wife one day, because he was still hoping we could be together, and she agreed to marry him regardless, so he doesn't see that as a problem, and thinks she would be fine with it. Personally, I think he's being a tad too optimistic about that. Both him and his family told her about me (that M was in love with and had planned to marry a foreigner, but that it didn't work out and was over) before they got married, so she knows about that already. I'm sure if I did become his second wife, she would put two and two together and figure out I am the foreigner he was in love with before they got married.

Second, I know he wouldn't just leave his wife and stay married to her on paper; he's a good man, and he would want to be a husband to her, and would try to be fair to the both of us. I know he doesn't love her like he loves me, but he still cares for her deeply. Since I wouldn't be able to live full time in his country now that I have a son, and I wouldn't be able to get him a visa to the US or my home country as a second wife, that means he would be living with her in his country as husband and wife for most of the year, and I don’t know if I can deal with that.

On the other hand, M is the love of my life, and I really feel like I can't live without him. I know he feels the same way. Like I said, we've both tried really hard to forget about each other, but it clearly hasn't worked, even though we did not stay in touch between when we broke up and when we ran into each other again recently. So at this point, we're both still thinking about each other constantly, and I know he feels really bad about it because it's haram. I'm not muslim, but I know how important his faith is to him, and I don't want to be the reason for him to be so conflicted. He feels like it would be better if we got married, because then it would be out in the open, instead of him just secretly being in love with someone else while he is married to his wife. On my part, sometimes I feel like we could make it work (at least between the two of us), since we still love each other just as much even after all that happened. The period when we lost our jobs and everything was really stressful for both of us, and we both lost several friends over this. If we could get through that, and being apart for so long, and still feel as strongly about each other, then maybe we could deal with being in a polygynous marriage as well. But I still feel guilty about his wife, since I know she would be hurt. Also, I know my own family would be shocked if I told them I was considering becoming someone's second wife, and though I am European and free to make my own decisions without the approval of my family, they probably would not like it. However, if they met M, I'm sure they would understand what I see in him. I really just don't know what to do.

If anyone has experience with this kind of situation (like being a second wife), or think their advice may be of help, I would really appreciate it. Thanks.


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5 Responses »

  1. Hi Elsa,
    Do you have any plans to convert to Islam? I do not understand the motives Mr M wants to be second wife. Do you know if he wants you to take him to your country so that he can get a European citizenship?

    It's hard for a committed eastern Muslim man to maintain a strong marital relationship with a non Muslim. Sooner or later, this will be an issue for you.There may be a period of 'love' and 'perceived happiness or ' tolerance' to your lifestyle, but I do not think it will last long.God knows, but I seriously doubt that a devout Muslim - as you described- who lives in a Muslim country would openly embrace you without questioning your faith, lifestyle and so many things crucial to his culture.

    I would advise you to think to twice about this matter.

  2. I think u need to tell him u want to be his only wife and Ik u don't wat to hurt her feelings but please don't lie to him tell him Wat u feel u might be superseded and he will understand and if I was u I'd be a sec wife beacuse u love him dearly

  3. Dear Sister Elsa

    I think I can relate to Mr M's situation a bit since I am in a similar position. I have 2 wives and though it has been hard to get the teething issues settled, Alhamdulillah they are settled.

    one difference is and i must say it has an Enormous bearing on this kind of relationship is the rule book. my second wife was catholic when we first met, however Alhamdulillah she reverted to islam after a lot of research of her own, yes we liked each other most of our engagement was on religion, to be honest i learned a lot about islam while clarifying her inquisitions. Yes this relationship can definitely work however the underlying principle needs to be one and only one, the Quran.

    I guess what I am trying to say here is you need to analyze why you love this man so much and I believe you will find that it is because of how he conducts himself, what is way of life is and what his values are, and all of that come from nothing but the Quran. and if that is the case more important than marriage is your reconciliation with what you believe in i.e. how do you want to live your life? my hopes would be that you come to the same conclusion my wife did i.e. embrace islam and see how things start making sense.

    me and my second wife have been married for over 4 years now Alhamdulillah things have worked out well. my family was completely against it but now they have come to care for her. her family however havent ever spoken to me but I am OK with that if thats what it takes for them to be at peace with the situation.

    we used to live in different countries however just recently i have managed to get both my families in one city (not under the same roof) but much more manageable.

    There are phases to it all and a lot more background to all the above but in essence one thing remains predominant in our lives in resolving every conflict and making any decisions - We all agree on The One Standard i.e. The Quran.

    I hope the above helps.


  4. Dear Elsa,
    I pray you're well. Would really love to know how you got on... Did you decide to marry Mr M?

  5. Hi Elsa,

    Did you get married in the end with M?

    I am also second wife and i find it a bit difficult but with the help of Allah i go through and my endless love for my Husband

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