Polygamy is always a sensitive topic. Looking at Polygamy from the Islamic point, a Muslim man may have up to four legal wives. Yes; legal wives who are entitled to the same benefits and rights…if polygamy is practiced in accordance with Islam.
Polygamy is considered the man’s right. In spite of women having clauses in their marriage contracts that they are entitled to a divorce if the man chooses to take another wife, it remains that a man can engage in polygamy if –he- chooses to do so.
Most women in Saudi Arabia will not seek a divorce if their husband has taken another wife. Because the man is legally and islamically allowed more than one wife, it would look odd for her to end the marriage in divorce. If so, she could be ostracized by her family and also her community. People may wonder what was so wrong with her that the marriage had to dissolve in a divorce. Her chances to remarry would be few and probably not ideal. Her children could also be impacted on their own abilities for entering good marriages if they have a divorced mother.
While a woman is married her husband is expected to provide for all her needs – housing, transport, clothing, luxury items and spending money, regardless of how many wives he has. This further reinforces the negative connotations on a woman if she leaves a marriage due to polygamy.
desicomments.com Yet what about the woman and her emotional needs? Don’t they count? Try to put yourself in the shoes of a woman who gave one of the greatest gifts to her husband…herself… and then she discovers he has another or several more wives? Knowing that her husband is performing intimate acts with another woman is heart-wrenching. Worse is not knowing how clean the other woman can be. Can a wife be at a higher risk for a yeast infection or a sexually transmitted disease (STD)? Of course.
Then think about the change and disruption to the household itself. Few families in polygamy in Saudi Arabia live under one roof. Generally each wife will have her own home. However, she may only have her husband for 3 or 4 days of the week depending on how many wives have to “share the man” and what kind of schedule has been established. If the man is well to do, he should provide for each wife and family equally. But in many cases it is generally the first wife who loses out with cuts being made to her standard of living. If the first wife had been married long and there are children involved, the children all of a sudden also learn that time with Dad is more limited and shared.
What about family gatherings of the husband’s tribe? Which wife will get to go? That usually depends on the occasion. In some circumstances such as Eid al Fitr or a wedding, all wives must put in an appearance. In other cases there may be rotating schedule as to whose turn it is to accompany the husband. In many cases the husband’s family will continue to treat all wives cordially or at least not change their manners or attitudes. The men of the first wife’s family will likely continue to treat the husband with respect. The older women of the family may be more likely to speak their minds and chastise the husband for his actions.
What happens though if the husband is hospitalized? Which wife would be his caregiver? How would they arrange a schedule? If the husband passes away, it is expected there will be a central place of grieving and all wives would be present.