The main reason a woman struggles with polygyny is self-esteem. A woman who is secure in her own skin, involved in her own activities, and has a high level of self-love doesn’t seem to battle the brutal issues of having a sister wife that some of us with lower self-esteem do. Don’t get me wrong, even the most confident woman will have days where jealousy will overtake her. It’s natural to have the occasional feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
Psychology Today magazine published an article called ‘Listening to Jealousy’ in their December 2016 issue. In it, I found a paragraph that grabbed me and completely summed up all the fears I have about my husband having another wife. “Living with uncertainty in a relationship can be stressful. You can never be completely sure that you won’t lose a partner to someone else. But you can make uncertainty work for you by keeping yourself from becoming complacent and reminding yourself, in the best way possible, that no one can ever truly possess another person. We can only hope to connect, for as long and as deeply as possible. ‘We all have to manage these inherent dilemmas of love. Yes, my partner loves me, but if someone very attractive comes his way, there is always a possibility. That is the reality we all must face.’ “
Although I don’t totally agree with everything in the paragraph, the basic idea is there: our mind tells us there is always the possibility that he will grow out of love with you because of the love of his other wife. Such a thought is a sure way to sabotage your mental health and the health of your marriage. Put your faith and trust in Allah. If your marriage is meant to last, it will last, no matter how many other wives are included in your family. Put your faith and trust in your husband as well. Don’t doubt his love for you and his commitment to his marriage with you. In most cases, entering polygyny is done with good, pure intentions, in which case Allah will reward him, and the rest of his family that is patient and supportive in sha Allah.
So, if you’re like me, you’ve allowed yourself to sink a bit too deeply into a pit of self-doubt. How do you get yourself out and create a better attitude? Here are a few suggestions to transform your low self-esteem into genuine love for yourself.
- FOCUS ON ALLAH: If you make a conscience effort to focus on your deen, you will have less time to focus on yourself and any insecurities you may be feeling. Create a daily worship schedule and stick to it. Include reading and studying the Quran, making duaa, extra prayers, and even watching a lecture. Each activity can be as short as 10 minutes throughout the day. When you take the extra time for Allah, be sure He will reward you with higher self-esteem.
- NURTURE YOUR HOBBY: Take advantage of the free time you now find yourself with. Even if you have young children, more than likely, the absence of your husband on the nights it’s not your turn, provides some freedom. If you don’t have a particular hobby, work on finding one. Close your eyes and imagine an activity that excites you or puts a smile on your face at the idea of doing it. It can be as simple as writing, or as complex as refurbishing furniture.
- RECONNECT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Plan, organize and host halaqas. Call up a friend or relative you haven’t seen in a while and offer to meet them for coffee. Visit an elderly relative or neighbor and bring a sweet treat along with you. Being more social will take the focus off your insecurities, as well as your husband and his new wife, and will allow you to communicate, share, and connect with other loved ones.
- PAMPER YOURSELF: Dedicate at least 30 minutes once a week to treat yourself. Soak in a bubble bath, get a massage, get a new haircut, treat yourself to a new outfit, read a magazine or book you haven’t had the time to focus on, put the kids to bed early and watch your favorite movie, etc. The level of pampering is only limited by your imagination. Once you get in the habit of making yourself a priority, you will begin to feel special and important.
- BEGIN A ‘SELF-APPRECIATION’ JOURNAL: Devote at least 5 minutes every day to write down what you appreciate or like about yourself. It could be a general physical attribute, or it could be a specific action you did that day that made you feel good about yourself. When you get into the habit of focusing daily on your positive traits, it’s harder to dwell on the negative ones.
- BE OPEN TO EVALUATION: On those days when you find yourself critical and low, you may want to write down exactly what is bothering you. Go back to it later and evaluate if it was just a bad day, or if there is some truth to it. We all have flaws and things we can improve in ourselves. Occasional self-reflecting can be beneficial, but only if it’s done with the intention of improvement and doesn’t become a means of beating yourself up and being overly critical.
In sha Allah these activities help turn you love yourself. After all, you know the saying ‘No one can love you if you don’t love yourself.’ Always remember, you are a Creation of Allah, which makes you unique and beautiful. Alhamdulillah
May Allah, SWT, bless you and grant you the ability to see the beauty within yourself.