Second wife in 21st century and its implications: does it create hostility and toxic family environments?

This article has been written by Dr. Nasreen Hanifi; a professional psychologist based in Sydney. Dr Nasreen is currently the President of Mission of Hope (  a not-for-profit, community organisation with a focus on health and community development)  and the Director of Clinical Services at My Ability Care. She is a PhD candidate and is in the process of completing her PhD in the areas of compassion, neuroscience, and theology.


" The topic of second wife is synonymous in today’s current climate. It’s a discussion that the majority of us either shy away from or we only discuss it in private circles where voices that matter will never be heard. 

Let me begin this discussion by saying that there is no intention in denouncing anything that is remotely connected to Islam. This aim is to raise awareness and education around a topic that has been going on for a very long time. 

Polygamy in Islam is acceptable - that’s a virtue that we as Muslims abide by, however, the way polygamy is being practiced is where we have issues arising. 

When writing this post, I am keeping in mind that I am speaking on behalf of women who have been through such an experience, not all women. 

Islam’s propagation 1400 years ago meant that Islam was established as a way of life for the majority of us. It was to guide humanity through every aspect of life. Amongst many other things, polygamy was one of those aspects introduced to the Ummah. As the centuries, decades and years have progressed so have we as an Ummah. 

With the rapid introduction of social media and the insecurity propensity it brings upon every single person out there, we’ve come a long way in how we perceive ourselves as human beings, fundamentally damaging our self-worth. 

I have seen many women who have been in polygamy relationships, some who have spoken against it, and others who have accepted it. The psychological impact that this has had on them is overwhelmingly disturbing. 

Women often express their dismay when it comes to their husbands deciding to go and get married to someone else without discussing it with their first wives.

Women in the 21st Century find it hard to accept that their men choose to either openly or secretly get married to someone else. Women lay all their vulnerabilities before a man when she decides to marry him. She forsakes everything of hers to create a family of her own with the anticipation that the man will love her in the same way. However, the psychological treatment of these women has shown us that there is a trend that is happening which is impacting the woman greatly. Some of the things we have noticed are the following: 

- Men secretly marrying another woman without disclosing it to their wives 

- Men justifying their actions by stating that it’s the Sunnah

- Men then choose the better one between the two wives - the issue of favoritism 

- They allow their families to get involved 

- They taunt their first wives for everything: blaming her for not giving him kids, blaming the wife for not meeting his needs, blaming the wife for not looking after herself, blaming her for everything that he never seemed to have an issue with when he willingly married her in the first instance. 

These behaviors by men have a tremendous impact on women and children, let me explain how: 

- Women feel neglected because she thought that he would never leave her for another woman because that’s what he would have told her in the beginning 

- Her self-worth would be diminished because she would never feel as though she was good enough for him or his family 

- The fact that she blames herself for her appearance would make her feel the need to compare herself to the other woman

- Her vulnerability that she gave to him is very difficult for her to regain 

- The guilt because of him and his comments become overbearing because now she has to live with the fact that she couldn’t meet his needs 

- The children learn that women are nothing but a mere commodity to meet their needs, particularly young men 

- Young girls feel that their worth is dependent upon a man given that their mother had to work so hard to gain the approval of their father 

- Young men start to treat women the way they’ve seen their fathers treat their mothers because those type of behaviors displayed by the father has been normalised within the home. 

If we continue to create toxic environments as such then we will no longer be in a position to raise healthier generations. This toxicity will continue to bring families down and make the situation worse for all parties. " 

Special Thank you to Dr. Nasreen for allowing Modest Fashion Outlet to publish this thorough & insightful article. 


Image Source: Islamica News 

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