As salaamu alaykum - Peace,
Unfortunately the term love has no one clear, concise, or absolute definition. There are innumerable poems about love and money spent throughout the ages in search of and sharing the stories of love are unfathomable. We speak of the love we have for our parents, our families, culture, family, God, and many other things however we feel uncertain on whether a man can love more than one woman he marries.
It’s only natural when raised in a society that shuns and looks down upon a man marrying more than one woman that people feel apprehensive albeit I’ve come to find it is usually for different reasons. I was raised in the Midwestern part of the US and it is common for young adults as young as they turn double digits in age to have what they call a “boyfriend or girlfriend” which means more than a friend that is a boy or a girl.
See when I initially learned of the term polygamy, I thought it was very weird however I also thought that most people practiced a form of unrestricted polygamy when it comes to general dating relationships even though they are not formally married.
po·lyg·a·my pəˈliɡəmē/ noun: polygamy
1. the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time.
po·lyg·y·ny / pəˈlijənē/ noun: polygyny
1. polygamy in which a man has more than one wife.
Polygyny is simply a term that describes one of the oldest forms of marriage which means that a husband has more than one wife. It’s a restricted form of polygamy and it’s practiced all throughout the world today however it has been practiced less due to cultural shifts the last few hundred years while monogamy has been spreading.
mo·nog·a·my məˈnäɡəmē/ noun: monogamy
the practice or state of being married to one person at a time.
When I was growing up I was led to believe that monogamy was the normal way of marriage and anything else is an abomination according to the Christian church I belonged to at the time. Little did I know that monogamy is a relatively new phenomenon among humans and polygyny was only socially outlawed in Ancient Greece and Rome. Keep in mind that the reason for this is not what many would speculate but the main reason was to allow for “lower class” men to have access to women while simultaneously allowing men to continue to have unrestricted sexual relationships with other women whether concubines, girlfriends, mistresses, prostitutes, and so on without the responsibility of taking care of them or any children that were born out of their “activities”.
When I learned this it was pretty funny and slapped me in the face because I was led to believe that monogamy was designed to protect women when in essence it protects men far more by relieving them of their responsibility when it comes to their sexual decisions. Then I was instantly reminded of the many many men who practice this type of monogamy whether they are my uncles, grandfathers, cousins, or more famous individuals like the countless politicians and religious leaders like former President John F. Kennedy, President Bill Clinton, former Governor Elliot Spitzer, Senator Anthony Weiner, Senator John Edwards, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Jimmy Swaggart, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the list tends to go on and on if we added celebrities like Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, and the list goes on and on and on…
Can a man truly love more than one woman
When looked at with an objective eye, it’s pretty easy to see that marriage is a commitment that is a pretty hefty one that many men don’t want to get involved with simply to satisfy their sexual desires. Why marry someone and take on the responsibility that comes with it when it’s so easy to simply fulfill temporary desires and continue living life… in many cases? Yes, you would be right to say that living like that is an immoral and filthy way to live. It would victimize women and also create fatherless homes, which in essence causes the basic fabric of society to decay. It would lead to mass poverty and in turn could cause violence to be perpetrated by young men with lack of guidance and male nurturing. Almost sounds like today’s society huh?
Interestingly enough “Psychology Today” wrote about how our modern views on monogamy evolved in an article they titled “Why We Think Monogamy Is Normal - How polygamy became an “exotic exception."
I’ve heard the question asked, “how can a man love more than one woman?” I’ve also heard many answers and comparisons and one goes like this, if you have more than one child, do you love both? Of course the answer is yes, but… then another question get shot out or a justification made. Interestingly enough, in the paragraph above where I listed a few people that have cheated on their spouses and were suppose to be practicing modern monogamy, I noticed that most of those men’s wives stayed with their cheating husbands. It seems as though lots of women, depending on their circumstances, are a lot more accepting of their husbands having extramarital affairs with the condition that she is the “real” woman because she’s the wife. Or it seems that many women justify staying because she feels or was told by her husband that it was just an “act” of sex or that he doesn’t “love her”.
Polygyny on the other hand requires that men be responsible for their pleasures so if they are feeling frisky and desire the need for more than one woman, they follow the process to marry a woman which in turns doesn’t victimize the woman but instead crowns her with honor and rights the same as the woman he is already married to.
There are many different ways polygyny is practiced in modern times and we’re interested in the Islamic method. Islam is the only form that restricts the amount of wives a man may have at any one time at four and it also has rules and regulations regarding fairness in time and money while being fully aware that it is impossible to be emotionally equal in his heart.
As opposed to other forms of marriage, polygyny doesn’t allow the question of who is the father of the child or who is responsible financially for the well being of the family, it’s the man, the husband, the protector, the maintainer.
Of course as in all marriages whether singular or plural, there will be issues because humans are humans after all. Understanding that we are all individuals and have had different experiences which easily shape our emotions and feelings, there will be disagreements and challenges. This is just a normal part of any human relationship whether parent and child, sibling to sibling, teacher and student, or husband and wife. It is our responsibility as adults to address life’s challenges in the best manner and look at the best examples for guidance while remaining moral and seeking to understand things from a higher level because only in that will we gain wisdom.
Can a man truly love more than one woman that he marries? Yes indeed he has been given that ability and time and time again proves that he can and when he does his love simply expands and does not detract or cause any love to be lost to anyone in the process.
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