Ask M: Choosing between frustration, education or polygamy

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Dear M, 

I am 41-year-old, twice divorced Muslim woman. I met a man online who is a kind, successful and intelligent practicing Muslim. He has proposed, and I have no reason to decline except that he happens to be married. His wife has serious medical problems which prevent them from being intimate. He would like to remain married to her and continue to take care of her as they have over 30 years of history and children together. She, on the other hand, has given him permission to marry a second wife.

Normally I would not even consider polygamy, but I am tempted because of his character and circumstances. Should I accept his proposal and become a second wife?


Dear Reluctant,

It sounds like this man is meeting most of your “must-haves,” except of course for the fact that he is married.  First of all, are you aware that polygamy is illegal in the U.S.? It’s admirable that this man wishes to remain married to his current wife and care for her in her sickness, but if he wants to marry you as well, how does he plan to acquire a marriage license for a second wife?  If he is suggesting marriage without the proper legal paperwork to validate it, then my advice is to run as fast and as far away as possible! American law will not recognize a  polygamous marriage as legitimate, leaving you with no legal rights as a wife. You would be opening yourself up for all kind of abuse.

Now, let’s say, that somehow this marriage will be legal. How well do you know this man? If all you have to go on are online chats, then you’ve most likely been taking his word at face value. You need more than that. Do the two of you have any mutual friends or acquaintances who can vouch for him? If not, ask him for personal references, people you can call to verify his identity, character, and situation. Ask to speak to his current wife and children face-to-face and ask how they feel.

Last but not least, what is the living arrangement going to be if you enter into this marriage? Will you move to another state or community to be with him? Will you live in the same home as his current wife? How will he provide for the two of you in an equitable manner?  Research the answers to all these questions and remember that not only will you be leaving your family, friends, and community, you will join a new one as a second wife. That will not be an easy transition so carefully weigh its pros and cons.

Do your due diligence and don’t marry out of frustration or loneliness. Trust Allah. May Allah guide you to the right answer and bless you with a good partner.


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Dear M, 

I’m 22-year-old recent college graduate, who has just started medical school this fall. I am very serious about my education and career goals, and am not interested in getting married until I complete my residency. However that won’t happen for another seven to eight years, and as  a healthy young Muslim woman, I find myself wanting to have sex. I am a virgin and plan to abide by my faith’s command to practice abstinence until marriage. So what should I do? How can I quell these desires within me? And if I do turn to marriage as a halal outlet for these desires, I fear I will derail my education/professional goals because it is nearly impossible to balance the demands of family with those of medical school. Please help.




Dear Torn,

Congratulations on your recent graduation and acceptance into medical school!

I can empathize with you in the struggle to curb desires while single. Our religion teaches us that fasting diminishes sexual desires, so keep that in mind as one possible tool. For me personally, this includes fasting from activities and things that may trigger or strengthen sexual desires—i.e. listening to love songs, reading romance novels, watching romantic movies, etc. In other words, don’t make it harder on yourself!

As for being married while going to medical school, it maybe nearly impossible but it is possible. You won’t be the first nor the last person to do it. Ask yourself this: Am I truly not interested in marriage right now, or am I reluctant because I am afraid that it could derail my professional goals? If you are genuinely not interested, then marriage is out of the equation at this time. If it is the latter, I recommend that you sit down and lay out what marriage is to you. Reflect on how you envision your marriage. What kind of qualities will your spouse have? What will be his role/responsibilities in the marriage day to day and what will be yours?

Our religion is easy, so don’t allow assumptions and fear of the unknown to make it difficult. Stay close to Allah, make plenty of dua, especially istikharah for guidance. You are a young intelligent woman with bright future. I wish you all the best in your personal and professional lives. If you decide to explore the marriage option, I’d be happy to personally coach you through it.


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Ifa Ahmad is a skilled dating coach with many years of experience in helping women find suitable spouses online. She utilizes lessons learned from her own personal experience along with decades of proven professional skills as a business consultant with focus on human behaviors, communication and relationship development. You can find some of her tips in her blog:


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