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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Relationship trends: Ghana experience
As part of a series on relationship trends in Africa, two Ghanaian women with polygamous husbands told the BBC's Claire Gilderson their experiences and how they feel about sharing their spouse with other wives.

Read their views below and then click on the link at the end of the page to have your say.

Genevieve Kuidor, teacher in Tamale

Genevieve Kuidor
Being in a polygamous marriage causes stress for Genevieve
Genevieve Kuidor is the first of three wives. She has been with her husband for 18 years and has two children. She was brought up in a non-polygamous family.

It is not easy sharing your husband with other women, but I have learnt to adjust.

Once a man decides to take on other wives, there is nothing you can do other than keep your cool. If I complain, he will say, I'm an African man!

When he leaves me to sleep with another wife, it's painful and I feel very jealous, but I just have to accept it.

I fast and pray to try and overcome these feelings. I want to be with my husband all the time and when he can't be with me, just imagine how I feel.

I try to stay positive.

Challenging

Financially my husband manages to take care of us all, but emotionally I feel neglected. I wish I could have my man to myself.

He can't be in three places at once and my children and I miss him. When my children are sick, or if I need him and he's with another wife, it's quite challenging.

He does his best to meet my sexual needs but when a man has three wives, it's difficult. Today he eats with me then sleeps with another wife, or tomorrow he eats with another wife, then sleeps with me.

We do not have a rota, sharing his time is a problem.

Competition

Fortunately, the three wives live in separate houses, so we don't see each other often. At the moment my husband is living with the third wife who he tends to give more attention to.

YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Lentswe Moretlwe (R) and Sinead Delany-Moretlwe (L)

There is a lot of competition in a polygamous marriage. If one wife has ten children, the other wife will want more. If the husband buys something for one wife, the other wife will want it too.

Polygamy causes stress.

I don't think it's possible for a man to love more than one woman at the same time.

There will always be one wife he will love more and a child who he favours more. A man cannot share his love equally among his wives and children.

Sometimes I regret being in a polygamous marriage. If I knew my husband was going to have all these women, I would not have entered into it.

I do not advocate polygamy; it's not worth joining the queue. Women should be patient and marry their own man."

Adamu Musah, broadcaster in Tamale

Adamu Musah
Adamu sees polygamy as a sensible arrangement and has no qualms about it
Adamu Musah grew up in a polygamous home and has two children from a previous marriage. She is the second wife to her current husband after re-marrying in 1999. Her husband has been with his first wife for nearly 30 years and has five children.

As Muslims, we accept polygamy. If a man wants to marry another wife and she refuses, she refuses God.

Polygamy is a sensible arrangement.

My parents are elderly and my mother is not able to care for my father, but his third wife is young and can look after them both.

My religion does not permit me to neglect my marital home; therefore I cannot care for my parents like she can.

Equal

At first, my rival thought I was going to drive her away, but now we are like sisters. I do not feel jealous and we never quarrel.

Jealously arises when the husband chooses a beloved wife and makes it known that he loves one more than the other.

It's impossible for a man to love two women equally. He will always have a beloved wife, but the wives must never find out. If she does, her children will become bitter and retaliate later in life.

YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Gladys Mhone

I'm sure my husband treats us both the same.

He is gentle and allows me to make decisions. I don't know who he loves more, but I do know he is very proud of me.

We live in separate houses and I only see her on social occasions.

We each have two consecutive days with our husband. When it's my turn, my husband will give me money to buy food from the market and in the evenings I'll cook and he will sleep with me.

When my husband is with the other wife, I'm not upset, neither do I feel neglected.

I can't do anything about and I just have to accept it. If I deny my husband's Islamic rights, it will cause problems between me and my in-laws and my children would suffer.

No regrets

Financially it can be difficult. My husband and I work together, but the other wife does not work. My husband wants to give me half of his money, but I believe the other wife should receive more because he is the father of her children.

I hope and pray that one day he will earn more money to take care of us all. I live in a rented house and I look forward to owning our own property one day.

I don't have any regrets or complaints.

A man who marries one wife is considered a bachelor and will have difficulties.

Also, polygamous wives help one another with household chores and have time off.

Competition makes you want to cook the best meal for your husband and raise the best children.

I want to be the best wife.

Polygamy constitutes 29% of all marriages in northern Ghana, according to the most recently published Ghana Demographic and Health Survey in 2003. Those who enter into this arrangement are predominantly Muslim or follow the Dagbon tradition. Islam allows a man to marry up to four wives.


What do you think about the personal stories and trends featured in this series on relationship trends in Africa?




SEE ALSO
Relationship trends: Your views
17 Jul 06 |  Have Your Say



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