I am a 25 year old woman. About 2 years ago I entered into a relationship with a married man on the basis that he did not get on with his wife and that the only reason he could not leave her was because he had a child with her meaning that if he left her she would not let him see his child. Since then he has had a second child with his wife, saying that it was a mistake.
He has persuaded me to be his second wife which deep down I’m not really happy about but I have come to terms with the situation.
However, he has told me that my marriage with him must remain a secret from his wife or else she will leave him and take the kids. He has assured me that he and his wife have no relationship and that he is only in the marriage because of the children. I have no way of finding out whether he is telling the truth. I just have to take his word for it.
Will it be a sin on me to marry him without his first wife knowing? Will it be a sin on him to marry a second time without telling his first wife on the basis that if she found out then she will leave and not let him see the kids? If we do get married then is our marriage invalid?
First and foremost, it is necessary that you stop all kind of informal interaction with this man. It is unlawful and sinful to have an informal relationship with a non-Mahram of the opposite gender; hence you must at once cut off any casual relationship with him.
Secondly, it is not a pre-requisite to seek the permission of the first wife in order for a man to marry second time; neither is it necessary for him to inform her. However, what is necessary is that he treats both of his wives in a just and equal manner.
Allah Most High says:
“If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, three, or four, but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one…(Surah al-Nisa, 3)
Thus, if one has to treat both of one’s wives equally and justly, then as a result, he will have to inform his first wife of his second marriage, unless the second wife forgoes her rights of equal treatment.
What you really need to do is think deep and hard about the situation. It is generally not advisable for men to marry more than once in our times, because of the harm and wrong that inevitably results, unless there is a genuine need.
If you are not happy in being his second wife, then you should not marry him, as that will only bring about harm to you in the future. He says not to inform his first wife because she will leave him and take the children with her, so for how much longer will the situation remain like this? Will you not be able to have a proper marital relationship with him? What will happen when you have children with him? These and other such issues are what you really need to think and ponder over.
If you are willing and happy to be his second wife, then strictly speaking, your marriage with him would be valid (provided all the necessary ingredients for a valid marriage are met). However, from a practical and moral perspective, you need to be careful, cautious, and mindful of what the consequences of this will be in the future. You will need to discuss the matter with family and friends, especially those who know him closely.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK