I look at dealing with polygyny as I do with any other act of 'ibaadah. As Muslims we are constantly supposed to be striving to perfect our 'ibaadah of Allah, all aspects of it, whether it is perfecting our Salaat, perfecting our 'Ilm of this Deen, perfecting our abilities in being a daa'eeyah, perfecting being a righteous and pious wife and mother, etc. We should never get to a point with anything in this deen where we say, "I have done enough. I am perfect in this."
A'oodhubillah from falling into such transgression. We can never "do enough" for Allah, subhaanahu wa ta'aala. There is always more to do, we can always do better. Hence, every act of 'ibaadah we do is a process of growth, of striving to excel and do better. This includes dealing with polygyny which maybe a sub-category of being a righteous and pious wife and a sub category of being a righteous and pious servant of Allah, subhanahu wa ta'aala.
And as we know, this life is filled with trials and tests, some we excel in and some we falter in, but from all we should ultimately proceed and strive to be better Muslims inshaa'Allah. All of that being said...when I first found out about my husband taking another wife i was...devastated. not about him taking another wife, by Allah, I had dealt with any hang-ups i may have had about polygyny way before I even met my husband alhamdulillah. I actually, upon getting to know my husband prior to marriage, anticipated that he would take another wife eventually in our marriage because of his nature, in that he is always wanting to help someone and because I felt that Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala had blessed him with such humbleness and compassion that I just knew he could be of benefit to so many more people, including another wife.
We had talked about polygyny numerous times before marrying, as well as after. He had always assured me that it was not a path he was considering, that I was all that he needed, that if it did ever happen it would be because i had suggested help for some sister in need, etc. etc. My devastation therefore stemmed, not from any dislike of polygyny itself, but from misunderstandings I had about my co-wife, as well as unrelated animosity and resentment I had towards my husband. Later on, as I began to deal with things, I came to realize that this was merely my insecurities speaking and me feeling like my husband was displeased with me and so he was marrying her. In truth, when you're in the beginning of things, you're not trying to do any self-assessment. You're too busy assessing everyone else. With all of that being said, my getting through it all was totally due to Allah, subhaanahu wa ta'aala. I take no credit, none whatsoever. I was devastated for about a week and then came the clarity... Then came the wisdom. Then came me really looking at the situation for what it could be. Because really the way you deal with your husband taking a second wife is all about perspective, it's about how you're looking at it. If you're looking at it as someone taking something away from you (i.e. your husband), your husband being displeased with you, you being inadequate, you, you, you, then you're bound to be in a state of devastation, denial, rejection for awhile. and may Allah remove this from the hearts of any of my sisters that are going through this or will go through this.
However, I began to look at it differently. For starters, polygyny can be yet another means of you obtaining the barakah of Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala. Even just you struggling with your emotions, with your jealousy and striving to overcome the emotional trials that you place upon yourself (for truly that's what it is, at least in the beginning) and fully accept the situation inshaa'Allah, you will receive reward from Allah. Really, ultimately, my smooth transition was totally about me trusting in the will of Allah subhaanahu wa ta'aala and viewing polygyny as a means for me to obtain barakah. If my husband was going to do this than I was going to use it as another means to me seeking the pleasure of Allah. I was going to be helpful to him, cooperative, and I was even going to offer support to the sister, if she so wished, to accept it because in the end, all our actions should be for the sake of Allah.
When we do things we should be thinking, "Now, is this going to draw the pleasure of Allah or His anger?" and "is this going to be something that will get me to Jannah inshaa'Allah?" Again, it's all about perspective. If you're looking at polygyny purely from a worldly aspect, my husband is MINE perspective, you're truly missing the point of this life - which is to worship Allah, subhaahanhu wa ta'aala, in a manner that will gain you that ultimate reward, Jannah. You must remember that you're husband is not really yours; he is merely a loan from Allah, subhaanahu wa ta'aala, in this life and inshaa'Allah in the next and you are not the true possessor of anything.
Before I end I do also want to say that in addition to my own self reflection coping strategies, I was blessed to have wonderful sisters in my life that gave me the most beautiful naseehah and support throughout the entire process and constantly reminded me of Allah, subhaanahu wa ta'aala. I made sure that whoever i confided in, I knew they would be honest, sincere, and would stick to Qur'aan and Sunnah. Not baseless opinion, assumption, and conjecture. I didn't call someone that i knew would fuel the fire which shaytaan was trying to ignite.
I was also, alhamdulillah, open with my husband about my feelings, fears, desires and needs. This is perhaps one of the most important things, don't shut your husband out and don't let him shut you out. I'm telling you, this whole situation has brought me and my husband closer and that is because I was honest with him from the beginning and I continue to be. You know, he said something to me around the time that I first found out, when I was in rebellion mode and was on that, "Well, I'm going to stay with you and fulfill your rights as my husband, but that's about it. Nothing more, nothing less." We got into a discussion of how some sisters, in dealing with their husband taking on another wife fall into the role of merely "functioning" in the marriage. It's like, they're not there because they want to be; they're just there to play a role. And so, my husband said to me,
"You can either be A WIFE, or you can be THE WIFE."
Over time i have come to realize that polygyny is a means for us to be the ultimate wife, but not only that, the ultimate companion for our husband. You want to strive to be as beloved to your husband as 'Aa'ishah, radhee Allahu 'anhaa, was to Rasoolullah (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). She was more beloved to him than all her other co-wives. Competition with your co-wife is not a bad thing; in fact I would say it's inevitable. However, make sure you compete in those things that are pleasing to Allah and that will gain His pleasure. Compete in being a better Muslimah, in perfecting your eemaan. Compete in those things that will gain both the pleasure of Allah, subhaanahu wa ta'aala and the pleasure of your husband.
Use polygyny to your advantage. and see it as an honor to be chosen by the Will of Allah, subhaanahu wa ta'aala, to be in a plural marriage. The best of women, the Mothers of the Believers, were co-wives subhaanAllah. As we know, Allah does not place a burden on a Believer that they cannot bear, so if He chooses polygyny for you, you best believe that you can handle it, as long as you trust in Him.
Source: An excerpt from the book: 'Polygynous Blessings: Musings of a Muslim Wife'.