B. is a girl I used to go to school with a long time ago who now works with my husband. Ran into her at the hospital where he works. Was surprised she recognized me. I certainly didn't recognize her. Last time I saw her was in 8th grade. But of course I was happy to renew the acquaintance. We exchanged numbers a couple of weeks back but with our busy schedules we only managed to get together for lunch on Thursday.
She's such an interesting person. Articulate, witty, cultured, well-read an all-around brilliant conversationalist. And I thought she was gorgeous. Stylish, very fit - not surprising when you consider that she is both a nutritionist & a physical therapist -, long, black hair, tanned skin, lovely smile. I could see heads turning as she walked into the restaurant where we had lunch.
Of the two of us, she was the talkative one. Am a chatterbox myself but some people make me want to fall silent & listen. She was one of them. It was almost a couple of hours & I was starting to think I needed to go home when the conversation started to get personal. I ended up sitting back down for another 2 hours.
It was when she showed me pics of her husband & children. She married her old high school boyfriend. Which would not have been surprising if I didn't happen to know the guy & hadn't happened to attend his wedding. I wasn't going anywhere after that. Curiousity killed the cat maybe but am not a cat & I was going to get to the bottom of this!
Things got a bit awkward because I didn't know how to ask her what happened to his first wife which is what I was dying to know. In the end I decided that I should just get to the point. So I told her I was surprised because I had been a guest at his wedding in Dubai - almost 9 years ago.
She said no he wasn't divorced, that she married him 5 years ago. And I thought oh my God. She was 24 & she married a married man? Why? Why would an intelligent, educated, fairly wealthy young woman want to do that to herself & to another woman?
Her answer was simple. She said she'd loved him all her life - that they were forced to break up because his family wanted him to have some sort of arranged marriage & her family refused because his family refused. They were from different nationalities so that was also a problem. But they just couldn't stay away from each other & in the end both families were forced to accept.
I was so full of questions. But how can she bear it? If she loves him so much how can she bear to share him with another woman? I just couldn't picture that. She smiled & told me that she was happy with her life. That she has 3 days of every week to herself to pursue her own interests, be with her friends etc....& when she does see him it's always more exciting because they missed each other. And besides she knows she's the one he's always loved - that he never wanted the other marriage.
I asked her about the kids, the responsibility, doesn't she feel it's unfair that she's a part-time single mother? She told me that it's not as tough as it sounds, that she loves her kids & is not afraid of being responsible for them, that she enjoys it & that he helps when he can.
I had to stop there because it would have been rude to force her to defend her personal choices anymore than that. But am not satisfied. She seems happy but is she? Is it possible for a woman to be happy in such a situation?Does she never feel guilt, jealousy, self-doubt, insecurity, loneliness? And what about the other wife? Is she happy too?
What makes women accept this?Doesn't matter whether the law allows it or not, whether he married both of them or had one as a wife & one as a mistress, that's not what puzzles me. It's the basic fact that two women - each of whom are aware of the other's existence - seem to have come to an agreement - spoken or not- to commit to the same man that am having trouble with. It's so alien to everything I ever thought or believed about love.