Monday, March 27, 2006

Second Wife

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.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Rain said...

hi Lou,
From ur story seemed that being a second wife was the only solution for ur friend B, but what i don't understand is how did her husband agree to be married to his first wife by force?? it just doesn't make sense!!

B is so in love , that's why she agreed to share him with someone else other than not having him at all...

3/27/2006 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Cliche~ said...

...In some cases its impossible to put urself in someone else's shoes.... because even though one has the ability to distinguish between their personal emotions and that of others, there are some beliefs and feelings that you assume are universal ...such as being hurt by sharing ur loved partner with someone else...such as defining the establishment of marriage as the sole center of life...so how can you have 2 centers? It just seems to contradict the equation of nature doesn't it?

To be honest with you....Its personally beyond me to understand that,,,but i have friends who hypothetically would be willing to do it...

Yet u ll never know whether this woman is pretending to be happy or is really happy....I wonder..

3/27/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Alb Sayed said...

I think it was a difficult decision for him and for her. And before I get cyber pelted, let me say that I am personally against second marriages. But...

I do respect all three parties involved. The man for not leaving his first wife, and more importantly, his children. And the first wife for not pushing the classic "it's either me or her" ultimatum, again sacrificing the children. And likewise, the second one for being understanding enough to allow herself to share him with another woman.

Our society is not suited for single motherhood or divorcees. And of course, I am not advocating second marriages (**looks over shoulders searching for wife**), but in this case it's better than the alternative.

3/27/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Wonderer said...

I felt like watching the movie of Shadia & Salah zou al faqar (can't remember the name). To be a second wife was her only choice to get her man. However, in the movie, the first wife didn't know of the existence of the second one. I really wonder how can a woman share her beloved man with another one. We are human, and I am not convinced of otherwise.

Also, how can your friend still be in love with a man who abundant her just because he was to weak to fight for his choice. I can't understand the verb "forced". Can a family FORCE an adult man to marry a woman he doesn't love?!! I don't think he was weak when he insisted on marrying a second wife and facing the whole world with his decision!!! Was his first woman, a rich one and he couldn't resist her money?!!
Many questions with no convincing answers.

3/28/2006 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Rain,

"but what i don't understand is how did her husband agree to be married to his first wife by force?? it just doesn't make sense!!"

I wanted to ask that but was afraid of asking too many questions. If I had to guess though I'd say probably he agreed to the first marriage when he was too young. And came to regret it later. Your ability to oppose your parents & be independant increases with age doesn't it?

cliche,

"Yet u ll never know whether this woman is pretending to be happy or is really happy....I wonder.."

Yes that's what am curious about. Can love survive in such circumstances?Would she ever have regrets?Maybe she does already?Is she too weak or too strong to be able to cope with something I feel incapable of even contemplating?

Wonderer,

"Also, how can your friend still be in love with a man who abundant her just because he was to weak to fight for his choice. "

That would be my verdict too. But I guess she chose to forgive him. I don't think she ever gave herself a chance to think about a new beginning with someone else which is what I would have done. If you are obssessed with the same person from age 14 it's probably hard to give them up for good.

Alb Sayed,

"And the first wife for not pushing the classic "it's either me or her" ultimatum, again sacrificing the children. "

As a 'first wife' I can tell you that if my husband ever makes me feel he's having trouble choosing between me & some other woman there would be no ultimatium. I'd make the choice for him. Sorry but if he needs another woman then he doesn't need me. End of story.

I don't know if I respect them really. Haven't made up my mind yet. I don't normally judge people on their personal lives but this story compels you to to try to come to some sort of personal conclusion no?

3/28/2006 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

I cannot understand this either. It is beyond my comprehension that 1. any man would allow himself to be forced to marry someone he did not want to marry and 2. that this smart woman would be happy to be wife #2. I guess I am too jealous or close minded to share with another woman, especially if there were children involved. I think you showed a lot of restraint in your questioning. I'm with you on this Lou Lou.

3/28/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Crazy Girl said...

I just don't know how someone could be intimate with one person for three days a week and than be intimate with another person. Seems to confusing.

I would have had a million questions to ask too. I don't get staying with someone for the sake of children. I don't really think they are better off in the long run. I also think wife #1 should have had a little more self respect and left him. Or well that may not be a fair way to put it, but I always felt that a person should be with someone that loves the person the same. I wouldn't want to be with someone that doesn't love me the way I do for him.

3/29/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Me said...

Beyond me too ... I do hear stories of young women marrying as second wives ... but they aren't really the "Articulate, witty, cultured, well-read an all-around brilliant conversationalist" type... I mean they're girls who just want to get married...

Allaho a3lam what's inside her and how she feels... quite hard to try and put myself in her shoes and see it from her perspective...

3/31/2006 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger KareemFromEgypt said...

well everybody marches to their own tune, some guys marry a second time, some couples swing, some couples shit on each other for kicks, so basically it's whatever tickles their fancy. and most of these things would not appeal to the "normal" human being

we're all different, and it's impossible to understand what makes one person take that decision.

i used to have that problem with two of my girlfriends, i didn't like the guys they were with, just thought the guys weren't giving them their worth (and the guys were my friends) in the end the girls are still with the guys, and i'm the bad guy for pointing out the bad things in their relationships.
the moral behind this story is some people enjoy things that we think are crazy, just let them be

kudos to you for discussing such a good topic on your blog

3/31/2006 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Jane,

Yes I can't imagine love being anything other than monogomous. It's just a mental block with me. Guess am pretty closeminded about this too.

Yasmina,

I think the first wife should have left him too. Imagine your husband telling you that well he thinks he was wrong to marry you because he's been in love with someone else all along & now he's going to marry her. And then you actually stick around!

Meme,

"I mean they're girls who just want to get married..."

Yes me too. When I think polygyny I think foreign girls marrying rich Emiratis to get him to buy her a villa in her home country before he gets bored of her or his Emarati first wife forces him to dump her.

Even religiously I always hear polygyny justified on socioeconomic grounds, to take care of widows & orphans in wartime when lots of men have died etc....

"And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course." [4.3]

I think it's safe to say that in this case, there was no fear of not being equitable to orphans. I never thought of a polygamous marriage as a love marriage. This is why it was so shocking to me.

Kareem,

I guess you & cliche are right. It's sometimes impossible to put yourself in someone else's shoes. I guess we're all more different than I thought.

4/01/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Libyan Violet said...

Loulou actually your theory that the man did not standup to his parents because he was young is usually what happens . Parents want to marry the guy in his early 20s ( usually) and at that time men are not ( not offense ) as strong willed about what they want as us women ;) plus they are not financially independent so if the mum tells , 3alashan 'arda 3alek yabni , wa 'fra7 gabl ma 'amut ... he would kind of cave in, later on in their 30s they are able to make a rational decision and marry their first love .

I can sympathise with that if the woman is willing to accept being the other wife. I would never want to share my man, BUT if the only way to get/be with the love of my life is by 'sharing' him - I may , just may give it a try , it's very difficult ya Loul to walk away from your love, sometimes starting over is toooooooo painful ...but I am speculating here ....;)

4/07/2006 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger ginnyvaet11 said...

Well I ran into this last year. I am american my husband Egyptian and he was an auditor, so he travelled alot. End of june last year I went to NY to see my parents, he told me he was going to Cleveland for an audit. He never called after several days and he is someone who always called. I called his work and said he never went to Cleveland he was on vacation. Long story short, he was in Dubai. I got home july 5 and he finally called, number comes up from Dubai, he tells me he is in cleveland and I tell him he is a liar. Caller I.D. we have a four and five year old. Where is Baba? The following week the credit card for him comes, he flies to the philipeans stays in fancy hotels, buys a diamond ring thousands, meanwhile he left me no money. I have my own bank account thank God, anyway, I think I flipped his father out when I found my husband's personnel ad on a philipino website, I told him I knew he married a philipino wife. He in turn made up a story that his mother was in a coma and my husband could not leave her side to talk to me. My inlaws were in Egypt and my friends were unsure to believe an old man who was telling me his wife was dying to protect his wife. I can state Egyptians are liars or at least most are. It gets better, he returns, after two months, he thought he would lie to both of us and keep us as second wives in different countries. He told her he was flying home to divorce me, I started the process, but he did not want to follow through. He told me it was over and went back to end it with her. I had snuck onto his computer when he showered and found all his emails, so after he left I wrote all the emails and lo and behold, one of the emails was hers. We wrote non stop, he had written me when he first arrive stating he missed me etc, she remembered him using her computer at that exact moment, she was livid. We realised he had lied to both of us. He was out of work at that point, it was October, and she was pregnant day 1, 2 days after they married, turns out she had a hindu boyfriend, and possibly it was her baby since she was muslim, it would be a shame for her to be pregnant by a hindu. She found my sucker husband. Anyway, in short order, she is writing me my husband is a monster, lazy, sleeps all day, he has been out of work on and off for years now. Within short order, they were divorced and he forced her to lose her visa to Dubai. She is back in the philipeans must have by now had her baby. He is back here, the bum, fells apart, and has not worked in a year. I have a big heart, she is the winner. We are still together because of our kids. He is bringing up the second wife again, I am showing him my boot. Why do men always want more women.

5/21/2008 10:42:00 PM  

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