*(OMG, that sounds very much like one of my old Sociology projects)
I went on a six-day trip to come back and find that very controversial topic about second marriages vs. cheating discussed by fadfadation. Reading the post, I had too many thoughts that just wouldn’t fit into the comment space, so here it goes…
All through my life, I’ve heard my dad’s jokes with friends about the whole having-a-second-wife thing!! He’d always say how it is 7alal and that men are entitled to do it and no woman should “te7arram” what was deemed 7alal! Nonetheless, when the females in the discussion (either friends or friends’ wives) start attacking his thinking, he’d say with his well known sarcastic tone “howa elly yetgawez marra ye3melha tany… Bas bardo da 7aga rabena 7alelha le sabab we 7alelha be shoroot” (he’s basically mocking marriage and saying that he who marries once should be wise enough to never do it again! Yet, if religion allowed second marriages, it must be for a reason; moreover, it’s governed by certain rules)
I remember a childhood friend of my age, who got engaged around the same time I did insisted on debating with my dad saying “… but what about love”… my dad being the biggest cynic I know (who somehow still believes in morals in away) told her something like “fe thawabet, al 7alalo bayen wal 7aramo bayen.. manlakhbatsh nafsena be mostala7at nesbeya zay el 7obb” (rules are rules, religion is crystal clear about right and wrong… there is no need to confuse ourselves with relative terms such as love). It did not convince my friend, she argued about the certain rules and what they should be. She was not able to imagine what could possibly be a good reason for a man to remarry and put the first wife whom he loves/loved through such misery. At that point, I told her “if he no longer loved her, then she should not be with him, and if he did, yet he still wanted to be with another one, it’s either she accepts it for it’s better than adultery, or she can walk away with her pride well preserved”… the look on my friend’s face was indescribable!! It was like I betrayed women every where by believing that love fades!! She did not believe that I could speak that way despite being in love and planning to marry that man I loved.
I think it goes without saying that the whole second marriage never shocked me really!! I have to admit though, I always found it hard to believe that men are indeed capable of loving two wives, but like everything I find hard to believe, I did not spend much time dwelling on it. After all, I had the “perfect guy” who was going to love me forever and ever. **insert a cynical looking smiley right here to judge me**
Now, six years later, I try my best to think of second marriages that actually worked without having any negative impact about those involved… I can’t seem to find any! You see, in every case, the man would say he had “reasons”, but who defines reasons? Him? Either of the wives? Society? Religion? I am not that strong religion wise as my readings are pretty limited, so I am sorry if I don’t know what good religious reasons are! Here are a few cases from real life, of which I would like to get opinions from you…
Case No. 1:
T… T is a friend of my dad… a supposedly extra religious figure (whom I think gives religion a bad name sadly) who had been imprisoned for a failed attempt to murder late President Sadat. He married his wife while he was in prison (as in katab ketabo) and I have to say that I never understood why on earth she married someone who was sentenced that long, let alone someone who believed that murder was a good idea!!
Of course by the time he came out, she was too old to give birth (late 30s or 40s, I am that bad guessing people’s age!!). However, they visited a number of doctors until they were convinced that she cannot bear children. Of course, since adoption and surrogate parents are not an option in Islam, his remarrying was the only left option.
That man went bride shopping, looking for divorcettes/widows who already had kids to ensure he’d have kids of his own, given that he had done the necessary lab work for himself and proved fertile. He forgot that the first wife spent a good number of years waiting for him (I don’t understand why, I just never will!!) He did not stop to consider her feelings knowing she can never have kids of her own, and only worried about having his own kids; I am sorry, I think that was cruel of him… If he was to get married, he should have done it more decently; talked to her, gave her some time to feel supported and appreciated before tossing her aside the way he did.
She did not ask for a divorce because she had no one else to support her, you see, she paid for the apartment where they lived, but it’s in his name (I am seriously doubting her IQ level as I am writing this), and she had nowhere else to live except with her brother; therefore, she accepted being the first wife/nanny for his kids while he married that other woman and provided her with another apartment (also in his name, which means he could afford buying another apartment!!).
Again, I try not judge, but this man hurt his first wife and abused the right God gave him. I don’t think women should stay in a marriage because they have no other option, neither should men for that matter. People stay in a marriage because they want to, or at least they should only stay because of that. He should have done the honorable thing and changed the ownership of the apartment in her name, and then gave her the option. I would have respected him if he had done it that way, but I think he’s too much of a greedy pig who wants to have it all: the wives, the kids, the apartments!
Case No. 2:
Uncle MA… now that one married his beautiful cousin and I am saying beautiful not just because she really is, but because this is how he always bragged about her looks!! MA comes from a religious background; however, his parents have been separated long time ago, splitting him and his siblings in the middle for no apparent reason! He left to Kuwait long ago with his wife; he has three daughters within the same age categories of my sisters and I. During gulf war, they moved back to Cairo and he spent months unemployed while she worked and provided for the entire family! I am not saying she did it all by herself, but the whole concept of her sticking by him should have meant something when he decided to marry the ‘beautiful’ flight attendant he used to see regularly on his flights from and to Kuwait.
Of course the wife got offended big time, she insisted on a divorce, and since she had 3 daughters, she was entitled to their Cairo apartment, not that she needed it! However, he did not divorce her!! His argument was, my parents are separated and it’s working and she wouldn’t remarry anyway!! He married the flight attendant and gave birth to a boy (did I mention he said he wanted a son!!)
Now he lives with his second wife and son in a huge apartment (three apartments combined) in the name of two his daughters plus his son. And has the other apartment where his first wife and the girls live in the name of the middle daughter and he thinks he did them well!
Now, the girls, the older two have serious eating problems in addition to a somehow anti-social behavior. Those two girls are the same girls who used to tell me I should let my hair loose the first day I ever say them, did not even start a conversation last time I saw them!!! Their mom, developed cancer and got a divorce shortly after, since the second wife demanded that.
I don’t know how MA sleeps at night. I mean yes, he did not commit adultery… but does wanting a son serves as a justifiable reason, and if it is, shouldn’t he have taken better care of the daughters he already had?? And shouldn’t he have granted his first wife the divorce she asked for when she did, instead of divorcing her after she got sick upon the second wife’s request??? To him, he thinks he was being fair by dividing apartments on his kids… but I wish to tell him that when he dies, the apartment, the big one, will only go to the son and the second wife the way things work in Egypt.
Case No. 3:
Mr. AA, the husband’s previous employer. He is a multi millionaire, from a well known family who believes he is religious enough because he happens to pray and refrains from drinking! It’s strange he gives minimum wages to hard working people and still believes that way, but who am I to judge!
He married his secretary and had two sons and two daughters. 22 years later, he married his 25 year old secretary at the age of 50. What was the reason? I think refraining from adultery, although it wasn’t announced. So his new wife got a wedding gift of 400000.00 EGP worth, in addition to a latest Lincoln Grand Marquise model which she had specially ordered. I don’t care how judgmental I would sound when I say she married him for the money.
The day his family found out, the wife collapsed and I think she hit hysteric paralysis, yet she never asked for a divorce, probably for financial and social reasons! His daughter almost had a car accident as she got into her car right after he told her himself he was marrying someone a couple of years older than her! his mother and brothers refused to attend the wedding (yes, it was a big white wedding!!), and the new wife’s sister got promoted in the company and of course the new wife herself was not stupid enough to quit work and leave room for another Twinkie (I am sorry, I just couldn’t help it)!!
Almost 2 years later, he lost a good franchise to his competitor (yestahel) and his company has been liquidized and divided between him and his siblings since I don’t think they could trust him with their money anymore. I don’t know anything about his family or his business since I don’t know anything about the husband to begin with, but I can’t help but wish he gets a taste of his own medicine when the new wife decides she’s still young enough to find someone her own age.
I remember how much I despised that man when it all happened. He did not stop to consider the impact his second marriage had on his wife, that I can barely understand… but what about the negative impact it had on his kids??? His daughter could go marry someone his age just to spite him, and he wouldn’t even argue, but I’d like to see him try!!!
Talking to my father (who kept laughing cynically as I was telling him the whole story with passion enough to start media war on that man), he was like “he thinks he did nothing wrong, he still provides for both of the wives, and supports his kids financially”… I insisted “but what about destroying his kids emotionally, I mean don’t fathers have obligations towards their kids”… he continued “he thinks he did the best he could, his calculations are merely financial, and he thinks it’s more than enough… not just him, a lot of people think that way… and it could be right to an extent you just never know… you see, justice cannot be applied as far as emotions are concerned”… I know what my dad meant, it just wouldn’t register in my head!! I know and I understand why one cannot be fair when it comes to their emotions and I understand that fairness can only be applied with tangibles, but those men I mentioned caused tangible emotional damage to people whom they should care more for.
I am not saying it’s religion’s fault, I am only saying that the way people apply religion SUCKS, and it does our religion great injustice.
I don’t know how to say that the “right” way, but I think second or multiple marriages are only ok if no one gets harmed; at least not the children!! If women in our society are forced to stay in dead-end marriages just for the sake of the kids, then perhaps men should reconsider second marriages for the same reason.
However, if the choice ever comes between second marriage and adultery, I would vote for second marriage because no person in the right mind should choose what’s wrong over what’s right, and like fadfadation said, marriage protects the rights of all parties involved, not just money wise, but also social acceptance wise, which is very important, especially in or society.
I know it’s hard to believe, but I will say it nonetheless: if he had come to me saying “insomniac, I think I am in love with her and I will marry her, it’s your choice to stay or walk out on this marriage, but I am doing what I have to do!” I would have left. I know I would have cried rivers, but my tears would not have the same bitter aftertaste of the humiliation of being cheated upon, of being compared to a person I have no respect for, of being lied to and hurt just to cover up for several moments of weakness… after all, I would like to think I deserved better treatment, and I would have liked to think that I was worth more than an affair, that I was worth something legitimate.
But hey, that’s just me!!