“Generally, marriage and relationship researchers suggest that the goal of couple therapy should be to change the patterns of interaction, emotional connection, and communication between the partners.” I always believed in this statement of John Gottman, PhD. But then, life can be fickle.
Let me tell you about my family – my husband and my five children, a bit of my life.
I got married when I was young and still in college. My husband is an Islam believer, and for us to be together in marriage, I had to convert to Islam. I didn’t mind doing that for I loved him dearly. He was my knight in shining armor, my king, and I was his queen. I was 19, naive, gullible and too much in love to understand the married life.
Soon after my conversion to Islam (their family was very religious and traditional), I got pregnant. We were very excited to have our first born, our baby, and the product of our love for each other. I had to stop school during my junior year in college to make way for our little angel. At that time, I didn’t mind it. I was the wife with a very loving and committed husband. We were welcoming our baby. Soon after her birth, life took a turn for us.
Our First Born
We named her Aisha. Aisha is one of Prophet Muhammad’s wives, and in scriptures, it was reported that she was the most favorite wife of the prophet. Just like us – our little Aisha readily became our favorite. She captured our hearts the second she came out of me. Her father cried with happiness when Aisha let out her first breath. When she became older, I cried because of Aisha. At times, she was challenging to manage. Problems within the family, specifically our marriage, changed my Aisha. She became temperamental and moody.
The Second Born
Maimona. I often call her my hadiyah. In Arabic, it means “gift.” She is a gift to me, to us, and to our family. Maimona is an obedient daughter, kind, helpful, patient, and forgiving. But she’s not perfect, like all humans in this world. I may have put her on a pedestal which stressed out my daughter. And with problems in our family right now, she is seeking the assistance of a mental health counselor at school. I often pray to the Almighty that he relieve my second born of all her repressed emotions, feelings and thoughts. May she understand that I only want what’s best for her and that I am not putting much tension on her. I want her to be successful in life and go places.
Our Third Born
She is very outspoken, frank and blunt. Her siblings call her “rude girl” at times, but it’s unintentional on her part. Sittie just wants to express herself and oh boy, how she does that with such passion. In a sense, I am proud of my daughter for being firm and true. She knows who she is even at a young age, and that is something. It makes me think that when she grows up, she won’t let anyone put her down. She can carry herself and is a survivor. At age 12, her left ovary was taken out due to a head-sized dermoid cyst. With that, her father came back (we were having issues), and helped in taking care of her.
The Only Son, Fourth Born
His name is that of his father with a Junior. We called him Zubair. He is the apple of his father’s eye since he’s the name carrier. My son will grow up to be a man, a great man, and I hope and pray for that. In Islam, men are regarded very highly, not that women have no importance. After all, women are the givers of life. Without women as mothers, there is no man as a son. It’s just that men are the leaders in a family and the society in general. Even in the bible, it said that men should rule over women. It’s a God-given law to humans and the natural order of things. Challengingly, our son has a behavioral disorder. He has ASD with ADHD, and it’s one of the reasons for our stressful marriage. We are not blaming our son. The situation with him is just too demanding.
Our Baby, Fifth Born
The baby of our family is Shaira. She is so innocent and pure – doesn’t know a thing about what is happening to her dad and I. With Shaira around, we are keeping things low and civil. We may not be in good terms right now, but we also don’t want our little one to feel that there is something wrong. Sooner or later, if things won’t be resolved, she will eventually have to know. How I wish this isn’t happening, but it is here right now. Armed with my 3-year-old daughter, my baby Shaira, this is my life right now.
My Husband And Our Marriage
“I’ve sat with so many couples that are very good at stating exactly what they don’t like and don’t want from their partner. This leads to a lot of tit for tat and back and forth that gets them nowhere,” says clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, PhD.
It’s been 20 years, and I guess, he got lost, bored, fell out of love, or I don’t know whatever other reason. He married a younger woman who is only six years older than our Aisha. Can you imagine that? Well, he is allowed to marry another woman, but that is after asking permission from me. But he didn’t ask permission. They went on living sinfully for a year before they married because she got pregnant. Adulterous, yes, but now there’s a loophole in all this – he married her. He married her. Why did he have to do that?
My husband of 20 years doesn’t love me anymore. He chose her over me, that’s how I feel about it. He said to me – You are still my wife, but I have to fix everything since she is pregnant.
How does he want me to respond? Does he want me to jump for joy because he has a baby boy on the way? And for him, having a baby boy is extremely important. Is it really worth my pain and suffering? I guess it is, for him to quickly dismiss our 20 years.
What I Have Learned From All Of This
I learned that there is a thing called “panic anxiety” and it’s the most terrible feeling ever. It’s like someone is choking you and sucking the air out of your system. You will feel dizzy, and you’d lose sense. I have experienced that a lot for the past two months.
(Actually, I had panic attacks. “A panic attack is an intense wave of fear characterized by its unexpectedness and debilitating, immobilizing intensity. Your heart pounds, you can’t breathe, and you may feel like you’re dying or going crazy. Panic attacks often strike out of the blue, without any warning, and sometimes with no clear trigger. They may even occur when you’re relaxed or asleep,” according to Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. This is what I experienced.)
Another thing I learned is that when your Islam-believer husband wants to marry another woman, there is nothing you can do about it. Yes, I didn’t consent to their marriage, and in Sharia Law, that’s illegal. It doesn’t mean though that their union is invalid. He married her even without a signed marriage contract. It is a valid marriage. I mean, that’s how they made marriage arrangements back in the day. When two people consent to getting married with appropriate witnesses, a wali, and an imam present, then it is a valid union. I chose this, and I married a Muslim man who can maintain at most four wives. It’s my demise.
For some people, love is fickle. Love is a lie. Love is selfish. Love is hurtful. Love is passionately wrong. Love is painful. Love is my downfall. It is my weakness and my death.
But is love supposed to be like that? Is marriage supposed to be like that? I read that love is supposed to be patient. Love is supposed to be kind. Love doesn’t envy. It doesn’t boast, and it has no pride. Love doesn’t dishonor other people. It’s not supposed to be self-seeking. Love is not angered quickly nor does it keep scores of all wrongs done. I have been dishonored in every way. I wasn’t treated kindly for the duration of their affair. He wasn’t patient with me and was always angry. It’s an experience nobody would want to live.
What do I do now? What do I do? Pray. Just pray. Prayers can ease my troubled mind. It’s the only thing I can do for now. Don’t make a decision when you’re confused or angry. I wish others for a happy ending, unlike mine who is torn in asking for a divorce or staying in this bigamous marriage because of love.