Dear readers and friends of Carol, here you find Carol’s last article, which she had scheduled a long time in the future. This article illustrates Carol’s great capacity for love and forgiveness.
We miss you Carol.
After careful thought and deliberation I have decided to come out with something I have danced around and never discussed outright. Why? Because of my own inner conflicts on the issue. However, I realize that to be fair to the memory of the man with whom I shared the best times of my life and to his family and heritage, I should speak out. This may not put me in the most favored of light but as the saying goes, it is what it is. It is part of who I am and my life I had shared with my late husband, Abdullah.
When I first met Abdullah back in the late 1990’s I was under the belief he was separated and in the process of divorce. After all, we met in Pakistan, he was there alone and if asked, he did not acknowledge that he was married. Truthfully I also made it very difficult for him to be candid as I was brash and vocal on my views on men who had more than wife. Besides, at that time, I never imagined we’d have a life or future together. Yet as time went on and I got to know this kind, caring and compassionate man, I gave him my heart with no holds barred.
Time passed and we discussed marriage. He chose to be less than direct on the topic of marriage other than he had children with a good woman and whom he respected highly. The implication was that a divorce had taken place but he would do whatever he could for his children and their mother. I admired his integrity and loyalty.
It was not until we had been married for more than three years that I learned he had never divorced his first wife. From a western and emotional perspective I felt abandoned and betrayed. Yet at the same time, Abdullah was always true to his words and actions. He never made me feel incomplete or less than loved or his only love for that matter. He had a relationship similar to many around the world of couples who were divorced and had children in common. He never spoke against the fine woman who was his first wife. It was my own insecurities that would make this subject an issue. Yes; like a whining banshee I would feel some periods of self pity and fear. Oh how silly I was.
As more time passed I like to say that my eyes opened wider and wiser. I became aware of intimate family details and especially so how a Saudi woman can lose so much of herself and her own opportunities if there is perceived abandonment or divorce. Abdullah, showcasing his honor, would never place a woman in such a position. He wanted her to always have the protection of his name, integrity and family. She raised his children and raised them so well.
She and I never met, never talked. There was no need. Over time I came to realize there was no need for me to feel threatened or insecure. If anything, one could say I was in the stronger position since I was the one recognized and known as Abdullah’s wife to whom he openly gave his heart and was willing to sacrifice his position in order to merge a life together.
I only have all the more admiration for Abdullah. He was a man caught in tradition and heritage. Like me, he never dreamed he’d also find that ‘once in a lifetime love.’ He did not want to lose me and chose to hold back from me until I asked him point blank directly about his marital status. Even when I did confront him all those years ago, I still see the fear and concern which etched over his face. He was ready for me to let him go because of my strong abhorrence against the concept of multiple wives in Islam. But all it took was for me to see his face, his fear, his love and yes, his fear to hope. I knew… I could not let this man go. We would move forward and move forward even stronger. We would learn to dissolve the time which had been lost by my own fears and insecurities.
Don’t say it can’t happen to you. It can. It does. It happened to me. Don’t be quick to judge or point fingers either. Don’t blame him. Don’t blame me. Don’t blame her. We all may find ourselves in circumstances beyond which imagined.
My late husband taught me an invaluable life lesson on compassion, honor, integrity and how to accept compromises for less hurt, great gain and immeasurable love.
Filed under: Abdullah, culture, islam, relationships, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Living, Uncategorized | Tagged: America, culture shock, gender issues, heritage, islam, marriage, Saudi Arabia | 116 Comments »