I’m sitting on my bed with my old friends of the week- anti bacterial ointment and a bandage- and examining the ugly cut on my toe. I wasn’t exactly being smart when I got it, not unless you call running across the hay meadow at dusk in foam soled shoes smart. (Old hay stalks are sharper than you think!) To be honest, I have no real idea what I stepped on,and what if it was metal or something like that? And I get gangrene? Darn!
I picture my toe falling off. Carefully putting on the bandage, I imagine me in five years sitting across from a suitor and lifting a nonchalant shoe under the table.
“I thought I’d better tell you before we get too serious- I’m missing a big toe.”
He would fall silent, his face crumpling in consternation as he realizes his idea of what I am is fast disappearing along with my drink. How did a girl with parents like mine get her toe cut off?
“Oh- uh- how did that happen?”
It makes me laugh, but it brought to mind how little Muslim couples actually know each other sometimes. I’d heard way too many stories of people getting married in a flush of nuptial bliss, only to face nasty reality when their dowry never shows up- or the Perfect Dude suddenly won’t let them out of the house- or he already has a wife he didn’t mention- or a toe missing! And chances are a kid is on the way.
I like to think I’m far too suspicious for this to happen, and definitely not the trusting type. I tell my sister that a definite clause in my contract is the No Second Wife Rule….i.e.’if you get a second wife I get a divorce’.
“Maybe you shouldn’t put it in the contract, just get it across that you trust him to understand that it isn’t okay with you.”
“He’d probably do it anyhow. This way it’s crystal clear that if he wants a second wife she won’t be my second.”
Misery is what comes to mind when I think of that scenario. Freaking messy misery. And I wonder if I’m being too distrustful.
But honestly, I think that as women we should avail ourselves of all the Islamic rights we have in marriage and be sure to follow up on them. We hear a lot about the women we should be, the wives and sisters we should be like, our husband’s rights, but not so much about our own rights. In the end, our parents and friends can’t always protect us. I have to look out for myself in some things, and that’s where dictating the terms of the contract come in. If he refuses to fulfill them I’d have to seriously think about whether I wanted this to be the rest of my life with him- and I feel like I’d probably decide not to.
But then, I reason, there’s love, which is messy. What if he disregards the rules and does what he likes but I love him too much to leave him? The idea leaves me feeling rather helpless.
“You know, I don’t plan on having kids for at least three years so I can be really sure he’s the father I want for my kids.”
My sister just looks at me.