A blog from a woman on a journey of discovery.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What price we pay for love?

In this place, in "far away land", somethings are very similar and some things are very different. One of the things that is different is the concept of "a second wife".

One of my friend from here is a second wife. She is highly intelligent, a wonderful woman, well traveled and educated. She was a little wild in her early 20's when she was out of the country but nothing most of us haven't or didn't do. She is stunningly beautiful, with flawless skin, the most beatuiful deep brown eyes, long black hair, which she wears covered almost all of the time, and lips that just look so kissable.

Her mother died before she married and I think this had something to do with the position she is now in. She is a second wife. She is number two wife. Not as in get divorced and wife number two...she is the second of two current wives.

They live in separate houses, and he divides him time between the two of them. They both have children, although hers are a little younger and a lot smarter and doing better at school. She is happy to be the second wife most of the time, but when he is away and comes back and it is one of the other wife's days, then my friend finds it hard. She find sit difficult to be away from her husband and misses him, she sometimes finds it hard that she is the bottom of the pile.

Last week she told me she was pregnant again, my heart sank when I looked at her face, I planted a smile on my face and congratulated her, but my heart was heavy for her. She had mentioned last year that the first wife was having trouble having another baby and she had been told if she got pregnant, then she may well have to give the baby to the first wife to bring up. To me this seemed barbaric, how could she do that, how could a mother in law do that and how could a woman do that to another woman, to take her child from her. But in "far away land" , this is a common practice. You find families split, "adoptions" all over the place, children not knowing their sisters and borthers are in fact cousins, or distant relatives.

The thinking behind it being, that those parts of the family that can offer the most, provide the most, for the most, so you can see the logic, but how do you explain logic when your baby is going to be given to someone else.
Its not as if my friend is poor, or her husband.

I didn't mention it, and I' don't know if it will happen, maybe it wont. But her eyes were full of tears today and I asked her what was wrong

 Last night she spent the evening filling in forms for her husband and wife number one, to apply for a mortgage for a bigger house for them, and she was supplying the names of HER aunt and uncle to act as guarantors. Meanwile she lives with her grandmother with her two children ....somehow it doent seem fair, somehow it doesnt seem right.

I know it is not my place to judge, to pass comment even, and I didn't. I hugged her, asked about her lovely children, told her we would have coffee later and went away.

I saw her later in the day, on her phone, looking at  a text, and a slow silent tear flowed down her beautiful cheek and hung from her chin. She wiped it away with the back of her hand, sighed and finished reading the text. I made a noise and she looked up at me, and all I could see was pain.

She smiled a sad smile at me and got up to make the coffee.

Its not hard to be open minded, to respect other cultures and religions, but oh sometimes it is so hard to  understand.

What price we pay for love?


  1. Wow. Amazing.

    I now am glad that the babysitter doesn't know of me. I could not blend our lives to that point.

    My thoughts are with your friend.

  2. i know that you carry part of her pain, and now I do too. Just a tiny part, but still...

    It's all I know to do.


  3. Sometimes it's a price women are happy to pay.

    While your friend's personal situation is very sad, I know lots of second wives (mostly Westerners) in my own corner of "far away land" who are happy.

    Most don't want first wife status ... too much work, you have to manage the family finances, and too much cultural responsibility (its a matriarchal society - check Wiki, a "matriarchy is a society in which females, especially mothers, have the central roles of political leadership and moral authority"). Second wife status also provides additional freedom to return to the West, when they want.

    While adoption is quite common it works differently because traditionally families live in one compound, children are shared both by wives and different generations (here the old are venerated and remain within the family until death, unlike many families in the West).

    Everywhere is different :)

  4. Thank you all for your comments.
    It is always difficult to live a different society than the one that is your own, to be an outsider looking in. It is different to have grown up in a society and accept things as "normal" and how things are, how they will be and knowing that there are somethings you can change or fight against and some you just have to accept. This society has lots of women in very powerful positions, high up in government organisations, Multinational CEO type positions, etc, yet family traditions, religious doctrine and tribal considerations override most things, its a strange juxtaposition and all a bit of a conundrum that I sometimes find hard to fathom out.

  5. My heart breaks for your friend. Cultural norms are created and made and can be uncreated and unmade and sometimes, just sometimes there are practices that are just maybe in need of changing so they become cultural norms in the future. I hope in the future a woman in your friend's situation will not feel duty bound to surrender her child if she does not want to. All the best x