In reflection of National Marriage Week and being recognized and accredited on a global scale as marriage experts after penning the book Surviving Marriage in the 21st Century, I decided to pull out of my treasure trove of stories to tell about a situation that could have become awkward for me as a Muslim woman. Don't get me wrong, it's never awkward for me to educate about the religion of Islam because I am a strong, very secure in faith woman. The awkwardness is normally unintentionally deflected on the one who is posing the question.
Sometimes I ponder what would make someone ask such questions, especially of people that may be meeting for the first time, but nothing is wrong with a little bit of curiosity. Answers can trump ignorance and condescension can slither out of conversation. So what is the question you may ask? What would cause raised eyebrows, a slight tilt of the head and triple brow ripples on a monogamous Muslim woman? Take a seat. Some may be faint at heart.
What would you do if our husband decided to take another wife? Yes, that is the question. That has been the elephant in many of rooms in which I have had a presence. Yes, I have been asked this question more times than Jay Leno has retired. First of all, I applaud those that have had the courage to even let it pass their lips to land in my ear space. Secondly, it's not that simple as just a "decision," at least not in my marriage. My husband would not just decide to take another wife. Please, let me explain. This is what I say to be nice.
The Quran, Allah's (God's) word says "...marry other women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one..." Surah 4, Ayah 3. This is the guidance that was given to us which makes it permissible. This guidance also comes along with several conditions to make it righteous in accordance with God's Law.
Now let's break that down on another level and give a few real life analogies for better understanding. Sometimes speaking to people about what is in the Quran is like talking to kindergarteners about the SAT. Anywho, there is nothing in the Quran stating that my husband cannot have more than one car. Yet, he has only one because that is what he prefers, it's what he can afford and it's what he can maintain. Having only one allows him to learn everything about the car from the hood to the trunk. He knows how it handles on the highway and in the city. There is nothing in the Quran stating that my husband cannot have more than one home. Yet, he only has one that he financially supports and maintains so that it may appreciate in value. He knows when the roof springs a leak, he has the money for repair. He knows that in different seasons there are going to be a fluctuation in the bills so he lives within the means God has provided for him. There is nothing in the Quran stating that my husband cannot have more than one video game console. As a matter of fact, until recently, he used to have three. He found that he could not give equal attention to all three and that there is only one that he enjoys the most and plays with at his leisure. With this Laymen's type explanation they normally get the point. This is how we roll in our household. This is the preference.
I'm not knocking how anyone else lives their lives. This story relates to my life and how I live as a practicing Muslim. I've never seen the TLC shows <Sister Wives, which has become the poster child for polygamy or My Five Wives that promotes polygamous lifestyles. If they are living in legally married bliss, more power to them. After almost 25 years of marriage, several trials and tribulations, having truly experienced for better or for worse and for richer or for poorer, I have found that monogamy has been most eventful. Trying to perfect the connection, communication and stability between one man and one woman is challenging enough. In our relationship the preference of one wife outweighs the permission of more than one.
You can never know which way a marriage conversation is going to go, especially depending on whom and with how many you are speaking, but after you make people comfortable, they take liberties with further curiosities. The next question I'm normally asked is "So what if something happens to your husband?" Well, if something was to happen to my husband, I can honestly say as of this writing, I would be content in knowing that I have fulfilled that part of my covenant with God. I married and I reproduced. Would I consider marrying again? Probably not.
I have known my husband almost 30 years, since we were teenagers. We have been through some serious struggles from a very young age. Our three boys are now men and have never known their mother to be with any other man. That's also a huge consideration in preserving the memory of my husband. In consideration, great women come to mind such as Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz when I think of sustaining their husband's memory. I can totally relate to how they lived their lives after their husband's death. I can totally relate with how they kept their husband's purposes and missions alive in order to benefit the people. I would feel as if I would be dishonoring my husband by remarrying. I couldn't imagine going from monogamy to polygamy. I'd rather get a dog.