Updated: Dec 19, 2021
Divorce was always an "out there" concept to me. I accepted that it happens, only ever to other people though.
The Beginning: Tropical Disturbance
My divorce journey started when I was 19 and madly in love with someone I believed I would spend the rest of my years with. I say it started there because really there were alarm bells as clear as day even before we wedded. I was incapable of acknowledging them at the time.
He seemed very reserved (insecure almost) - the kind of introvert my extroverted personality wants to discover. I am intrinsically drawn to a "challenge" of this nature and become the mirror this person needs to see to help them see within themselves the potential that you see.
We had a hot and cold courtship and got engaged on my 21st birthday; mainly because my dad refused for us to be courting indefinitely without a plan for marriage. I was not proposed to; it was more a case of "Okay, let’s do it". It felt like he was "settling" for marriage because the alternative would be that we had to stop "courting".
The signs were there for the world to see; but not for me. We made people uncomfortable around us when we were in a bad space; the sort of toxic energy people steer away from. I think I always knew, but I'm no quitter; I'm a fixer, a fighter and a hard worker.
We attended a premarital "crash course" with a local Imaam and we even had many arguments about our interpretations of certain things (this should already have been another red flag). The way Nikah was taught to me over a number of years, and the way he seemed to understand it, was not the same thing.
...we discussed the second wife story
We were not married yet and he already brought up the topic of having a second wife. I was very clear, that in this day and age, I couldn’t see how men could justify this, and therefore could not agree to it. If he wanted to marry someone else, he would need to let me go, and then he would be free to marry whomever he wants. I could not comprehend or accept that his intentions for a second wife (while not yet married to the first) would be noble and that he would be able to do justice to both. I expect I will be judged for thinking this way, but at least I am honest about the way I feel, I never pretended that this would ever be okay with me.
…I made assumptions
We also never really discussed money. I mean this should be a no brainer, right? He has the financial responsibility of maintaining his wife and children, or so I thought.
…we discussed family planning
While we know that having children is not in our control (we seem to think we have a level of control with family planning), we had this talk. He refused to consider condoms in the beginning and so I started, what was to be, my hormonal mess two weeks before our wedding. The pills felt like a slow killer; I could not put this into words until now. I felt like I was being forced to do something to my body against my will.
…then he called off our engagement
He already called off our engagement once because I, then a struggling intern, went car shopping with my dad. This happened one Saturday during Ramadan when he wanted to visit me; his parents did not allow him to visit me during Ramadaan or to have iftaar at our place. At the time of interning, I was living with a relative so commuting to work was easier. This is why a car (preloved) was essential, so that I could move back home and my dad could take me to work while I worked on getting my driver’s license. Dear future husband didn't get this; he was furious that this messed up his plans for the day to visit me and I could not understand how he would not understand the predicament I was in. I ended up apologising...why?
…and later, we got married
We had a beautiful wedding [huge] and we moved into a shell of a dwelling that his parents built for us on their small holding, Alhamdulillah. We spent years making that our home; spending hundreds of thousands of Rands to finish the place and make it our home.