I am a 49-year-old widow. I got married a bit late; I was 34 then, and my husband already had a wife and children. My parents accepted his proposal because I had no other offers for marriage. They told me that H was a rich man and since he had a very good job along with money of his own from some property, I would have no financial problems. You see, I was not good looking, and for the boys’ moms in my family and community that was a big no. Girls are married within our community or not at all. My husband was a good man and when he was alive he protected me. We lived on the first floor and his first wife and her children on the ground floor. His first wife never accepted me and her children also hated me. She has three sons and one daughter. When my husband died, they turned us out. My children are in their early teens, and her children are grown up. Besides, I had no one to fight for me. They did not even allow me to take anything except our clothes and my sons’ school bags. My jewellery and the furniture that my parents gave me is still there. My parents are very old and my brothers have their own families and have no time for me.
I don’t want anything for myself, but I want my two sons to get their legal share from their father’s property. I live with my parents and they are supporting me. They pay the school tuition fees for my children and it makes me feel very embarrassed. After my id’dat, I will get a job but for now I am dependent on my parents. What are my options? How can I fight for my children’s rights?
Dear Sad Widow,
What happened to you is despicable, but quite normal. It is very sad that those who are in a stronger position trample upon the rights of the weaker ones. My dear, you and your sons are entitled to your share in your late husband’s property. Your husband’s other widow and her children had no right to turn you out of the house. You have not mentioned where you live but I am sure you can get legal representation if you look up NGOs that help women in your circumstances. PAWLA is one such organisation and has done exceptional work for women. You have to be determined and brave as your case is very strong. What you must first ascertain is whether the house - or any other property – is in your husband’s name or not. You see, he married you when he already had children and there is a possibility that he bought his property in his first wife’s name. But what about his dues from the company he worked for? You should find out everything and first try to ask your community’s elders to intercede for you. Tell them that your own stuff is still in that house. Since you have a community where traditions are strong, it is possible that the elders can convince them to settle the matter lawfully and amicably. If this does not work out, a case can be filed through your lawyer. You will have to be very strong to fight for your children’s rights. Best of luck!
Dear Nadine Khan,
I am a 28-year-old married woman. I have been married for three years and ours was a love marriage. We worked in the same department of a private firm and fell in love. My in-laws did not want this marriage as my mother-in-law is against working women. She says that women who work neglect their husbands, homes and children, and my husband had a tough time convincing her to let him marry me.
Just because she was so much against working women, my parents told me resign before my marriage. I talked to my husband about this issue and he said it was my call. So I resigned and got married and tried to be a good wife and daughter-in-law. I do all the work, and yet I have to put up with my mother-in-law’s comments about how sloppy I am. My unmarried sister-in-law does nothing at all, but my mother-in-law doesn’t say anything to her. I was coping with all this but then my mother-in-law started shouting at me since I have not been able to conceive. I have consulted three doctors and they all told me there is nothing wrong with me, but my mother-in-law doesn’t believe me. At every opportunity, she tells my husband to either divorce me as I am barren or go for a second marriage. My husband has so far been able to withstand her pressure but I don’t how long will he be able to take it. I have become very depressed and demoralised. I know it’s my husband’s right to have children but I don’t want to share him with another woman. I love him so much that I don’t want a divorce either. My mother-in-law is so strong that sooner or later she will force my husband to make a decision especially since he is the only son. She will not let him decide for himself. I feel desperate and tense all the time, and have lost weight because of this situation. What should I do?
Desperate and Dejected Wife
Desperate and Dejected Wife,
First of all, pull yourself together. You have been told by doctors that you have no medical problem whatsoever, so there is no need to feel dejected. Sometimes it just takes long and people who are totally normal do not have children. Having said that, I think you should ask your husband to see a doctor as well. It’s not always women who have problems, men also have problems and in cases like yours the couples should get tested simultaneously.
If your husband also turns out to be normal in every way, you should just pray to God and hopefully you will be blessed with a baby soon. You can also go for IVF if your doctor suggests it, as well.
However, since you are normal there is a big possibility that the problem lies with your husband, and the sooner you get him to agree to see a doctor the better it will be for you both. Till he is tested by doctors, you can’t do much. I hope he is not like the usual males who make it an ego issue and refuse to go to get tested. Good luck!
I am a 23-year-old girl, and the only child of my parents. Last year, I got engaged to my cousin, whom I will get married to after Eid. My cousin is the son of my paternal aunt. He has four married brothers and three sisters who are still in school and college. They all live together and the idea of living in such a big family is terrifying for me. They are all very loving, but as an only child I am used to my privacy. I don’t think I will have that in an overcrowded house. Can you give me some tips about how to deal with them and behave in my new role?
Dear Petrified Virgo,
I can understand your apprehensions because as an only child you are used to living the way you want, without any interference from anyone. So, initially, you will have a bit of an adjustment problem. But the good thing is that they all love you and will do everything to welcome you in their midst. It is possible that once you get used to living with them, you will start enjoying your new life. You won’t be bored and your responsibilities will be divided too. Instead of freaking out, just take one day at a time once you get married. Smile a lot, and try to get along. It shouldn’t be hard as you know everyone. Just try to keep a positive frame of mind and don’t keep yourself aloof. They are your cousins and if you maintain the same relationship that you enjoy with them now, you will be fine. Good luck!