There are so many misperceptions about many vital issues in Islam even among the Muslims themselves and one wonders where they stand on many of these issues and how to overcome the dilemmas. Today, many Christian expatriates wonder about Muslims being able to have four wives and whether it makes a man feel like an emperor surrounded by four women for pleasure.
I want to share with the readers some facts about it. Let me start by saying please do not allow yourself to be fooled by this concept. Marriage is not a matter of pleasure or fantasy. It involves many commitments and responsibilities and whatever you may have seen in Hollywood movies is just that – a movie, a fictional tale.
I think in real life today, a man can barely keep up with one wife, her demands and needs since there are two or three kids and their needs for a good education and support till they can stand on their own feet. This fairy tale about four wives only means more trouble. Besides, who thinks that four wives sharing a man can mean a lot of interaction and comfort? It only means more fights and quarrels over who should be the favorite, something I would advise men to avoid. Today, I want to share my thoughts on a different issue with the readers of the Kuwait Times.
It is about what some call “House obedience”, a system in which a man can force his wife to live with him under the same roof, otherwise she can be kept unmarried or waiting for divorce for years until he decides to let her free. Some men, who I think of as mean and nasty, would not hesitate to use this right to force a wife to stay with them even if they knew that she does not want to.
Such men are selfish and they do not care or bother about love or any sentiment; they care only about how to feed their own ego. But what triggers off such arguments in a couple’s relationship in the first place? Some men want to have their parents, ex-wives or family members live in the same house in which they live with their wife. When the wife complains that she is not feeling independent or free to do whatever she likes in her own house, or feels there is no other way but to get divorce, they end up in court.
The man then has a choice about either to provide for his wife a separate place or give her divorce. The man will have to comply with the court order and either provide a decent and suitable home his wife or the court will grant the divorce by the power of the law. I understand that this issue is not something that happens very frequently nowadays, but it does exist.
But I also think that any new couple has to understand that marriage is a huge and serious responsibility and unless they agree on tiny details and each one’s rights and obligations, life can be one big hell and no force will then help them to stay together in harmony. The divorce rate in our society is high and solutions like “house obedience” will not solve the conflicts.
I do believe young couples need to be aware of such issues, and the media should also play a proactive role in educating them.
The writer is a columnist at the Kuwait Times, where this article was published on Oct. 24, 2012