The honeymoon always ends they say. Some end sooner, some later. Perhaps for some lucky enough, their lives are spent with moments from the honeymoon stages resurfacing throughout their years of marital bliss. Some women are treated like princesses and queens, made to feel on top of the world and then there are others. Some honeymoons last a year, some say it could last for up to seven years, my honeymoon ended shortly before it began, before I even returned home.
My husband was sweet, charming, doting, affectionate and courteous. I found it easy to fall in love with him, head over heels in love in fact, allowing myself to be comfortable in his presence, allowing myself to feel like a princess. I would look at my reflection in the mirror and smile nodding my head in disbelief as I silently told myself how wrong I was about love and marriage. I was love struck, my husband was simply enchanting. He took me on long walks on the beach as the sun dipped into the ocean at dusk, he surprised me with candle lit dinners on the balcony of our suite, he had a rose sent to our room everyday with a special note written by him, he looked into my eyes without speaking a word, drinking from the well of their brown naiveté, drowning me in love for him. I felt like the luckiest woman on earth. That was until I noticed his unmasked roving eye. When he wasn’t looking into my eyes, he was looking at almost every other female within close proximity to him. It was like a hunger, it controlled him and he wasn’t able to hide it from anyone, not even his new bride. His hand was warm in my own hand, but his eyes lingered on other women.
The first time that I noticed this should have served as a red flashing light, a warning, the second time should have been an alarm bell and the third time should never have happened at all had I said something but I chose to look the other way, ignorance is bliss as they say . So at first I told myself that I was imagining it. Then I convinced myself that every man must be doing the same thing, its what men do, they’re different to us, I told myself. But I noted how my father had never looked at any women other than my mother and the more that I looked away, the more Yusuf seemed to look at other women! I was crushed. While walking alongside me his head would turn magnetically to look at a pretty lady that passed him by, while lounging on the gorgeous beach with his head in my lap his eyes were drawn to looking at someone in a skimpy bikini, even while dining in candle light I noticed his eyes on other women. The reception clerk, the guests at the hotel, the waitress, no female was safe from his sultry glare. I burned with an inner rage and with an unfamiliar jealousy. I wanted to bring it up with him but I was a new bride and new to the whole concept of marriage and relationships, I didn’t know how to handle this situation that I found myself submerged within. I would never have expected my groom to be so inconsiderate of my feelings. I had no one to speak to or to seek advice from.
The more that I kept quiet, the angrier I became until I had no control over my emotions and before I realized what I was doing, I lashed out at him for winking at the waitress serving us dinner one evening.
” Are you done?” I asked him curtly. ”
Done?” He looked bewildered.
” Not yet”, he answered me with a frown, staring at his half filled plate of seafood. The clinking sound of cutlery and soft chatter from dining patrons filled the air. I looked at my husband intently, the glow from the candle on our table creating a dreamy romantic atmosphere. The setting was perfect, perfect except for the fact that my husband could not look at just me and I could not look the other way.
” Are you done flirting with the waitress and can we go back to our room now?”. I retorted coldly.
Yusuf said nothing back. He looked into my eyes for a few moments not blinking, not looking away either, a blank unaffected stare, devoid of emotion cutting through me. Then he wiped the corners of his mouth with a napkin, he gently pulled his chair back and stood up to leave. I followed him to the elevator, an ice cold silence wedged uncomfortably between us like an unwelcome friend, entering the elevator ride to our room as a third companion. How could he remain silent? How dare he remain silent! I wanted to hear what he had to say. I was willing to listen to his argument, to his defense. Maybe I could forgive him. But all the way up the elevator and to our room he said nothing to me. I looked at him from the corner of my eye but he looked down then up at the flashing numbers as he waited for the elevator to stop at our floor. I began to feel as though I had perhaps done something wrong. That was my first mistake, doubting myself.
The atmosphere was tense and I felt uneasy as I stared at his handsome profile waiting for a word from him, a look from his eyes, but it was as though I was invisible to him although I stood right beside him. He acted as cool, calm collected and oblivious as though nothing had transpired just moments before, as though he were alone on the elevator. The elevator jerked to a stop and Yusuf stepped out quickly not waiting for me to catch up to him. I followed behind wondering what was going on. We entered the cool hotel room. The air felt like velvet on my flushed skin. Yusuf opened the balcony doors, switched the air conditioning off and changed his clothes all as though he had no care in the world. He took a work call, then he called his mother after stepping out onto the balcony to enjoy the beautiful ocean view. Eventually he jumped into bed opening his laptop, clicking at the keys furiously. I awaited his response, his apology but I received none so I prayed my salaah and then jumped in beside him. He turned the laptop off a few moments later, turning to face away from me and then went to bed soundly, without a care in the world. I lay beside him awkwardly, speechless. I was married a week, was this our first fight? I didn’t know what to expect from marriage and although I had heard the cliche that marriage wasn’t a bed of roses, I did not expect to sleep alongside the thorns so soon! I expected to enjoy my honeymoon for a few moments longer.
I decided to take my mothers advice, never ever go to sleep angry at each other, she told me. She’d been married for 25 years, she knew the ingredients to a successful marriage. And with that, I swallowed my pride and broke the thick silence. “Its hurtful when you stare at other women Yusuf. I’ve watched you do it so many times so please don’t deny it. I think that its degrading and insulting to be honest.” The crashing waves below applauded sharing their sentiments with me and in between their breaking on the shore, silence stung our ears, but Yusuf said nothing in return. My heart was heavy with sadness as I wondered if this was what married life was all about? Do all women turn to look the other way? Was it really like this? Should I not have said anything perhaps? It can’t be! No one ever told me this part! I sat up and reached over him as I switched his bedside lamp on cutting through the darkness abruptly, demanding a conversation. After a few moments, Yusuf rolled onto his back looking only at the ceiling above, releasing his breaths patiently. Finally a response from him! I began to tear. I felt needy and clingy, I needed to feel my husband’s arms wrapped around me, I wanted to weep into his chest, I longed for the reassurance of his love. I wanted to be told that I was pretty, gorgeous, beautiful, desirable even or that I was the only women for him. I waited for him to deny looking at any women. I knew that I wasn’t imagining what I saw, but I would overlook it tonight, I would overlook it this time. I didn’t want to ruin my honeymoon, my picture perfect postcard. We had just a few moments left of it. I waited for his touch, his reassuring touch on my shoulder, for his soft voice or his loving caress. But I felt nothing and I heard nothing. Yusuf sat up to switch the lamp off. But before he did, he broke the stinging silence with something that I will never forget. When I think about how those words made me feel, for a moment my eyes still sting and my heart bleeds for my younger naïve self, even after all this time.
” Maybe if you didn’t dress like my mother I wouldn’t need to look at other women”. His tone was calm, soft yet strikingly sharp.
I didn’t even know that I had been dealt a blow until a few seconds later. And with a click turning off the light, my entire world had just been altered. I lay my head down on the pillow slowly. I wondered what had just happened as I tried to make sense of it in my mind. Was he joking? I listened to my breaths, I listened to his breathing too.. But he said nothing more. My thoughts were so loud that the waves had stopped crashing in my ears and the silence was drowning me instead. Tears ran over my cheeks, soaking into the white cotton pillow beneath my head. A stream of tears ran like rivers along my fading henna patterned hand. My mind trailed back to the night before my wedding. I was smiling, happy and excited as I sat before the lady stenciling it onto my hand. I was nervous about marriage, scared even, but never would I have thought that my husband would insult me so viciously or disrespect me so boldly. The color of the henna had barely dissolved away completely, the memory of my wedding day was still lingering as I replayed it in my head a few times every day and I lay there, on my bridal bed, so soon after it all, torn inside with a bruised ego, shedding tears, sleeping next to a man that I didn’t even know.
And then the waves began anew, crying in sync with me.
~H (Taken from the Muslim Woman Magazine)