Ms. Wisdom Hopes

I have a brilliant young artist friend who lives in Iran. He is married to a wonderful young woman, the daughter of famous artists herself, and the last time I saw the two of them in Tehran in March 2006, they were happily married and unbelievably in love. Over the past couple of months, my friend had been acting strange, calling me in the middle of the night, and leaving strange messages on my voice mail, saying: Hi! This is Hamid*. I need to talk to you. Please don’t call me; and hanging up. Or appearing as though he was online on Yahoo Messenger, but no matter how much I tried to get his attention, he wouldn’t reply. Recently, he has resurfaced, saying that he is having serious problems with his wife and they are seriously considering divorce. He has the familiar story of how they are so different, and that they don’t get along anymore, etc., saying that his wife is the one pushing for a divorce. I ask him whether they are still in the same apartment. He says yes. I ask him if they are talking to each other. He says no. Though it is quite obvious, I ask whether they are having sex, and he says not for the past 4 months.
When I first learned about this a month ago, I suggested to Hamid to go see a marriage counselor. With divorce at such a high rate in Iran, we actually have professionals specializing in marriage counseling (I don’t know how good or effective they are, but I know that they exist). He agreed to go. So, he calls me the day before Nowrooz and says that they went to see the marriage counselor and he was advised by the counselor that his wife cannot stand this marriage any more! He said that they are moving full speed towards the big D. My heart weeps for anyone who knows nothing about the reality of divorce and keeps saying the word. I say to him, Hamid Jan. You can always get a divorce, but you must first make sure that you have given this marriage your best shot. I say to him that making this important decision will bring him and his wife so much pain later that it is worth serious and deep contemplation at this time.
I ask him what his wife told the marriage counselor, what it is that made her not be able to stand this marriage anymore. He says that she told the counselor that he doesn’t pay any attention to her. I asked him if this was true. He says yes, I admit it and I’m sorry. Talking to him, though, he doesn’t sound sorry enough. I say to him, Hamid Jan. Please go get your wife some flowers, a gift, and go embrace her and tell her that you are sorry and that you want to save your marriage, that you both need another chance to work on making this right. He says I don’t believe in those kinds of material offerings. I point out to him that that’s probably one of the things that is construed as his lack of attention to his wife. I say to him that gifts don’t really matter, except that they are symbols and signs of the fact that we care about someone; that’s why they shouldn’t be expensive or lavish. I say to him that people really appreciate it when their partners show that they have been thinking about them. I begged of him to go do something nice and kind for his wife, asking her to give their marriage another chance. In the end, he said he will do it. We hung up. I didn’t get the feeling that he was entirely convinced that this is the right thing to do. I can only hope that he does give his marriage another shot, in whatever way he is comfortable doing.
I think, however, that divorce is a decision that cooks in people’s minds and hearts for a long time before it even surfaces and is discussed. In the time it takes for it to cook in people’s minds, however, it becomes almost irreversible and unstoppable. I wished I had been in Tehran as my young friends’ relationship was deteriorating, and maybe I could have helped them in the process. I am so sad for the two of them and for what is awaiting them. Judging from tens of similar separations I have witnessed in Iran, after a possible divorce Hamid would most likely quickly get into another relationship, and quite possibly another marriage. His beautiful young wife, however, will not have a very easy time doing the same. Economic perils and social pressures threaten her, and her spirit will suffer much in the hands of a society that doesn’t take too kindly to divorced women. I hope they work on their problems and stay together. It was so beautiful watching them in love. My heart aches with worry and hope.
*I have changed his name and some other attributes here.

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