Monday, May 31, 2010

I was Married and Divorced

When I went to my 5 year high school reunion I was sitting around a table when I heard in the most gossipy voice, "Did you hear about Amy? She's been married and divorced." Never mind that it's a bit hard to get divorced if you haven't been married, my friends and I sort of chuckled since I, too, at 24 years old, had been married and divorced. I don't hide this, but it's not something I'm proud of, either. I chose not to add it to my recent personal history slide my new manager asked her staff to prepare. I sort of skipped from graduating from college to starting at the company, but "confessed" I'd gotten married, divorced and quit grad school in my 20s. I really wish I had finished that degree, and having been married over 10 years now, I realize most marriages have their problems and we might have made it work. In fact I finally found my ex-husband on facebook (no I did not friend him) and had some odd emotions when I saw that he'd married again. Oddly, he had pretty much no presence on the web up until then save a comment on a technical article and reference to his master's thesis (at least based on my infrequent google searches).

As much as I believe I could have made better decisions, I am grateful that I had the freedom to make these decisions. Our most recent read for the Silicon Valley Moms book club was "I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced" about a Yemini girl who was forced to marry a 30 year old man. Her childhood up to then was harsher than most of can imagine, daily walks to get water when she lived in the country, begging in the streets just to earn enough to eat when they moved to the city. To her, though, this was normal, and she managed to always appreciate the best parts of her life. She even got to go to school for a short time (a rarity in itself) which she absolutely loved, but was forced to quit because married girls don't go to school, they barely even leave their house. Although the man promised not to "touch" her until after her first period, he raped her on her first night in their house, and abused her terribly with the full support of her mother-in-law. Sadly her story is not unusual.

I remember watching a show about kids who succeeded despite harsh childhoods, and what the kids had in common was resilience, rather than external circumstances. Clearly Nujood has resilience, strength and bravery, I want to say to spare, but she probably needed every ounce to get her to say no for the first time. She ended up at her father's second wife, poorer than even Nujood's own family yet somehow willing to spare money and advice, which helped her on the path to divorce. Amazingly, with the horrible treatment of girls and women in her country, she was the first girl to take a stand, and demand a divorce. Since then a few other young girls have followed in her footsteps. This brave girl has set in motion some laws raising the age of marriage, making it illegal to take a 2nd wife unless the man has the financial resources for two families, and probably most important, giving hope to herself and woman around the world.

I hope the becomes required reading in high schools as a fellow blogger (link as soon as I find it again) has recommended. I also encourage everyone to read Nicholas Kristof and Three Cups of Tea about how educating women will go so much father than fighting terrorism.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book as part of the Silicon Valley Moms blog.


  1. I agree that Nujood's story should be required reading - especially for men!

  2. Glad it is not just me who google's ex boyfriends (husbands)! I wonder if they google us. If they do, lets hope they pick up the book and spread the word about the brave Nujood.

  3. What an amazing story! I was married at 18 and divorced by 19. Some people just take that road, and it's a very hard one. I am now rounding the corner on 32 and have been happily remarried for 3 years and have a son. I rely on my experiences to help me realize what issues are worth fighting for. Thank you for linking to this book. I hadn't seen it.

  4. It was a truly eye-opening book, wasn't it? So many things were so *wrong* with regards to basic human dignity for so many people in that book....

  5. I do think that Nujood was a groundbreaker especially with the new laws in Yemen (mentioned above). This book would be great required reading. I really hope Nujood is able to break the cycle and move on to something better!