Lisa, Marital Ties, & the Western World

Lisa, Marital Ties, & the Western World

My dear readers, when I write a blog, I try my best to stick to two rules:

a) To use the simplest possible words and sentences.

b) To convey my message with the help of real-life stories so that people can resonate with it more deeply.

Yes, I am agnostic to the idea of writing in a bombastic way so that most people find it difficult to understand, and they fail to relate in many cases on account of the write-up being completely theoretical and imaginative.

The subject I have chosen today is not just sensitive; it’s critical, too. I am driven by a deep emotional need and a strong sense of moral accountability to address this subject. It is a matter of utmost importance and gravity, not just for a specific geography but for all of us as human beings. So, let’s keep it simple and approach it with an open mind.

Recently, I was in Bowling Green, Ohio, on a week-long business trip to the USA. I flew from Doha International Airport, Qatar, to Detroit Airport, with a connecting flight via Dallas. Towards the end of my trip, I wanted to buy something for my kids and wife. A friend suggested visiting Dillard’s in the nearby area and recommended looking for Brahmin Leather Handbags, a popular but slightly expensive brand in America, for my wife. At Dillard’s in Bowling Green, an elderly, gracious saleslady helped me choose some fancy ornaments for my wife. As it was evening and her shift was ending, she introduced me to a young, beautiful saleslady, saying, “I will assign you a beautiful young girl who can suggest better things for your lovely wife.”

Here came a pretty girl in her early thirties wearing a red skirt and top. She had an infectious smile.

“Hello, welcome to Dillard’s! How may I help you today?” she greeted me.

“Hello. Nice to see you. What’s your good name?” I asked.

“I’m Lisa (name changed, but it was similar),” she replied.

“Beautiful,” I said, trying to make her feel comfortable with a customer from a different part of the world.

“You don’t seem to be an American. So, where are you from?” she asked, recognizing my accent and appearance.

“Yes. I am an Indian, coming from Qatar,” I replied.

“Wow. The FIFA World Cup… Qatar, right?” she said, linking the country to the recent event.

“Yeah, that Qatar,” I replied, laughing. Americans say Qatar (Kah-tar) while we say Qataar (Kah-taar).

“I know that country well,” Lisa said.

“Oh, that’s beautiful. But how?” I asked, surprised.

“I was there,” she said passively, making me think she might not have liked Qatar.

“Did you like that country?” I asked to confirm.

“The country is really amazing. Lots of peace,” she replied.

I am a talkative guy who believes in connecting with people personally more than professionally. While interacting with her, I found her a little disoriented, with a sort of melancholy washing over her. Her eyes, despite their beauty, lacked luster and glitter.

“Okay, what would you like to see today?” she asked, cutting short our talk and bringing us back to business.

She showed me around all the aisles in the bag section. She was passionately involved with me as a customer, probably because I came from a place where she had lived. She asked several questions about my wife’s preferences for design and colors. During the conversation, she asked me when I got married.

“When did you get married?” she asked.

Confounded by the question, I replied, “2013.”

‘That’s pretty long.’ She murmured.

“You must be married? When did you get married?” I asked, bringing back the dejection on her face that had evaporated during our lively conversation.

“I was married, but I am single now,” she said, summing up all my observations and assumptions about her.

That was it!

Her husband was a diplomat in Qatar. They were living a happy life, but they divorced each other. I couldn’t delve more into it and ask the reasons behind their separation. Like most of the people in the Western world, she was separated from her spouse. She might get into another marriage soon and then perhaps face separation again. And then, another marriage…! I’m not saying marrying is bad, but separating so quickly and repeatedly is really problematic. I spoke to Lisa about the significance of a successful marital life and how, in the Eastern world, we often stick to one partner for our entire lives. In the Arab world, Muslims may marry more than one woman, but they keep all of their wives and don’t abandon previous ones because of a new marriage. While I was talking all this to Lisa, her eyes were welled up completely. I felt a huge tinge of pain in my heart for her. But I knew I wasn’t any help for her at that point in time.

Every American and European colleague or friend I engage with shares a similar story. It seems to be the narrative of the entire Western world. I wonder if they have grown accustomed to such events in their lives or if they, too, experience upheavals with such disruptions. In our cultures, the dissolution of marriage is still widely seen as a familial and social stigma and curse. Moreover, breaking marital ties is viewed as a colossal loss for all involved: spouses, children, and families. I’m certain that my Western counterparts must also experience emotional turmoil with such separations, at the very least.

Once, I booked an Uber taxi in the USA, and a Honda CRV driven by a lady arrived to pick me up. As I settled into the car, I struck up a conversation with the driver, as I often do during taxi rides. I find it beneficial in many ways; it prevents the driver, often the owner of the vehicle, from feeling isolated, and I get to learn from their experiences as a fellow human being. Everyone is unique and possesses a wealth of knowledge and skills. When we engage with each other sincerely and passionately, we enrich our understanding and contribute to making the world a better place.

It was a cold evening, with early signs of snow and a looming hurricane. The driver was discussing the weather forecast for the evening and mentioned that this would be her last trip of the day.

“Oh, I see… so you must be rushing home. Your family must be waiting for you,” I said, showing concern.

“Oh no, no one is waiting at home,” she replied casually.

“Oh… don’t you have kids?” I asked, a bit confused.

“I don’t have kids,” she said matter-of-factly.

“Oh… I’m sorry,” I felt embarrassed for assuming.

“You don’t need to be. It’s alright. I’m not married, actually,” she reassured me.

“I see. Not a problem,” I tried to steer the conversation away from the sensitive topic. “So, you live alone then.”

“No, I live with my friend,” she replied.

“That’s good,” I said, not quite understanding the nature of their relationship but acknowledging that living with a friend can be positive.

“We’ve been living together for fifteen years,” she informed me.

“Is your friend male or female?” I asked out of curiosity.

“He is male. We’re not married, but we live together,” she explained.

“Why don’t you get married then?” I asked, surprised by their unconventional arrangement.

“No, we prefer to live like this. We enjoy our relationship,” she said calmly.

I was taken aback. This was unfamiliar territory for me. In our society, we categorize relationships as illicit, ethical, unlawful, legitimate, fair, unfair, etc. We use these principles to determine which relationship is acceptable and which is not.

The lady driver was incredibly friendly and caring. Despite the stormy evening, she assisted me in picking up dinner from a quick-service restaurant and ensured I reached my hotel safely. I felt a deep connection with her and prayed earnestly for her well-being. I continue to pray for her prosperity in this life and the hereafter. Similarly, I extend my prayers to Lisa as well.

I don’t have the authority to demand that all my friends change their lifestyles according to my wishes, and realistically, that’s unlikely to happen. However, based on my own experiences, I want to emphasize that living a life dedicated to family well-being and happiness is truly a blessing. Such a life is characterized by purity, love, trust, loyalty, safety, and immense joy. While I may not be a catalyst for change for you, there are many exemplary lives we can look up to. For instance, I admire the Obamas for their commitment to each other in their marital life. Regardless of differing political affiliations, we can view them as human beings and draw inspiration from their example.

Dignity, peace, and happiness are fundamental human rights that we all deserve. It’s important for each of us to assert these rights. Change can start gradually at an individual level. We should all begin to consider how we can improve our lives for the betterment of this world and the hereafter. I have some suggestions for living a life that is pure and dedicated to our spouses, children, and parents, filled with abundant happiness through all circumstances.

  • Understanding each person’s rights and striving to respect and fulfill them. Remember, rights extend beyond those documented in books and constitutions.
  • Adjusting with spouses requires showing flexibility and resilience and accepting them for who they are. Remember, no one in this world is perfect except for the prophets.
  • Separation should not be seen as the only solution. While it may be unavoidable in some cases, that’s understandable. Not every marriage can succeed completely, but the vast majority should not end in failure. Treating separation as a first option can foster a mindset that leads to unnecessary parting over minor differences as well.
  • Explore all possible solutions, reserving separation as the last resort when life seems at a standstill. They say there’s always a better way.
  • Consider the well-being of children before making any major decisions. Reflect on the potential adverse effects your choices may have on them.
  • And finally – Love is about accepting, embracing, caring, protecting, and always wanting to be together.

I came back to my hotel from Dillard’s. After dinner, I was arranging the things in my suitcase to find a message note from Lisa with a big smiley. It read –

‘Happy Safe Journey Back Home’

My heart went out to her, and I prayed for her – A Happy, Safe Journey in Her Life.

Show 7 Comments


  1. Subbu

    A beautifully written piece that delves deep into the complexities of modern marriage and the emotional impacts of marital separations in the West compared to Eastern stability. A great read!

  2. Fatma

    Extremely important subject to touch upon. Great work. Keep it up 👍.





  5. Sandy Joseph

    Very interesting read. It’s always good to know about different people and their perspectives. One needs to be humble to do that.

  6. Tina

    Very well written. Very much relatable.

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