Thursday, November 6, 2008
LaUgH: my two husbands
I moved to Africa and became a polygamous woman.
Well, no not really, but kind of... it's rather complicated!
I have to say, I have the best ex-husband one could possibly hope for. Not that I ever hoped to have an ex-husband, mind you, but it is what it is and I am very grateful that we're able to get along so well now. We've separated twice, both times for several years. He left Uganda about 1.5 years after we separated for the second time, right around the time I met N.
N is a wonderful Ugandan man with years of experience living abroad, who the kids and I are all crazy about. It was pretty much love at first sight for all of us. He won't be leaving Uganda with us right away, but does plan to catch up with us when we hopefully move on from Europe to Asia in a couple of years. N and I currently live together in what Ugandans would call a common law marriage. In Ugandan culture it's normal that I refer to him conversationally as my husband and he refers to me as his wife, even if we haven't had an official ceremony. He and my ex get along great, by the way, and we both also get along well with my ex-husband's Greek girlfriend of several years.
But actually, my ex is not officially an ex yet... and may never be.
A warning on the risks of international marriage: the kids' dad and I are still legally married on paper because it's near impossible to figure out where to get a divorce! I am American, he's Dutch, we met in Switzerland, we got married in NYC, we owned property in Belgium and we now live in two different African countries.
Normally, international law says that the court in the country of domicile has jurisdiction over an international divorce. But in the country he lives in, there is no divorce. In the country I live in, divorce is a sentence handed down by a judge when someone violates the law of marriage. One party has to make a terrible case against the other, and conspiring to divorce (ie, divorce by mutual agreement) is against the law.
So my reality is that I kind of have two husbands.
We all get along, and the kids get a lot of love. People always laugh when I tell them that the four of us adults have gone out together with the kids on occasion and had a really great time. I guess it would seem more "normal" for us to be living with much more animosity and pain. If that's the case, then I'm quite happy to be abnormal. Better to laugh at the joy of reinventing new ways for our family to still function than to keep crying over the ways that it didn't, I say.
Sincerely speaking, I never intended to innovate a new form of polyandry but it's working for our multinational family. Don't worry though - I've no intention of pushing it as far as some of Africa's polygamous men do... two is definitely all I can handle!
Get ready to LaUgH!
ThiNkiNg: life after Africa