A Stronger Woman I Have Never Known

My cousin is like a sister and best friend to me and she is the strongest woman I have ever known. When we were teenagers we shared our dreams for our futures. Her dream was to get married and have four children. She even selected names for them. They would be called Baktash, Rabha, Srosh, and Ramin.

But sadly, while she got married and became pregnant with her first child, she lost the child in her fifth month. After an operation she lost any hope of ever becoming pregnant again. I felt so sad for her. But later on we were able to find a child at a hospital and she kept him and was able to raise this boy as her own.

She sent him to India to be educated. But when he was newly graduated from his college, he wanted to come back and booked his tickets home. But he was killed by a group of terrorists for unclear reasons. So she lost her son and she also lost the dreams that she had for her son.

I remember her son’s funeral ceremony. As she cried, she dried her tears and tried to speak as the sounds of ululation went on.  I felt very sad for her; I realized her voice was choked in her throat.

My cousin’s marriage was a love marriage but when their son died, their life grew dark. We all advised them to tolerate the hardship together. But after seven months they decided for her husband to have a second marriage.

I said to my cousin, “Please don’t let him take a second wife. It is unfair to you. If he marries again what will happen to you? You will not be tolerated at all.”  

But my poor friend could not think of herself, she only wanted her husband to be happy again. She asked one of her relatives to marry her husband and she was witness to his second marriage.

In my opinion it is very hard for a woman to witness her husband’s second marriage. My God, what a foolish culture we have in our country where there is no law to stop this kind of activity. I think of my poor friend and other Afghan women who face this and I can’t bear it. How can they live in the same house with their husband’s second wife? It must be very difficult.

I have not been able to visit my friend since her husband’s second marriage. I think of her as a powerful woman. She has tolerated so much hardship in her life. I wish her good health because I heard she was not well last week. I am praying for her and for all of our Afghan sisters who face these hardships and I pray they raise their voices against this violence and not tolerate what is done to them. 

By Mariam


  1. Elizabeth Titus says:

    Dear Mariam,
    This is such a sad story about your Afghan “sister.” I cannot imagine finally having a son, taking care of him, sending him to college, and then losing him in a shocking way. And then she gave up her husband in order to him to be happy. What a remarkable women she is! I do hope that she will find her way to happiness of another sort very soon.
    Thank you for sharing this tragic story,

  2. Mariam, thank you for witnessing and telling the story of your cousin’s life. As difficult as it is to read from afar, I can only imagine what it is like for her to live day-to-day with her losses. You both are courageous women. May you both be blessed with good health and the ability to keep sharing your experiences. I look forward to reading more about you and your family.

  3. Edward says:

    Your cousin has experienced such heartbreak in her life that I don’t think she was able to realize that she deserved to be the sole wife to her husband and allowing him to gain a second wife would be cheating herself. She is very strong to endure all of the losses and make the sacrifices that she did.

  4. Mahnaz says:

    Why is it always a woman who should give up her happiness?! I don’t see men give up their happiness and let their wife get a second husband.

  5. Shannon Ghaznavi says:


    Thank you for sharing your story about your cousin. Women in the Middle East and South East Asia endure much more than other women around the world. Growing up and living in a male dominated society imposes strenuous demands on these women. However, it was refreshing to read that your cousin married for love because arranged marriages are so prevalent in your culture.
    Your cousin is truly a strong woman to be able to persevere through losing a baby, not being able to have one after that, the death of her adopted son, and eventually losing a husband. To think that she has to live the rest of her life denying herself happiness while her husband continues his life with his new wife is a daunting thought. My hope for you cousin is that she finds joy and peace in the memories of her son and that she uses her hardship to speak out against the senseless violence of terrorism.

  6. Charlotte N. says:

    This story is very sad to me but it is also impressive. The loss of a child is one of the worst thing that could happen to anyone. This happened twice to your cousin, and still, she stayed strong. Moreover she wanted her husband to be happy more than anything, so she let him marry a second time, and even witnessed at his wedding. This is very impressive for someone to remain strong like this. Everyone encounters suffering at some point in their life, and has to deal with the pain. It is very hard to let go of people we love, but it is for our own good that we do let go and allow ourselves to start over. Even though your cousin did this for herself, I do not think that it was in her interest to let her husband marry a second time. I think that when two persons decide to marry each other, they should stay together and face the hardships of life with each other. It is not right for her husband to marry someone else instead of helping her be happy again.

  7. Miranda Dotson says:

    You know, I find it very upsetting to know that women are being treated so unfairly. Marriage is a holy bond and when it is existent because of love, a man should love his wife whether or not she is able to bare him a child. Your cousin didn’t know that she would have such a hard time having children. It was a good thing to have taken in the son that they found at the hospital and send him off to be educated. I just hate that because of his death their marriage faltered. I know the customs are different in your country, but it is 2012 and I feel that men need to learn how to treat women. A woman is her own person and should not be treated as a possession. And if a man marries a woman he should try to work things out when times get tough instead of disrespecting his marriage and his wife by marrying another woman just because he can’t have exactly what he wants. I do hope that your cousin gets to feeling better and I hope that she is able to live her life comfortably with her husband and his second wife. I wish the best for her.

  8. Donovan says:


    The woman you described is indeed stronger than most women that I could imagine. To lose a child is unbearable. I lost a child as well, before the she was ever born. That is a devastating event that only a parent can understand. However, the blessing to find a child and raise it as your own, to watch it grow and develop and then to lose them to terrorism is a horror I cannot even understand.

    I think to live through these things and hold your composure, to even be able to function as a human, is admirable. However, through the grieving process, I know that it can be detrimental to a marriage. However, in our culture in the United States, the idea of a man going out and finding a second wife is not something that would happen. So the idea that your friend must grieve the loss of her child, a hurting marriage, and have another woman brought into the house that she must share her husband with is astounding. As I am not from your culture, I do not pretend to understand these things, but as a human being, I know that your friend’s circumstances must be unimaginably hard. For her to still be living, surviving, through such traumatic event after event would make her truly a very strong woman indeed.


  9. A. Williams says:


    I have read and previewed numerous documentaries on the Middle Eastern’s culture as it pretains to polygammy. I’ve often wondered is the marriages in your culture ever a union of love; are the vows you take as sacred as ours? Today, you have answered it for me, not all marriages in your culture are arranged and loveless but when the love is lost is it permissable to marry again. In a way your culture views on multiple wives equate to our tolerance on infidelty; is it proper but it is allowed. Deeming it legal to marry multiple women reduces the amount of divorces, but one factor that still remains is the aftershock we, as women, feel when your husband finds love, peace, or happiness in another.

  10. Jessica Spinnler says:

    Thank you for sharing the story of your cousin. The women of your culture deal with so much. I find the strength of your cousin remarkable. She is an amazing woman to love someone so much that she would witness his marriage to another woman for the sake of his happiness. Also, to deal with the loss of two of her children. It is very sad to me that someone would have to deal with such circumstances. wish the best for you and your family.

  11. Erica C. says:

    This is a very powerful woman. Women, I believe, can be so much more emotionally stronger than men. What woman could witness 3 horrific things and still be standing? I was thinking about how our world’s culture seems to be going downhill morally. A man should honor his wife and his only wife and stand beside her no matter what because he loves her. Marriage is TWO people bonding and wanting to spend the rest of their lives together. If not, it isn’t true love. Any person deserves to be loved and treated with respect as a human being. If a woman is not able to have a child, that man is only a man if he stands beside his WIFE. When her adopted son was killed, it was not his wife’s fault. It’s horrible how men of today take women’s hard work and dedication for granted. This woman is definately a powerful and extremely strong woman!

  12. Mariam,
    Losing a child can be very difficult and will almost always cause problems between the parents. One parent is able to miss their child while moving on and the other will hold on making it difficult to continue living their life. It is very difficult for someone to lose a child, but also to watch their spouse marry someone else. If it is really love though, each spouse will only want their partner to be happy no matter what it takes. The fact that there is no law to keep it fair for the women of Afghan makes me extremely sad. One day I hope the women of Afghan will take a stand.

  13. Mikaela S says:

    Thank you for sharing your story about this woman who you hold so close to your heart. She had been through so much, with loosing two sons and watching her husband marry another woman. Your cousin hasnt had it easy, but she has been very strong and brave through it all. I think it is very unfair that she must give up her happiness for the happiness of her husband, because he may not have done the same for her. I send my best wishes to you and your cousin for happiness and health.

  14. John W. says:

    Dear Mariam,
    While your story was certainly a sad one you introduced us to a remarkably strong and compassionate woman. Even after all the trials in her life she sets her needs aside for those of others, something only the greatest individuals are truly able to do. Hopefully, in the near future all in her life will appreciate her fortitude and empathy as you do. Thank you for the story.

  15. This story of your cousin is very upsetting. After having all of these plans for her future, and after losing her first son during pregnancy, she has gone through a lot of pain. When she lost her second son, who came so close to being what he had wanted to be, he was killed by terrorists. Two losses for her must have been devastating. With the marriage of her husband so that he could have a second wife, and her agreeing to it, her life must be in pain. To have to be there every day, sharing her husband with another woman, must be difficult for her. But all she wants is the happiness of her husband. Her strength must be so great to be able to endure what life has placed in front of her.

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