I had never met my fiancé until the engagement had already been arranged by my parents. The first time we met, we went sightseeing in Kabul at the gardens of Bagh-e Bala. My mother and my cousin came too, since culturally new fiancés shouldn’t go alone.

When we came back to my home, he shook my hand and said goodbye. This was the first time that I felt love.

I was sixteen and I believed that I loved him, but I was not able to express my feelings.

My heart wanted me to say, “Do not say goodbye! Stay with me!” But I was not able to ask him to please come into my house.

I wanted to say, “I love you,” but instead I said, “Goodbye” with tears in my eyes.

In my culture, it brings shame to a family if their daughter expresses her love to a boy. But if a boy expresses his love there is no shame to his family.

When we got married four years later, I was able to show my love.

I love my husband with all my life. Whenever I am traveling outside the country for my work, I really miss my love and know that I truly love him.

I also know that life is my love. I have reached my goals, and all of the success in my life is due to my real love. My husband supports me always and wants all of the happiness possible to come into my life. We are able to resolve all of our challenges in our life. We have six children and one grandchild and I know for a fact that there are kind and supportive hands behind me, and my success, at home and in my career.

Real love means wealth and a way to obtain our goals. Our culture’s issues with girls requires that girls do not show or express their love. This is why in our country there are so many failed loves and one-sided loves.

By Mariam

This work was supported by the Fetzer Institute.