Trophies vs. Marriage - from The Ghori Wife

I made a joke long ago that you could tell which Desi husbands were the most difficult and the most contrite by the number of bangles their wives wore. Pakistani husbands apologise with jewelry.

Mine didn't apologize, maybe twice – once for calling me a whore, apology in email, and I still have it.  The other time is a different story.

When we married, I knew there was a possibility that things could end, and even a possibility that things could end badly. So when we hit the 5-year mark, I was excited. I wanted a badge to commemorate the accomplishment. I suggested rings to my husband.

“Of course,” he said.  This meant he wasn’t really listening, or interested.

I really wanted a 5th anniversary ring, though, and I found something online I thought suitable:  silver Celtic rings, made in Ireland and representative of my part of our multicultural marriage. I bought one for each of us.

“I don’t really wear jewelry,” he said.  And it was true; he still had the white gold wedding band donated by my mother’s second husband, and the silver band given him by his first fiancée, but didn't usually wear either. On the rare occasion that he had one of them on his thumb, I would check to see which ring it was. I’m not sure he knew the difference.

When the Celtic rings came in the mail, I liked the man-ring better.  And he still wasn’t interested, so I wore it. And I gave mine away to my friend who loved the delicate design, and named them BFF rings.

“You can be my second marriage,” I joked with her, making fun of the Muslim tradition of four-wife-maximum. Every Muslim husband doesn’t try to make use of this tradition, by the way. Most of them realise that one wife is enough trouble.

My list of marriage-related trophies is this:
Silver Celtic ring – 5 year
Black diamond earrings – 8-year
Gold ring with chocolate and white diamonds -10-year
Silver barbed wire ring from Kazakhstan – divorce

The year I threw a fit was at eight years of marriage, and it wasn’t so much of a landmark year as it was that he’d been a particular brand of ass for the duration of it. I issued a fatwa:

“We have been married eight years today, and I have never asked for anything but for the 5th year, and I handled that myself.” He stared dumbly at me, so I continued with a list of other events which I would have celebrated with gifts had I married A Better Pakistani.

“And so I am charging you,” and here I can’t remember how I came up with the amount but there was a formula to it. “I’ll buy myself something I like and you will pay for it. I’ll let you know what it is.” I called him later to tell him the earrings had been on sale, so he got a discount. The discount was my gift to him, I said.

He started to protest, and then stopped. And then forgot all about it. I’m wearing those earrings today. They aren’t trophies to me anymore – I just like them.

The list of things you get out of a relationship isn’t supposed to be fungible. It made me sad, and still does, that the marriage needed quantification.

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