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If you’re not interested in the “foreword” part of this post, skip to the part after I put another line. This post turned out much longer than predicted.

For those who don’t know, I come from Indonesia, a country where the dominant religion is Islam. We even have a separate court system to deal with legal issues concerning Islamic law—Shariah disputes, benefaction, divorce cases, etc. And, being a law student in this country, Islam Law is an obligatory subject I have to undertake if I want to pass.

Setting aside the ample times I got confused by the Arab terms, I find it interesting to learn a new subject that links law, religion, and culture so deeply. So, when my lecturer one day told the class to go to PA (PA=Pengadilan Agama=the religious court that solves legal cases using Shariah), I was sort of excited to go.

The PA court trials are closed to the public most of the time, since the cases ongoing are personal. I was lucky to get in and see the intricate workings of a component in my country’s wonderful (albeit flawed) justice system.

One little case stopped me in the midst of writing all I could down a piece of neatly folded paper. It was a divorce case. The judges were doing a final questioning for the couple, something along the lines of “Are you sure you want this? You can’t be reconciled? You’ve tried everything in your powers and it didn’t work?”, to which both parties nodded. Yet, when the wife was asked personally, she loosened up a bit and showed her true opinion.

“Well, that’s how things went. He wanted it like this,” she said in a half accusing, half reprimanding tone. Then, with a somewhat frustrating yet understandable attempt to shift the blame off of him, the husband reasoned that their paths just weren’t aligned anymore. That he didn’t know she’d turn out not to be what he’d hoped for.

To which, the wife replied, with calm and dignity that’ll be etched in my mind for years to come:

“You’re the priest (imam) in the family, you’re supposed to know me before having a family with me.”

Part One: Being in the Know

As often as I’ve heard the cliché “try before you buy”, I’ve never seen an implementation as affecting as that one case (refer to the last paragraph before the line above).

Sure, it wasn’t her precise words, and the guy didn’t suddenly feel remorse or anything, but it entailed an afterthought for me later that night and for the next few days.

The social system I grew up in has an innate characteristic of secrecy. Before a real relationship began (the flirting and hitting on people) there’s an adjective called “jaim” which is used to describe how people behave. Basically it means you’ll try to make a really ideal image for yourself to get the person you’re after.

Another thing that contributes to unknowing is that open, frontal discussions aren’t really that encouraged. No matter how subtle the confrontation, I found people often gape when I say I questioned someone for a specific behavior. When I think of it, there’s always that line “communication is vital” but I’ve never really seen it as a tip to follow before the marriage phase anywhere. It’s either not there, or not that obvious so people who don’t look for it don’t find it. That’s yet another problem—if you’re looking for a tip, you’re already in trouble. It’s not as much of an advice as it is an attempt to give a solution.

So I gotta cut that guy some slack. Besides, there’s also this:

Yeah, the woman’s probably got some blood on her hands too. But my point is many of us don’t spend enough time and energy pondering on compatibility with a partner as much as deciding what to wear at a special event. Sometimes you’re only checking for important yet vague things like “Is he a nice person?” and forget that three public displays of manners can hardly be enough material for assessment if the context is a partner for life. Other times, people are just desperate to fulfill their primal urges. There’s no shame in that, but no wisdom either.

I’ve known people who knew each other about two weeks before that started dating. Few people could survive over a year in that kind of circumstance, much less a marriage. Though both examples I’ve witnessed survived longer than I thought, one didn’t end on good terms and the other—well, I don’t even know anymore. After the initial giddy phase, you’ll find a list of questions soon enough. And the fact that most people don’t like to be vulnerable doesn’t help.

Just make sure when you know someone, you really, really know them. Though, even at best, you’ll always have to put up with little things that annoy you. All the more reason to take an option that’s worth the pain.

The same case goes with friends. How many people do you claim to really know? Do you know their favorite color, music taste, allergies, political preference, religious views? I never cease to be astounded by every discovery that reminds me of how little I know.

Come to think of it, this doesn’t just apply to relationships. It applies to life in general. *changes the featured image*

Well, this is gonna be longer than expected. Don’t groan, little (or are you big?) reader, you’ve done good. Go ahead and do something else, if you want. If you must. *cue for dramatic sigh*

Part Two: Being Responsible

People don’t like taking responsibility nowadays, and for a good reason: it’s tiring. Overwhelmingly so, at times. I feel it too. As a student who likes to read and pays attention in class, I’ve had an image of someone with above average diligence in many of my classes. Only when people got to know me better did they realize my will to do well is sometimes sub-par. And when I do want to please someone (or even myself), I make sure that I don’t look too eager. Why? Just so others don’t drop their responsibilities on my lap. Given, I’m not averse to saying no. It just saves time, social tension, and a lot of too-sensitive people’s feelings.

By nature I’m a stubborn person. Regardless of the trouble I’ve gotten into, I’m glad that being hard headed means I mostly stick to my promises and choices.

Maybe you’ve seen this pic before:

I think that’s true. I find it hard to make a choice, no matter how hard my resolution to undergo it afterwards. Even the task of merely picking one of two books can cost me half an hour. I even toss a coin sometimes to determine what I’m going to eat, just to save time. Well, there’s an example of over-thinking.

 If I had to box people, I’d box them into these categories:

  1. The people who make rash decisions and don’t take any kind of responsibility, blaming anyone and anything except themselves. These people are at the mercy of more responsible people who have to deal with them.
  2. People who make rash decisions and pay the price. I kind of like these people. They can be frustrating to see, but there’s a kind of eagerness and sincerity that goes into every little “yes” or “no” they say.
  3. This is the second most annoying group: The people who know they have to take on responsibility, but want to take as little as possible. These are the people who drop by last second on projects, who have to know every. little. thing. that may happen when they choose something.
    In high school (and even now) I’ve met lots of people who fall into this category. They don’t want to break a sweat and use their brains to try and figure out which option will let them use their brains the least. The thing that annoys me about them is that trying to make them take on more responsibility is excruciating. Sometimes it boils down to a demand—which, of course, can translate to them as an ultimatum. Oh well.
  4. The most ideal kind: Responsible people who know when to take action, take credit, and occasionally take the blame. We need more of these people, people!

I fall under the second category. Sometimes I don’t think as much as I should when making choices, but I know I’ll manage to work things out most of the time.

But enough of this mumbling of mine. Go, go, little readers! Shoo! (Yeah, I just ran out of things to say. HAHAHA… ha. *weeps inside*)