Saudi Arabia: Marriage is not as Simple as it Sounds

 

I hear often from young women around the world who believe that the Saudi whom they met is the love of their lives.  These women share how he makes them feel emotions they have never felt before.  He understands them like no one ever has.  He is their soul mate and they are ready to toss aside their family, culture and beliefs and do whatever they must do to have a life with him.

In most cases the woman knows little about his family.  He tells her it doesn’t matter as the love they share is between them and their business only.  In some cases the man is already married but has convinced her that she is the lost love he has been seeking and his life can not be complete without her in it.  He makes it sound simple and natural for her that they would have an Islamic marriage ceremony so he can call her wife and be with her as only a husband can be.

The man is confident and always has answers to her questions.  He claims he will always be able to come to her country and have time with her.  He wants her to be the mother of his children.  He will take care of her.  She should never worry about the other wife for that was an arranged marriage and not a love match.

She generally has no objection to converting to Islam.  She wants to do all she can to please him.  If converting makes it a step closer to marriage, she is all for that.  She’ll change herself to show him she can be all and more that he would expect of a good Muslim wife.

What she does not know or somehow pushes to the dark recesses of her mind is that a marriage started in secrecy and duplicity is not the way couples are intended to start a life together.  Why would he not want her, the love of his life, to know about his family?  Why would he not want to be proud and eager to introduce the love of his life to his family?  What should be a blaring warning signal to her is easily ignored and explained away by him.  All she can think of is the carnal need to be married to him rather than building a foundation for a long and successful marriage.

Why does she think it is okay if he is already married and she will be become a second wife through an Islamic ceremony?  Does she not realize that an Islamic ceremony without recognition of the marriage by Saudi Arabia will preclude her from any benefits or from ever being acknowledged as his wife?  Does she not think about the repercussions of becoming a second wife?  Does she not think about the first wife?  Why is it okay if he tells her the first marriage was arranged?  Does she not see that maybe he is being selfish?  Does she not think that when he is back in Saudi he is not being a husband to his first wife?

What kind of assurance has he given her that she believes he will be able to come and go freely between her country and Saudi Arabia?  She will certainly never be able to go to Saudi Arabia without a recognized marriage approval or a sponsor.  If he chooses to, he can simply disappear from her life.

What about children?  What kind of stability does such a relationship offer to children?  Is it fair to even think of bringing children into such a union?

Why is it easy for a couple from two nationalities to be married Islamically?  Shouldn’t the local mosque or sheik who is marrying the couple have an obligation to investigate their situation?  If a Saudi is marrying outside of the Kingdom perhaps there should be a regulation that a copy of the Islamic marriage certificate should be sent by the sheik to the nearest Saudi embassy?

Why does a woman find it easy to believe and accept a new religion and perhaps polygamy?  The resources are readily available for women to read and learn about Saudi Arabia, Saudi marriage approvals and polygamy.

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18 Responses

  1. I only become a lover for a woman that needs and appreciates love. A Saudi lover

  2. I have so many things I could say about this I don’t know where to begin. I am by no means an expert on this topic but I do have some experiences related to this. Things get a little complicated when (generally speaking) a Saudi/other Arab man engages in a love relationship with an American/Western woman. That said, if the guy is already married, then treat him like any other married man. If he is separated from his first wife, then that should be made clear and the relationship should proceed very cautiously (same as in the US). If he’s not separated, then dump him fast (unless you support polygamy)!! If he doesn’t accept you and love you as you are, then dump him!!

    That said, from what I have heard and experienced, sometimes Arab guys want to take things slowly and may not want to talk about their families at first because they want to make sure the girl is interested in them and not simply interested in the idea of being married. They won’t want to mention you at all to their families until they are certain they want to be with you over the long-term since they are usually seeking a love match (usually they are at least thinking of an engagement by this point). He will be waiting for the right time to mention you to his family.

    If he wants to marry you, then he will want you to be introduced to his family as a “friend” with the intention of proposing in front of his family if at all possible. He may not mention anything to the Western woman about it beforehand other than that she will meet his family. He will most likely expect the Western woman to already know and understand this without having to explain it to her. Long engagements are common in the region as many guys will want to be able to afford a home, or at the very least support a wife financially, before marriage.

    At least, this is what I’ve learned. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Please note that this information is more general to the region than specific to Saudi Arabia. I am not as certain on specific Saudi practices and how they might differ as far as the woman meeting his family.

    I would highly recommend living in another country while getting to know one another as it would be much more difficult to get to know each other in KSA, though not impossible. Also, it might be harder to work through some of the cultural differences. That said, every man is different. Some are simply more open than others.

    Only other thing I’d like to say is this- Don’t change your belief system and way of life for anyone else. Be who you are. If someone else can’t love you for that then they aren’t a good match for you and/or worth your love.

  3. Any woman who marries a man who keeps her a secret from his family or knowing he has a second wife gets exactly what she deserves. I only feel sorry for the children if there are any. Falling in love is no excuse to turn off your brain or forget common decency.

  4. Wow, some of you ladies are harsh! I too fell in love and was married to a Saudi who eventuality left me with a broken heart. I was young and in love & believed everything he said. As I worked in Riyadh, I believed I went into this marriage with my eyes open, and I believed my love to be truthful to me . Sad to say, he wasn’t truthful. Our marriage was kept secret per his request, I now know that this should have been a very big red flag! But you have to have faith in the person you are going to marry, why would they want to hurt you in such a way? Please have some empathy / understanding for those who choose to marry a Saudi. Give advise to those who plan to marry – but with understanding, as you want them listen and learn! Don’t put them down if they went through this horrible experience, believe me – they already feel bad, used and unloved. Let us all learn from each others experiences, so that in the future, no body ever has to experience this kind of pain!

  5. forget your own heart and it’s breaking ladies, please have a thought to his first wife, who unlike you has no choice presented in front of her.. it’s not like she’s being given a choice to be replaced.

    when a man says he wasts the marriage to be a secret, or the woman to be his 2nd wife…etc., etc., there’s no trust, love, romance in it…
    is this so hard to understand? even if one were young… all this talk about trust ,faith,love and making it work is meaningless…

    backbone and selfworth ladies ..that’s what is required 🙂

  6. @Kimmie – ‘Let us all learn from each others experiences, so that in the future, no body ever has to experience this kind of pain’

    Would anyone listen if the words weren’t harsh? But I believe that if someone marries a man knowing that he has a wife that will be hurt then they deserve harsh words. Don’t you?

  7. “Why is it easy for a couple from two nationalities to be married Islamically?”

    Why not..? Why can’t i marry whatever nationality i want? If an american girl agrees to marry her Saudi man islamically..unless he has a gun to her head..why should anyone stop her? Its her choice.

    “Shouldn’t the local mosque or sheik who is marrying the couple have an obligation to investigate their situation? ”

    Its non of the imam/sheikhs business who anyone chooses to marry.

    im sure there are lots of good saudi guys who have married western girls (or non-saudi girls)..so why penalise everyone for a few badly behaved silly ones.

  8. “Shouldn’t the local mosque or sheik who is marrying the couple have an obligation to investigate their situation? ”

    this is an ideal world situation AB, the 2 mosques near where we lived did the opposite, married gulliable young girls to men so the men could reap the benefit of a GC. and later the men went on to their countries married wives legally ( islamically again) and after a few yrs dumped the original and brought their wives here …

    This could have easily been prevented by the shieks, however far from condoning it, it’s a business they delve into…

    one cannot brush a whole group of people by the actions of a few, but lately in the past 4-5 yrs almost all the saudi western marriages we know of who moved to saudi have broken up… the wife returned luckily with older kids.. Of those that live here , close to 50% are done.

    sad but true, the young ones almost don’t stand a chance against the system… my friends daughter married a saudi and she made sure they got it registered, non of that islamically is enough bullshit sat with her… the groom insisted that he only wanted the islamic wedding – in the eyes of god etc., etc., but his FIL , MIL and F didn’t exactly see it that way 🙂 poor chap had no choice but ti legalize it. now he’s makingnoises about his family not accepting her and so he’s break the news slowly etc., If he was the cut and run type he messed with the wrong crowd – 🙂 F alone would have him for breakfast if he tries anything funny….
    so many pitfalls – and the girl is neither young nor naieve nor hiding anything from her family and is a muslim… no wonder the innocents get taken in.

  9. Hi again Ladies! What an emotional topic! I too have little sympathy for the woman going in as a second wife – there are no hidden secrets. But in my case, there was no other wife. That is why I say soften the words if you want to be heard. Nobody wants to be lectured or put down. A sure way to be ignored is to do that and we need to educate anyway! And I agree that not all of the Saudi men are deceiving when it comes to marriage to a non Saudi. Do not let the actions of a few bad men ruin the good name of others. Besides how can one enter in marriage with such distrust, where’s the trust and love for each other!

  10. It would actually be an interesting study, to check up on western wives of Saudis and find out how many Saudi men actually mess up Saudi reputation for the good ones. What are the percentages?
    Because it seems to me that the ”few” percentage are not the bad ones spoiling it for the good ones, but rather the good ones are in the minority, and should be the ”few”, and the bad ones are the majority. In which case it is entirely fair to put out some warning about Saudi men/boyfriends.

  11. ‘Love is blind, marriage is the eye opener’ Pauline Thomason. Or even funnier: ‘Love is an obsessive delusion that is cured by marriage.’ Dr. Karl Bowman.
    Yes we should put out a warning, but not just about Saudi men but ALL men who want to do things in secret. Of course as the topic here is Saudi Arabia, then the Saudi men are the subject of our discussions. Are some deceitful? Absolutely. So what is a girl to do? Especially one in love? To simply open her eyes and mind. When I met my Saudi husband, I put emotions on the side (as best as I could) and only looked for faults/defects/shortcomings. Is the person being honest? How can one tell? Does he introduce you to his family? Do you interact with his family prior to the marriage? How does he treat you, how does he treat others? What about his mannerisms, his friends, his work. All these could give you major clues as to how you will be treated after the marriage.

    My husband introduced me to his family and then had his parents and two of his brothers and their families fly over to the states before the engagement so that we had a chance to sit with them, go out with them and get to know each other. And as for the wedding, which took place a year later, we didn’t go to Saudi at the time since we didn’t bother with the visas really and had it in Bahrain so that his family could attend.

    Thankfully, my marriage has been successful so far (+3years), I’ll have to say I’m a non-Saudi Arab American girl. But our cultures are different and did I get some culture shock when I recently visited Saudi? Yes. Would I want to live there? No, in fact, it’s a N-O! Would I visit again, Yes 🙂

    When you look at it as a whole, although it has some to do with the person’s nationality, (cuz after all, not many leave their cultural baggage behind) it has more to do with their circumstance. These kids come here to study, they are in a new environment, much different than their own, some assimilate, some keep to themselves, some like it, others not so much, some truly fall in love, the rest just want to play.
    A day in the life of almost any student.

    So just beware, ask questions, and lots of them. And try leaving the judgment to the brain. The truth of the matter is that most successful relationships are those with the most things in common between the couple, but that doesn’t mean that those with the least bit in common can’t get along. In fact, our humanity is the biggest factor and that should suffice. But just like any relationship, there needs to be open communication, respect and trust to work issues out. Get in this habit before the marriage so that afterwards there would be fewer surprises.
    All the best to those in love 🙂

  12. Kimmie,
    I was only mentioning things I have learned through my own experiences and also through that of some of my friends. I did not mean to be harsh, but rather just give info based on what I’ve heard, experienced, etc.

    I personally am not against marrying a Saudi. Some are willing to adapt and learn from other cultures. I need someone who can do this whether or not they are American, Saudi, or whatever other nationality. I don’t really discriminate in this respect. There are also other things I won’t put up with, such as being told what to do. Asked nicely is okay, being told is not. Again- not much to do with nationality.

    Would I personally be willing to live in Saudi someday in the event I got married to a Saudi? It would depend on the particular situation, but I would prefer the compromise of living in Qatar, UAE, or some other nearby country that allows women more rights.

  13. i don’t think that getting yourself involved as a second wife is right unless the first wife knows and you are both happy with polygamous relationship.

    as for relationship with a Saudi… i think that odds against a relationship between a saudi and western woman are really really high. it’s either religion or culture or different family dynamics, or many other things.

    from what i experienced myself, from what I heard and read is that it is the woman who will have to make most if not all sacrifices to make such relationship work. if you are happy with this, then i guess you should go for it.

  14. After reading this post and other similar posts on AB, including many comments, I can’t help but recall Dr. Laura’s book “Ten Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives” Well, add number 11: marrying a saudi.

    Caveat emptor! Girls, marry a nice well-off farmer boy from Iowa. You’ll have a good life, and be able to eat bacon, ham, poke chops and barbequed ribs as an extra added attraction :)-

  15. @harry —

    You’ll have to suggest someone appripriate for my vegetarian daughter 🙂 farmer boy sounds lovely but meat not so much.. any nice well off farmer boys you know who are vegetarian 🙂 🙂

  16. Kimmie- where is the love and trust when a man asks you to keep your relationship secret? There is not love and trust- so why should a woman go along with that? Love and trust go both ways. I trust my neighbors too- yet I still lock my door.

  17. Second Sandy’s comment.
    A real man doesn’t need to ”keep the relationship secret”.
    A real man stands for the woman he loves.
    A real man is faithful, honest, and loyal to the woman he loves.
    A man who has more than one wife is by definition a wrong’un.

  18. I have just come across your blog. I cannot imagine and American or European woman openly marrying someone whom they know is already has a wife back home. The guy must be in the states for school or something like that. His intention must be green card or citizenship, not the love of another woman.

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