>So, I’ve noticed that there are a number of young Arab men who go over to America or Canada and find nice girls to marry. Clearly, having married an Arab man myself, I have no issue with this part of the scenario. But, here’s what I really don’t understand. Many men who head over to the West have very precise pictures of how men and women should interact. And yet, when they get to the West, they go out and find nice, normal Western girls. And while most Western women are not the promiscuous playthings that is popular conception here, they also aren’t super-conservative in male-female dynamics.
Since living in Jordan, I keep coming across couples where the fellow went to study, found a wife and then brought her back. And, very often, these couples end up in marital discord and strife. Sometimes the wife finds herself pressured by husband or mother-in-law to don more conservative clothing (you know, “Put on the abaya, it’s more comfortable.”). Sometimes it’s a desire to know where she’ll be at every second of the day. Who is she seeing? What is she doing? Where is she going? Sometimes it’s about observing religious practices that aren’t her own (or appearing to anyway).
And what I don’t get is, why? Time and again I hear, well I’m non-practicing and he’s non-practicing so I thought… It’s a tad naive of the ladies, for sure. But why does the man think this is a good idea, that’s what I don’t get. Why go to the US, not observe prayers, not fast during Ramadan, drink and eat pork then marry a girl there and expect her to fit into your cultural paradigm when you move here? I don’t have any issue with wanting your wife to fit into your cultural paradigm generally, but if it’s so radically different than the life you live in the West, you should have had that conversation long before moving to Jordan, no?
Now, El 3atal is not your typical Jordanian man. His mom worked outside the house from the time he was very young. His parents visited different locales around the world nearly every year. As a result, his outlook on life is fairly atypical. When he lives in the US and when he lives in Jordan, he lives in exactly the same way. There’s no difference between US El 3atal and Jordan El 3atal (he wears shorts in both places, I assure you). And there’s no real difference between America MommaBean and Jordan MommaBean. I wear the same clothes and approach life in the same way. Picking out a foreign wife for El 3atal makes sense given that his outlook on life has always been a bit odd for Jordan.
So, why would you knowingly pick a woman who will be terribly unhappy if you successfully mold her into the woman you think she should be in Jordan? I have a number of friends who, like me, chose wonderful Jordanian men. They span the religious divide. And yet, to a person none of them has indicated that they were pressured by their husbands to act and live differently. I suspect that’s why their marriages are successful. So, does anyone have any insight?
To me, it’s a bit like getting a nice scoop of ice cream and creating a lovely mansaf topping. Each is delightful separately, but putting one on the other will ruin both. Either appreciate the ice cream for what it is or go get yourself some mansaf.
Happy mixed marriages!