Marrying into the Mafia: How Marrying into a Jordanian Family Can Be Like La Cosa Nostra

During a lull in decent television programming tonight, El 3atal and I happened upon the Godfather playing on TV.  I’m not sure if it’s a girl thing or just a me thing, but I don’t get the overweening fascination guys have with this movie.  It’s a good movie, don’t get me wrong.  But it’s just a movie… right?  We came into it during the Don Corleone’s daughter’s wedding.  During the scene, there’s a poignant vignette where Michael is telling his girlfriend Kay (who is as white bread as you can get) about one of the “offers you can’t refuse” his father has issued.  She is, understandably, horrified.  Michael says to her, “That’s my family, that’s not me.”  Apparently she finds this argument compelling as we later see her marrying Michael and coming into the family.

Now, for you fans of the movie, you know that Michael’s older brother, the heir apparent, is murdered and Michael takes over the family business.  In doing so, he becomes exactly what he vowed to Kay he was not, pure Italian, pure mafia.  I made the idle comment to Kay (yes I talk to the TV, I’m admitting it) that she should have run out of the house at that moment and never looked back.  There’s a reason that young rising mafia men marry the daughters of older established mafia men.  They know what they’re signing on for.  El 3atal’s rejoinder was that it is a bit like those naive American gals (which I’ve had occasion to discuss in the past as you may recall) who marry Jordanian men thinking he’s “liberal” and “Americanized”.  They visit and see mom and dad and think, but he’s not like them.  Or they don’t visit (by far the worst choice) and think he’s just like everyone else here.

As much as we may not want it to be the case, young men are likely to expect their wives to be like their mothers.  And young women are likely to expect their husbands to be like their fathers.  We may not WANT to be like our families, but we usually are.  Forget nurture versus nature, in this you’re fighting nurture AND nature.  If you want to see what a girl will look like 30 years down the road, look at her mom.  If you want to see a guy’s expectations for his marriage, look at HIS mom ;).  And I promise you, it will be very telling.

When I began to consider El 3atal as a partner for life, it was pretty important that I understood his parents and their dynamic.  It turns out that I found a man who is unusual for his culture, but not for his pattern.  TetaBean works.  She has for (are you ready?) her entire marriage.  She is an accomplished and well-rounded woman who is an excellent role model.   It’s not surprising, then, that El 3atal found a wife who is (and I say this with all knowledge of the undue honor I’m bestowing on myself) in a similar model.  I have worked all of our married life.  Currently I work a bit less than previously, but I still work.  Not necessarily because of the income as much as to use my brain, get myself moving, and keep involved.  I go stir-crazy without anything to do.  Had TetaBean been, instead, a typical stay-at-home mom who cooked and cleaned and that’s pretty much it, we’d have had issues.  I will never be that kind of mom.  I can do all sorts of things with the Beans, but I’m not a Mom-type gal.  I recognized that TetaBean’s model was very important to whether I could be the right wife for El 3atal (so far so good, teehee).

And so, if you don’t want to live with a mafia boss, don’t marry the mafia boss’ son.  Even if it seems he’s “different” or not like them, he likely will be.  That old adage “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” is about for a reason.  It’s valid and it’s nearly always true.  So, gals (American and otherwise), look at your prospective gentleman’s mom before you decide if your future hitched together will be peaceful.  If the life she leads (and her style of dress, outlook on life, and religiosity would drive you crazy, think long and hard.  Those patterns and HARD to break (as you’ll know even more clearly the first time you say something to your kids and realize it’s one of those things your Mom said to you and you vowed you’d NEVER say to your kids ;)).

Happy patterning!


10 thoughts on “Marrying into the Mafia: How Marrying into a Jordanian Family Can Be Like La Cosa Nostra

  1. That is some good advice! I always am apprehensive when I hear about women marrying Arab men, just because of my parents experience and then divorce. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through with my parents.

  2. I remember going to see the Godfather when it first came out. All the family went together and I was too young at the time to understand all what was going on onscreen. My single memory of the movie is that I kept looking for Marlon Brando to show up but could never figure out where or who he was. Of course, many years later I realized he was Don Corleone but did not look like the Marlon Brando I saw in other movies.

    • Joe, probably the cotton in his cheeks :). I think he was pretty unrecognizable. Funny thing is that if you ask people to picture Brando these days, most will picture the Godfather.

  3. Hmm,
    I;m touched personally by this, I come from a fairly large family (tribe). so, when I proposed to my wife who is of Lebanese descent and so have a few members, she was very scared of the issue. the typical Mafia image that you mentioned.
    Fortunately, I was blessed to come from a very educated family, I look forward to my mom as you said, but I;m proud that my mom was a working mom for her whole life and still is, and she’s also an academic. although I come from this large Mafia, but I never felt the same, neither my father or my mom were typical Mafia members.
    This made my wife a lot more comfortable living with me, and even made me more comfortable with my life getting away from the usual restraints that such a life may impose

    • Tha2ir, exactly correct. In fact, you prove the point. It’s less about the size of your family or the “mafia” overtones than it is about the style of the family. I can see that your wife would have been concerned, but once you meet mom, you get where the guy is coming from… That can be a great thing… or not so depending on your perspective.

  4. such a great post you have here. It seems like you have connected important concepts regarding the fact that people will rarely change who they are and where they come from. However, i want to add on to what you have mentioned as in regards to middle eastern tradition. It is statistically proven that most (>85%) of arab women did have a job at some point of their life. This however changes for many of those girls who start to have kids, they want to care for their kids and make sure that they are raised the right way and are not harmed by anyone. Hence, the majority of middle eastern males, especially in the united states are either educated, or money making business men. If i were to look at a girl’s mother in the present, she might look like a stay at home mom who all she does is clean and cook, right? WRONG! this mother was once a worker, but then she decided to become a stay at home mom whose job is to take care of her kids and raise them the right way so they become successful when they grow up. As far as arab men think, they want to marry a girl who is contributes to the success of the family, this can be money-wise or family-wise. Again, it is statistically proven that those kids who were taken care of by their mother were to have a higher possibility of becoming successful and holding a happy family of their own.

    Now to criticize your opinion towards a stay at home mom, i do think that you seem to have shown some ignorance towards that matter. A stay at home mom is no less than a working mom. a stay at home mom has a job, a job that is hard to do, raising her kids. Most of us are not able to raise a pet, how hard can it be to raise a human being? i’ll leave that for you to think about.

    As far as kay goes, she married into a family who murders people. That was her own choice, although her husband claimed to not be his family, she should have known that marrying the son of a mafia don is not a wise decision to make. Your way of relating that to marrying into a jordanian family is utterly immature.

    I apologize for my harsh words regarding your article but i do believe that this article is biased towards your own experiences and emotions and that in NO way relates to how things really work.

    Btw, jordanian people look up to their kind for the type of life style they want. Look at King abdullah, his wife is a stay at home mom, However, she does go out and do campaigns all the time for improving the world. She is a working mom at heart and she does contribute for the good of society. Look at how she dresses when she does interviews, yeah, i think jordanians are liberals.

    I think you should have targeted saudi arabians in regards to this article. you would have made a better point ;).

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