Saudi Arabia: How Saudi Women CAN Perceive Foreign Women Who Marry Saudis

I am writing this post based from what I have seen and also what I have heard from foreign women who have married Saudis or from Saudi woman who shared some perspectives.  The reason I have chosen to write on this particular topic, the Saudi woman’s perspective of a foreign woman who has married a Saudi, is due to the number of foreign women who are actively in relationships with a Saudi man.

The foreign woman has a general understanding that a Saudi man’s family is of great importance to him.  However, he may choose to marry his foreign wife before breaking the news to his family. Many foreign women who are in a relationship with a Saudi are full of confidence that they can, and will, win over his Saudi family.  I hope for the relationship’s sake, they are right.

The majority of foreign women will meet and fall in love with their Saudi when he is outside of the Kingdom.  I can speak with authority that a Saudi man can be among the most charming of individuals whom one cannot help but love with all the heart.  (warm smile)  Yet that does not in turn constitute his family will feel the same way when he tells them that he has fallen in love and married a foreign woman.

His mother and sisters may feel that they have been robbed and cheated of identifying a good Saudi wife for him.  After all, there are many single Saudi women and some of them will be among the close friends or perhaps relatives of his mother and sister. Why did he have to go and choose a foreigner?

Some Saudi women may view the foreign wife as an interloper.  They will wonder how their male relative met her exactly and got to know her well enough that he married without their knowledge.  Or they may ask why did he feel he had to marry her without her knowledge?  Was there a scandal?  Is her family not respectable? The foreign wife may be perceived as a threat.

Bear in mind these may be some of the thoughts but it is very unlikely they would be voiced aloud to either their male relative or his foreign bride.  The foreign bride would likely be shown kindness and politeness, with or without genuine warmth.  Yet never doubt for a moment that each move and action the foreign bride takes will be watched, noted and discussed.  There will be interest in how she dresses, how she talks, what she can or cannot do.  There will be curiosity towards how much she seems to understand Saudi customs and culture.  Does she speak Arabic?  Is she respectful to the family members and especially the elders?  These issues will be the topic of many conversations and discussions.

Some foreign women have made the transition from a ‘foreign spouse’ to a welcomed and loved family member.  Many more have not.  Much of the success on acceptance of the foreign wife in Saudi Arabia by female members of the family and others in the family depends on the level of acceptance from the Saudi Mother-in-Law.

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166 Responses

  1. Thank you very much for this topic! It means a lot to me! It is very much appreciated. I do not think I can thank you enough for this!! :) I look forward to hearing different views on this topic.

    I do not expect my Saudi’s family to be warm and accepting of me, although I can’t but hope that they will one day accept me. What my expectations are in regards to this will depend on what I perceive them to be like after meeting them. If they accept me right away without meeting me, then I will consider them extremely generous, caring, and loving people. I would not expect this from most people anywhere in the world, especially once put into this cultural context.

    For me and my Saudi, it is important that he at least talk with his family about me before we marry. I also would like to meet them all in person. As for the mother and sisters picking someone for him, I actually mentioned this to my Saudi as something I imagined his family would miss out on (particularly his mother) because of our relationship. He says his family is very loving and kind, which I believe because he is, too. (smile) However, I still imagine it’s going to be difficult for them to accept a foreigner. His family is very important to me because family is very important to me, so I can only hope for the best. :)

    Luckily, my parents (especially my mom) are very supportive of my relationship as they ultimately just want me to be happy. My mother wants to do what is culturally relevant for the girl’s family to do in a courtship scenario that will hopefully result in marriage. Does anyone know what would be expected of the girl’s family and how to meet these demands when the families are separated by distance?

    I am most wary of making cultural mistakes as my family is very open about pretty much anything and everything. They are extremely open even for an American family. Sometimes, it is difficult for my Saudi to explain these cultural things to me. Ideas of respect are viewed differently from culture to culture and family to family. Things I can talk to my parents about and ways that I talk to them would be considered disrespectful to others even within US society but are perfectly acceptable and desirable within my family unit. When I talk to my mom, you’d think I was talking to a best friend rather than my mother, but she is still my mother and I still show (and have) a lot of love and respect towards her. It’s just in a different way than most families. The ways I talk with my extended family are much more traditional US American, so I think the hardest part of being respectful is knowing how to act within a given society and family.

    Being a naturally very open person, I imagine there are things that I’d have to change in order to fit in within Saudi society and culture.

    Any relevant advice would be greatly appreciated!

  2. The foreign bride herself needs patience and a thick skin, if she is to win over the Saudi family. A foreigner does not marry a Saudi man; she marries a Saudi family. The whole process usually goes better when the woman has a pre-existing interest in Saudi Arabia, Islam or Arabic.

    Two of my close (American) friends have been married to Saudis for greater than twenty years, and they’ve each had their trials. Both became Muslim before marriage, and I must say that if they hadn’t, they might not have made a satisfactory adjustment.

    A Muslim man is permitted to marry a non-Muslim woman, but in Saudi Arabia, where one’s entire life is structured around the melding of culture and religion, marriage stands a far better chance of success when both partners are Muslim.

  3. would you like to share your personal experience with us, Carol?

  4. I couldn’t agree more with Marahm. Islam is a huge issue.

    When we’re discussing our future (marriage) I was told not once or twice that if I don’t convert to Islam the family will ‘accept’ me, but they won’t love me. They will not give me attention and I will find it hard to get along with people. My own boy told me he would be less proud of me if I didn’t convert! I was told that they will see me as a stubborn Christian girl who cannot see the truth and the right path of Islam.
    They might consider themselves open-minded but when it comes to religion there is another story.

    Just thought I would throw in my 2 cents :)

  5. Ok, I need to jump in to disagree. I’ve been here for over 30 years and I can say quite adamently that many of my friends (married 20 to 45 years) never converted, or did so only to get the paperwork done to come here. I came as a Christian and had no plans to change my religion and his family were all very, very supportive of me. I disagree that one should try to get so close to his family. First of all, you will always be an outsider and looked on as such. They will love you, true, but they will never consider you a Saudi no matter what you do, so don’t even bother trying to be or act like them. I feel it best to remain the person that you are. Change your religion if you WANT to, but you do not need to change it in order to marry. I have seen many Saudi men marry second wives when their foreign wives became too ‘Saudi.’ These guys marry foreigners because they like you as a foreigner. If they had wanted to marry a Saudi, they would not have bothered with you to begin with. Be yourself, but be respectful of them and of their traditions. They should love you for who you are and not for how well you try to pretend to be. They can easily see through it all. At the end of the day, you will be happy because you will be you … whether your marriage survives or not.

  6. Hello Dear, I wanna start by saying I found out yesterday you were sick. I ‘m so sorry to hear that. I love animals and can imagine how you feel. I really hope everything works out for you. On to your post haha I laugh why I can relate not that I married to a Saudi. I laugh because of how my Mom felt about my sister in law. Well my brother was away in the service he is Black and married a Chinese. Well my Mom always felt she was out for green card and money. She said why couldn’t he marry an American. She never really cared for her she was nice and respectful but deep inside I knew she didn’t like her. My Mom is gone now and guess what she was right in at least 60% of what she saw my sister in law, she hates us and never says hello or even answers the phone if my brother isn’t home.

  7. Miriam, you’ve made some excellent points, especially: “These guys marry foreigners because they like you as a foreigner.”

    I, too, have seen a few foreign women become more Saudi than a real Saudi, but maybe that is what they truly are deep inside. Many foreign women will say that they feel more “at home” in Saudi Arabia than in the West, where they have to work like dogs, compete with other women, and tolerate all manner of destructive influence in the forms of alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, peer pressures, etc.

    You said, “At the end of the day, you will be happy because you will be you … whether your marriage survives or not.”

    Hmm…. A broken marriage, especially one involving such drastic cross-cultural factors, can ruin one’s sense of self, and send a poor woman into years of healing. Marrying a foreigner will always be a big gamble for both parties, because one never knows how each party will be affected by long-term residence in the other culture.

    Many people (myself included) tend to develop several “personalities” that emerge according to which country one is living in.

  8. I’ve enjoyed all the comments and experiences that have been shared.

    My Saudi female family members are very polite by nature. They have always treated me with kindness, love and respect. Although they would never say so to me, I’m sure there have been times they may have thought I’ve been too liberal when in fact, I’ve simply been myself. I’m a very outgoing person who enjoys interacting with all people and has no hesitation in starting up a conversation with someone i don’t know. This is not typical among Saudis.

  9. How saudi women can percieve an interloper from the west? They will all invite you and treat you as an honored guest. Because it is the custom.
    That will probably be it. I know that some women have managed to be accepted by the saudi family, but they will never belong. A western woman will always be the stranger, and she will lead a very lonely life.
    That is the best case scenario.
    Say 5% of women experience this.

    The other 95% percent of western women who experience life in Saudi arabia live in hell.
    The following will happen: Hubby has not informed family, Family will hate western interloper.
    Hubby will have informed family, Family hates it, Hubby marries you anyway.
    The result of the family hating the western interloper (happens 95|% of the time) will be that the man gives in to family pressure and either there will be a wig between the couple.
    Or the man will divorce the foreign wife, kick her out of the country, keep the kids.
    Or the man will succumb to the family wishes and marry a real saudi wife, who will be the important one. The foreign wife and her tainted children will always be second class in the family.
    Once you ar over thirty a lot of saudi men think they deserve a younger second wife anyway.

    I cannot comprehend how there are again and again western women with rosy glasses on and ready to marry a saudi man and life with him in saudi.
    And don’t think your saudi is different; the statistics are very much against you.

    You should be aware of some other things which will happen:
    -Hubby will change 180” the moment the plane touches down in saudi
    -even after 15 years of marriage
    -saudi men do what their mother wants always
    -wife is lowest on the list in saudi.
    -women in saudi are slaves: they cannot do anything without the mahram allowing it.
    -women have no richts to children, once you have children and are not willing to leave them behind you will be chained for life.
    -a man can divorce you in 20 seconds. he owns the children and you will have lost your sponsor, so you will be thrown out of the country.
    never to see your children again.
    -You have absolutely no power once in saudi. you cannot decide anything for yourself, you cannot even leave the country without permission.
    -a man can do anything to his wife which he wishes. he can rape her, beat her, lock her up, deny her phone and internet, anything he wants.
    -nobody will help you when things go wrong.

    If a western woman wants to marry a saudi man there are a few points to follow:
    -if he introduces you to male friends and family he has no respect for you, and only uses you, and shows you off as his doll
    -if he is serious he will not introduce you to any men, but he will introduce you to his mother and sisters.
    -if he is allready married (and that happens quite often!) nobody will tell you. Not his family, not his friends, nobody!
    He however will lie to you about that little detail in his life.
    -If you marry he should be agreeable to live in another country. Saudi is no place for women, especially not if you have been used to be free.
    -if a man truly loves you he will not want you to live the insecure confined life of a saudi woman
    -A saudi man who truly loves you will also put many securities in place in case something happens to him to keep you safe. And trust me: you will need protection if you want to keep your joint money (widows get only a pittance in sharia) and even more if you are in saudi. Also you will again loose your children: they are property of the man’s family. Not the mother!
    -never convert because he wants you to! Saudis will never take your conversion serious anyway, even if you converted years before.
    -make sure if you are married not to have babies for the first 3 or 4 years. Once you have a baby you will be a prisoner for ever, unless you can give up the child easily.
    -make sure you get a proper lawful marriage as well as an Islamic marriage. islamic marriage has nor security no advantage for women. You can state several things in the contract, but no saudi judge will honor them if you want a divorce. You can only get a divorce if you have a lot of money to bribe the judge and the husband to set you free.

    So never go and live in saudi.

    Really a saudi man who loves a western woman would not want her to live in saudi.

  10. I have had a very accepting family. However- long term I have found it hard to “respect the culture”. The culture has no respect for women and none for children (as is evidenced by the crap education they impose on them). So it wears really thin especially after the first decade or so. It also wears thin as you see friends trapped in bad marriages (sometimes with co-wives) for economic or child custody issues.

  11. @ Sandy
    I have to add I am lucky too, with a very good man. He does everything to make my life good. And as we discussed on my blog: having some ”dough” is important more in saudi than elsewhere.
    But all the sad stories I hear too much. I cannot bear to hear another story! I am close to telling everybody never ever come close to saudi men!

    I am very worried about education here. children should have a good start.

  12. as a saudi woman, i always encourage my bro to marry a non-saudi. the reason behind that is looking forward to improving our society by accepting a foriegn blood that may assest changing our unislamic and meaningless traditions! I have no problem with that at all. Also, islamicaly speaking, there is nothing against marrying someone no matter what tribe, region, country they belong to, as long as ur happy and content with it.

  13. I think the new generation is a lot more open minded. I’m reading a lot of this, and it’s mainly marriages not of this current wave of marriages. I know off hand 12 recent american/saudi marriages at CSLB alone. Currently five of them went this summer to meet the family, one woman even went with their three year old daughter, and they have all have very up beat stories reguarding their new family. And from the Saudi women I see here, one living in the apartment next door to me and knows I’m living with my Saudi bf, they seem more then welcoming. A nice thing too is that the families do come over here to visit and are into a lot of things that are American, so it makes the acceptance easier. I do, however, see where it can be hard to win over the mother. But the Saudi women in their teens and 20s seem to behave like the men, going out and partying (and that doesn’t make you a bad person, I think when you’re young you should enjoy your life) have all been very kind to me and the other girls that are not Saudi. If the marriages are bad it’s not the families’ fault, it’s usually the man or the wife is not as open minded as she thought.

  14. Wheeeeeww so many things happening with these Saudi men. It saddens me I’am Muslim and a convert and I really have to say that many of these things said here are not from Islam at all. I’m not saying they don’t happen I’m sure they do but it is sad.

  15. really I am in wonder why western women who marry saudi men telorate such awful situation( like polygomy)? I am not judging someone, only I am in wonder!! when I see that in my country, women no longer accept being abused ( specialy emotionaly ), I ask my self why western women who marry saudi men ( specialy those who converted)telorate being abused or telorate being forced to wear niqab. .again I say I dont want judge any one or offend.
    I will be happy hear from you.

  16. I am in wonder too. Why do foreign women who view Saudi people in such a bad light, even think of befriending them and then getting married to them. Is it for a luxurious life?

    If you are suffering so much, then why marry a saudi; why not marry your kind and be content?

    Why “taint” the society?

  17. Well lets see I think when people fall in love or are attracted to each other it doesn’t matter if you are Saudi or Nigerian……..

  18. Mariam from Iran,
    From what I’ve seen, it’s not that they accept polygamy in these cases. The sad fact is that they feel forced into it for various reasons from child custody to monetary issues. As to veiling, many cover just to fit in here or to please family members who feel it’s important to follow the customs in this country. Basically, the “What will people say?” attitude is much like it was in the USA. many years ago as far as going to church. Of course, some husbands force their wives to cover as well….some will refuse to go out with their wife unless her hair is covered!
    Last night on a popular show here, ‘Tash ma Tash’ the wife in the story had multiple husbands that she kept adding to as time went by. I loved it! Women can do it here in KSA legally as well…but just one man at a time. At the end of the show, the actress gave a statement about the performance. It was NOT to make light of it in the religion. Rather, the show was to help men be more sympathetic as to how it feels to be in a polygamous marriage for the women in their family that have been unlucky enough to have been put through it.
    At one point, all 4 husbands had to draw papers to see who was leaving when she was choosing her 5th husband!!! I laughed so hard at that, and my son was so angry at me because he didn’t like to see it the other way around, obviously. I told him he hadn’t seen it enough in his young life to make it an issue for him.
    Men may marry for additional children as their excuse, but the first wife, her children, and her family suffer terribly in most of the cases that I have seen while I’ve been here. It’s like they are still married to a man who has died and yet who still comes to visit them.
    These men and the additional wives seem to be ignorant of the suffering they are causing in these relationships.
    They say here, in KSA, that it is similar to divorce or having a girlfriend. Not true!!! In divorce, the woman can begin her life again with someone new. She is no longer tethered to the man that has moved on with his new life and new wife.
    I try not to judge women for being second wives as I did when I first heard of such cases…even if everyone says that she seduced him. (typical respons from his mother and sisters by the way!)
    I feel the blame lies totally with the man that has done it to his wife by sharing the family jewels.
    Of course, like in America, there ARE some cases where the women don’t mind sharing. : ) Each to their own.
    But, I feel sorry for the children. Usually, these children from the first wife have a very difficult time accepting what their father has done to their mother and for her subsequent misery no matter how wonderful the second, third, or fourth wife is.
    Sorry for the long reply.

  19. In America you have many polygynous mariages and many function very well as in Africa. I believe that polygyny can be practiced and well handled with religious people as they will fear their Lord in their dealings.

  20. Think before you fall in love. When you marry the person, you are marrying the man with all his baggages – you are marrying his country.

  21. Miriam Mac, I like your (long ;) ) reply!
    I wish I could see that episode on you tube!
    You know, I only hear people talk about polygamous marriages being ok when it is about others they have heard of, or when they are very deeply indoctrinated and even then they consider it ”suffering for Allah”, ”a trial put upon you by Allah”…
    And I have never heard of children who were happy in such a situation.

    It is a very evil custom in my opinion. And I bet those second wives are not old, ugly unmarried spinsters, or poor ugly widows with orphans etc.

    I don’t think from what I have read that Saudi women like being one of a collection. I think their feelings are not taken into account when the man decides he deserves an ”upgrade”

  22. I don’t think ANY woman would like to be ‘one in a collection.’

    i wish I had seen that episode of Tash ma Tash!!

  23. Well put Mirriam Mac. I only differ in that I DO hold the second wife accountable, IF she knew the man was married. They know very well what hurt they may be causing and could care less. I refuse to socialize with the bi45es.

    And SarahMD,
    My husband is “my kind”. And I am doing my best to “untaint” your society. I am now part of your future generations, your gene pool and educational system.

    And I don’t hold most Saudi’s in a bad light- just their disfunctional, oppressive culture.

  24. I have a very cordial relationship with my Saudi in-laws. Now, DH and I live in the U.S., and I have made it abundantly clear to him that I do not wish to live in the KSA ever. His parents, however, come here often for extended visits, by which I mean from 6 to 9 months a year (more like a part-time living arrangement than visitation, really). They stay in a separate apartment. His sister is also here studying. Because we are in the U.S., our relationship follows a very different emotional dynamic than it would if I were in the KSA.

    My in-laws are very simple but kind and generous; they welcomed me from day one, and DH introduced me to them even before we were married when they came to visit shortly after we started dating (I do have a feeling he may have fudged about the true nature of our relationship at that point because he didn’t want to say “girlfriend” in front of his parents). After the actual wedding we sent them lots of pictures; his sister attended and his two cousins were groomsmen.

    It’s been three years now since we met and I have arrived at a place of being comfortable in my relationship with them. During the first year, I tried harder to please them, dressed more conservatively, spent lots and lots of time with them, cooked all the time, etc. That year left me a bit drained and resentful because I didn’t feel it was appreciated properly. But then it dawned on me that no one expects these things from me, and even Saudi wives do not act that way toward their in-laws, and some space and boundaries are totally acceptable in that culture.

    By the third year I have adopted a mindset that “I am fabulous and perfect just the way I am and your son was damn fortunate to marry me.” I don’t change my outfits; if I happen to be wearing tight jeans when we go visit, so be it. My non-Muslimness (and in fact, non-religiosity) could not be any more obvious to them, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I am warm and cordial with them but no longer have an expectation for myself that we will be BFF or even that I should be prepared to be that way any second.

    I make sure to visit at least once a week; when DH travels, I look in on them, call them and make sure they have everything they need. Occasionally, I will cook but not very often as they don’t want me to bother myself. When I visit, I make sure I sit down, kiss, hug and joke and talk to his mum at least for a few minutes with my limited Arabic. When I go shopping to a farmer’s market, we make sure to get them some yummies too. Over Ramadan I may cook an iftar or two. DH tells me they love me even more than their Saudi daughter-in-laws. That’s fine; I’m not competing with anyone and will settle for simple cordiality. Now that I’m three months away from delivering a baby boy, they cannot get enough of me. Basically I make the relationship work on my schedule and somewhat to my convenience while remaining flexible to their needs. DH visits them a lot more often and spends lots of time with them. That used to annoy me but no more; now I just smile and say, “give them my best”, and use this time to catch up with my own friends.

    So all in all, I would say that my relationship with my Saudi in-laws is great and began to feel most comfortable when I decided to stay myself and not change a bit. His sister views me as a sort of no-nonsense confidante and calls when she’s in need of advice. I do believe that things would have been very different if we lived in KSA because here in the U.S. I have a luxury of approaching this situation from the position of strength. For what it’s worth, my advice is to be cordial but not overwhelming and be yourself at all times. They too have an obligation to adjust to you.

  25. @Kasia

    Darling, it sounds like your boy is trying to manipulate you and exert a not-too-subtle form of emotional pressure. I’d tell him to get over it or leave you alone.

  26. I am not in favor of polygamy personally, but in the few cases where the people involved are happy with it, then I don’t see a problem with it. If someone in the relationship is not okay with it, then it’s not okay.

    @Sarah Md,
    I don’t know why someone who was against a whole group of people would choose to marry one of them. I wouldn’t know because I don’t think like that. However, I think in this case it may be more that people are against the government rather than the people.

    I have friends that are from countries around the world. I happened to fall in love with someone who happened to be Saudi. It was for the most part unexpected and unplanned, but so far has turned out for the best. Money’s never been a motivator for me in relationships because my view has been since I was a child that if I really cared about the money, I’d get a job doing something that paid well. I just want someone I can live in harmony with, and that’s been very difficult for me to find. I am also open to other cultures and ways of life. Everyone comes with baggage (though some more than others), and it’s something every couple has to work through no matter where they’re from.

  27. @NN,
    Thanks for sharing your story!! I appreciate it and the advice about just being yourself! Thanks. :)

  28. @NN

    the most important pressure i was under is to convert. this was the very reason we are no longer together. if I cannot be respected and loved for who I am then there is nothing to discuss, is there?
    I just thought I would put it out there for other ladies to see that this might also concern them. I believe women should go with their eyes wide open cause I learned the hard way that love is simply NOT enough.

    thank you for your kind words and judging from your experience you got the best of both worlds :) glad to read some positive experiences :) all the best to you!

  29. Well Im sure everyone knows by now I wasnt treated well by my ex’s family. They resented his choice of a bride…but of course Im the one that got punished for his choice. As many brides are…as if we are to blame somehow.

    I dont condone mixed marriages at all….unless BOTH parties are going in with eyes wide open…and inlaws have been met and dealt with…and ONLY if inlaws are only going to be occasional visitors and NOT part of the household…in which case….NO WAY!!

  30. @Layla,
    In saudia it is very often the family which disrupts the saudi/foreign marriage. Ether by treating the foreign wife bad, or by pushing the husband marrying a saudi wife as well.

    You should understand that most saudis behave very differnt abroad. the husband of many years could change his behaviour and attendance to you 180” as soon as the plane hits saudi soil. I would not be surprised if a whole family does the same. You simply cannot judge saudis but on their own ground saudia. That is the real test.

    @Kasia,
    I am very relieved you decided to stop the relationship rather than stayi9ng attached to a man who does not appreciate you and who thinks that a forced conversion has any value.

    @ Miriam from Iran.
    Most women do not want to tolerate it but have no choice. Men have all the power in saudia, and women can do nothing usually. Especially if she has a child a woman is powerless because she will loose her child. Most women are not ready to do that, they will stick it for the child.
    Most saudi men are clever enough to wait telling their first wife (if they ever do) that they have a second wife until after she is pregnant, or delivered and he has the whip hand over her.

    Life in saudia is completely segregated. That means that even spouses may see each other very little. Some men live a bachelor life with the difference of having a wife in the home. They can easily have another wife and the first wife may not know for years.
    It also happens that suadi men are married and marry another wife abroad. He will lie to her and say he is single. Nor will he tell his wife in saudi he has married a #2.
    Extra marriages are usually kept secret.
    But there are men who like the comedy TashmaTash have the wives take a lottery if they want to marry a younger one and need to clear a slot.
    No woman likes this, saudi women do not like this.
    Where men have all the power thses things happen. And women do not even get alimony and will loose their children. foreign women will be thrown out of the country. The children will be looked after the other wives who may not like them. Or are shoved off to the parents, or an aunt. Anybody but the mother may get the children. What woman wants that to happen for her children?

    That is why women suffer it. And the men know it and use it.
    If you were in the situation and had to protect your children you would take it.

    @ sara md,
    I find your comment highly distasteful.
    Foreign women marry out of love.
    Twenty years ago it used to be very hard to have any idea what life in saudi means if you are a woman. but now with the internet women can be warned, but even then it is difficult to make other women understand the complete loss of any power you will suffer. How women are complete slaves in saudia.

    I married my husband because we are soulmates. I don’t feel those differences in culture so much, except it makes it more fun.

    I do not dislike saudi people, on the contrary. But I hate the disfunctional insane society. I hate women being treated as slaves. I hate women being guilty by default.
    And because saudia is so evil a place for women money is much more important as elsewhere: You need a driver, as you are not allowed to drive yourself and that is not cheap. I can go on a trip or to my other house abroad when ever I cannot stand it anymore and that takes money too. But it keeps me sane.

    I do hate people like you, who are so racist.
    Your choice of words is very bad. But they help show how bad you are.
    And I have married my ”own kind”: we are soulmates.
    You will find yur kind all over the world too: there are racists everywhere.

    You think your genes are ”pure”?
    The saudi gene pool is seriously contaminated due to centuries of foolish inbreeding. A lot ”foreign blood” will be needed to rescue the saudis suffering from so many genetically inherited diseases .
    To prevent the diseased gene pool from further deterioration.

    This is something a foreign future wife of a saudi should also look into: there are many inherited diseases in saudi arabia. Much more than elsewhere. This is due to generations of inbreeding.
    Your intended my be allready be ill, or carry very dangerous genes.
    You should always both be tested to make sure your eventual children will not be in danger.

  31. If any one wants to read another take on living in saudia as a foreign wife they should read this.
    and the comments

    http://susiesbigadventure.blogspot.com/2009/12/dear-susie.html

  32. @Miriam Mac
    Tash episode made a lot of blah blah among Saudi people today. watch the video report in Al Alarabiya channel website: http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/08/15/116687.html.

    They said that Saudi women felt the victory for the first time over men. Some religious scholars like Al Breeak, spoke against the episode. The episode’s idea is taken from an article written by the Saudi journalist, Nadeen Albdeer one year ago. Just came across AB today to highlight your good remark.

  33. I agree that the Saudi marriage with a Westerner have the greatest chance of success and contentment outside of the Kingdom.

    In the US, a man and woman are viewed as marrying each other but as pointed out in several earlier comments, in Saudi Arabia marriage is a joining of families. However the foreign wife who accompanies her husband to the Kingdom is usually without family of her own who supports her through adaptations to marriage and any other challenges.

    I’m glad that I had the opportunity to live with my husband in the Kingdom. It was important to both of us for me to meet and know his family, his life and his country. That does not mean it was always smooth sailing but we were able to make it work.

  34. I was reading this post and the comments and found them very interesting and informative. StrangeOne, your comments strike me in particular as speaking to my own thoughts, wonderings and fears. Thank you for sharing :-)

    I do have a couple questions on this topic, though I’m not sure to what extent those here can answer them.

    1- My Saudi’s mother has recently filed for divorce and gone home to her own parents who live quite far away. I imagine that this would dramatically change the mother-son influence that is spoken of here. Am I correct? If so, then to what extent does this change things? Would this change what is expected of me when I do finally meet the family in person?

    2- I have already met a few of my Saudi’s siblings via webcam when he was at home visiting and so far I really like them and would like to get to know them better. Keeping in mind I’m still trying to learn Arabic and rely on him for translation, is there anything you would suggest to move this process along? Ways to connect? Things to avoid? I already think especially his sister and I could be great friends eventually but I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth so any advice would be appreciated, lol.

    For those of you who’ve experienced it, what was it like to meet the family (or foreign wife) for the first time face-to-face?

  35. Now I have read so often that older western women married to Saudi men say that 30 years ago they had no information and did not know what they were getting into.
    I re-read Susie’s post, (the link STW put up in a comment above) and moreover, most women, even if they manage to get some sort of a life in Saudi Arabia say they would not have gone there knowing what they know now, that most of them are longing to go home, and most women with real experience told women who were contemplating marrying and moving to Saudi not to do it. That it wasn’t worth it. That nothing was worth living the restricted, totally dependent life of a second rate being in Saudi Arabia. That you will never be accepted by the Saudi family, but will be very far from your own. Most were very lonely. No woman can leave once she has had children which she loves. They all said ”love is not enough”.
    They all said ”RUN”!!!

    Yet here on Bedu we see again and again women who can get all the information they need, learn from the experience of older women having lived many decades in Saudi Arabia, having read how very unhappy most women (not all, but most) are in Saudi Arabia, having read that they will be throwing away any kind of independence, any human rights, any freedom they have here…
    And yet they still want to do it?

    The mind boggles.
    I guess that unlike the older women who moved to Saudi unknowing what was in store for them they will really deserve whats coming to them.

    And what about the Saudi men? Why does a man who knows what kind of half-life he is subjecting his ”loved one” to, think of all this?
    What kind of love is it that so easily takes friends and family and freedom and human rights and a meaningful independent life away from somebody he ostensibly loves?
    Sounds like nothing more than selfish monkey-love to me.

  36. @Aafke

    I hear what you are saying and other ladies probably too. The thing is that when you are in love, you don’t really use your brain :D I didn’t!

    As Susie in her post said: “I would follow him to the ends of the earth, if need be, just so we could be together.”
    It’s a really weird state when you just don’t think clearly, forgive everything and nothing matters apart from being together till the end of time and one day longer ;)
    Your judgement is severely clouded and that’s how you can get yourself into big big trouble.
    And yes, no man on earth is worth such sacrifice and heartache in a long run. But that’s just my personal opinion :)

  37. Kasia, But Susie is not happy and certainly does not lead a fulfilling rich and social life there. Also her husband lied to her, he said it would only be for 2 or 3 years, and now it’s forever.

    I am worried myself about being too ready to give things up for love. It’s much easier to tell other people what the best thing would be ;)

  38. @Aafke,
    Read this scenario and give me your candid response.

    You have a daughter and she is in love with a Saudi boy. She wants to move with him to Saudi and live with him there. They are soul twins. They are happy with each other.

    The question is:
    Are you going to stand against her will and love and spoil her love relationship by practicing pressure on her and interfere in her love relationship as you do to people who are in love evident in your previous post? Or you are going to wish her a happy life with her hubby and support her?

    Just wondering what Romeo and Juliet will think about you, I am not going to debate; just tell me your candid personal response.

  39. Now why is giving advice suddenly so evil?

    There are many foreign wives who are not happy and that is why I said to make sure before falling in the trap. Why is that so evil and racist and make my blood so pure? Its the way some people percieve things at once. Touchy.

    I used the word “taint” because someone else above me used it and that is why it was was in quotes.

    I am personally not against mixed marriages. I have those in my family too.

    BTW, Save the Women, I don’t hate you. I welcome you to this land and hope the best for you and your soul mate.

  40. I don’t know Susie personally but I love both of her blogs which I read ‘from cover to cover’. I’m a big fan of Carol’s blog as well. Both of them helped me to form my opinion and give me an insight into how things could turn out.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that you have to compromise certain things when you enter any relationship. Probably more when it’s inter-faith/cultural relationship. What’s important is to set yourself limits, draw a line that you will no cross.
    And it goes without saying that the other party has to compromise too!

    My point was that feelings and emotions cloud reasonable judgement and it’s important to somehow see beyond that and assess the situation objectively:)

  41. Medina, I would stop her if I could naturally. But I hope if I ever have a daughter I will educate her to be intelligent and be able to make good decisions not merely based on feelings but use her intellect as well.
    I would be very disappointed if a daughter of mine would throw away her rights and freedom for a man who treats her happiness and future with so little care..
    And after all, why should she? They can be married and living happily ever after in another country?

    I would also want to know why the Saudi boy thinks they have to live in saudi arabia.
    Why not live somewhere else.
    I would ask the saudi boy why he thinks he should take a woman used to live in freedom to a country where she is not even regarded as a sentient being.
    Like I said before, I have serious doubts about the love a man has for a woman if he wants her to live in Saudi Arabia.
    As my daughter would be Dutch I don’t see why he shouldn’t learn Dutch and live here, where her family and friends are. And where she is free to get a job, ride a bicycle, drive a car, do sports, no restrictions.
    I really don’t understand why it is regarded as normal that the woman gives up her life, family and friends and why it is such a big deal for the man to do the same. And of course in the case of KSA it would mean giving up almost everything which makes life good.
    If he has any brains and really truly loved my daughter he would never wish for her to suffer the fate of Saudi women, he would be the first one to keep her as far away from KSA as possible.

    I would also raise my children to have a healthy, moral, critical, rational way of thinking and hopefully teach them enough about religion to keep them far away from any religion. That would make them very unsuitable to live in a theocracy which is so oppressive.
    So unless my daughter would be caught and brainwashed by some salafi nutters, and be turned into a bigotted neurotic niqabi salafi, I think her life would be hell, and I would do everything in my power to keep her away.

  42. Oh, and if I had a daughter and she would be brainwashed by some creepy religious sect bent on taking away her freedom and human rights I would seek them out, break every bone in their bodies, take my daughter, and get an expert to de-program her.
    I still would not let her go to Saudi Arabia.

  43. PS, I always thought Romeo and Juliet a couple of really stupid irresponsible, stupid, silly little gits.

    Did I mention they were stupid?

  44. haha Aafke there is no single reason not to love ya :)

    have a good day!

  45. @Aafk,
    So, you are going to stop your daughter from going to with her hubby to Saudi. That is, you are 100% with the Mahrah SYSTEM that you demonize in this blog and you will wish that America has enforced a Mahram system to make you able to stop your daughter to go with her hubby to Saudi. Not this only, you will do your best to wash her brain when she is a kid and later you will call Juliet stupid if she acts against your will.

    See you on Christmas, aafk , the lady who devotes her full time to advocate freedom and Saudi women’s human rights heheheheheh. I will share this story with relatives to have fun hehehehe

  46. When it comes to them, it is all alright and its all about human rights and all those other rights and being politically correct. After all, its ok for them to brainwash people. And they already are…

    Good one, Medina!

  47. @Medina

    Romeo and Juliet are really not examples of healthy family life, are they? Shall I remind you that they were teenagers who committed suicide before reaching 18 years of age? Or have you actually never read the original work? So yeah, if my daughter intends to follow in Juliet’s footsteps, she would be locked in her room until she comes back to her senses. This is not a fate I wish for my child.

  48. @sara md,
    Thanks.

    @NN,
    Romeo and Juliet are mentioned here as a symbol of love (:. and your response is with enforcing Mahrah System. Go Go Mayrah system, it is YOUR DAY today. Many votes for Mahram system, aafk and NN , the strict critical opponents of Maharam system in the past, today they are voting for enforcing Maharah system. who is next? I will make a party for laugh soon heheheh.

  49. NN, I agree, parents have some responsibility to look after their children.
    In Shakespeare’s version of the story Juliet is 13 years old. Children’s brains are not yet fully developed, they typically cannot oversee the consequences of their actions. This is the last part of the brain to develop.
    This is the reason adults are responsible for their children.

    It’s a pity Medina you cannot read properly, and only asks questions so he can misuse a small part of your answer so he can ridicule you.
    You cannot argue any point unless you riddle your ”arguments” with one logical fallacy after the other. It’s sad really.
    I wish you would wait a couple of years until you yourself are a bit closer to adulthood before you try to argue with us grown ups.

    I swear, every time I read a comment of yours I get this compulsion to bend you over my knee, give you a good spanking and send you to your room without tv and dinner.

  50. The age is not the issue here, it is the fact that they fell in love. And Medina already said it is only a symbol of love.

    Are you meaning to say that if your children were 18 years or whatever age that is adult for you, you would allow them to marry and go to Saudi? As I said, age was not mentioned before.

  51. Love is love and I believe it was Kasia who said that love can cloud judgment.

    It would be nice if there were some kind of interview before a woman receives her visa to travel to KSA due to marriage or some way to predict her ability to adapt but I know that is a pipe dream. I get tired and saddened of hearing how many relationships do not work out or last mainly due to adjustment issues and changes of living in KSA. Yet it also makes one wonder if over time a Saudi man would have similar challenges of being away from his home and family for such extended periods too? Not everyone can easily afford to go to home country’s once or twice per year.

  52. Hi all!

    When I said I happened to “fall in love”, I should have been more clear. For me love means treating someone with love, respect, kindness, etc. for who they are as a person. It means being willing to make compromises so both of you can be who you are and achieve your goals in life. There is some logic to it; it’s not just plain emotions (to me). That said, I realize that is not what most people mean when they say “fall in love”, so I imagine this caused a bit of confusion. Sorry!

    I like to think of myself as a pretty accepting, open-minded person overall. For me, I understand the legal restrictions placed on the woman, which is why I would want to meet my Saudi’s family first. I would want to know how accepting they’d be of me and what they were like as people. Generally speaking, I think I am pretty easy to get along with and really try hard to show respect and love for others so I hope that they would love me, too. I would also want to go over all the legal restrictions with him so we could plan ahead for our life there. We would need to talk about religion and expectations each of us has for the other person. Things like what would happen if, God forbid, one or both of us dies and we had children at that point. These are not nice topics to discuss, but ones that need to be discussed.

    I do not see living in Saudi Arabia as completely a bad thing, although it would feel a little restrictive to me, mostly because of the separation of men and women. However, some of the good things in my opinion would be: more holiday/vacation time than in the US; my Saudi would get to be near his family; I get to learn about another culture, language, and people; and the weather would be sunny and hot. :) My family moves around quite a bit so it’s not as logical to plan to live near my family.

    I think a lot of the people that move there complain of boredom. The solution to boredom, I think, is creativity. So get creative. Find a way to do something you love to do there. There are loopholes in every situation. ;) For me, the problem has not been finding thing I enjoy, but rather which one to pursue. So having my options limited wouldn’t bother me much as there would still be plenty for me to do. I usually walk a lot anyways, so that’s not a big deal to me, either.

    There is good and bad to any place you live, although there may be more good in some than in others. For me, I draw the line at living in a war zone. I refuse to live in a war zone whether that’s a neighborhood in the US (or abroad) with an extremely high crime rate or a place where there is a large actual war happening.

    @ Medina, Aafke, NN
    It sounds like there was some mis-communication. In the story of Romeo and Juliet, at the end I believe they both committed suicide because they couldn’t be with the one they “loved”. Having not really ever read the original I can’t comment on that, but the general plot is that the families are against each other and Romeo and Juliet are “in love”. Why couldn’t Romeo and Juliet have found another option rather than the dramatic ending they had? Did they really love each other, or were they just lusting after and obsessed with each other?

    Although I believe in more than one soul mate for each of us, when you find someone that is your soul mate and you want to start a life with them, it’s difficult to imagine being apart. However, I also think it is important to consider the situation and use some logic and reason. Can you really both be happy five years from now? A decade from now? Multiple decades from now? Will you grow apart or grow closer to each other? If you both have completely different goals or expectations, then how is it going to work out? Either there will be lots of conflict (not good) or you will eventually separate from the other person.

    Medina, please check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_juliet Also, I do understand Aafke’s point about why couldn’t the guy live somewhere other than Saudi Arabia. What do you think about this?

    Aafke, I think Medina was referring to if you had a grown adult daughter who wanted to live with her Saudi husband in Saudi Arabia. I guess the point here is how important is free will to you? Is it important up until the point that you are trying to protect your daughter from what you perceive as the wrong way to live? What if her husband and her husband’s family were very loving and kind and didn’t expect her to change who she was? Obviously, there would be some changes that would have to be made due to culture and law. But what if overall she lived a happy life in Saudi Arabia? What would you think then?

  53. It speaks of itself this has nothing to do with the mahram system because that considers a woman an incapable infant even when she is 80 years old. A ridiculous notion of course and an important reason I would never wish any woman to live in Saudi Arabia

    So, if my hypothetical daughter would be in love with a Saudi bloke, I know she would be wise enough to demand he live with her in a developed country with full rights for women. And take the consequences and break off the relationship if he refused it.
    And if the bloke really loves her he would be happy to so.
    Actually if he really loved her he would be the first to propose it.

    You see, I don’t have to tell my hypothetical daughter what to do: She will know of her own.
    My hypothetical daughter is intelligent, wise, and foreseeing. While it would hurt her she would realize that the love of a man who would suffer her to live the suffocating life of a Saudi woman must be very limited, and no basis for a happy future. Especially in a country like Saudi Arabia where the feelings and needes of women count for nothing.

    My daughter would be intelligent enough to secure her own safety, and make the right decisions on her own.
    My daughter would be a feminist, a woman who knows she is equal to any man, she would not throw away the rights her ancestors fought and died for.
    My daughter would be well aware of the history and development of religions and would not be brainwashed into one.
    My daughter would be well educated and looking for a good job, a meaningful life, and interesting hobbies.
    My daughter would love her chosen life partner with all her heart, but she would never allow that to blunt her brain.

    Nobody would have to tell my daughter what her life wold be in KSA, for she would already know by herself.
    Nobody would need to stop my daughter because she would not go.
    My daughter would be an intelligent, responsible, independent adult by the time she would be old enough to marry and make her own choices in life.
    My daughter would have respect enough to listen to my opinion and take that into account making her own decisions.
    And there would be no need to try and stop her, or to tell her what to do, or anything.

    Because my daughter is fully capable of making the right decisions by herself!

  54. Oh, and also to be clear, it wasn’t until recently that I truly believed in soulmates/soul twins. I found that type of connection with my Saudi. It was unexpected, but it is strong and it is most definitely real. Whatever I can do to make it work without giving up who I am, I am willing to do. However, it takes two to make a relationship work. Compromise can’t be just one-sided.

    However, this does not change the fact that logic and practicality also are important when considering who to spend the rest of your life with. I see the two most important things in a relationship being love and commitment. Third, IMO is compatibility.

  55. Strange one, you really need to read the play, it’s a bit moore complicated.
    And they acted very stupid.
    It’s a horrible example of a love story. Two dimwitted pre-teens fall in love, do stupid things, and end up dead because of them.

    I prefer Ann Elliot and captain Wentworth, who at least in the end behaved like intelligent adults.

    Of course there is no rule that when a woman marries a Saudi she has to live in Saudi Arabia?!?!
    Why not live somewhere else?
    What is the big problem?
    It’s a big planet.

  56. @StrangeOne
    Please realize that whatever “agreements” you make with your husband and his family can be changed at their whim at any time. And if you walk alot, you probably won’t be allowed to do that in Saudi. You probably won’t want to either- it isn’t a good walking place.

  57. I don’t think anyone can stop a grown child fom doing anythng :-) i think in a large way our experiences taint our children’s view of the world. I don’t think if Aafke had a daughter she would evenr fall for a saudi. :-)

    My experiences in ksa were not good, of course we had a good look, just not socially satisfying, those years are not somehting we look back on as good times. whatever the reason, but we were happy i thnk other memories of other places we lived in overshadowed our life there ..:-) but my daughter so far steers clear of any and all saudi men .. she has freinds but when talkt o her she doesn’t consider them mates … again time will tell as she grows but i think my & her aunts bad experiences there seem to have made an impact. I’d say if you love a saudi they are wonderful people, as far as fitting in, might happen , might not, be prepared to live happily whatever the case. and most important don’t lose your identity. worst case if you can’t stand the plac eyou can always go to bahrain :-)

  58. Bedu, One can read in Susie’s blog very clearly what will happen. Susie was full of excitement, and good will, and hoping to please everybody, and was sure she could carve out a life for herself in KSA. And through time you read how she tries to hold on with all her might to be positive about the place, until she can’t bear it anymore gives in and starts talking about the dreary truth.
    The loneliness, the insipid days, the endless days when she cannot even go out of the door. The boredom, the trying to get jobs, the impossibility to go anywhere on her own, the difficulties, the suffocating abaya and hijab in the insane heat too while men can walk around in light white cotton thobes or even shorts. The family losing interest in her after the first novelty has worn off, and stopping to invite her. And the endless boredom… the days without sunlight… the husband growing more and more fundamental… the frustration of a bright mind, a person who used to be very capable of keeping jobs, make her own money, and her own choices, now being locked up and stifled and totally dependent.
    And this is mirrored in the candid comments by other women trapped into Saudi Arabia and not being able to leave.
    And many women write about much worse situations!

    Really strange one you must be very strange indeed if you think you will not mind living like that.

    Kasia, you are a really strong intelligent woman. There will be another soulmate!

  59. @Medina

    Do you have a problem with reading comprehension? Instead of bandying what you think of as “symbol”, why not go read the original. I will repeat for you, slowly. Juliet is 13 years old. If my daughter wants to run away with her boy at that age, she will be locked up. Darling, when children are underage, it’s called parenting, not guardianship.

    But I forget, you have a problem with reading (and spelling, too) – seeing as you spelled the Mahram system four different ways in one paragraph:

    “Romeo and Juliet are mentioned here as a symbol of love (:. and your response is with enforcing Mahrah System. Go Go Mayrah (OPTION 1) system, it is YOUR DAY today. Many votes for Mahram (OPTION 2) system, aafk and NN , the strict critical opponents of Maharam (OPTION 3) system in the past, today they are voting for enforcing Maharah (OPTION 4) system. who is next? I will make a party for laugh soon heheheh.”

    @Sarah MD

    A symbol is something that means the same thing to multiple people. Here you have a broad representation of people (who, I might add, have probably read the original work) to whom the story of Romeo and Juliet is a symbol of teenage foolhardiness. And yet you have a handful of people who in all likelihood never read a page of Shakespear intent on telling everyone else what Romeo and Juliet symbolize. Dude, education is a wonderful thing. Go read the play.

    Moving along, if my daughter is 18, there is really nothing I CAN do to stop her, can I? But I have a fantastic solution. We will find some way to go visit my husband’s family in KSA for a brief vacation regularly when she’s young. So by the time she’s 18, she would have her own very well-informed views of what life there is like, and therefore there will be no way she will want to live there. She will see women asking permission for every little thing and say, mom, isn’t it great I don’t have to do that? Yes, darling, – I will say. She will see her cousins who never drove, played sports or figure skated or saw ballet, and I will say, yes, darling, aren’t you lucky you don’t have to live here? No worries, love, we’ll be home in a week. So she will cherish her life in the US, her passport and a thing called “return ticket” See, it’s called vaccination. Take a little bit of poison to develop lifelong immunity. That’s the great thing about having children late – you have an aswer for everything.

  60. @Strangeone

    Look, you want to try it, go try it. But take this advice: Practice birth control religiously for the first five years. So that you can reassess your decision in a few years before irreparable mistakes are made. When children enter the equation, it’s a completely different setup.

  61. Sandy,
    I realize that. I’m not as yet married, but if the two of us can work through some things then it is a likely possibility. Mine is actually a very honest person, and I think he is already considering the differences in culture and the changes we’d have to make to live there. As for living other places, this is something I’ll talk with him about, but life has no guarantees. I want to be prepared for the eventuality of moving to Saudi Arabia especially if it’s important to him because I want us both to be happy, but life may take us both on a path we’d never expect. One thing both of us believe is that you can plan for the future, but you really don’t know what’s going to happen.

    What makes it a bad walking place? Are there any places to walk at around there?

    Aafke,
    It’s all about perspective, I think. Some people can be happy in a wide range of places while others are only comfortable in their hometown. As for the abaya and hijab, it might give me a reason to try to design one that is cooler in the heat yet still protects against UV rays, etc. Sounds delightful! I am sure living there will be frustrating in many ways, but trying to adapt to a new culture is always frustrating, especially when the language is different. There are always going to be things I’ll miss about the way and place I grew up no matter where I live.

    Having lived in a place where there was drug-dealing, murders, rapes, etc. going on in the neighborhood, I figure if I’m not living around that then life’s not too bad. I thank God that I had good parents who made the most out of the situation and protected me. It wasn’t until I was much older I realised how dangerous those neighborhoods were. I just thought these things were a normal part of everyday life at the time. I actually thought the neighborhoods I lived in were relatively safe ’cause there wasn’t any drive-by shootings.

    And yes, I am very strange. :D

  62. *I have good parents. They’re still alive and well. ;)

  63. Medina…no matter how many times you declare “this is my last comment”….here you are again. Im wondering if you truly understand the definition of “last”?

    At any rate,,,there is a HUGE difference from protecting our underage daughters from harm (abusive relationship choices) to treating ALL females as if they are brainless, emotion filled creatures that cannot make a single meaningful decision concerning their lives…merely because they are female.

    Big difference.

    Maybe you cant see it cause your male and nobody has tried to make ur decisions for you that you feel your quite capable of making for yourself. hmmm?

  64. @AB,
    I am ready to go with my sweetie even to live in the moon alone with her (: . The point is WHO IS THAT PERSON WHO WILL STAND AGAINST MY LOVE AND MY WILL TO STOP ME FROM BEING WITH MY SWEETIE? AND CALL ME STUPID IF I DO NOT SUBMIT TO HIS/HER WILL?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OF COURSE TO ME, NOBODY WILL BE ABLE TO STOP ME. I WOULD PREFER TO DIE BETWEEN HER ARMS THAN TO LISTEN TO SUCH A PERSON.

    THE POINT THAT THE PEOPLE ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT IN THIS BLOG AND FOR AGES IS THAT THE SAUDI MAHRAM SYSTEM RESTRICTS SAUDI WOMEN FREEDOM TO MARRY OR TRAVEL.TODAY, THE SAME PEOPLE WHO Criticise MAHRAH SYSTEM ARE AGAINST THEIR DAUGHTERS” LOVE AND WILL IF THEY CHOOSE TO GO WITH THEIR SAUDI HUSBANDS TO LIVE IN SAUDI.

    @aafk,
    I know that your situation is unbearable now. So, revenge is activated in your brain against me. If I were near from you, I will sympathy with you and I will allow you to bend me on your knee only and I will enjoy watching your angry face (: , maybe you will love me after that especially that you will not ever dare to slap me because I have an innocent kiddo face with a muscled body O_o. so, because I am not around you, please stick to the point at hand and defend yourself instead of attacking me personally because it will not help you. The point that we address is very crystal clear. You can read my posts again to refresh your memory because it may get affected by your angry mood now. As Sara MD said, we do not discuss the the play or the age although I am young (: . and you are a adult lady but you swear ): .

    @sara,
    Thanks, they can not bear the lighting strike against violations of human rights O_o.

    @strangeone,
    BINGO. I read Romeo and Juliet long time ago. I agree 100% with your explanation of my point. So BIGNO strangeone. I would also congratulate you of your approach to live in Saudi. Most ladies who got bored there are not active and creative in the Saudi society. Their personal satisfaction was priority for them. of course they are exceptions like susie but I can say it is because of her hsuaband and this could happen to any couple who are married wether in saudi or not.
    For example, look at AB and abdullah, how happy they were. and AB was active in saudi and creative. she did not get bored and she enjoyed her marriage with abduallah till today.

  65. NN,
    Thanks for the advice! I will keep that in mind. I definitely plan to visit if at all possible before moving there.

  66. @Medina

    Did you miss the part where we said “underage”? Or does it work better for your ALL CAPS argument if we never said it?

  67. Coolred,
    As many of you have commented before, there is a big difference between government and law and how those are interpreted and acted upon by the families in a given country. Each family is unique and different, and I think these differences need to be considered. Just because something appears a certain way doesn’t make it reality. There are cultural differences to consider, which is different than abuse. I have seen parents from many different countries try to make decisions for their children and/or strongly suggest a certain way of life, and a lot of this is that their parents wish a good life for them based on culture and societal expectations. I am sure there are exceptions to every generality as well.

    Maybe Medina has a personal interest in this blog? Or maybe he just doesn’t like to see people get the wrong idea about his home country? I wonder…?

  68. @coolred, NN,
    Congratulations for joining the ganging party. I know that my existence here made it hard for people to believe misleading information and false accusations that are full of racism and hatred against Saudis and it drove them to be rude too, interesting.

    I am here today just because I really and simply can not tolerate hypocrisy any more. You can call my posts today an exception of the meaning of “last comment”

    Now you are free to spread whatever you want. I did my job.

    @strangeone,
    I wish you the best and happiness from my deep heart and you are in my prayers. I will pray for you to take the right decision for your self and your life.

  69. Let’s refocus the concept of freedom.

    The freedom to work outside the home has morphed into the necessity to work outside the home for most women in the United States as well as elsewhere. Does that mean she can then have a housekeeper (like she could have in Saudi Arabia)? Does that mean her husband will gladly or even grudgingly do half the housework and child-rearing?

    No, it means that she now has two full time jobs, while hubby gets to concentrate on one. His paycheck takes care of the mortgage while hers goes to day care and utilities.

    When she takes her measly two-week vacation– the United States has the stingiest vacation system in the world– she looks forward to catching up on housecleaning, and maybe reading a book or two. Every five years, the family might have a “big” vacation and go somewhere. Then she has even more work in preparing for the trip, on top of her housework and job outside the home.

    If she bitches to her husband and tries to get him to “do his fair share” she invites trouble to her marriage. Trouble, though, has already set into her psyche as she watches her husband relax on the sofa every evening after work while she cooks, cleans and does laundry every evening after work.

    She is free. She is free to choose, and she chooses to work like a slave because the alternative is even more unpleasant– poverty and the cascade of deprivations that comes with it.

    .

  70. Sorry AB, this is a bit off-topic, but:

    Please, people, try not twist each other’s words. If you really want to learn something, listening is important! Please make an effort to understand what it is the other person wants to say, especially when English isn’t their first language. Some non-native English speakers will be more fluent than others, so I don’t think it’s right to compare this, etiher.

    Writing Arabic/Korean/etc. words in Roman characters is difficult for me to understand and figure out how to spell because the characters don’t always translate easily. I do not see how this is important if you understand what the other person is trying to say. I don’t see how it makes the other person’s point any more/less valid. This is not a grammar class.

    Mis-communication seems to be the greatest problem between people on here, such as not understanding what was meant by the reference of Romeo and Juliet with particular regards to age. Of course a good parent will do what they can to protect their under age daughter from harm. I do not think anyone disagrees with this. I have not heard anyone on here say that they personally believe that 13 is an acceptable age for marriage, either.

    Much like sports, what I like to see is a good, “clean” debate rather than cheap shots. Sorry if this offended anyone, but I felt it needed to be said. Now, back to the debate… :)

  71. @Marahm

    You are describing only one particular scenario of married life in the West. Not every family is like that. And yes, Virginia, we do have housecleaners in this country. Hell, I had one before I got married and she’s still polishing away.

    Furthermore, not every Saudi family lives in the lap of luxury as you describe. And let’s not even go into which divorced woman has it better.

  72. Medina,
    I will miss you! I wish you the best and greatest happiness, too! You seem to have a very refreshing point of view and try to explain things to the best of your ability. I really appreciate that. Thank you for your prayers! :) I pray that everything goes well for you and that you make the best decisions in your life as well!

  73. Medina..I did not “gang” up on you…merely reminded you what you yourself have said repeatedly but seemingly cant bring yourself to follow through. Just wondering why say that at all?

    As far as “spreading” false info etc…lest you forget that I was married to an Arab for 20 years…lived in an Arab country…much less repressive than Saudi for sure…but still a bitch to live in and experience. So I know what I speak of…no rumoring involved.

    The only hypocrisy I see here is an Arab man coming on here and declaring all of us Saudi hating/bashers…thats its not ‘really like that” and that women (his own family no less) just love it there.

    You are NOT a woman…you have no clue what it means to be one in a mans world. So do us a favor and speak ONLY of what YOU yourself have experience with. And since you will never have experience being a woman in a mans world…an Arab mans world no less…then kindly zip it.

    The more you speak…the more your foot chokes you and garbles your speech.

  74. So I guess what I want to know is this:
    1 What does the law say specifically about the Mahrem system?

    2. How do most families interpret it? How does it affect the daily lives of most women? How open are their family members to letting the women do what they please? Is it just a formality, or is it something that is strictly enforced in most families? How is it enforced?

    3. How do most Saudi females feel about it? Why?

    4. How do most Saudi males feel about it? Why?

    5. How does this affect me? This is something that I would have to talk to my beloved about as well as his family. How does his family interpret it? How open minded are they?

    Obviously, I need to talk to my significant other about the 5th one, but can anyone with experience in this give advice on the others?

    Whether or not you agree with the system, it exists. It will take a lot of time to change it, even within Saudi society as it is very much a cultural thing, whether you see it as religious as well or not. Culture is slow to change. The other important half to this is how most families interpret it and act on it and whether or not people within the society are pleased with it or not. And of course, how it affects you or a loved one as an individual.

  75. Why don’t read Saudi Woman’s blog, you can read the thoughts of a real Saudi woman on these issues.

    http://saudiwoman.wordpress.com/

  76. Aafke,
    That’s a good point. I will. I just also wondered what others thought who post on here that may not have a blog of his/her own? Thanks! Take care. :)

  77. Thank you, Strange One. I’m not ignoring your questions but have decided they are worthy of a separate post on their own. Stay tuned!

  78. But, Strange One, on that Susie post which stw put up, you can read what a lot of women who do not have a blog think of most of your questions.
    Same goes for Bedu here, Carol has written several posts where you will see some expat and saudi women answer these questions and give some personal experiences, and you will see commentators who are not the same old crowd here.

    I think that as you are contemplating a truly life changing event, some time spend on reading and researching these matters would be a minimal requirement before you can make at least a half-way informed decision.

  79. NN said, “You are describing only one particular scenario of married life in the West. Not every family is like that.”

    Of course not! Just MOST of them, especially the younger ones.

  80. Strange one, here is a nice bedu interview, this should give you an idea about many of your questions.

    http://americanbedu.com/2009/06/01/a-former-saudi-wife-speaks-out

  81. @Marahm

    Leaving apart the sheer impossibility of you being personally acquainted with MOST younger families in the West, here are a few scenarios that differ from your imaginary hell of domestic servitude where the wife in a dirty pinafore toils away by the stove while her porky husband reclines on the couch demanding quiet and plates of chips:

    – single-income traditional families, still aplenty outside of large urban areas where housework falls to women because they don’t work outside the home;

    – stay-at-home fathers with proportionally large areas of housework and childcare;

    – double-income families affluent enough for domestics;

    – double-income families where wife earns significantly less and works significantly fewer hours than the husband and takes up more housework/childcare;

    – families where wives consider it irresponsible to farm out childcare to third-world nannies.

    Shall I go on?

    My Saudi husband was presented with a choice: take up cleaning or pay for a housecleaner. I don’t like to clean and will not do it. Don’t think it’s my job to grocery shop and do not do it. Don’t touch the trash can; if it overflows, to hell with that. Husband opted to pay for a housecleaner, does grocery shopping, takes out the trash, minds everything mechanical, etc.

    And what kind of family does laundry EVERY evening? A tribe of diarrhea worshipers?

    The bottom line is that it is up to you to set up policies and enforce them in your own house. Did the Martians come to your house and chain your husband to the couch?

  82. @Strangeone

    I think no one here tries to put you off or project doom and gloom scenarios. I guess that visitors of blogs just see too much hurt and want to save you that. I would say that they have your and your future children’s well-being in mind.

    I can see how willing and open-minded you are, and kind of determined to make this work.
    I kind of know how you feel cause I’ve been there, done that too. My boy pretty much ticked all the boxes and I really felt as if I won a lottery! I agree that it’s really hard these days to find a valuable man. They simply don’t make them like they used to ;)

    Someone said that you have to get a really good man to be able to live there ‘normally’. The quality and way of life depends ENTIRELY on your man. The good ones constitute about 5% of all them all. The rest of women who weren’t so lucky are trapped, hurt and wasting away the most precious years of their lives. Can you confidently say that you will be in those 5% of women?

    By all means I don’t say that Saudi is evil. I haven’t been and I’m sure there are loads of positives. The question is: do they outweigh the negatives?
    Also someone said that you CAN’T prepare yourself for the reality. There is no such chance. You can read everything and think that you know how it’s gonna be. The truth is that you should expect unexpected.

    But if you are willing to take this leap do as NN advised: strict birth control. This is exactly the same advice my dear Iranian friend gave me.

    best of luck with your decision :-)

    @Aafke

    your description of hypothetical daughter sounds just like me ;) but I strayed a little. i’m back on the right path though ;-)

  83. Right on Kasia! :D

  84. Dear Strangone,
    I am back to send you thispersonal comment only for you because I know how much love is painful and how much it could confuse us to take a decision. I sent you an email to answer your questions and I am repeating it here in case you do not recieve it. I will give you a candid response to your questions and I hope they help you to take the right decision. My motive to post this comment is my morals and my will to help you in this situation.

    What is the Mahram?
    Please check and read the contents of these two links.

    http://www.islamicinformation.net/2008/07/mahram-in-islam-explained.html

    http://www.sisterszone.com/forum/questions-and-answers-46/about-maharam/

    1 What does the law say specifically about the Mahrem system?

    The law will be enforced in the following cases: you will need your Mahram’s approval in everything when you deal with government administrations, companies, jobs recruiters, hospitals, travel outside the city etc. so, when you go to all these administrations facilities, they will ask for a approval letter signed by your Mahram to serve you.

    The Mahran is your husband. If he dies, your Mahram will be his father. If he dies, your Mahram will be your son as soon as he gets the Saudi ID. you daughter can not be a mahram unless shes get the saudi ID but she can get the saudi ID if the main mahram approve it.

    2. How do most families interpret it? How does it affect the daily lives of most women? How open are their family members to letting the women do what they please? Is it just a formality, or is it something that is strictly enforced in most families? How is it enforced?

    It depends on how religious they are. Or how traditional they are. I would recommend a liberal Saudi family. They are lenient. If you need my help to know about your habibi family background, just send me his family name and the name of region that he lives in only. I can tell you about his traditional background but it depends on the person himself. many saudi liberals are from very traditional background family. so, I am speaking generally.

    3. How do most Saudi females feel about it? Why?

    I can tell you that the majority of Saudi women think of Mahram as a religious duty. So they do not bother about it a lot. Saudi liberal women are up their arms against it just because they are not identified with the religious duty anymore. They want to be more free to move and take decisions for their life.

    4. How do most Saudi males feel about it? Why?

    Saudi males think of Mahram as it guards ladies from committing immoral acts or taking unwise decisions. They do not think that women are able to take a wise decision generally. so, they are with mahram system because they are also afraid that women may do immoral acts (adultery) that could bring shame or dishonor to their family name. So they are with it generally except, the Saudi liberal who does not believe in honor stuff and they are not very religious.

    5. How does this affect me? This is something that I would have to talk to my beloved about as well as his family. How does his family interpret it? How open minded are they?

    It is going to affect you once disputes or troubles start between you and your husband over kids or over any other reasons because he can use this Mahram system to restrict your movement. You will need his letter approval in everything I mentioned above.

    His family can not affect you at all. They can affect you in one case only when your husband dies. They can influence his relationship with you if he is weak or dependant on them. In case your husband dies, you will face two problems with his family. They want the kids to be raised as Muslims and they are afraid that you take them back to your country. So, they can kick you out from the country without your kids because you are not a citizen there, your residence decision is at their hand. Your Saudi visa is a worker visa. So, they are like an employer, they can finish the contract anytime and withdraw your residence visa. They have the authority because of Mahram system. So, if your husband dies, you and your kids will be under the control of your husband’s family. There is one solution for this. If you get a Saudi ID, you will be the Mahram yourself (: . but it is hard to get the Saudi citizenship. You can ask about how to get Saudi ID if you marry a Saudi. The answer is no but I think you can use your husband ID if he writes a will for you signed and stamped from the court. I would recommend that your future husband write a will for you about the kid’s custody in case he dies. He must write in his will that custody of the kids goes directly to strangone and also appoint you as their Mahram but I am not sure how much valid it is in the court. It depends on the judge who makes it as I think. There are exceptions these days; one of them is getting the Saudi ID. I am sure there are new regulations as I heard but I am sorry I am not familiar with new regulations.

    If you ask me, Medina, will you bring your western sweetie to your country? I will wait for along time to say yes or no. I will ask her many many questions and see if she can adjust with the Saudi culture or not. I will think of her freedom first and put it my priority. I will explain to her every single thing and I will tell her about my family in details. I will believe deeply in her freedom of religion and I will never ever think to convert her. Our kids’ faith will be upto them to choose their religion. I will be smart enough to know her psychological and social needs in my country. I know she will pass different stages in my country like: pre-departure anxiety, cultural shock, maybe mental isolation later, little adjustment with the culture and maybe cultural shock again. I will do my best to make her active and creative in the saudi society because she will be identified with it. I will make sure how much she is ready to take this adventure. I will think of other next door country to live in if I feel that she will not be happy with me in long term in saudi. I should be aware of all these stuff before I say to her, come and live with my in my country.

    So, I recommend that you go through all these points I mentioned now with her habibi and discuss it with him fully, honestly and maturely. I am sure he will help you to take the right decision if he loves you very much. He will also sacrifice too as much as you do for him. marriage is a long life share in everything.
    .
    I wish you the best life strangeone and a happy decision to take.

    P.S. this is a personal post ONLY for strangeone and not subject to any debate.

    salam strangeone.

  85. @Starnegone,

    Here is my try at your questions:

    #1. Each woman in Saudi has to have a mahram (a male guardian). If not married it is her father. If father is not alife it is her brother or uncle. If she gets married that ownership moves to her husband. A woman has no right to travel, leave the house, chose a job, chose a major, represent herself in court, etc. without agreement of the Mahram. Now of course there are good men who allow freedoms, but bottom line if the Mahram wants to he can take any freedoms away and the courts will support him on it. Note I use courts not law, since in Saudi the law is not codified and it is each Judge’s interpretation of religion. The great majority will side with the man and there is no recourse for the woman. She cannot even be in court without a male guardian.

    #2. Most families agree with the control of men over women. There are liberal families who allow women freedoms. However, even in a liberal family, if the male member becomes religious he may enforce strict rules. The effect is women are taken off public life and everything they do is a struggle. They need males to drive them, if they start a business they have many hurdles to overcome, they have limited career opportunities, etc. They have to accept that everything is run by men. They only have influence on their mahram to be reasonable in their treatment.

    #3. It is hard to tell what Saudi women feel about it in average, since there are no statistics. The issue is would it matter what the average woman feels, if you are in a situation of not getting the freedoms you need.

    #4. Most Saudi males feel that it is their right to exercise what they feel are the rules for their family. On the positive side they also feel an obligation to take care of their family.

    #5. Regarding you specifically, I think you need to take a risk and reward approach. On the risk side there is a high probability that you will end up in a country where you have no rights. You will be stuck there if you have children as you will not be able to take them with you if things do not go well. The chances of a marriage of a western and a Saudi being successful are low due to many factors: Family and cultural pressures, Lack of freedoms, government regulations in granting permission, etc. Many here have went over these issues a few times, so I won’t bore you. At the end of the day: weigh your risks and also ask the questions if you are making all the sacrifices by going to Saudi? Most Saudi men ask the woman to take the extreme sacrifice/risk of moving to Saudi, but will shy away from taking the smaller sacrifice/risk of staying in a western country. This unwillingness to accept what might be best for you as a person is just a dress rehearsal of what you should expect when you go there (think about it real hard for teh sake of your future!) You need to answer this for yourself, why would the Saudi male do that, if this is an equal marriage?

    This will be the most important decision of your life, I hope you analyze everything rationally and come up with the right decision for yourself. Good luck to you!!!

  86. Strangeone…

    I wanted to ask a couple of questions. You don’t have to answer them; they are rhetorical.

    How long have you and your Saudi been together?

    Have you talked about staying in the USA if marriage is imminent?

    Must you convert? If so why? Must your children be Muslim? If so how does that feel to you as their mother who is not if you choose not to convert.

    Have you traveled around the world at all? How much life have you experienced?

    Could you, if you lived in KSA and if it came down to brass tacks, ask your husband (or in the case he dies) another relative permission for everything? For a Saudi who knows no different it probably is not a big deal, but for someone used to freedom (and you sound like you were raised with a LOT of openness…(yay! for openness) it could be too much.

    From your blog you look rather young…believe me no matter how wonderful a man is..and I am assuming your guy is great…love is NOT enough to carry you through. As you get older you realize there is a lot of stuff in life to deal with ESPECIALLY when kids come along and blow a hole in your romantic and tender time together; you need a LOT more than love…romantic love fades in the hustle and bustle of every day life. That doesn’t mean you don’t love each other…but the “I would crawl across shattered glass to keep us together” feeling fades. If you think you love your Saudi, have a child… then you will understand the abundance of love you can have in your heart. It will be startling to you. And once you are in KSA even if something goes wrong with the relationship (God forbid) once you have had children you would not leave KSA because your love for your children is too strong. And you will not be able to have any other chances at a life with a man as you might in the West due to the way the culture is.

    I am married to an Indian and believe me when I tell you there are a lot of similarities between them and Saudis culturally speaking. My husband was planning to go back and was dithering about what to do…he felt a pull toward his home and family and yet toward me. He was very conflicted. I finally decided to put an end to the torture for the both of us and gave him an ultimatum. I gave him two weeks to make a decision about marrying me or not. He wasn’t to contact me in any way for two weeks and in that time had to think about all the aspects of the relationship. I gave him my parameters and if he could live with that then we could be married if not then I wished him the best in life but I would let him go.

    For me particularly I would not convert and though I was happy to expose the kids to both religions they were to be raised Christian. If they chose his faith after they got older then fine that was their choice. As he was not particularly religious he had no issues with this.

    I wanted to stay in the USA with liberal visitation to India.

    There were other things, but these were my dealbreakers. He thought about it and decided in his words “as long as we’re together I can live anywhere”.

    Even though we had agreement on some of the big issues and I was in my home country it still was difficult at times…made more so due to the big cultural differences.

    I am only saying think very clear headed about your situation. When I gave the ultimatum I was willing to walk away if I had to. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love him…I adored him…but I loved myself as well and had enough of clear calculated thought that I knew what I could and couldn’t live with. It isn’t about the short term…Marriage and kids are a marathon…

  87. @Strangeone,
    It really doesn’t matter how most families interpret or practice guardianship. What matters is how the family you’re marrying into views it. Ask if his sisters work, go to school. How they spend their time. Are they allowed to walk? (in Jeddah, if you walk, it is stinky and polluted and trashy. Every car honks as it drives by, some will stop and try to talk with you or see if you’d like to get in. Mostly the weather is unbearable for walking in even the most lightweight abaya and there are very few sidewalks.)

    I have probably the most liberal husband around. HE never makes me feel like I’m being “guardianed” . Even so, it still rankles that he COULD if he wanted control EVERY, and I mean EVERY move. Or that if something happened to him- some other male member of his family could. Or that the culture day after day, year after year has so little regard or respect for me and all the other women.

    Even little things like I tried to open a bank account for my child…not allowed, his father must do it- even though his father has me managing the finances.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible for it to work out. But truthfully, you seem to come across as thinking that because you are open and willing to adapt that you are not really considering these things.

    Oh- and if it does work out, as you are older you realize you have no SS, no pensions, and will inherit very little if your husband dies before you. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal when you’re young, but when you hit your 40’s it starts looking different.

    Oh and for me- the big issue the really REALLY CRAPPY public educational system. Are you ready for your kids to have an absolutely sub-standard, religiously indoctrinating education? Will you be able to afford private school? Money isn’t everything, but it buys some absolute essentials in my book.

    I wish you all the best. Really ask ALOT about how the women in his family live. And how free they are to make their choices. If your guy has lived in the west a long time, he might be naive himself in his answers, because it isn’t something he really paid attention to before.

  88. @ strange one,
    I wondered why you asked these questions because the answers had already been given to you by many in earlier posts.
    I think you did not like those answers.
    I think you are hoping that other women will come forward who will give you answers you like better.

    It will not happen. Men have absolute pwer over women. Almost all saudi families will resent a western wife. They will never trust you. The family will pressure your husband and the family is way more important than you.
    If your husband gets tired of you he will take another wife or divorce you and you will be thrown out. if your husband dies another man will become your owner and have full control over your life. If that man is not nice your life will be hell.
    Promisses your fiancee makes mean nothing, they will be changed in saudia and there is nothing you can do about that.
    \marry your saudi but don’t go to live in saudia.

    Sandy makes a very good post here. And so does moq. listen to them!

    Do you want your children to have bad education?
    And the girls worse?
    Do you know your children will be taught at school! their western mother is a whore? Happened to more than one woman here.
    Even if you yourself are happy, what if you have girls? do you want them to run the gauntlet for a happy life as you are willing now?
    1000 to 1 that they will have a good life?
    is that a fair chance for your daughters?
    And they can be married off to any man, even very old men, against your will. They are property of the father, when he dies his family. They will never be yours.
    Do you want your children to be instructed, day after day for the rest of their school and university life in the most rigid form of islam? . It is riddled with ancient tribal antique rules and hatred for women.

    Why is it you should go to saudia?
    Why does he not stay in your country?
    This saudi man is not acting in your interest.
    He will talk about missing his family. But you have family too. And you are the one who risks losing all. The only thing he risks when staying is that he will ahve to compete for a job like everybody else. Instead or relying on his saudi citizenship and his family wasta.

    If he thinks that the very greater sacrifcis you make, the very great deprivations you will suffer. The danger to your future happines you will run. If he thinks that is not important to his smallest sacrifice. Then you will see how little his love for you is.
    If he will rant about the importance of his family you will see the first sign that his wish and his family are much more important than you are.

    You will be making this decision for both your wellbeing. it should be simple. but they are making it so it is easy for the superior partner. which should give you a hint.

    Ask him to stay at least 5 years in your country, and then make a decision together.
    That will show his true colour.
    will he sacrifice a little or not?

  89. Oby,
    I am going to answer your questions, but please people, be respectful in your responses. Yes, I was raised in a very open, loving environment. Thank you for your kind words! :)

    How long have you and your Saudi been together?
    Not long; Since about late June. We got together some time after I broke up with my ex (an American) that I had originally planned to marry but it didn’t work out. My Saudi and I had been friends before that since about last October. He was very respectful in how he asked me out and has always been a sweet friend. I think his intention has been marriage since he asked me out, although he was understandably hesitant until we got to know each other better. His actions recently confirm the fact that he is interested in marrying me as soon as it’s possible.

    Have you talked about staying in the USA if marriage is imminent?

    Marriage is not what I would consider “imminent” but it is definitely something the two of us are working towards. He needs to talk with his family, we need to meet each other’s families, and we need to sit down and have a serious conversation when we’re both under less pressure. We each have our own set of deal breakers, I think. We both feel a strong responsibility to family. I could and will walk away from him if he doesn’t listen to and respect my wishes, but so far this hasn’t come up as a problem. He’s under a lot of stress right now, so I’m giving the situation time and patience. We plan to stay in the same area that we’re in for a few years at least, so moving to KSA wouldn’t be until later.

    Must you convert? If so why? Must your children be Muslim? If so how does that feel to you as their mother who is not if you choose not to convert.

    No, I don’t have to convert although that would make him very happy as he is a devout Muslim. He told me I should never convert just to please someone else. It should be because I want to and feel it is the right thing to do. This is what he’s told me so I’m waiting to see if his view on this changes at all. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this at first, so I’ve been reading the Qu’ran. Really, I serve God/Allah, but I don’t see the need for religious rituals to prove this. (Sorry if this offends anyone, but it’s the way I believe. I realize many will disagree with me. Arguing about religion isn’t my intention.)

    I am supportive of his religious views and am okay with the children being raised Muslim as I’m not a particular religion. I do, however, want them to understand other religions, particularly Christianity as that is what most of my extended family believe, and for it to be open for them to decide when they are old enough to make that decision on their own. I will do my best to be supportive of my Saudi’s beliefs the best I can without giving up my personal beliefs. (Read my blog post here for a better understanding of what I believe: http://askwhy-livingcuriosity.blogspot.com/2010/07/religion-why-do-people-believe-what.html )

    There are some things I want to teach them, however. You can see my blog entry here: http://askwhy-livingcuriosity.blogspot.com/2010/08/thought-of-day-when-i-have-children-of.html

    Have you traveled around the world at all? How much life have you experienced?

    I’ve traveled some, but not as much as I’d like to. When I was little, my parents didn’t have much money so we couldn’t afford much. I’m hoping to get to travel more in the near future. Next on the list: Spain! :) I’ve lived in various “poor” to “upper-middle class” neighborhoods. I’ve been around a variety of ethnic sub-groups in the US, the most notable being Korean and Mexican (and other Hispanic/Latino). I know what it’s like to be around ages of people from 6 weeks (babysitting) to 80 year olds (neighbors I visited regularly). I have friends of all ages. My parents let a variety of people stay with us while the people were trying to get back on their feet. A close friend of the family called it a “half-way house” ’cause the people who stayed there for free were halfway to living on the street. It was about a 50/50 rate as to who improved their lives and who didn’t. I watched someone close to me struggle with an eating disorder. That was extremely tough to experience. It’s my latest blog posting if you want to read about it. I’ve had friends of various religions, and I went through a very long phase where I questioned mine. I’m happy with mine, now, though. I’ve also been curious about relationships for at least the past decade if not longer and what makes a relationship last, so I try to learn from others’ mistakes as well as my own. I am just looking for someone to spend my life with at this point. I want children relatively soon, although I know it’s very demanding to be a parent (smile). As someone close to me once said, sometimes the most difficult things are the most rewarding.

    I don’t feel ties to a particular religion or culture, so this has given me a unique viewpoint. I value both interdependence and independence.

    Could you, if you lived in KSA and if it came down to brass tacks, ask your husband (or in the case he dies) another relative permission for everything?
    If something is necessary, then I can do it whether or not I like it, although I would be looking for creative solutions. I am taking you literally and am not just referring to legal permissions to work, leave KSA, etc. I would not like it and will do what I can to prevent being in an awkward situation. This is one of the reasons it is important for me to meet all his family and protect myself and any future children legally the best way possible. I will do whatever (and I mean whatever) I have to in order to protect my future family, including my (hopefully) very loving future husband.

    MoQ and Kasia,
    Thank you for the reply and concern.
    I do believe he is in the 5% as I have met others from there and around the world, but this one seems like a good fit for my personality. I understand him wanting to live near family because I have strong ties to my family. I also understand that he is going through a lot of stress right now, so I am giving him the time he needs (especially since it’s now Ramadan) to relax and figure out what it is that he really wants. He’s under enough pressure as it is right now, so I am being patient and giving him his space. A month or two is not long in the scheme of things. And yes, I do consider him my soulmate/soul twin but I also believe that I have others out there somewhere, too, if this one doesn’t work out.

  90. I’m sorry; that should read “late May”.

  91. NN, all your examples do exist, and are, indeed, viable options for couples who agree to them or can afford them.
    You seem to think that most men do perform housework equal to the woman’s effort, or else they are able to bring a maid.

    I haven’t seen that in the West, nor do I believe that women can call all the domestic shots, as you have been able to do. Most woman have a greater concern for domestic affairs. Historically, psychologically and sociologically speaking, women get the responsibility of making the home.

    We’re getting off post here. My larger point was only that the restrictive atmosphere of life in Saudi Arabia has its counterpart in the restrictive life in the West, where having to work outside the home, whether you want to or not, is a probability. The freedom of the West isn’t always as free as it seems.

  92. @ Sandy and Save the Women!,
    Thanks. I am considering all those things and plan to talk it over with my Saudi to plan for the future the best way possible.

    Based on comments so far here, the public education system does concern me, though. I would do what I could to teach any future children the best way possible at home, but I know from personal experience that it’s tough being a child and having to choose between what’s acceptable at school and what’s acceptable at home. My Saudi may change his mind on where to live later, but I’m not sure. I think right now, he is trying to make what he considers the best decision for both of us. He’s got a lot to think through and work through, so I’m doing what I can to be patient. I think I explained some in my most recent comment above this.

    I asked because I wanted to hear from people like Sarah Md and others who I didn’t know if they’d spoken their views on it before or not? I honestly appreciate everyone’s responses. I have read some of the various interviews on here, so I have a decent idea of what to expect. I just wanted to get a more well-rounded view. Do others like living there and why?

    So, if I may ask, what is the woman’s family’s responsibility in typical Saudi culture? And what is the best way to meet this demand when there is a distance separating the two families? I just want to be prepared in the event I do marry my Saudi. Any thoughts or ideas?

    Just because I ask what to do in a given situation doesn’t mean I believe it’s the only possible outcome.

    I’m sharing my views with all of you because I hope that it can educate you all by providing a different perspective on this that you may/may not have seen before.

    Please Sarah Md, I look forward to your response! :)

  93. Marahm and NN,
    I’ve seen it both ways, but I think the situation Marahm describes is more common.

  94. After all that I’ve said, I just want to re-instate that I do love my Saudi and care for him deeply. I am devoted to him. I know most of you are skeptical because I seem young and that usually means people will perceive me as naive (which is why I was hesitant to put my photo on my blog in the first place), but I do understand more than it seems at first glance. I am aware of the many different outcomes, but as crazy as it sounds, I think the relationship will probably work out for the best in the end because I believe the love and commitment to each other is there and will continue to be there. It just needs time to fully mature. That said, I am keeping both eyes open and trying to look at the situation from all angles as I’ve already mentioned.

    If I didn’t think it was important to provide an alternate view, I probably wouldn’t have shared my views at all because it’s really no one else’s business. But I think it’s time people understood that Saudis are just people, too, and they should be loved and respected like everyone else. There ARE good Saudi males. I have met quite a few of them. I think bi-cultural relationships in general are more difficult and less common in general because it take more compromise and flexibility from both partners to make it work.

  95. @ strange one,
    Do you think that if you can find one woman who came to live in saudi and likes it then your choice to go there too is justified? the well rounded view is then suddenly that it’s ok?
    The well rounded view is: there is a huge big majority of women who will say do not go to live in saudi.
    and a very small tiny number of woman who for luck or strange mental condition like it.
    you see it here. most women and men tell you to be really careful and in any case do not go and live in saudi. that does not change when you finally found one woman who is predisposed to like coming to saudia and live here.
    That is the well rounded view.

  96. Most of us DO understand that Saudi’s are people too. My husband and children are Saudi. I am part of a large extended Saudi family that all accepts me. And that acceptance is part of why I can stay here. But I am the exception. And I will tell you, you do not sound like you are really *aware* what the issues are. And your remark about understanding “Saudi’s are people too” seems to show that.

    And while I respect and love individual Saudi’s I DO NOT respect their culture, there is no reason I should. In fact, I think it would be WRONG to respect it. And their culture and legal system not only doesn’t respect me- it barely recognizes my humanity.

    Love is NOT enough for ANY marraige. Especially a more challenging one. And just because a Saudi man is “good” does not make him good husband material. Or good husband material for a foreign wife.

    Anyway, do your research. Most important will be how the women in his family lives. Ultimately that is probably what they will expect from you.

  97. Though you have not said this it just occured to me that you might be a woman that prefers to have a husband in charge, and taking care of her. Women like that fare better here- though they often tire of it after a decade or so when they’ve matured.

  98. I’m hearing a lot of people recommending that if a Saudi/ non-Saudi marriage is to work, that the couple live outside of KSA. This is not new to me and actually makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons, personal freedom and the education system being some of them. My own Saudi and I are planning to live in the US, assuming we can get the legalities ironed out and he can manage to get his sisters well taken care of. I guess my question here would be how living in another country like America affects the dynamic between the couple and the Saudi family. I am very adamant that I do NOT ever want to move to KSA if we can possibly avoid it and he understands that, but I wonder how the distance may affect family relationships over time. Just trying to get a feel for future consequences. Like many on this blog, I understand that love is not always enough and would like to be able to make these decisions (for better or worse) with my eyes as open as possible. Thanks!

  99. For the record, I’ve been with my Saudi nearly three years now and we know each other’s deal-breakers. We discuss often the future, marriage, children, religion, etc and try to keep as on top of these decisions as we can. He doesn’t relish having or raising children in KSA any more than I do. So for now, we’re just moving cautiously forward :-)

  100. Sandy,
    I’m more the (very) independent type, and it works well with my Saudi’s personality.

    Just because I respect a culture does not mean I agree with it 100% or even 50% for that matter. However, by moving somewhere, I am agreeing to live according to the laws in place in that country. It would be expected that I would live by the customs and culture, although I would have my boundaries of things I would not be willing to do or accept in ANY country or place.

    You’re right, I need to continue to do my research and look in a variety of sources. I couldn’t agree more. And I think I already made it clear that I agree with you that love is not enough. I understand that just because a guy is good doesn’t mean he’s good for me. Trust me, I know that one all too well. Hopefully, I will get to meet his family soon via Skype if not in person.

    AzurEyes126,
    Thank you for your point of view. :) I have also heard the same thing. I want to be fully aware of all options, too. I would write more, but I think I’ve written enough for one day. :D

  101. I would suggest that a woman who is thinking of marrying a Saudi try and obtain a job in Saudi where she must live and work in the Kingdom for at least a year. This at least will give an excellent insight into the culture shock and cultural adaptations. I will point out though that living in Saudi as an expatriate is not the same as a Saudi spouse but it at least gives one a firsthand exposure to the country.

  102. @strangeone…

    Thank you so much for opening up and answering the questions. I think that is brave to do among people that you only know through a few words…

    I want to say your mom and dad sound very bohemian and caring to try to help people out as they have done. The halfway house comment was funny.

    Also please understand that people are advising you as best that they can because even though they don’t know you, you are a woman and in that sense you could be any one of us and so they are trying to give you the straight scoop to help you make a level headed choice.

    I will briefly share a bit…I think most of the readers already kind of know so I hope they will not mind indulging for a moment.

    My husband, as I said, is Indian and the easiest going soul you could ever hope to know. never raised his voice, very considerate, never tried to dominate me or tell me how to do things, in fact quite the opposite he was quite dependent on me…very affectionate…really the perfect man in many ways…on our first trip to India I was shocked to see how much he changed from almost the minute the plane landed.

    All of a sudden I asked too many questions, I didn’t listen well enough to the answers, which BTW were never a full answer and left a lot to be filled in, I spoke too loud, I was too direct, I didn’t offer to help enough or quick enough, he wouldn’t hold my hand or even give me a hug…on and on and on. I, being a pretty strong minded American and older…(married at 33) didn’t take to that too well and I didn’t hold my tongue either. THAT kind of behavior is not what I signed up for and I sure wasn’t going to take it lying down…I tried my absolute best to fit in and the irony was I felt it was coming from only my husband…I didn’t get a feeling that the family had a major issue with me and were understanding of the differences. It was he that seemed to have the issue. My point is that this person who I thought I knew really well, who I thought was so wonderful in the USA, due to the pressures he felt within his own culture, changed so completely once we landed in India. Your Saudi may be wonderful on US soil and whole other type of different when you get him to KSA. I will say this…due to the fact that we lived in the USA and I knew I had that to go home to and I had a bit of age under my belt (aka spine), I told him he needs to resolve whatever issues he had with me in the indian social realm or I would not be going back and the rest of his visits would be alone. Thankfully over time he became more relaxed and it was actually pleasant to go there. DO NOT make the mistake of thinking you know your man until you have seen him in action on his own soil. It can be eye opening how they change. My story is not unique.

    Also another thing I learned…don’t always assume that when you “agree” to something you are both on the same page. Due to cultural differences, attitudes and comments mean different things to different people. My husband was famous for saying “everything is workable”. Sounds pretty reasonable…you’ll find that “workable” may not mean the same thing to you that is does to him. Don’t assume anything…what he considers workable may not be for you and then it is back to the renegotiation table.

    All of this might not sound so bad but you my have a higher tolerance for renegotiation than your beloved…

    Gauge carefully the families reactions. My father in law once said to me, “we love our son and want him to be happy. In order for him to be happy we must love and accept his wife and so we do.” and to this day they have done so. I cannot tell you how much that helped me. I never felt “other”.

    If he loves you he will wait for you. There is no need to rush a wedding. He will want your comfort first and foremost. He will let you have whatever time you need to feel comfortable making the decision.

    I know that you think you have the bases covered. But I was 33 years old when I got married. I had traveled around the world and met many people, gotten my education and was really ready and still with the life experience I had it was tough at times…and I live in the USA…never mind another country and the most restrictive one in the world at that.

    If you have daughters and move to KSA you are committing them to a life with a mahrem, no ability to move freely. Your actions don’t only affect you… they affect your future children especially your daughters. What if they are not as lucky as you and aren’t in the 5% that find great men. That means that they have a 95% chance of finding a guy who isn’t so great. And they will be in a country where they have no recourse legally to have any affect on the course of their lives to change that situation…

    Think about it very carefully…it isn’t only about you. It is more about your future daughters you may have.

    I hope that you are not offended…I mean it in a concerned way.

  103. dear Strangeone, NN made a good statement, I am agree with her.
    there is one thing I want to share with you, first of all no matter how much your hobby love you, after god he worship his mother and sister not you( many times they worship their mothers first).
    and always keep in mind this proverb:
    “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. when Iranian women are asked why they are not living near their in-laws, they answer just with this sentence, cause it is 100% true.
    with my best wishes for you.

  104. sooooooooo sorry for my writting error .hubby.so sorry.

  105. Medina,
    I just noticed your post and email, so I sent you a reply. Thank you! :)

    AB,
    I’ve actually contemplated this some, but I’m waiting to see how some things turn out. Honestly, even if it doesn’t work out with my Saudi for some reason, I might just move to Saudi Arabia as an expat to learn about the country, anyways. It sounds like an interesting place. :)

    Oby,
    I’m not offended. I realize most of you want to help, and I understand your concern. I know it’s not going to be easy, but if it’s worth it to me, then it’s worth it. I’m just trying to learn what I can, so sometimes I get frustrated when I ask one question and get an unrelated answer. I just want to know the “what-ifs”. I guess it doesn’t really matter because I’ve got to take life one step at a time. I just sometimes want to skip ahead. That’s something I struggle with and is my own personal problem.

    I say that I think my Saudi won’t be completely different because he’s already changed the way he treats me here, so I’m getting a taste of what that’s like. I think he’s trying to protect me now, and the stress he’s currently under may have something to do with it. I’m waiting to see how this evolves.

    I’m not going to commit to marriage until I’m ready to make that step. Because of everything I’ve mentioned and also what you’ve all said, I want to be extra careful. I know it’s going to be tough at times, I expect that. I just want to know that we have similar goals, etc. and will stay committed to each other even through the rough times.

    LOL @ “everything is workable”. My father’s famous for saying, “It’ll work itself out” meaning if he leaves it long enough, someone else may solve the problem for him or it may somehow naturally resolve on its own. This is not to make light of what you said, though. I DID listen and not just hear you. I just thought it was a bit ironic, that’s all. You brought up a good point.

    As my relationship progresses, I will look into rights for any future daughters. This is also important to me, and I realize how large of an issue it is. Like I said, my family (especially any future family I may have) is very important to me.

  106. @ Strangeone

    I have not read all your posts so do not know your whole story but here is my advice for whatever it is worth:

    Firstly, if you have Saudi female friends then direct your questions to them. If not then perhaps try to acquire a few. Ask around. I’m not sure where you’re located but there is bound to be a few in your area if you have a Saudi man! You could possibly even try Facebook to meet these women or at uni if you have not finished your studies. Also as another commenter suggested, look into SaudiWoman’s blog and perhaps direct some of your questions to her. I am advising you to ask Saudi women as it is after all their culture and country you are inquiring about and it always helps to hear these things from the people who experience it firsthand.

    Secondly, do not listen to those who say you cannot walk in Saudi. I can and do often. I walk in my neighborhood with my children and no one has bothered us. Yes it’s damned hot here but overtime you become accustomed to it, just stick to cotton clothing and you will be ok. The best walking time is after Fajr but before the sun comes up and of course anytime after it goes down. And surely winter walking is more pleasant. Also you must choose your walking area cautiously as some areas are safer than others. I’m sorry to say but there have been incidents here of women being abducted while out walking so choose your area wisely and keep alert, always take your mobile and if you can walk with a friend or neighbor that is best. But should you not want to brave the streets then there are plenty of parks here and ladies gyms that have walking areas. So this is a very minor worry for you I believe.

    Thirdly, I’m not sure about your age, not that it’s my business really, but hopefully you have experienced enough about life to prepare you for marriage. I married at 25 and suffice it to say I believe I should have waited a bit longer as I did have hopes of traveling like it seems you do. Unless your partner is willing to travel with you then your (traveling) dream will not materialize. Especially if you become Muslim. Now I am Muslim myself but must be honest with you. The mahram system does not allow you to travel alone. I find this very frustrating but to keep peace within my own marriage I do not travel without at least telling my husband where I’m going first! :)

    Lastly…as for moving to Saudi, I think it’s best to put the thought of that on the back burner until you are 100% sure your relationship is heading for marriage. From some of your posts it seems you are still in doubt about this. It is not necessary to tackle everything at once, just ride this out. Be clear on the relationship first before you worry about relocating and the trials that come with that. It will only add to your stress and put strain on your relationship. Once you are both clear that marriage is what you want then put all your cards on the table. Do not compromise and for god’s sake don’t let your love for this man blind you into doing something that is not right for you and any future children you may have with him. And if you guys do manage to move to Saudi well then your life will be what you make of it. Do not believe all the negativity that you will find on this blog about Saudi. You can walk here, not all schools are bad, you can take taxi’s to get out, you can still be creative, etc. You can still have a fulfilling life here depending on how you and your husband approach things. But as with many things in life…everything has a price. If you are not accustomed to being dependent on your man to get things done then do not come. If you cannot forfeit at least some of your independence then do not come. Simple as that.

    Your independence in Saudi can get you into some trouble…but it can also bring on some laughs. I’ll give an example (and brag a bit :) ), the other day the hubby and I were out and I began to moan about not being able to drive. We were waiting for things to be loaded into our car and I teased my husband about bringing the car myself. So he threw me the keys and said go for it! I asked him, do you dare me? He said yes and I’m like yipppeeeee! And so I drove the car in the parking lot up to the store front. The passersby were shocked as was my husband. (Well he did dare me!) Yes I know other women have actually been more brave to take the car onto the roads here but as I said I do want to keep peace within my marriage! And over the years living here I have learned it is best not to push your independence too much here as some people are not accustomed to it. That is not to say you must be a door mat here, No! There is a time and place for audacity. Stand up for your rights, change what you can but remember where you are and what (unfortunate) limitations are upon you as a foreigner and as a woman in Saudi.

  107. Anebu,
    Thanks for your advice! It has been very helpful! :)

  108. *It’s very helpful. I’m sorry, but my grammatical skills are failing as it it is almost time for me to sleep. >_<

  109. Strangeone

    When you are in love, its very easy to make all kinds of sacrifices. You must have heard that “love means sacrificing”. Well that is true but it is not the wisest thing to do.

    Whenever there is a decision to be made and you ask a lot of questions and there are lot of answers and still the questions are not “answered” for you, it means that that you are looking for a particular answer.

    It seems to me that you are a very intelligent lady and and you are considering all points before tying the knot. But I have to say that its takes a long time to know a person outside of marriage and within marriage, you will know your spouse after about 5-6 years. The ‘nice” side is only “seen” before marriage but once you are married, you will see other “not so nice side” such as he will pick his nose in front of guests, or snore loudly, or spit around the house or some other disgusting behavior. The wife has to bear it and sometimes can get very frustrating. Ok these are side issues although they can add to the value of marriage.

    As a westerner, you will have a different upbringing and you will tend to see or feel things in different ways and the same goes for your Saudi. It may all seem not so important now but it will make a difference later on in the marriage. If you are the kind of person who can just adapt to any envionment and situations, then it will be much easier but hearing from other western wives, it could be very difficult to adapt. What I would suggest is to visit the country and get a feel for it.

    The mahrem system is deep within us so we cannot see the other side so easily. According to islam, a woman can do anything she wants as long as it is allowed (halal) but the law of the country has made it strict only as a means of protection for the women. Other western women have found it stifling as they are used to doing things freely. For a Saudi women, it is just normal to obey the law of the country as it is for you to follow the laws in your country like it or not. The mahrem system in Islam is only for marriage purpose and for travelling, not for decision making. A woman can have her own business and decide for herself. Yes her spouse must agree for her to do all this… or as I have seen it happen, whenever there is some argument, he can blame her for doing things behind his back. I think it is the nature of men to want to feel that he is the caretaker and the authority. He wants to feel that he is in charge and may feel threatened when the wife becomes too independent. He needs to feel that his wife is dependent on him. His wife, children, house, car …etc all form a boundary (its a male territory thing). Arab men are more territorial than western men. And as Medina said, the honor of the family is very important. If anything happens to dishonor the family, then the community or the tribe will look at the family in a different way so this is why they are very protective of what you say, do, dress ..etc.

    So really I think that you should know your Saudi, his family and the country more. If you have doubts then I think you should not consider moving. It is a possibility that he may want to marry another one later on. I am not saying that he will but this idea may cross his mind, so you have to be prepared for this. Yes at the moment when the two of you are in love, it seems like an impossibilty but when the “being in love” fades out, things might look a little different. Love alone does not cut it. It takes more than love to make a marriage work and it needs to be worked on.

    As AB said, you can find a job in Saudi and work for a while and see how you like it or visit it.

    I understand your dilemma and you are not strange one at all. I do hope that you come to some kind of calming decision and you have a very happy life whereever you decide to stay.

  110. I have read the other comments, all very interesting.
    Sandy wrote very good comments, Oby wrote a very good comment.
    Strange One, these are intelligent strong caring women who know what they are talking about: listen well to them.

    I do find it heartwarming that so many people at AB are willing to put in so much personal time, and write such very good comments all to help one other woman on the blog. There really are very nice people here.

    Medina, with all you strong feelings about love and sacrifice, and doing everything for your loved one, sentiments I admire, why would you even contemplate taking her to Saudi Arabia at all?
    Would not your love and care for her well being be enough reason to live in another country?
    What do you think about this?

    StrangeOne,
    video of a Saudi woman on the subject of Mahram. She is giving a realistic view, she should know what she is talking about.

    And I still don’t understand why you think you should live in saudi arabia with your beloved. If he truly loves you it will be a small sacrifice to live in another country.
    Why should you be the only one who makes the huge sacrifices? Why cant he make a small one for you instead?

    Also, is he a student? If he is then he won’t be allowed to marry; he will loose his scholarship
    Government permission may take years, 5 or more, and may not be granted at all.

  111. Sarah Md,
    Thanks for your views. I appreciate it! I have seen Western men who want to be in charge and feel threatened when their wives become independent, too. Mine doesn’t seem to be too much this way, though, amazingly.

    I would, of course, want to discuss any major things such as starting my own business with my significant other. I think that’s only right because it affects his life, too. It would have an impact on our home life, but at the same time if it was important to me, he would do what he could to accommodate me within a given society. That’s part of valuing interdependence vs. independence, I think. It doesn’t mean I’m any more or less independent. It just means that I also value how my decisions will affect others in the home. I’ve also noticed the territorial part. After Medina mentioned everything about honor, I understand better why the society is as it is. It’s most definitely frustrating for me, but I realize it’s cultural and am doing my best to adjust.

    In a way, this reminds me of small towns in the US where everyone knows each other. I am not sure if this is the same, just that it sounds like there are some shared traits between the two. For instance, in a small US town they may judge a certain family (sometimes they can spot you by distinctive facial and body features, etc.) by that family’s history. So even if you haven’t visited in a while (as in decades), people you don’t know or recognize may know you, or at least which family you belong to. Memories of what someone did 10 or 20+ years ago are still remembered and the family is sometimes judged accordingly. However, they may like and have great respect for one part of the family but not another part. I don’t have any idea how similar the two are, just that one reminds me of the other.

    I’m still trying to learn what I can as fast as I can. It’s not easy, but well worth it! I think I could be happy almost anywhere, but obviously it will take more adjusting to get used to some places than others. I definitely plan to visit/live there somehow! :)

    Aafke,
    It is all very sweet isn’t it? Thanks everyone! :)
    Thanks for the link.

    I think Medina already mentioned the one post directed at me wasn’t up for discussion. Based on his previous posts, I think it is unfair to ask him that as he’s already stated how he would live anywhere with her and would have many things in mind for his beloved to do there. It sounds as if he’d create a very loving environment for her there. This may not be the norm, but it is something I believe he’d live up to. For me personally, if this was the attitude of my beloved, I would not mind moving there. In fact, it would be a welcome adventure and I would be happy that he’d also be able to visit his family more often (and hopefully, I’d visit with them, too and get along well with them).

    If and when I move with my beloved to KSA, it would be because we both agreed that it was the best decision for us, our current families, and our future family. I am not the only one making huge sacrifices. I have already mentioned to him that it is important for me to meet his family and learn about the life and customs there because he’s important to me and his life in his country has shaped who he is. Because he’s important to me, his family is also important to me. If they need anything, I want them to know they can talk to either of us for support (hopefully). I think there are times when it may be best to live near his family and possibly times when it is best to live near mine, although my family travels a lot so it’s not as practical to live near mine.

    I am aware of the regulations for students and applying for government permission. I have read on others applying for government permission, whether students or not, and plan to continue to do so. Government permission is definitely an issue, but one I am well aware of. This is something I read the actual law as well as people’s personal experiences on a couple months ago.

    Thanks again everyone! Your support is appreciated! :)

  112. @Strangeone

    OK, I just re-read the entire thread. You are saying you’re been dating him since late May? Meaning, it’s been like three months??? And you are already considering marriage?? Girlfriend, put the brakes on! I got pantyhose older than that!

    I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but really, ninety days is NOTHING when it comes to getting to know someone. You don’t really know anything about someone you’ve been dating for only three months. Why would you consider entering into a lifelong commitment with someone you barely know?? Take your time, date him for like a year (four seasons is my personal rule of thumb) and see what happens. And dating a few other boys in the meantime won’t hurt either! Grrr!

    At this point of the relationship the only decisions you should be making is “skim” or “half fat” in Starbucks. The decision to move to KSA has such momentous, possibly lifelong, implications for you that it deserves way more time and consideration. Believe me, going into this with the kumbaya, oh we are all just people, if we just listen we’ll all get along vibe will get you into so much heartache, I can’t even begin to describe it.

    A few words about mahram system implications:

    You will need permission of your guardian (presumably, husband) to study, to get a job, to travel, to open a bank account, to get surgery, to open a business and really for anything else that matters. You will be entering and submitting yourself to the system that views you, Strangeone, as a perpetual child unable and unfit to make your own decisions. Can you open a business? Yes, if your husband permits, but you MUST hire a male manager to deal with the government because you, a mere woman, will not be able to handle this directly. Also realize that any of these decisions can be revoked at any time.

    “Oh but he will never!” “Perhaps, but he CAN.”

    Will you have a round-o-clock driver in your personal service? If not, understand that your movement will be entirely up to someone else, and if it’s not convenient for them, then it ain’t happening.

    Do you realize to what extent Islam will rule your life in KSA? Here in the West we have the luxury of shrugging religion off and playing a religious marketplace. In KSA, people take Quran and ahadeeth as truth with capital T, and that means you must prepare to subjugate your life to the rules of the system that you personally may not agree with and have never embraced. You will also experience at least some pressure to convert or at a minimum, an honest bewilderment of why you refuse to “see the light.”

    Do you understand that your social circle will consist primarily of women, unless he is extremely liberal? Do you realize you will have very little in common with people around you? Do you understand that unless you commit yourself to the study of Arabic to achieve near-total fluency, you will always be somewhat debilitated in that society?

    Do you understand that you will have limited influence on your own children? Do you know that if you divorce, your residence permit will be terminated and you’ll have to leave the country – sans the children? And that you will not have a voice in any of the decisions surrounding the fate of your children? Do you understand that you will NOT be free to teach your children about other religions? (Hint: stock up on condoms. You should be doing that anyway.)

    Jeez, I don’t know what else to tell you to make it clear that it is NOT just the case of two regular people making regular adjustments to each other. It is a case of one person committing herself to lifelong accommodation of the system and culture that you may end up hating. It is a case of you entering a state and a legal system that is severely rigged against you, gives you no rights and no voice, and views you as a perpetual minor child no matter what your age. Yes, your boy may be everyone’s dreamboat and his family perfectly lovely but please understand that that under that SYSTEM and the STATE you are worthless and meaningless, and that’s a fact and not a judgment.

    In other words, don’t bloody go to KSA unless only for a short visit. Please understand I’m not saying this to hurt your feelings, I’m married to like the most liberal Saudi ever, but I will never ever agree to live in Saudi. Plus, I was 36 and hard as nails when I married and had dated a thousand men so I already knew what works for me, and how to make it work. Marriage is really not about romantic love or soul-twinning; it’s about daily work of slogging through reality without pissing each other off too much. At the end of this, you may get to feel like you’re soul friends. After three months, it’s just your hormones talking.

  113. NN, *you are worthless and meaningless*
    More people have said something the same, but the way you put it sends real chills down my back!

    My greatest nightmare is being locked up. I can’t even watch movies which have people who are imprisoned, whether in a prison or in a system! :(

  114. Like I said, life has no guarantees. A lengthy courtship does not necessarily guarantee success, nor is the opposite true. Each couple is different and unique. Just because we are considering marriage doesn’t mean we’re rushing into it tomorrow.

    I believe my original intention in all this was to know what the girl and the girl’s family can do to promote a good relationship with the Saudi male’s family. I mentioned KSA was a possibility later, which is why I wanted to look into it now before I ended up married to him. I also mentioned we will be staying where we’re at, most likely, for the next few years.

    Thank you all for your advice, but I don’t need rescuing. I am perfectly capable of rescuing myself if need be. Yes, I listened and heard what you had to say, but I draw the line at someone telling me how I SHOULD be dating and living MY LIFE. Isn’t that what you were just complaining that the mahram system does?! I do not think this is something we will see eye to eye on as we’ve both had different experiences in life that have shaped our own views. I happen to like going into a relationship with the idea of long-term commitment as the ultimate goal IF the two people turn out to be well matched for each other. This takes time to find out, I know, and the amount of time it takes is different for every relationship.

    I should not have to defend the way I choose to live when it is not infringing on anyone else’s free will. You don’t have to like it, but must be willing to accept that I am the way that I am. Or do you not believe in freedom? I believe we can agree to disagree on this one.

    And BTW, no one has answered the question on what is expected of the girl’s family during courtship.

    I believe this is the last comment I will make on here about my personal life. CASE CLOSED!

  115. There should be no courtship. Most saudis still get married by arrangement. They may see their intended for a short time before the contract is drawn up, if the family is more liberal, otherwise they will see each other for the first time at the actual wedding.
    We had this come up before.
    As far as I understand the fact that you are actually dating him, even if it only means having a cup of coffee in a restaurant, would already make you a whore in the eyes of most Saudi families.
    I think you still have no clue about the weird dysfunctional world Saudi Arabia really is.

  116. @Strangeone

    Darling, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings or tell you what to do. You are a free woman; your life is yours to live. Consider that women who shared advice with you are all where you want to be – either married to a Saudi and living in KSA or married to a Saudi in the U.S. Perhaps we know what we speak of. But no matter, you have my best wishes of luck. I gave you advice I would give to my little sister. Forgive me if I intruded.

    As for your original question of what is expected from a girl’s family during their courtship: that depends entirely on the family. KSA, culturally speaking, does not have a concept of courtship in the sense that we do in the West (“oh good evening Mr. Smith, I’ll have Anne back home by nine”). Two families will likely meet and forge closer ties only once decisions to get married have been made. Remember that courtship in a Western sense is not something acceptable to many Saudi families depending on degree of their conservatism. They don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend concept. I also have trouble imagining a scenario where you will be introduced to parents as a “girlfriend.” You are a fiancee or no one, except perhaps a female acquaintance, “this is a girl from my university” type thing.

    If this is how you want to position yourself, you may want to organize an outing or a dinner together, very polite and formal, etc. You will not be expected to maintain close ties with the family or between families until you are proceeding with marriage. Your boy and his sisters will be the best source of information on what’s acceptable or desirable to his family.

  117. I’d like to show an example of the mahram system in a Saudi hospital. My friend was due to give birth and had arrangements and paperwork completed at a Riyadh hospital so when she was in labor, she could be admitted right away. Well, labor comes and due to some screw up with the paperwork at the hospital, it did not show that she was married to her husband. While her labor was progressing quickly and painfully, he had to leave the hospital and drive home (about an hour each way) to get the paperwork to prove their marriage. In the meantime, she is alone in her room without family support, begging for pain relief. They refused to give it to her because her husband was not there to give his permission. She was screaming and crying, not understanding, thinking the hospital thought thought they couldn’t pay. She was taking the gold braclets off her arms saying take these! It wasn’t till after the fact that we learned what it was really all about.
    So, even a woman in extreme labor pain cannot get any meds unless her husband approves it in Saudi Arabia.

  118. Kristine I am horrified! What a disgusting story!
    Makes me sick!
    Bloody barbarians! How can you deny a patient who is screaming in pain medication???

  119. I recently watched a talk by psychologist from Stanford, Philip G. Zimbardo about power and evil. They did an experiment on normal people decades ago which is not allowed anymore. The conclusion of the the experiment and talk was that there is no such thing as evil. A good person when given power moves the line between good and evil without realizing. In short power has a tendency to make you evil. Saudi men may be very good and everything like men in other parts of the world so you will never know what a man will turn out with so much power on his wife. It only gives me shudder. I will be VERY careful. In just 4 years of my marriage I have seen so much change in me and my husband that I am completely convinced that human changes with the passage of time. We don’t love each other for the reasons we got married for. Now we have completely new reasons and personalities to love each other. Judging a person for marriage is already almost impossible even if situation does not change. You can not tell anything once you are put in a new situation where you have no rights. You should not hesitate to follow love but there should be a safety net to fall to. No women would like to leave her children behind no matter what. That is the only thing which looks to me like a big hole in safety net.

  120. When you marry Saudi I think every woman knows what she is getting herself into. What bothers me is that I’m reading so much batter against Saudi men, like they are all the devil or something. There are bad people all over the world. My father burned my jeans in the back yard because he didn’t believe it was modest to wear to school, and that was here in LA. I don’t understand why people hold Saudis to this “holier then thou” bs. They are people, not saints. There are good men, there are bad men, there are mama’s boys, and there are macho men, everywhere.

    And everything I think has it’s time. I think they are so terrified about what happened to Iran (since they always throw that issue up on why reform is so slow) that it’s just throwing them in limbo. And believe me, the guys in their 20s, what is that, most of the population over there right?, are changing so fast. I have yet to meet a man around here that is happy with KSA when they see life in UAE. And UAE has their issues, God knows, but lately a day hasn’t gone by that I don’t hear talk from the young men on how they want to push the royal family to become more like UAE in terms of freedoms and rights. And with the cultural scholarship, I think the ruling family is hoping to change Saudi Arabia not with the current working generation, but by the men and women that study abroad. And for a nation that is xenophobic, and that is a reason why marriages have issues, that are trying to get exposed to other cultures should slowly give way to more and more rights. Nothing will happen over night. A nation that is growing like a nation on steroids is bound to have social lags.

    A lot of what I’m reading comes from bitterness. There are backwards people everywhere, I got beat up in Alabama for being middle eastern three times, yet I don’t go around saying Fuck those damn Bible thumpin’ hicks. They are all the same. No. I know morons are out in the world, and hold all kinds of careers. Cause when I reported it to the police, I got a “Well that’s to be expected since 911″ from the chief of police! Well, he’s a moron, but most men in Alabama are not. Just like in KSA, there are morons, and there are powerful morons, but that doesn’t mean doom and gloom for women who are wise enough to know if a man loves her not.

    Also women can be morons too if they are in a one sided relationship. clearly if the guy treats her bad, she loves him and doesn’t realize he doesn’t love her. So if a woman is grasping at straws and moves to KSA thinking it’ll only better cause he’s home now…is a moron. If he loves you, he’ll protect you, in KSA or not. I have a hard time thinking love has national bounties. And I do know marriages where the woman marries the guy and it’s clear the guy likes her but doesn’t love her (otherwise he wouldn’t have two different phone numbers, or go out with the “guys” all the time, the tale tell signs women tend to brush off), and they move to KSA and she’s now popping prozac and streaming warnings of the evil men in KSA. It goes both ways.

    Either you marry a decent person, or you don’t. now a woman’s personal freedom is different, if she can’t handle trusting her man 200% than she should leave him before they move to KSA.

  121. @Layla

    You know, I can almost understand that it comes across that way, but I don’t think this is directed in any way against Saudi men. If we thought they were the devil, we wouldn’t be married to them. It’s not about the man or the relationship. It’s about the system of laws i the country that strips women of most rights and grants most of them to men, including the rights to control almost everything the woman does. It’s not like you can wish away a country or a culture, so why is it surprising to have that pointed out? Again, it’s not about your relationship with any particular man; it is about building lives and families in a uniquely restrictive environment. Family problems happen everywhere, but untangling them in KSA is exponentially harder.

  122. NN…

    Your statement about courtship I think is very accurate. In India and (I am assuming in KSA it works approximately the same) the whole process many times is started by other relatives in the family…ie: grandparents, aunties etc. they know of a good girl or boy of good family reputation, similar social standing, education, tribe, caste(at least for India…though this is changing) etc. It then goes to the relatives closer to the perspective bride and groom Ie: parents. they meet, have coffee/tea, make pleasantries but make no mistake… the whole thing is a carefully orchestrated dance to judge each other’s worthiness/status for their child and FAMILY…and here is one of the BIG differences between these cultures and the West…it isn’t two people getting married but two families joining and within that there is indeed a pecking order within the family. The bride better LOVE her mother in law because for quite a few years his mother will be calling the shots and can make her life very pleasant or hell on earth and hubby will not always be there to take up the wife’s side…another reason I advise living in the USA or a neutral country…it helps dilute some of the absolute power the bride’s mother in law has.

    Once the extended family and parents agree on a choice(s) they present it to the perspective bride and groom. they have the right to accept or reject and if they reject the whole process starts over again. Ironically, the last people to know about their potential mate is the bride/groom themselves.

    In my case it was a bit different. We were not arranged, we were a love match…in India that is considered a risky type of marriage. Again there is no concept of “dating”. There is generally unmarried(unattached) or married. That’s it. Not much in between. My husband and I were SURE we wanted to get married before he told his parents about me.The reason being is that as I said there is no concept of “dating”. Once the parents come to know that the child has a particular partner in mind it is almost a done deal. It is simply a matter of making it a formality. The father came to “interview” me and went home to tell the family…aunties and cousins included. So once my husband’s parents found out within a two month period they were in the USA with the grandpa with an engagement ring (in India the parents give the ring to the girl…remember family is everything and for them if the parents give it it is the same as the if the boy gave it.) Marriage arrangements were made and within another 3 months I was in India getting married! It was like a runaway freight train…I don’t mean that in a bad way…what I mean is that in that culture they get married FIRST and then get to know each other with the assumption that love will grow. There is not really a concept of romantic love like we have in the West. In fact it is frowned upon. No need for courtship and a “get to know you” period.
    My husband was STRESSED trying to make sure he minimized all the possible objections that his parents could make to our marriage and that meant that I had to do a lot of trusting that he knew what he was doing. I couldn’t really make a judgement call as I knew nothing about Indian culture.

    In the end, I asked him what he would do if they said no…he said he was willing to marry me anyway and risk losing his family for 5 or 10 years if he had to. THANKFULLY, it didn’t come down to that, but his parents, in my mind, made the ultimate sacrifice…they told HIM that they couldn’t imagine me living in India because the culture was so different and if he chose to marry me they suggested he stay in the USA. ALL and I mean all of his family is in India so it was an enormous gesture of sacrifice IMO for his parents to make considering he is the eldest and was expected to come home.

    didn’t mean to ramble… just wanted to give an example through my experience of how the whole thing works.

  123. It’s frankly amazing to me the responses about whether Saudi men are bad or good, or how in intercultural relationships there is give or take. Or how all countries have their good and bad. We’re really trying to convey about the SYSTEM. And how a woman has NO RECOURSE. And it isn’t really about give and take on both sides. The give and take is the mans decision. He can decide you do all the giving, if that’ what he likes. Or even if he just thinks he’s right. If he’s convinced of that, he has little reason to compromise.

    I like almost all of the men in my husbands family. And most of them make excellent husbands. Part of why my husband is the way he is is because his whole family is somewhat counter-culture. But I’ll tell you right now, while certainly I used good judgement in picking a husband, I had a LOT of plain ole damn good luck. I had no idea-really what it would be like. And frankly neither did my husband. He tried to tell me things- but he left as a young adult to study, and simply didn’t know alot of what a foriegn wife would need to know- and there was no internet.

    RE. the MIL issue. Your guy better be able to stand up to his mother. And BTW she will often be calling the shots on how you raise your kids as well, if he can’t. She’ll tell you what you should be doing and your husband will expect it to be that way. Lets hope she approves of car seats. She may not.

  124. ^ the mom statement reminds me of a muslim version of the mom off of “Everyone Loves Raymond” LOL. What mother-in-law isn’t tough on a wife??? And didn’t think they knew how to raise good kids, after all, you did marry her son, so she thinks she’s good at what she does (and perhaps she is, who knows). I’d like to meet one who holds ZERO jealous feelings towards her son’s wife.

    That would make me drop dead.

  125. And didn’t think they knew how to raise good kids

    *and don’t they think they know how to raise good kids

    I’m sure the grammer is still wrong. I’m tired and hungry, lol.

  126. I used to call my mom-in-law every week and used to talk to her for long hours. Then in my 3rd year of marriage I invited her to live with us for 3 months. I saw a new personality of my husband in these three months. For the first month he was fine and his mom was not-so-happy but in last 2 months he was a completely changed person. He stopped making eye contact with me in front of his mother, started criticizing my cooking and (emotionally) forced me to stay at home and do household chores. He stopped doing dishes and considered it an insult if I called his name from kitchen. He never came to my call in those 3 months. He started mentioning that how is he sacrificing his peaceful home life by “letting” me work. Although he encouraged (and helped) me to get enrolled in higher education program and I could never think in my wildest dream that he is sacrificing anything.

    His mom had such a proud and content smile on her face when he did those things. I patiently endured all that because I was in shock and had not backup plan to handle it. After his mom went back I just went back to my work (in a different city) and refused to visit my husband or talk nicely on phone. I told him that I hated whatever he did and I am not going to put up with this kind of person. I even told him that I don’t mind even separating after I have seen this face of his.

    He endlessly asked for forgiveness, tried to understand his inner feelings as to why did he do that. He flew to visit me, even touched my feet (very hard for a Muslim male to do), and promised to correct everything wrong he did. We fell in love much more than before because of his willingness to admit his mistakes and rectify them. We are visiting to our country this December and he says that he takes this as a challenge to prove to me how much he deserves me. Lets see. If we were living in Saudia it was not possible, he didn’t have to come for me, he could easily ship me over to his place lol.

    In 4 years of marriage he ALWAYS loved me, cared for me and protected me with the exception of those two months. Just adding one person in the situation can change a man so much.

    I would NEVER in my life will agree to live y near his parents’ influence. I can’t emphasize enough on taking your rosy glasses off and expect change in human personality. We are different people at different places without realizing it. If you want to marry a guy assuming he will never change then you are definitely going to make a mistake. Putting so much power in man’s hand and assume he will never change sounds too optimistic to me. We can’t say for sure even about ourselves what we will do in a different situation.

  127. I will attempt to answer about the initial query on expectation of the woman’s parents. My husband’s dream was for he and his mother to travel to the US where they could meet my mother and father and formally ask them (even at our age!) for permission to marry me. That did not happen due to logistics and death of my mother. Instead my dear belated husband called them on the phone (before mom passed). He introduced himself, told them his intentions were honorable and how much he loved me and would cherish me. But, he wanted to know if they had questions or concerns he could answer for them. Let me tell you, his action in this day and time, won my mom and dad’s heart.

    Now in the case of a Saudi woman and her family, the man and female representatives from his family would come to the home of the women. The man would express his desire and permission to marry the daughter. A discussion would ensue. The father and other family members may have questions for the man. The female representatives may be present, may be waiting in a separate area or may even be chatting separately with female members of the woman’s family. A decision probably would not be made at that time. The father and/or mother would likely talk to the daughter and tell her a man has asked for her in marriage. Depending on the family and how conservative they are or not, the daughter may be given an opportunity to meet the young man herself (under chaperone) or her parents may help her make a decision sans meeting (which is not done as often now). In some cases, this may be a marriage between first or second cousins where the couple are expected to marry — especially if Grandmother has arranged the match. The dowry/mahr may or may not be brought up at the first or second meeting between the groom and soon-to-be father-in-law.

  128. Welcome Rev and thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

    I appreciate everyone who has come forward and shared their experiences and their views. While we all may not agree with one another, I’ve come from these exchanges with additional appreciations. I hope that we can continue along these same lines with sharing and enriching each other.

  129. strangeone…

    I have no idea if you will return to the blog to at least read but while thinking about you overnight I really felt moved to say something. I thought about you quite a bit and had a hard time falling asleep…thank you very much :-)

    I know by your response and the fact that you changed your photo on your blog that you must feel a bit attacked and are trying to protect yourself. No Need. We are not here to attack or belittle you.Certainly your feelings for your Saudi are strong and in your youthful idealism you feel that love and commitment will conquer all. It is difficult to imagine that one day things might not be as rosy and wonderful as they are right now. We’ve all been where you stand right now.

    Strangeone…all of us, in our own way, were only trying to advise you like a good friend or mother would. I won’t give my age but I am almost old enough to be your mother. Being older and experienced in this area, we are trying to get you to understand the enormous ramifications of your possible choice. Having some maturity and experience gives one the ability to look around corners and more fully appreciate the consequences of ones actions. NOT that you are not an intelligent and perfectly wonderful, thoughtful person. I get the impression that you are. BUT when one is in love and all seems right with the world it is difficult to imagine that it could ever be otherwise. You want to believe everything that they say. And your beloved I am sure is being honest to the best of his ability…but even he may not realize how he might change once the situation or living locale changes for you both.

    Strangeone, if you have known your man only since June, you really are in the “lust” stage of your relationship. I don’t mean that disrespectfully as we all must go through that stage to be attracted to a potential mate and it is quite normal. But with that stage also comes some hormones that block us…any of us…from seeing the things that are very glaringly apparent. We become willing to overlook things that are really red flags and this is especially so when it comes to differences in culture. We tend to chalk it up to “differences”. But differences can run very deep and can ultimately become very problematic.

    Things that seem now to be no big deal or very cute or nonproblematic often become the things later on that make you want to pull your hair out. You said that you can live with something even though you may not like it (ie: the KSA culture and rules)…that is all well and good for awhile, but if you are faced with a lifetime of that it can grind your enthusiasm and patience down to the nub and cause resentment which in the end can change the whole dynamic of your relationship. When you live there permanently It is no longer an “adventure” or cultural experience…it is your hard, day to day reality and reality year in and year out is very different from an “adventurous romp” that once over, you can file away as an interesting experience as you pick up the life that is normal for you and go on.

    Dear strangeone…obviously the decision is yours and yours only. We aren’t trying to beat you up or hurt you or tell you what to do. I know it FEELS like that because we came on strong. The truth is the opposite. We WANT you to be happy with your choice and your life. We are advising you because we feel a bit of a need to protect you or at the very least tell you the unvarnished truth. Time and experience have given us a very clear perspective from a Western point of view.

    If you notice none of us said for you to leave your guy. We only advised against going to KSA.

    In the West if God forbid something goes wrong with the relationship you have legal options. You have access to your children or some sort of custody arrangement will definitely be worked out. You can work to support yourself, you can have bank accounts and other documents in your own name. If your children need some sort of medical treatment you can approve it for them. In the eyes of the law you are EQUAL to the man in terms of parenting rights and responsibilities. the man is required by law to take care of his kids and you through alimony and child support. You can buy a home, own a car and DRIVE it, you are able to move as freely as a man can all without a man’s permission. You have the same rights as a man.

    In KSA, if something happens between you and your husband, as someone said, you can be put out of the country WITHOUT your children and may have great difficulty in seeing them, you have little say over what happens to your children…all of it must come through a man…if he agrees with you great…but if he doesn’t your voice is not the one that counts. You can’t travel without permission of your mahrem…your mahrem has the last say on everything. the problem with all of this is it is not something you can “try out” and if it doesn’t suit you you can undo it. Once you are in Saudi, especially if you have children, everything becomes exponentially more difficult. We were not advising you against your habbibi as you sweetly call him :-)…we were advising you against a SYSTEM that has most of the cards stacked in the man’s favor and once you are in it is tough to get out.

    Ultimately we do want your happiness and we hope you make a good choice and whatever one it is it works out for you. Sincerely.

  130. Oby, NN, all:
    I realize I was a bit harsher than I needed to be (sorry), but I believe my point was still valid. I don’t want to be treated like a child, which is how I felt you were treating me, and which is how you complain the mahram system treats women. I realize you all care, but please realize that I have a different outlook on life and possibly even different values.

    Thank you for your input, including the most recent ones. As I said, my relationship is no longer up for discussion. This is because I get the feeling that you are only listening to the parts of what I say that you want to. I am an adult, not a child. The last thing I will say on the relationship in this discussion is to give you an example of what I mean by you not listening: I mentioned that I’ve known him longer than May. We were friends first. If I had only known him for a couple months, I could understand your concern.

    I understand there are a lot of factors to consider. I ask questions to make sure I’m not missing anything important so I am able to make wise decisions independently, not to have others make them for me. In the end, I do my best to make the best decision for me (and sometimes, my loved ones as well, depending on the situation), which you may or may not agree with. That doesn’t make your point any less valid. It just means we have different values and beliefs.

    I’m not oblivious to the negative things, I just prefer to focus on the positive things. I think optimism can help us get through tough situations. Sometimes, people mistake this for naivety or an unwillingness to listen. I also do my best to accept the things I can’t change.

    Changing my picture on my blog was not due to feeling attacked, so no worries. :)

  131. Oby,
    I am sorry you were up late last night thinking about me. I really do realize you all care. I just think I needed to say this to you in particular. I have a lot of decisions to make right now that I will not get into, so I am a bit stressed at the moment. Although I do love my life, I would not say everything is rosy and wonderful right now, just that my Saudi and I love each other. I do consider logic and practicality in my decision-making, with the ultimate goal of being content in the long-term. If anything, I can be a bit cynical at times though I don’t always show it as I try to be more polite and diplomatic. Thank you for being caring and supportive. I say thank you because I mean it. If I didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t say it. I am only telling you this because of how concerned you are. I don’t want you (or anyone else) to miss out on anymore sleep. :) Please get some good, quality sleep tonight!! :) (hugs)

  132. sorry for an off topic question here but i’ve been wondering recently about one thing.
    I don’t mean to disrespect anyone, I am just trying to understand or somehow explain things to myself.

    having read about Islam and Quran I found that there are certain concepts I cannot agree with. I don’t mind anyone practicing their own faith as long as they don’t impose their values on me or present them as superior or the ultimate truth.

    My point is that these concepts and my opinion about them started to spill into how I viewed my ex-bf. I found it hard to separate and reconcile these two things: him thinking Islam is perfect, for all days and people of all times and me not agreeing with certain ideas. For example to this day I haven’t found a reasonable and plausible arguments that would explain to me wife-beating no matter how light and symbolical it is.
    To the point! my question is: how can you remain in a relationship with a person whose belief system is of the kind that you would never chose for yourself?
    I found it hard to reconcile it in my head and that was one of the reasons I didn’t want this relationship anymore. I tried to separate him and religion, but I couldn’t help but look at him through the lenses of Islam and its teachings.

    sorry for an off topic question and thank you!

  133. Kasia,
    All religions have some positive and some negative aspects. Most people don’t follow all the traits of their religion – that’s how they can manage a life of sanity, by choosing to follow only what they can digest or reconcile with.

    Many people in a relationship choose to ignore the negative practices their partners may be following or may be believing in as the only truth even if not following themselves. This is true of not only of Islam but of all religions and also of non-belief systems. That’s how many relationships survive.

    Many people also follow something but profess something completely entirely different – this is also true of all religions and also non-belief systems.

    I must compliment you for being absolutely honest about your feelings towards whatever practices you could not reconcile with. It’s not possible for everyone to be this honest and stake one’s relationship for one’s belief.

    But in a way, you have also been quite sensible – suppose he really believed in wife beating, polygamy etc and practised those after marriage, you would have been in trouble.

    On the other hand, there are also people who admit there are negative practices in their religion and they admit they are not following these negative practices.

    I do hope you’ll get such a partner in future who will be honest about his religion and will not blindly follow it as the only truth in the world.

  134. Kasia,
    I remember one of the links my significant other sent me about Islam. I think it was this link, or a link I found off a webpage he told me to look at. I will try to find it later, but I have some things to do right now. Anyways, there was a woman from the US who did a lot of research into the part where it says a man could beat his wives. She’s just couldn’t believe that the prophet Muhammed (PBUH..or whatever a non-Muslim is supposed to say here..sorry, I don’t know what’s ‘politically correct’?) would have said something like that. So she researched the word, and it turned out that the same word can also me “to leave”, which is how she chose to interpret it as it seemed to make the most logical sense to her.

    I think the better question is what does your ex-bf personally believe about wife beating and other domestic violence, both in his home and in other people’s home? And how does he choose to interpret what you mentioned? How does this fit in line with your own personal beliefs?

    Even the most devout religious people (not naming a religion here) may disagree with something in their religious text and/or feel it’s not right. It could be that he was trying to justify something he didn’t believe in himself simply because he wanted to believe everything he had learned about his religion is true and the best way. (I’m talking more about interpretation of scripture rather than actual religious faiths, although it could also mean that at other times, too, I guess.)

    I think it depends on what you are disagreeing about and how important it is to you both individually AND in your relationship as to whether or not you will be able to have a lasting, life-long relationship you are both content in.

    For me, I accept that my significant other and I have different beliefs on certain things. Our values in life, though, are very similar. Even though we may have different religious beliefs, how we want to live and what we want to experience in life are actually quite similar. We look out both for ourselves and for each other. We are both willing to be flexible to accommodate these differences. While we don’t agree on everything, we agree on the important things. I think this makes a big difference.

  135. Here is the link Kasia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tdo24bV_RHE

    Start at about 2:30 for where the part I was referring to. I have no idea how accurate it is, but I think the woman who talks about it has done a lot of research on it. I personally have no idea, other than that her view seems to make logical sense.

  136. @Daisy and Strangeone
    thank you both for you responses.

    i think that you put it very well Daisy. you described what happens in real life and how people approach their religious beliefs. that they simply chose to practice what sits well with their moral standards, i would think.

    you see i have never met a muslim that would say that the quran is not perfect. it’s a word of God and as such is PERFECT. i keep on repeating that since that’s what i heard and read so many times! I’m very well aware of the verse 4:34 and i read different interpretations of it and commentary on how it should be done in ideal way. however, i couldn’t accept that God would want that for me. it just doesn’t agree with me at all. after all i’m equal to a man and I am supposed to be protected not disciplined by my husband in such a way.

    please believe me when I say that he was an amazing and the most caring and tender guy i have ever met, treating me with the utmost respect:)
    i don’t know how he dealt with it but i can’t think of any intellectual acrobatics I could possibly do to understand that. God knows i tried!

    I might be wrong but I follow a simple logic: quran is perfect = the messages inside are of nature that shouldn’t be questioned because they are from God = wife-beating acceptable.
    for me it is only a matter of principle. assume he would never hit me or anything like that but what i found disconcerting is that fact that he MIGHT think it is okay… even though in only certain cases. to me it is not okay in any case. uhh i don’t know if it makes sense what i wrote, kind of hard to explain :)

    @Strangeone

    as far as I’m aware the word in arabic is ‘darraba’ which translates as ‘strike’ in a physical sense and I think that most prominent scholars stick to such interpretation.
    as I said, it’s hard to see any ‘personal perspectives” cause to me and most importantly to him if he said that it’s wrong it’s like saying that the quran is not perfect.

    but i do understand what you are saying about most important things in life and how you agree on them.
    glad to see you back :) i think Oby in her previous posts explained well what commentators here meant and that is your well being :)
    hope everything works out for you and I wish you all the best!

    @Carol

    I’m sorry for hijacking this post!

  137. @Strangeone

    cool video! thanks for sharing :)

  138. I think for most people culture is more dominant than religion. We try to justify cultural practices from religious scripture. For example Mahram system is not islamic it is rooted deep in Arabic pagan culture. I think it is important to see what cultural values your saudi believes in. Is there wife beating or polygamy in his family? If it is there than you will always have a serious difference of opinion with him as that is norm to you. Every person turns more conservative as they age and things which are deep rooted in personality starts appearing which you can’t see now. I think it is not important what Quran say but it is important what is norm for him. Quran is just a justification for his lifestyle.

  139. StrangeOne, thanks for the enlightening video!

    As for the mixing of culture and religion, and/or the questioning (read: interpretation, ignoring) of certain Qur’anic verses, I believe we must face facts, sooner or later. These are the real issues dividing Muslims, and causing the difficulties with non-Muslims. We can keep our heads in the sand only so long.

  140. Kasia,
    Thanks. You are right. I too haven’t a met a Muslim who doesn’t believe that Quran is perfect. But I have met many who would never hit their wife – rather, they consult their wife in every matter before doing anything.

    I guess they too realise in their heart that Quran is not perfect, but they keep a facade of saying it in front of others without actually following the negative injunctions.

    Or who knows, perhaps they behave in a nice manner because they are in a society where such practices are frowned upon and will change if they move to a Sharia-ruled country.

    The truth is, we’ll never know how they reconcile these ethical issues together in their heart.

  141. @Kasia,
    No worries! I wasn’t going away forever, I just needed a “time out”.. ;) I’m also busy with other things right now, so sometimes, I get too caught up on here and have to retrain my focus. If I “disappear” for a few days, please don’t worry! I know Oby and everyone means well. :) Thanks for the well-wishes!

    Glad you found the video interesting!

    @Marahm,

    Glad you found the video enlightening! :)

  142. @Kasia

    “To the point! my question is: how can you remain in a relationship with a person whose belief system is of the kind that you would never chose for yourself?”

    I guess you really can’t, and you shouldn’t.

    I would definitely agree that there exists a great deal of pressure in Muslim-majority communities to believe that Quran and Islam are PERFECT but that doesn’t mean every single Muslim believes every single word in the Quran as it was gospel truth. And I do agree that you will encounter a great, great deal of mental and semantic acrobatics in the Muslim discourse to prove that “beat” doesn’t mean beat, and if it does, it’s for the best anyhoo, that “burn” doesn’t mean burn, that polygamy is awesome, etc. I don’t bother myself with searching for the truth in this; I decided that the simplest answer is most often the correct one, and I shut the door and leave it at that.

    You have to make sure that you agree and accept the manner in which YOUR Muslim boyfriend or husband interprets and practices his religion. There are as many Islams are there are Muslims. I personally think that degree of religiousity is a major benchmark of compatibility; that is, I would not have married my husband if I found him to be more religious than I wanted, or if I found his interpretation of his religion to be untenable.

  143. @NN

    i was looking forward to your reply as you seem to be always saying how you see things. thank you for your honest response.

    that’s what i encountered as well when me and my ex-bf were discussing Islam. all that you said have been mentioned: ‘beat’ doesn’t really mean beat, and if it does it’s for the best! well, i couldn’t accept that so i would pretty much every time hear that i am negative and first of all i don’t speak arabic so i don’t understand. english ‘translations’ don’t convey the message well enough. after some time i simply avoided the topic altogether rather than have heated debates for hours that wouldn’t bring us any closer. that was one of the main reasons we are no longer together.

    i was just wondering how people reconcile such issues in their mind and heart. they seem able to do it and I wanted to see and find out how :) this question has been bugging me for quite a while.. i’m a curious creature and since i’m not a cat that’s not dangerous ;)

    thank you very much for your replies and i hope i didn’t offend anyone cause it wasn’t my intention at all :)

  144. Kasia…actually they dont reconcile it if they have a heart to begin with. Eventually it grates too much and the acrobatics NN refers to gets far too complicated….which means either you listen to that little voice in your head that keeps whispering “no way is this from God”…and openly admit to yourself that NO WAY IS THIS FROM GOD…or you silence it for good…and go about your life believing God has “reasons” for everything antiwoman, anti Muslim, anti Islam anti whatever in the Quran…we just cant understand it yet…etc etc etc

    I chose to listen to the voice.

  145. coolred…

    “actually they dont reconcile it if they have a heart to begin with. Eventually it grates too much and the acrobatics NN refers to gets far too complicated….which means either you listen to that little voice in your head that keeps whispering “no way is this from God”…and openly admit to yourself that NO WAY IS THIS FROM GOD”

    That is a very interesting point. In that case do Muslims accept in their heart that the Qur’an is fallible and open to flaws like every other book and get on with life (ie: ignore the bad and celebrate the good). Do they lose their faith? Or is a little bit of everything?

  146. @Strangeone…

    Thank you so much for your second post for me. It was touching…I did get a better night’s sleep last night. Thanks. *hugs* back! :-)

    I know this is a confusing and (if you were like me) gut wrenching time for you. If I seemed to be treating you as a child you have my apologies…I know you are not…just wanted to give you the benefit of my experience.

    I send you every possible good thought and hope very much that all works out for you no matter your choice. You seem to be a really lovely person and I hope only the best for you. :-)

  147. @coolred

    thanks for your comment :-)
    oby made a good point as well. i have always thought that with islam is all or nothing. there is no middle way in a sense that you can’t ignore the bad and celebrate the good. for some reason i get an impression, and that’s only my personal opinion, that you somehow have to conceptualize and come to terms with the ‘bad’. that’s when the intellectual acrobatics comes into play i guess.
    so if they reject the bad are they still muslims? can they still call themselves muslims?

  148. Speaking from personal experience…no….but thats me. I cant say I believe in something and give it my all unless I can be at peace with ALL of it.

    Once the “how comes” started…it was a slippery slope.

  149. Kasia,
    As far as “rejecting the bad”, I think it depends on how they choose to reject it, etc. in their mind and how they work around it in their mind. Maybe they interpret it differently as I mentioned with the link. Maybe they don’t fully understand why it’s there and can’t understand it logically, but choose to accept it -possibly without actually believing/ practicing it themselves(they just take it on “faith”). Some people may not fully believe in everything little thing a given religion teaches but still consider themselves Muslim/Christian/whatever if they still believe in the basic beliefs/elements/pillars of their faith.

    It sounds like maybe your ex-bf was trying to cope with the fact that while he doesn’t believe in wife beating, he was taught that his religion does? So he was trying to justify it because he has strong ties to his religion (which is especially true when it’s tied closely to culture)? People will go through interesting lengths to convince themselves something in their religion is true so they can justify their belief system as being the best/good/perfect/etc. to themselves (and/or others), even if they don’t truly believe it deep down inside their soul. I know I’ve done this in the past. I wonder if your ex-boyfriend’s ideas on this have changed any because of your discussions/arguments? Maybe you both learned from it, so it wasn’t a complete waste of energy…? It’s interesting how life changes people over time through experiences.

    I think if you question the basic beliefs/elements, etc. of your faith though, then no, you can’t really be considered a true believer then, can you? However, if it’s about interpretation, etc., then I think that there are about as many interpretations of religion as there are people.

    Coolred,
    I went through the same slippery slope with Christianity. That’s why I simply believe in monotheism now. :D

  150. Oby,
    Thank you so much for understanding!!! :) I’m glad you slept better!! I really find you and others on here so loving and caring, even when you’re arguing/debating with me or others. :) This IS a bit confusing and stressful time for me, but I am doing my best to stay calm and enjoy life along the way. As someone pointed out to me earlier today, I need to enjoy the journey along the way rather than just looking to the final result. That said, I’m doing my best. Thank you for your thoughts! I really, really appreciate it!!! :)

  151. @Kasia:

    I know if my husband ever hit me, that would be it for us.

    But I have noticed the word “darabah” is used in other ayat in the Quran and is translated as “putting forth an example”. So I suppose it does have many definitions and must be used in the correct context.

    I personally do not believe it means to beat the wife because I do not believe this is what Allah would intend to keep peace within a marriage.

    But I suppose this is where the problem is…for every Muslim who doesn’t believe this, there are plenty of others that do.

    Allah help us sort ourselves out.

  152. This thought just occurred to me: Any Muslim woman looking to marry should ask her potential prospects how they interpret the verse 4:34. If they believe their wife should be beaten then they can be given their walking papers! :)

  153. @Anebu,

    you are absolutely right about the fact that any woman wanting to marry a Muslim should ask him about the interpretation.
    i’m not a scholar but from what i read the majority of translations do translate or interpret this verse as ‘beat/hit’. there is a physical aspect to it.

    it’s surprising that in the link posted by Strangeone the lady who translated it as ‘to leave’ in a sense to walk away received a lot of criticism. and it makes me think that the translation we know now can’t be that far from the truth, although I would like to be wrong cause as much as you I don’t believe that God would intend sth like that :)
    my point was that for those who believe it means ‘to beat’ i am wondering how they come to terms with it. i don’t understand how anyone could think it is the right thing to do. uhh have to stop repeating myself :)

  154. My husband thinks it means “to leave” or “strike out on another way”. Which makes sense. I mean if the wife is really doing something wrong- and refuses to stop, how would “light hitting” solve anything? The logical thing is to part ways.

  155. I used to say that if my husband were ever to lay a hand on me in anger, that would be the end of our marriage. The Qur’an may permit it, but I don’t.

    The same goes for polygny. The Qur’an permits it, but I don’t.

    My husband used to say, “Are you above God? Do you think you can forbid something Allah made halal?”

    I’d say, “No, of course not. Allah permitted it, but He never said I had to live with it.”

    All kinds of halal things are not necessarily acceptable to everyone. Eating lamb is halal. Does that mean one must force feed lamb to someone who hates its taste?

  156. For so called scholars to even come to the opinion that God allows them the “right” to beat their wives is just another sign that Muslims, men in general believe God is only interested in the males rights and comfort etc. He is the actor in his life….the women in his life are the acted upon.

    And I dare say a prospective husband wouldnt intentionally shoot himself in the foot by admitting he believes it is devinely sanctioned that he can beat on his intended if he so desires…would he?

  157. I am not a qur’anic expert so…

    It seems to me that Coolred has a point. If the scholars have interpreted it this way “to beat” even lightly that maybe that IS what it means. Perhaps in that time and place that was considered an acceptable form of control. Of course this clashes very strongly with the way we think now and hence all the argument about what it REALLY means.

    Maybe it needs reinterpretation and a meaning “assigned” to it that is acceptable to all…preferably a gentler and more reasonable meaning…say as Sandy said “to leave” and stop interpreting it in a violent way or in a way that is detrimental to women.

  158. oby….i can only venture to guess that the moment scholars start interpreting anti women verses into more women friendly meanings…is the moment the book is thrown open as the word of man and not god…because most consider any form of reinterpreting is a form of bida..since all those preimmenent scholars before us came to the unanimous decision that it means “to beat”…so cant have that..so not likely.

  159. and please excuse that horrible display of my grammar skills…mind preoccupied with something else just now.

    hope you get what i meant to say…but said badly. :)

  160. Coolred38…

    I get your meaning no worries :-)

    Bida…hmmmm….if the scholars interpreted it once they can “reinterpret it” can’t they? By interpreting it the first time they are putting their HUMAN opinion (best guess) on it right? Why can’t they put a new human opinion on it? Maybe that is naive…

  161. Coolred and Oby,

    I think you are on to something. The whole bida vs. ijtihad thing. I vote for ijtihad!

  162. IMO, this should be the present-day jihad of Muslims, that is ijtihad. “My jihad is ijtihad.” And it ryhmes!

  163. Oby…unfortunately “to beat” is an established meaning. Written in stone so to speak. Engrained in the hearts and minds of Muslims…men mostly. Like the right to marry 4 etc. Not everyone might agree with its practice but they get past that hurt and unjust feeling by telling themselves…MY man would never do that so I dont have to worry about it. Then t he MAN, who always says he would never do it, will invariably throw it into an argument some day….”if you dont listen to me I will just go get another wife that will…its MY right”. And then she is left shocked and floored cause she never thought that “right” could be tripping lightly around in his head…but it is and it always has been cause he is a Muslim and he is taught it is his right.

    It would take a WHOLE lot of Muslims..men specifically, sheiks especially….a whole lot of time to agree not only to reinterpret the meaning of that ayat and any other “unfriendly or unjust” one but to also get it to wash with other Muslims.

    A favorite Arab saying…change takes time. It takes even longer time when we are talking about removing a “right” of Muslim men….so to speak.

    Its not a man friendly religion for nothing.

  164. There are muslim countries like Pakistan where polygamy is frowned upon and considered a taboo. Although its male dominant society but for some reason (maybe British Occupation’s influence) polygamy is not considered righteous path in public’s opinion.

    My uncle and his wife went to Qatar for work and her neighbor came to her house for a visit. So the neighbor lady asked my aunt how many wives her husband has? My aunt shocked at this question replied “just me”. Is your husband is “Miskeen” (a poor man)?, she asked.

    If polygamy was prevalent or appreciated in my culture I probably would have married a non-muslim. If you choose a good (who does not gamble, steal, do drugs or drink) husband you don’t have to worry about polygamy in Pakistan. In my country only people of not good moral standing try to utilize this God given “right”. If somebody marry again he automatically falls in the category of bad people.

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