A common plea for help I receive from foreign women who have married Saudis is that the Saudi mother-in-law will not accept her or like her. What should she do?
First, a foreign woman needs to have an understanding about the cultures and traditions of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi mother is always the Queen and she typically is the one who selects the bride for her son. In some cases she may not have told him yet that she had a bride in mind for him so when it is learned that he went on his own and selected a foreign wife, she is going to be upset. She may also be worried about losing some face if she mentioned to another mother that her daughter would be a good match for her son.
So when the Saudi mother learns that her son has selected a foreigner whom she does not know, she’s going to be suspicious and concerned for her son. Was her son coerced by a foreign woman? Is her son losing faith or drawing away from Saudi Arabia by marrying a foreigner? How can a foreign woman know how to be a good wife to her son?
A foreign woman should not try to force or push herself upon her mother-in-law. Saudi mother’s are pretty smart and will see through these attempts at integration. However, that is not to say that the foreign wife should not always be polite and respectful to her mother-in-law. Of course she should!
The foreign wife should not attempt to change herself in order to please her mother-in-law. That will inevitably cause frustration within the wife. She should also count on her husband to help facilitate positive relations with his mother.
The most important things which do help thaw a Saudi mother’s heart is for her to see for herself how much the foreign wife loves and cares for her husband. Seeking out the mother-in-law on how to fix favorite traditional meals for her son will make her happy.
Additionally, simple thoughtfulness and caring goes a long way too. If the Saudi mother-in-law likes a particular cream or perfume from abroad, get it for her. If she likes to have a foot massage, hand massage or her hair brushed, do it for her without asking. Take initiative at her home and see if you can prepare tea or kawa for her. Surprise her mid-week with the delivery of a lunch or dinner that you made yourself. Offer to go shopping or to the doctor’s with her.
She may initially resist the offers or overtures of friendship. Don’t be discouraged. As others also see the good deeds the foreign wife does for her mother-in-law they will talk positively about her. This also helps to soften the mother-in-law’s heart.
Although this should not be the reason for having a child, a baby is sure to bring a smile to the Saudi mother-in-law. Many a foreign daughter-in-law was more accepted once she became a mother.
In conclusion, the foreign wife must have patience and perseverance.
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