A Foreigner and Their Saudi In-Laws

This post is being written specifically at the request of an expat woman who is married to a Saudi. She would like to know how do other foreigners (ie, non-Saudis) who have married into a Saudi family and live in the Kingdom get along with their Saudi relatives. What have they found that works to keep everybody happy and content? Did they find acceptance or simply learn how to cope? And for those who read this post and have married into a Saudi family, how about sharing statistics such as age when married and what part of the Kingdom living in. And last, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, how do you rate your relationship with your extended Saudi family?

Speaking candidly for myself, I will admit that my relationship with my extended Saudi family has been undergoing changes. When I first arrived I was eager to want to please the new family and make the best impression. However while doing so, there were some traditions which were contradictory to my own values and beliefs. Therefore over time I learned how to respectfully “agree to disagree” and remain true to my values and traditions. I’d rather take this stand than lose respect for myself. I am also no longer shy in stating if I need time to myself rather than be subjected to a situation where I am not comfortable or at ease.

It has also been my observation that a Saudi family will generally extend hospitality to one who has married into the family but that does not necessarily equate to carte blanche or blanket approval. I have seen many foreigners transform themselves in the hopes of gaining acceptance and approval by their new Saudi family. At some point I think the foreigner may need to look deep inside of them and ask if what they are giving up or sacrificing is worth the gains. In fact, are they actually gaining or continuing to lose themselves?

Remember, the Saudi man who married a foreigner probably married her because she was different. Hopefully he married her for who she is, meaning her personality, outlook and values. Yet if that woman begins to change due to pressure from either her husband or his extended family, does she remain the same woman? Isn’t there a risk that by changing herself she may ultimately be placing her relationship with her Saudi husband in jeopardy as eventually she may no longer appear to be the woman who caught and captured his heart in the first place?


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