Saudi Arabia and Inability to Show Emotions


It saddens me when I learn of a young Saudi boy who has not seen his father for ten months due to the father’s busy schedule as a successful international businessman.  Yet when asking the mother about this, her response was even if the father was at their place of residence it was still unlikely any time would be spent with the young son due again to business commitments and schedule.  On learning of this situation, it made me contemplate the emotional psyche of Saudis in general.

If the fathers are so involved with business commitments and social commitments, no wonder there is not a strong emotional tie between the husband and wife or husband and children.  It is more understandable why the mothers in turn are more emotionally attached to their children than to their spouse.

Playing as an armchair psychologist, I believe much of this again goes back to the segregation of the sexes and the very conservative nature of Saudi families.  Children are unlikely to see their Saudi mother and father hugging, kissing or even holding hands.  These are actions which typically take place in private with the husband and wife behind closed doors.  This is very much unlike Western countries where affection is widely and broadly shown and demonstrated.  In my own American family we have a tradition of each time we see a family member (male or female) to hug and kiss them even if only 10 minutes or 1 day had passed.  This tradition certainly gave me a feeling of love and security and confidence.

In Saudi Arabia mothers are likely to show affection to their children as will fathers when they are with them.  But the affection in many ways is more “general” with a brief hug or a kiss on the top of the head.  And I wonder that due to the limited interaction (as compared to other cultures) between husband and wife, does the Saudi wife and mother then turn more towards her children towards fulfilling emotional needs than her husband?

I am not saying that a Saudi husband and wife do not care for each other.  What I am saying is that the marriage between a Saudi husband and wife is viewed differently than a marriage between a Western couple.  The Saudi wife will likely reach out and lean on her family members (mother, father, uncles, brothers, sisters) rather than her husband.  The Saudi husband will likely keep any emotional feelings to himself but in reaching out and interacting it would likely be to his own family members and friends.  The Saudi husband would probably have more friends than the wife as he is the one active in the workforce and interacting with a broader circle of individuals.

This post is not in any way meant to point fingers or demean the actions of Saudis but to help enhance understanding of the complexity of some Saudi relationships.


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