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Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Jacob (big thanks) sent me a link to an article in The National called “Divorce falls in Oman as more men take second wives“. According to this article, the good news is that “the divorce rate in Oman dropped by 12 per cent in 2008 from the previous year”. The bad news though is that “the number of men taking second wives increased by more than 20 per cent”.

Hmm, I’m not sure where this is leading Oman.

A marriage counselor in this article quotes the male’s perspective, which is “I will keep the first family as a dutiful husband, but I need to marry a second wife to keep my libido up“.. hmm, really!? What a lucky first wife she is… to have an asshole a wonderful person as a husband who is willing to honor his duties… what a dutiful husband he is!

I wont mingle much into this subject, but damn we need more marriage counselors in this country before the percentage in marrying a second wife increases. I mean, maybe just maaaaybe.. the wife has feelings and needs too.. just maybe.. and just because the divorce rate is lower, does NOT mean that those families are living in happy homes. I know too many families torn apart because of this. Half brothers and sisters hate each others guts. Years pass by before they talk because daddy is treating one mommy better than the other.. or whatever the reason is.

Marriage counselors please come to Oman, and not ones like Safiya Suleiman that would say something like this “In my opinion, women have only themselves to blame for letting themselves go. They need to look after themselves and stay attractive”… Yeah, thanx, that helps a lot.. solves the problem actually.. make women look like dolls! … yet also continue to expect them to pop out kids, clean, cook, and have a full time job.

So, Oman is empowering women by allowing them to be part in all kinds of jobs and activities. They make a living, sometimes more than their spouses.. Women will not keep their mouths shut for too long. Maybe a forty year old women is not going to demand divorce and fight for her rights because we are still living in the “acceptance” era. However, women are starting to realize that they have rights too.

Many working and married women refuse to contribute to building houses when it is under the husbands name. They are demanding to co-own everything, or mostly the major things.. like their new houses… so what happens then? How can these “wealthy” men afford a second wife then?

Divorce falls in Oman as more men take second wives

Saleh al Shaibany, Foreign Correspondent

  • Last Updated: January 05. 2010 12:40AM UAE / January 4. 2010 8:40PM GMT

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Safiya Suleiman says women need to stay attractive to stop their husbands marrying again. Ramla Hussein for The National

MUSCAT // The rate of divorce in Oman has fallen as a result of a trend in which men are increasingly taking second wives while keeping their first to prevent the break-up of their families, marriage counsellors say.

According to statistics from the ministry of religious affairs, the divorce rate in Oman dropped by 12 per cent in 2008 from the previous year. At the same time, the number of men taking second wives increased by more than 20 per cent.
“It is a way of making compromises… between men and their first wives,” Fatma Fallahy, a 74-year-old marriage counsellor, said. “Men say: ‘I will keep the first family as a dutiful husband, but I need to marry a second wife to keep my libido up’.”

In Islam, men can have up to four wives, provided they can afford to treat them equally, both emotionally and financially.

But when men decide to marry again, their first wives’ emotional well-being is usually the last of their concerns. “It is good that there are fewer divorces now; that prevents family break-up, but women still don’t understand why their husbands would want to add another wife when things are going well at home,” Ms Fallahy said.
For Aisha Suleimany, a 46-year-old bank supervisor, her married life does not have the same meaning now that she shares her husband of 24 years with a much younger woman. Her 51-year-old husband married a 22-year-old woman six months ago.

“What did I do wrong? I slaved in the house and at the same time go out to earn a second living and what do I get? Some woman to share my marriage and the fortune I helped to provide for our children. Half of it now goes to the new wife who came in with just a bag of clothes,” Ms Suleimany said.

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Ms Suleimany said she and her husband took a joint bank loan before he married again to build a second home.

“The second home that he now lives in with his second wife is partly my effort,” Ms Suleimany added. “I understand Islam allows men to have two wives, but it is hard for most women to accept that when the only reason is just to get a younger model.”

Other marriage counsellors have little sympathy for first wives. “In my opinion, women have only themselves to blame for letting themselves go. They need to look after themselves and stay attractive,” Safiya Suleiman, a 58-year-old marriage counsellor, said.
Ms Suleiman said men in their 40s and 50s are more likely to marry second wives than any other age group.

“They want to revive their youth and stay young, and a very young second wife is just the thing for them,” Ms Suleiman said.

But many ask why young women would accept a marriage proposal by married men twice their age.

“Middle-aged men are usually well-off financially. Some young women don’t want to struggle with men of their own age. Another reason is that it is difficult in our society for women to land a husband after the age of 25. They become a prime target for middle-aged, wealthy men,” Ms Fallahy said.
But Ms Suleimany dismissed Ms Suleiman’s suggestion. “That is stupid advice and I am surprised that, as a woman, she would say that. It is biologically impossible to retain one’s youthfulness as one ages. Besides, women look beyond wrinkles, can’t men do the same?” she said.

Nasser Kindy, a 56-year-old businessman who took a second wife two years ago, refuted the popular belief that men who take second wives simply want to boost their libidos.
“Far from the truth… most men with two wives do that because their first one turned the house into sheer hell,” Mr Kindy said. “At my age, I want peace of mind and not constant nagging all day long. The home of my second wife is an escape route when the first wife starts to blow the roof.”

But Mr Kindy conceded that polygamy is not always an enviable lifestyle.

“Children from the first wife can be rebellious, causing constant friction… And your two families can never be close, virtually becoming lifelong enemies,” Mr Kindy said.
Clerics say the practice often leads to disputes over inheritance.

“Usually, the children of the first wife, being much older than the second wife’s children, tend to take more than their share after their father’s death, resulting in bitter court lawsuits,” Sheikh Salim al Amry, imam of a mosque in Muscat, said.

Many second wives also say they often have contentious relationships with their co-wives. “We are called ‘husband snatchers’ by first wives. If anything, it is their fault for not satisfying their husbands,” Khadija Marhoon, 33, the second wife of an army officer, said. “Yes, there are problems… I personally don’t care as long as I get what I need.”

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Today I wanted to talk about marrying for love and its (almost) non-existence in arranged marriages. When I wrote my post on arranged marriages, I didn’t talk about how we (as Omanis) view love in marriage.

This topic has been in my mind for a while. Many people in the US have asked me about love and the idea of its non-existence in arranged marriages. I have tried to explain, but it seems like I have failed. However, one day, my American friend explained it so well to her husband that I think I should share it with everyone. Maybe none of you will accept it, but I hope you will understand it. After all, we do come from different cultures.

My post is triggered by Devils Advocate response to my post in Muscat Confidential’s blog. DA said:

“Whenever this topic is raised it seems to miss the point. Whilst I respect the culture of an arranged marriage what cannot be arranged is love!

The idea of spending ones’s life with someone where there is little or no love (not all arrangements are as described!).

Then we have the second, third and now rare the fourth marriages. Why are they not arranged? Why are so many Omani women seeking ex-pats? It’s not for sex!

A subject more complex and in depth than is portrayed; lets got there!”

Now, I understand that LOVE is the major reason why many Westerners marry. We do not view our men as our “significant others” and we do not view ourselves as “one“. Those terms do not exist in our society. The way we grew up is that a man comes second, and the family comes first. We do not fight to marry someone simply because we “love” them and the idea of it is immature and childish.

In this society, a woman’s backbone is not her husband, it’s her male relatives. We grew up to believe that if we are harmed in any way shape or form by our husbands, then the police are not the ones to deal with it, it’s our male relatives. They will fight for us, and they will kick the guy’s ass if he touches us.

I know many girls that do not marry the ones they love because they fear. Yes, it’s FEAR. Fear from divorce, fear from getting hurt, and fear from finding out that your loved one married another woman. It’s fear that keeps us from seeking love and we accept an arranged marriage because if any of the above happens, then we have our families to fall on to. If we went against their wishes, then we have to take responsibility for the consequences alone. That, my friends, is not fun especially when the law in this country does not give as much rights to women as it does in the US. No, she does not get half of what her & her husband worked for. If they have assets under his name, then no matter how much she contributed to it she gets… none.

She becomes… broke.

Also, the stigma that attaches itself to the word “divorced” makes us fear and question our own feelings. “Do we really love this person? Or are we just blinded by love?” we ask ourselves. “What if this love ends?” and that is when we start to freak out. So we chose not to follow love. Some of my friends were in some relationships, and once a new guy knocks on the door (arranged marriage way), the girl ignores her lover and marries the new guy.

Personally, (and I’m the “westernized Omani” in the family) I will not marry a guy because I love him. That, to me, is secondary. Compatibility comes first, and if I ever find myself in a situation where I would fight to marry a guy, then I will not do it only because I love him. Of course love needs to be there for me to spend my energy on fighting, but I will only do it if I BELIEVE that the person is absolutely compatible with me.

So yes DA, love cannot be arranged. Yet, in this culture, love comes second. Respect and honor are valued more. You might not be able to comprehend it, but that is because you do not belong to this culture. You are an observer and you are judging through what you find or do not find acceptable. And I am not talking about the bad kind of arranged marriages where a woman is forced to marry someone she does not know. I am talking about the more practiced kind of arranged marriage: where the woman has the choice to say “yes” or “no”. As an Omani woman, I do not condone arranged marriages if it is what some women here want.

And no, women here do not seek ex-pats for love. Some do, and many do not. Ex-pats are neither better nor worse. They are just different. They offer different values and meet different needs. Some women want that and some don’t. You cannot guarantee the success of a marriage from an ex-pat as much as you cannot guarantee it from a traditional Omani guy.

Hope this makes any sense to you all!

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In general, an arranged marriage in Oman (mostly towns around Muscat) is not as bad as it sounds. When the guy proposes to a girl (whether it’s because he saw her and liked her, or his female relatives suggested her to him), he gets to see her before the engagement. They see each other and talk. Many end up texting or calling each other.

During this time (which can take a week or months), both of them have the opportunity to decide whether they want to be together or not. However, there are two types of arranged marriages. One is a fake-arranged marriage, and the other is, well, an arranged marriage. The fake one is where the two have a secret relationship, but keep their parents out of it. This way the father will “always” be proud that he married his daughter off in a pure arranged marriage!

Think of it like this: in the West, some of you have moms and dads that like to introduce suitable partners (like match-making). Some of you hate it, and others don’t mind it! It’s the same idea, but we have protocol to follow or else….gossip!

I think these two types of arranged marriages are acceptable, and they usually are successful. However, I do not think it is “suitable” anymore to have a pure arranged marriage where the two never see or talk to each other until their wedding night. I know many girls that struggle, and I think that it has a lesser success rate. This type of arranged marriages is mostly common in Northern and Southern parts of Oman

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After posting an article on dating in Oman, and after reading Dhofari Gucci post on “Internet Dating“, I wanted to write a more comprehensive review over the situation.

What I will try to do here is not to state whether dating is good or bad, but to tackle the issue from a more objective point of view rather than a judgmental one.

There are a couple of points to consider here:

First: Past vs. Present
The difference between the past and the present is that in the past, women would get married at the age of 14 (and above) and men would get married at 17 (and above). The act of marrying your children off was such a sacred act that very few girls would reach the age of 16 without having a fiancee.
Today, you have kids from both sexes that are between the ages of 15 to 25 (and above) that are unmarried for family, educational, and financial reasons. So, the issue is.. if people reach their prime in sexual needs at the age of 18, where would you put all their sexual frustrations? If talking to a guy, dating, and even masturbation is a taboo… where does all their sexual needs (which are normal human needs) go?

I don’t blame girls that believe guys who tell them over the chat room or the phone that they are in love. These girls are in desperate need to fulfill their emotional desires, and the guys are in desperate need to fulfill their sexual desires (or vice versa).

Also, the big difference between the past and the present is the sensitive situation women are put in. In the past, if a woman gets married and it doesn’t work out, then its okay. She gets divorced and after a few months, she is married again. Now, women are in a difficult situation. She is labeled a “divorcee”, secluded from society, and people looked down on her. A woman tries her best to chose that one person who will be good to her for the rest of her life. Therefore, looking for a suitable partner becomes her responsibility too. Women prefer to know their partners at some extent before marrying them.

Second: Marriage Obstacles
There are many women and men that desire to get married, but they are faced with obstacles that premarital sex is soo much easier to do than get married. This is one of those serious situations we are facing here in Oman. Marriage sometimes is not delayed for financial reasons. Sometimes the guy “is not good enough” for the family. His heritage, his lineage, or his level of education does not meet the parent’s requirements no matter how much the girl feels about the guy.

We don’t live in a culture where someone is only valued based upon their morals and good intentions. No. Some people would say, “you can’t blame the parents for wanting the best for their kids”, well.. my response is “Can you blame the kids for wanting to fulfill their needs?”.  How many guys and girls have fought to be together but all tries were in vain? Who are we to judge them later on for ending up dating and having premarital sex?

Third: media
Dhofari Gucci mentioned the media’s influence over dating in Oman. It is very true that it feeds young adults with sexual imagery. However, does the problem lie on the media only?
If you look around Oman, and the Gulf for that matter then tell me.. what do young adults do? What other options do they have? Where can they direct their energy other than it being suppressed into massive sexual desires?

The activities that happen in Muscat are what? Girls walking around the Shatii or driving their cars over and over again at the Qurum area along with the guys. (if you can see the headlights flashing and hear the honks from time to time, it means.. helooo there! or check me out!). If playing sports is somewhat seen as a waste of time for girls and sometimes as a taboo so that they do not injure their hymens. I mean, not all young people are interested in going to Quran lessons (with all respect), or participating in poetry events.

My final conclusion:

When I was in college in the US, I used to have friends that were conservative protestants. They also believed that premarital sex  and inappropriate male to female behavior was unacceptable. However, you might wonder, how were these young adults able to avoid acting upon their desires in a society that not only it does not condemn it, but encourages it in many instances. Well, these kids did a hell lot of community work. Volunteering and participating in group activities as much as they can. They also married young: around the age of 22.

However, they also don’t ban girls and guys from having friends of the opposite sex. I think this teaches a very valuable lesson, that you can look at the opposite sex as just a friend with no sexual connotations.

To be honest, here.. many of the men and women that are unmarried (even married in some instances) are seen as potential sexual partners.

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The Qur’an states that a man can marry up to four wives. There are many restrictions and conditions for polygamy in Islam. However, here I will talk about polygamy that has been taken out of its religious context into –my favorite of all – the cultural context. Yes, there is a difference.

Polygamy in Oman is, well, acceptable by most men and rejected by most women. You might find the practice common to some families and rejected by others. Personally, I would love it if it were illegal. But –and that’s a big but – you cannot ask to change God’s laws. So, how do we women manage to work around that? Well, women really don’t, or better.. they can’t other than ask for divorce. So, let me tell you what happens in this culture.

Many men, here, believe that it is their religious right to marry more than one despite their wives feelings. What some do –many of them- is marry a second wife in secret. The whole thing goes on for months or even years. Some men dare to take money from their first wives to pay the expenses to marry the second one. Build a new house under their names, dowry, wedding expenses.. etc. Once the scandal is out, then the woman either tries to divorce the husband or lives with him for her kids’ sake.

Why do men marry more than one? Well… because they want to. Some of the excuses that you might hear is… “There are too many unmarried women in the country and we just want to do a good deed”, or “I felt sorry for the girl, she was unmarried”, or “just because –the only honest one”. So, how do first wives feel…. Hurt, stabbed in the back, regret, and all other emotions that go in your head once you find out that someone cheated on you!

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Today I wanted to talk about a serious issue, and it is about Omani men dating expats including house maids and professional workers for nothing but pleasure.

Usually, guys would follow expat women everywhere to date them. These men think that this is the smartest way to have “intercourse” without being caught or at least not get into trouble with the girl’s family. The scenario is simple and obvious. They show interest. They tell you they are interested in marriage and that you are what they are looking for. Typical of Omani or Gulf men that want to play… They say you are different from all other women, you are the seixest, you are beautiful inside out… etc. They throw in a gift or two. Mostly I think, they always refer to marriage as to show you that they actually have intentions behind all this… they really dont. They just want to have “intercourse” period.

What I am going to write might be very hurtful to many but it is the truth and I am here to give notice..

In Oman, Most men that pursue expat women think they are cheap and easy to get. Especially those that don’t cover. There is a tendency where many men think that if you don’t cover, that means you are welcoming all sxeual harassments from men. Even if it is rape. Who cares, they think you wanted it because… well, you are not covered. its not logical I know people.. calm down and continue reading… expat women, yes you can be pissed!

Alright, so how can you know if a man has good intentions or not.. well, if he is married, then there is almost no possibility he has good intentions.. None.. Nada… AT ALL… you are just a siex partner, if you want more…. sorry
Also, if he is very young… then most probably he is just a horny teenager! I wonder if men ever get passed that point!

So… its simple… if they want to sleep with you, then they dont have good intentions… Omani girls know this by heart now 😀
If you are looking for a potential husband, then dont let the guy touch you until he marries you … and NOT marriage in secret PLZ. It does not make a difference. He will use you and throw you away. Take it as a RULE. If he has good intentions you will marry him openly and with the presence of his whole family. Don’t believe any crap he gives you.

If you are dating an Omani guy, then really… its not magic, it’s a rule of thumb.. if he doesnt call, check on you, not the loving, caring, and trusting boyfriend… then, you deserve better cause he is just using you… as they say… free siex!

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Many wonder, how are weddings in Oman. If you are a male foreigner.. then you’d have a hard time finding out since men “in general” are not included in weddings as much as women.

However, there are two general kinds of marriages in Oman: the Traditional & the Modern.

Traditional Wedding:

This wedding includes men and women. They are in separate places however. Traditional weddings are usually in the inner parts of Oman where people like to keep practicing them. It is also a lot cheaper than modern weddings because it takes place in both “the bride and the groom’s” houses.

Before I start talking about what happens, I would like to explain the concept of a traditional wedding. The wedding takes place in two houses. Then, the groom goes with all his family and friends on buses to pick up a bride. The girls go in to see the bride and greet. They pick up the girl and put her in the groom’s car. Then all of her family come along on buses to drop her off at his house. Once she is there.. greetings are due, then wedding is over…. simple and short.

Now for the extended version!

As I explained before, both families have a celebration of their own. People from around the neighborhood come a long to chat and eat. Some get a sneak peak of he bride, but traditionally you do not get to see her. I think traditionally she is too freaked out to meet anyone!

Before the westernization of weddings and introducing the white dress, women usually wore an Omani traditional dress that is heavily embroidered and I think it is red in color. I am not sure if it is specifically red. Anyway, she would wear her gold, and even though it is her wedding, she still wears a scarf and covers according to Islam.

Now, what happens after that is simple..

In both houses, the women would sit inside the house on floor mats. The men would sit outside in an open area in floor mats too. There would be about over 400 people that would come. Half of them come for the food, and the other half come for social duty. They all sit, and the rice with meat comes out. They eat and feed their kids. Then, the traditions Halwa comes out with fruits and coffee. They all drink and eat.

During this time, family members are serving the food and the sisters of the bride and groom are all dancing (remember in separate houses). After they eat, people who came for food only will leave at this point (with their 20 kids). The rest stay to get on the buses.

Getting on the buses requires a lot of work. If you are a young girl, you wouldn’t want to be sitting with the older lady’s because they are boring and wont let you sing and dance away in the bus. If you are an old woman, you would want to sit next to young girls to feel young and to make sure they are behaving, which they don’t want to do.

After people are on buses (between 3 to 5 buses), and others are in cars, ALL drive behind the groom’s car with danger signals on. So, the haunking begins and the loud music too. Everyone is singing and making noise.

They arrive at the brides house. They are greeted. Some women might stop and eat, others are in a hurry to leave. Once they get the bride in the grooms car (always a hassle), then people from the other family start organizing themselves and getting into their buses. Sometimes the groom would start driving so the women would hurry up. Ohh.. Most of the people that go to the brides house are women. Men are only escorts and you only need one or two in each car.

So, they drive back. Here, the bride’s and the groom’s family in the buses try to beat each other into being behind the car that has the bride and groom. They are trying to prove who is better!

Once they get at the groom’s house, they go into a room where there are chairs. The bride and groom sit next to each other and pictures start to be taking. More pictures then more then more. Then, the groom escorts his bride to his bedroom with everyone behind them. He gets her in, they shut the door…. and everyone leaves. At this time all leave, and some linger around to gossip at other women.

The end!

If you wonder what girls wear.. well, some wear Omani traditional dresses, and others wear prom dresses (usually very young girls). Women don’t really reveal their hair and arms..etc because men in these wedding can go inside the house to get food for men guests. So, women keep covered..

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