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Posts Tagged ‘Traditional Marriage’

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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