Family Magazine

The Roles of Men and Women in Kuwait Society and an Expat Marriage

By Umkhaloodie

This post has been inspired by expatandthecity

Recently, she went through a break up. If you read her blog, you will know she is an American and her ex fiancé was Kuwaiti.

Basically no-one except her knows the exact truth behind her breakup and she shouldn’t have to explain herself to anyone but she has because of several people messaging/annoying her for ‘answers’ that quite honestly they have no right to know.

It did get me thinking though, what exactly is the role of men and women in Kuwait society, especially in marriage.

As expats, most of us came here to work, we didn’t for one second imagine we would fall in love or end up married.

Marriage here, whether anyone likes it or not, is NOT the same as a marriage back home, and it can’t be and won’t ever be. No matter how much you try to ‘compromise’ or ‘train’ the other person into your way of thinking and it all comes down to religion and culture.

Being married to an Arab means many things, one of which is changing. Yes, you will have to change because compromise rarely happens.

This IS a culture dominated by males. And of course, there should be a head of a household, otherwise it just wouldn’t work.
But what things do you as an expat have to change that you may not want to?

In this society, it is frowned soon for a woman to travel alone. Gulf States are most definitely out. Your homeland and Europe may be ok, but elsewhere is a massive no no.

Wedding Rings:
Wedding rings whilst they may be symbolic elsewhere in the world, here, they do in fact mean nothing. They are not islamic and for men (not necessarily women) they have no meaning.
Forget unity, trust and the circle of love. Wedding rings are just a piece of jewelry worn by most men to please their wives. Don’t get me wrong, there are some men who do understand the importance of a Wedding Ring. For me, it shows that my husband is ‘off the table’, ‘not on the market’ but in a world where four wives are acceptable, many women look past the ring and believe he can have three more wives anyway… Not all women, of course but there are certain women from certain countries that will gracefully accept being a second wife.

The Second Wife:
Another area that we expat wives don’t like to discuss but truth is, anyone of our husbands can take a second wife and why shouldn’t they? It’s their religion, if they are Muslim, and chances are at least one person in the dewania will have a second wife and frequently be quoting the pros and cons, mostly pros. Don’t ever doubt that there will always be you, the ball isn’t in your court on this one.
(BoKhalid knows I would be out the door if he took one for any reason)
I believe in one woman and one man. For life. I don’t believe it is possible to love more than one person, infact I think it’s difficult enough juggling one woman without juggling four.

Family Time:
Whilst in the UK and USA we see our families on special holidays or for a quick cuppa through the week, here it is a weekly event and for some daughters, a daily event. It may seem ok at the beginning but eventually you any want your weekends free to spend with your friends. I go to my mother in laws every week and I do it for me (to get closer to them as I distanced myself at the beginning) and for my husband.

The Dewania:
Right now, if you are early on in your marriage, you might be blessed with three nights out of seven with your husband or even for some, four nights out of seven. Truth is, dewania is culturally the norm, most men frequent the dewania on a daily basis and married life for an expat wife who is not used to spending time alone can be lonely. If you are the type of person that needs company, marrying a Kuwaiti is definitely not for you. I’m lucky that my husband only frequents the dewania a few times a week.

Going out:
Forget midnight trips to the Jamiya. It might have been fine to nip out to Caribou to grab a late night coffee before but it won’t be once you are married.

A large number of men don’t want their wife to work outside of the home. El7umdella, this is one thing BoKhalid and I agree on, this is my choice. I have chosen to not work for the last two years to spend time with my kids during this important time in their life. I have seen first steps, first words, first bumped heads. My children haven’t been out of my sight for two years and I don’t regret one moment. For some men, women should be at home, doing the cooking and cleaning, working is frowned upon in some households as men are the caregivers, the money machines and believe women have no need to work.

These are just a few of the things that make marriage to an Arab different from marriage to someone from your own culture and your own background.
Marriage needs compromise and as Expat and the City said, it doesn’t happen here. She is right about that. You can try to make it happen but in the end, it’s them that make the decisions. It isn’t always a bad thing but It’s hard to accept for an expat who has been brought up with different morals and values.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog