Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Marriage vs. Love

I've been wanting to write about the concept of marrying for love or agreeing to an arranged marriage, in Omani society. It's an issue that we, the generation of 20-35 year-olds in Oman struggle with everyday-freakin-day. My fellow blogger Reality wrote an excellent post on this topic, and the responses are excellent too, so I recommend you read her post on Marriage vs. Love.
My favorite hobby these days seems to be aimless driving with a friend chattering in the passenger seat (Yes, you know who you are). We can drive around Salalah for 2-3 hours with absolutely no purpose besides getting something cold to drink. Anyway, yesterday we were discussing this same topic exactly. We were trying to figure out how the hell we (the young women of today), are supposed to know who to marry. When do you 'know' that this is the right person to marry? What determines that feeling? Did we believe in marrying for love (I don't think I believe in that anymore). Is compatability without deep love enough to marry someone? Do you trust your family enough to allow them to choose your partner? Should you marry someone who shares some of the same interests and hope for the best? Should the person have the same sort of background or family? Should you or should you not discuss marriage expectations down to the very last details before getting married? Should you just pray Istikhara and hope for the best?
In a conservative society like Salalah where interaction between males and females is almost non-existent, how do you find a partner? I swear, most of my friends have nightmares about this every night. Worrying about getting married. Worrying about being called into the family living room one day and being informed that they're marrying their cousin or a man from the tribe (always preferrable in Salalah!). Worrying about finding someone suitable but afraid of upsetting their family. Worrying about falling in love and then their families refusing.
Should we get to know someone before deciding to get married? How much should you know before doing that? Are long phone conversations enough? Long chats online? Face-to-face meetings which are virtually impossible in Salalah? Or should you just pray and hope for the best? How important is 'love' when trying to make the big decision? Does 'love' blur your thoughts and mess up your logic? Is marrying someone from your 'tribe' or from a sister tribe really that important? Will our families continue to influence every single detail of us choosing a partner? Will we actually be able to 'choose' a partner?
My driving pal and I 'want' to believe that if a man and woman discover that they are spiritually/religiously compatible and on the same spiritual path that this is enough to get married. But does it always work out? I'd like to believe that.
You know what? I've always heard women's side of the story. I discuss these issues with women. Girls like myself. Bloggers, friends, neighbors, colleagues. Females. We have the same concerns and worry about the same things usually. But I'd really like to know what the guys think. So, dear male readers of Dhofari Gucci, I'd like your opinion on this matter. My female readers are expected to write of course, but this is a special request to my male readers. What are the important issues for you when choosing a girl to marry? What does your family want you to do, and what do you yourself believe in? Calling all men!


  1. I used to freak out whenever a guy proposes and I know nothing about him. I couldn't sleep and had nightmares! It was always.. what if? What if this guy is so different than I am? what if he is more traditional then what I would like?...etc.

    It is hard to marry someone when you don't know them well. It is so damn scary. I mean, I believe in destiny, but I don't believe that we should just throw ourselves and hope for the best.

    Hope we get to hear from the guys!

  2. Great post first of all. =)

    Marriage vs Love, it doesn't work in Oman for one reason. Our society is the problem.

    For guys, it is not easy to love a girl and then let her go as some girls think. It depends on how SERIOUS he is and if he really wants her. The problem then comes when he asks for the girl's hand for marriage. Sometimes her family will reject for some simple and stupid reasons such as the tribe name, not being the man that her dad is looking for, doesn't have lots of money and so on. You get my point on that.

    These days, most things work with money. I am ashamed to see some people using Islam in the wrong way just to please themselves and feel superior. Recently, my friend told me the perfect man came to her place and she was so happy because he is a really good person religiously and is everything good that a woman wants in a man. He got rejected, why? Because of tribe name...

    That is why I think most of the time people will just go with arranged marriages because the family and mostly, the society, will make it harder for them to get married.

    You were talking about the Westeren countries. Difference between us and them is, when they get married they marry the PERSON ONLY! In Islam, they marry the whole family.

    I think that is why families have a problem if a man/woman marries someone out of love and not from the family.

  3. Nice post as usual
    This is a very sensitive and hard topic especially for us singles.
    Here am going to tell you about my opinion since am still single (ولد!! أعزب).
    I believe that marriage is difficult for girls than boys in our society, but am not going to discuss this issue here since I believe you can make it more clear than me.
    I myself don’t believe in marrying for love and only love (It exists only in theory not in real life). Marriage is a very very big responsibility that deserves more search and research before attempting to do. For me compatibility is the most important thing that someone should take into consideration when he/she wants to marry. It does not mean that both of you love the same things or have the same interests.. No.. I would prefer may partner to have different interests than mine, this will make our life more richer..contrast!! with compatibility is very important (for me).
    I don’t trust anyone to choose for me.
    I think we should know our partner before marriage. Discussion is very necessary before it(marriage) or let me say it is a MUST, but for me it is not necessary to have it for small things. The guidelines only must be discussed before marriage. I believe in face to face discussions; it helps to see and feel the impression and the impact of our words on each other. If it is difficult to have face to face discussion, at least long phone discussions can give a good result assuming that both of them are serious.
    I am hungry so am not going to say anything more Nadia…

  4. hmm.. here in muscat its different.. i know like 60-80% marry out of love.. i am of course speaking of the socity that i live in.. but i do have friends who got married for the sake of it and coz the family wants to..

    I think understanding, communication, trust and liking each other should be the highlights of choosing someone.. love comes later..

  5. Marriage in itself is complicated, marriage for a Muslim is even more complicated, and marriage for a Muslim with an imposing culture is torture :)
    Yet, I have never seen an unhappy or failed marriage between two people who love their Creator more than they love each, and love each other for loving their Creator. I know confusing, maybe utopian for most, but I still hold it as truth.

    p.s I love your posts!
    (singing)lets hear it from the boys...

  6. محفيف@
    You don't get married directly!
    You get engaged then get to know the girl and see what she likes, wants, ... etc.

    for people who say love is not important then you are wrong. When you don't love or like someone, do you even feel like being with them?
    Whether they are friends, family, co-workers or whatever. If you don't love or like them you will do whatever it takes to not be with them, or am I wrong?

    Same goes to marriage, you have to at least like the person but marrying someone from like is not right (in my opinion) because the guy/girl can just get stuck on like and take that person as a friend and nothing else. They won't treat each other as how they should and may not take care of each other as a husband and wife. From there things escalate.

    Maybe I am wrong but I am just stating my opinions.

  7. Having been asked to give a comment i would like to say yes i totally agree with what you have stated concern women or those girls who seek a real future husband.
    we have some differences within the country for instance the traditions habits, tribes that lead us in many ways even in the case of mariage.
    these habits intervene into our life relucttantly overlap things irrespective of our personality.
    regarding to love matter i only believe in three which are goodwill, determination, and decision-making not love unless it exchanges from both sides on these three principles.

  8. Dhofari BUT DifferentNovember 24, 2009 at 9:57 PM

    To choice the other person is something both complicated and simple in the same time. There are many different aspects whic contribute to such choice like hobbies, interests, looks, and other stuff but all that is only used to push us towards making that choice on whether to take the risk in joining together under a cultural code which is binding with that other person. The hard stuff comes after that. many love stories came to an end but other continued to thrive. The only fact here is that people should have more space to make that decision and when it dose not work, they should have the choice to make it again or not make it at all.
    I love Salalah but a aslo hate its life of contradicting dualities and that goes for the rest of Oman too. it can be summarized in the following; look but don't touch, thouch but don't taste, tast but don't swallow and when you say F all that and decide to sowallow people cheer for you.
    We are blessed wiith a sound and wise leadership but in the same time cursed with both religious and cultural chains which we came to belive to be true.
    Allah has mercy upon us for we have left his simple message and decided that it was not enough. His Messenger was also wise and insightful but we decided to close our eys and let loose to the factors which contribute to our mental and spiritual slavery.
    My final word is to let marriage be what marrige is, two people deciding to commit to each other's basic requirment. our only role should be to provide them with enough space to grow on each other and if it did not work then they will have no one else to blame but them by them.

  9. I wonder why the will of family and tribes is imposed upon the girls in Salalah when Islam gives everyone a free will to marry the person of their choice

  10. Thank you Anonymous!
    Islam gave the right for the girl to marry whoever she wants and she has the right to say "YES" or "NO!"
    The only reason the parents can interfere is if the guy was not good and bad. But the society we live in doesn't take it that way. They want that person to have money and be able to give the girl EVERYTHING from the beginning. If it was arranged marriage, then they won't care much about that aspect because, I assume, the two people will be somehow related. Therefore, if any side says something that may lead to problems.

    We can use Islam to our favour really. But not everyone likes that or AGREES to it. I would say, if a girl wants to get married to a good guy with good manners, religious and respects you while your parents say no. Go to a court and bring up this issue and you will 100% get married as long as you can tell them what Islam says about marriage.

  11. The only thing I do about this issue taking the nature of Salalah's society into consideration is praying to God for a good man. Nothing else I can do, I belive.

  12. As a man I have chosen to eschew marriage. That is another option. I know several men, both expats like me and Omanis, who have taken this course. No more jumping through hoops for me! Tho' to the end of my days I will miss one particular Omani lady.....

  13. I ask myself and my married friends this question all the time; "when and how did you know that he's the one?" They say, "you'll feel it, and that's how you'll know it". Hmm.

    It's different in Muscat, espeically in my community. When a guy proposes, the girl usually gets the chance to sit with him, to talk to him face to face and interrogate him as much as she wants, she can take her time (usually 1 week - 1 month) in knowing the guy until she feels comfortable enough to go to the next stage; i.e. get engaged. Of course he gets the same chance as well. Our engagements generally last for almost a whole year so that's more than enough time for both to get to know each other on a deeper level.

    Personally, I believe that compatibility AND chemistry are the main and most important factors in determining one's choice of a spouse. It depends on how each one of us looks at this matter. Some women are happy with "as long as he's religious and well-mannered" then why not? but some set even higher criteria (e.g. highly educated, ambitious, social etc) shouldn't be a problem as long as they're reasonable ones. I believe this is ONE decision that should NEVER be taken in haste.

    Great post Nadia :)

  14. As an expat who came close to seeking an Omani ladies hand in marriage, I would like to share my experience. When we realizes that we were of like mind L was very happy. But some weeks later she reported a conversation she had had with her aged mother. In it she asked what about those girls who marry foreigners. The answer came that society would believe that she was "damaged goods" in some way and would not accept such a couple. After heart searching we therefore separated. I resent this racist assumption. I regret deeply the break. I will never forget her.

  15. http://howtolivelikeanomaniprincess.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-arranged-marriage-anyway.html

  16. Dear Anonymous,

    it is moving to read your comment above about your own personal experience.

    I myself was in deep love with a young Omani man for 2.5 years until the shuttering news came that his family wants him to marry inside the family with one of his cousins. I do understand that the fear of losing one's family over a personal choice can lead to the inability to make any choice, but I also do believe that families should love and respect their children in an inclusive way, encouraging their potential to be their true selves. I can only begin to imagine what stressful experience it must be to let someone's parents (not to mention society) down and risk losing them for ever, yet I do believe some risks are worth taking if we want to be true to ourselves, especially when Islam empowers us to choose our spouse.

    Like you, I have lived a lost battle from the start, and it has taught me to believe that when two people are willing to fight together then, and only then, that determination and good-will you mentioned before will shine through mutual love and respect.

    I truly wish you the best in the future and hope that you will be able to love again.