As a young Arab female, the topic of marriage was always a topic of heated discussion with similarly young Arabs, male and female alike, of various backgrounds and cultures. Within the Arab world there are differences in the tradition of marriage and finding a partner. However the process is very similar among everyone, as well as the concerns that this generation has begun to have towards how we are expected to choose a partner. As this realization becomes stronger, surrendering to the customs and traditions of marriage in our societies becomes more difficult to accept or even circumvent. Consequently social expectations have limited our choices of a suitable partner.
It is from these various discussions among friends that my ‘5 pillars of marriage’ were developed and became my personal view on the important factors one should consider when approaching marriage, especially in our culture. I have come to believe that many people fail to address a lot of important issues, getting lost in the excitement of it all. When I saw that there was agreement among many on the importance of these factors, I was encouraged – by myself and others – to write it down and share it with a wider audience. These are all things I find fairly obvious, but in the context of Arabia greatly neglected. Although I lack the professional qualifications to preach on such matters with credibility, nor do I possess the proper skills to write such a thing, I still feel what I have compiled has bearing on the topic of marriage in our culture. This is what I learned from the school of life; not that I myself am married or have been in a relationship of any kind, but I have observed much around me, heard what has been said, shared stories with various people from countries all over the Middle East and beyond. This is marriage as I see it, and what a complicated web I see.
Since this has come about discussions with friends, I will share this message as if I am discussing it with a friend, and address you as a friend. It will be full of hypothetical situations and rhetorical questions. But in all fairness it will be a one-sided discussion but you are still free to agree and disagree. These are in no way set in stone, they are mere thoughts always subject to change. Who knows, maybe once I am part of that marital league, all this will change. Even if I remain a spinster forever it could change. But for now, I believe in this with all my heart. People like to picture their perfect partner, perfect wedding, etc. I tend to imagine things like: how will I know if the person I’m marrying is someone I can live a relatively happy life with? What questions do I need to ask to really figure out the truth behind the man? What characteristics can I live with, and those I cannot live without? Will that person accept me as I am and vice versa? Is this person someone I can put up with for the rest of my life (and honestly, can he put up with me too)? I know, how romantic of me. But there will be room for romance later. No point investing in something emotionally if I’m not sure it is going to last! You want romance? You bloody well should prove you deserve it…!
Now onto the not- so-long awaited ‘5 pillars of marriage’. Each will be discussed separately in a dedicated post or two, with an additional one on compromise – the most important factor of all. Compromise is not a pillar on its own because every aspect of a marriage must include compromise, it is the common thread throughout. The pillars are as follows:
A lot of things fall in more than one category or somewhere in between, but I firmly believe these 5 sum it up quite nicely.