Only Technically Married

By American Bedu
27 January 2011

She is an expatriate and married to a Saudi man…or is she? During our conversation she stated that now she’s only married technically. What does that mean exactly? When and how does one go from being in love, happily married and then to have a marriage that barely exists in name only? This woman has agreed to share her story. Due to the sensitivity of her situation, her identity is protected.

To begin with, please introduce yourself. Where are you originally from? How did you meet your Saudi? Hello, first of all I want to thank you for giving me the chance to talk with you American Bedu…I am a big fan of your blog. You do a wonderful job. I am a 53 year old from the Midwestern United States. I met my Saudi husband in the city I am from while he was in his third year of University.

How many years have you been married? I have been married for 31 years.

Do you and your Saudi husband have children together? Yes, we have 4 children.

Are you a Muslim? Were you a Muslim prior to your marriage to your husband? Do you feel he or his family pressured you to convert to Islam? Yes I am a Muslim. I became Muslim the day I was married to my husband. I do feel as if he pressured me into converting too quickly. I wish I had followed my inner feelings and had studied the religion deeper before converting. Even though, I am very happy that I am a Muslim. I just feel as if it was such a struggle to have a new religion and not know much about it. My husband was not very helpful in explaining the many questions I had about my new religion. It was always that “I should just accept everything about it and not ask questions”. That is not the way I was raised. If I didn’t know the answer to something we were taught to ask questions until we found the answer.

How were you received by your husband’s family? I was received with open arms initially… I was very welcomed. The problems started right away though. They obviously had thought I had came to the Kingdom because I wanted to be just like them.. That I must not have been happy with my life in the US and wanted to change my complete mind and soul… That was not the case at all!!!!!! My husband had promised me and my family a stay of 5 years and we would return to the US to live. That never happened. Every couple of years it was a different excuse as to why we couldn’t.

At what point did you and your husband’s relationship change? What do you believe attributed to the change in the relationship? Our relationship started to change about 5 years in. I suffered from major postnatal depression with my second daughter and had to be treated with medication. He never really understood what I was suffering with and didn’t really want to try and understand. The hurt that I felt from him was very difficult for me. I agreed after 9 years to have another child. I was really happy with my two daughters at that time but he really wanted another child and I agreed..After the birth of my youngest daughter things seemed to be better but then I delivered my son after 3 more years and things went down fast. I again suffered with the post depression. He seemed to be jealous of my relationship with the children. He wasn’t happy because the children were not close to his family and he blamed me for it.

How would you describe the status of your relationship now? What exactly does “technically married” mean? My relationship now is very lonely. I am married but have had no intimacy for over 5 years now. He gives me no reasons as to why he has no interest in me. I say technically married because it is a marriage of financial convenience for me and my children. I also feel the children need their father in their daily life.

What do you see as your options for happiness? My options for my happiness are very few at this point of my life. I am planning to finish my degree and also do my TESOL certification. I feel as if I am at a brick wall with him ever taking any serious steps in making our marriage better. My happiness is with my children and my beautiful granddaughter. I plan on spending more time with my family in the US more as soon as my younger ones are a little older. I look forward to that.

Do you feel that your life has become empty without having a relationship with your husband? Of course, my marriage is very empty with no relationship and companionship with him. I do have a wonderful life though with my children. I thank God every day for those children.

What is a routine week for you? A routine week for me is I teach English as a second language five days a week in an English Institute and private tutor three times a week on average. I spend time with my family and friends on weekends.

If the magic wand could be waved, what would you wish for? What would you like for yourself at this time in your life? I would wish for happiness and fulfillment. I would wish for a man who treats me like he loves me and adores me. I love to talk (as my friends all know!!!) and I would like a companion who likes to talk.

How are you supported? How are your emotional and financial needs met? What about children?
My husband is a good provider financially. I cannot complain about that. He takes very good care of my children and I and also his mother.

Do you feel there are many women who have married to Saudis and now find themselves in the “technically married” category? Yes, there are many in worse situations than mine.. I know it could be worse.. I have been in this country for 30 years and I have seen a lot of marriages fall apart.

What is your advice to the starry-eyed woman who has met a Saudi outside of the Kingdom and is convinced he is the one? My advice is not to marry a Saudi. Definitely do not marry him and come to the Kingdom to live. Do not have children for at least 5 years. Marriage is difficult in our own countries with our own men.. The difficulty is many times over as difficult with Saudi men.

How can a woman know that her Saudi is not going to change? She cannot possibly know. He will change! He will tell you everything you want to hear just to get you to his country. It is permissible in their culture for them to lie. They think it is harmless to get what they need.

Looking back using hindsight, can you see any kind of warning indicators that your Saudi was changing and pulling away? Oh yes, many warning signs. I was just in denial and wanted the marriage to work so badly. I really did marry my husband for love. I was so in love with him. He was my knight in shining armor. I just never wanted to let go of that but he chose to pull away and now here I am.

Are there any additional comments you’d like to add? I again want to thank you. I hope my comments will help anyone who is considering marrying a Saudi. I’m sorry my comments have been very negative. I have been very honest. There are some good ones out there for sure but I don’t believe there are many.
I want to thank you for sharing with American Bedu and discussing such a sensitive topic. I sincerely wish you all the best and that you do find happiness and peace in your life.

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Published by

Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

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