Sunday, June 17, 2007

Egyptian Husbands

I have had so many people find me by searching for something to do with marrying an Egyptian... So, I thought I would humor these searchers with my take on being married to an Egyptian. Not to be mistaken for my earlier post on You know your husband is Egyptian when...

Basically, I think Egyptians make a good match for American women. Assuming that they are from a city... Because I could see where there might be more friction/cultural mis-understandings if a big city American married a village Egyptian. Overall, as long as you both give each other some time to understand the differences... Insha'Allah, you will be fine.

The things that might come up... Keep in mind that I am generalising here... But after a decade of Egyptians I have noticed some trends.

I have seen standards of modesty as a problem in some marriages. It seems to me that Egyptians (no matter what religion) are very modest people. So they really don't want to see their wife in a mini-skirt and a tube top walking out the door... EVER. I never had this issue personally, because I wear hijab, but DH has seen it happen with his friends.

Family, and visiting family... Egyptians are loyal to their families no matter what. I have seen Egyptian couples separate over one insulting the other's mother, sister, brother, whatever. This fierce loyalty is all good if your spouses family is normal, but can be a real hassle if they are not. Personally, this comes up for me all the time. I can have a lengthy conversation with my DH and feel he sees that his sister can be awful and downright destructive only to have him go visit her the next day. Alhamdulilah, I am over it because at least he lets me say how I feel and doesn't expect me to visit. But I have seen this be a source of tension in marriages where the husband not only visits the crazy relative but insists that his wife does too.

Disciplining children. DH jokes that some people in Egypt beat their children for breakfast. I think that may be going a little far.... But I do think the manor of discipline is different between Americans and Egyptians. Americans talk to their children and try to shame them out of bad behavior. Many Egyptians skip the shame in favor of a smack on the hand. This can be hard because consistency is so important with children. So, rather than a disciplinary tug of war, I think couples should have a policy for their home. And it should be specific.

What constitutes a meal. I have heard American wives bemoan the amount of food they have to serve in order for their husband to call it a meal countless times. It seems that Egyptians just have bigger meals, so don't be shocked when you serve what you think is a meal and your spouse asks "Where's the rest?"

He might think that you are Superwoman. It seems that men from all over the world have the impression that American woman can do everything and work tirelessly. Ummm, no we can't.

I'm sure I could go on with the trivial things, but those are the major ones that I can think of. Now for the great things about being married to an Egyptian.

They LOVE their families. Yes, along with the bad parts there are good parts to the loyalty to family. Your DH will put your children first and will love them fiercely.

They have kind hearts. Most Egyptians are kind, generous, and welcoming. You will never feel uncomfortable in your spouses friends homes. And, I think it rubs off. You will find that he brings out the sweetness in you too.

They will never be too busy to sit and have a cup of tea and some sweets with you... Providing that you bring the tea and the sweets;)

Hmmmm, I hope that I haven't offended. As I said, these are my observations. I would urge caution to anyone marrying someone from a different culture as I have mentioned in previous posts... But I think that Egyptians are a good match for us American girls most of the time;)

6 comments:

Leila said...

they are matching with bosnian women also, VERY good alhamdulillah:)))))

Brin said...

Being an American and married to an Egyptian was the best thing to every happen to me.
I've always had an affection toward Arabic men but he is the best thing in the world. Im Christian, he's Muslim (and a 'good muslim') with no problems on my religion or thoughts. We have brilliant debates about religion and politics, he is incredibly generous (didn't change after marriage as so many people claim happens), when we found out we were pregnant with our first child, he was thrilled it was a girl vs. a boy (unique), he's also been living in Qatar for the last several years (and I have as well) which I think also takes him a bit out of Egyptian influence. His family is still part of his daily life but they are an amazing group (his dad is always trying to talk him into sending him viagra in Egypt!!). He is naturally protective but not possessive. His concern is strictly for my comfort and he would put himself in harms way for me to be happy.
What actually KEPT me from marrying him and even staying with him was all of the negativity surrounding Egyptians and Western Women. He doesnt have a desire to move to the U.s. and he knows Im happiest in the Middle East. He's open, educated and very forward thinking about our future.
so, to many out there.... regardless of being Egyptian, South African, Italian... its about the man.. not necessarily the country he's from. Stereotypes help no one and could have caused me to make a choice I would have regretted. Any differing cultures will take work, there will be problems with stigmas attached, etc. but, overall, its worth it.

Anonymous said...

I too am married to an Egyptian and I have to say those are some awesome points. I was the big city girl and he was the villager so yes it does make a difference than marrying someone from cairo.
The one thing I wish someone would have told me (that I eventually learned over time) is the character of egyptian language. Like for example they speak mainly in commands and not requests (I have never heard an egyptian say "can I be excused from the table") so a lot of our aurguments when we were newly weds was hobe saying " Tiff, a glass of water." and me informing him that my people came out of slavery 5000 years ago and so if you wanted a glass of water the pharoah could get off his thrown and get it himself b/c I refuse to be talked to in such a manner.
not very respectful I know, but I didn't realize he wasn't meaning to be rude.
Also they speak in exaggeration. It is an oral culture so they will make the truth stretch if it adds to the story.
They like repetition. I have an egyptian friend that will yell "welcome" whenever the conversation lulls, as a way to jump start conversation again.

Sarah said...

This is a really great blog. I too am married to an Egyptian man, am almost 5 mos. pregnant and we have a great life together in general. One thing I like about being married to an Egyptian is that the role of the wife and the role of the husband are pretty clear cut. And the devotion to long term marriage and life together is very firm. Something I think we are missing in the U.S. The thing that my husband and I fight about MOST is DINNER and what constitutes dinner. For one, it MUST involve RICE. And I have mastered the technique to cooking good Egyptian rice. American women are used to cooking a few "from scratch" dinners per week with some frozen meals to fill in. This is not acceptable for dinner in an Egyptian household. Every meal is a protein, rice, and salad of course. And then after all that, the tea must follow. And if your husband is Egyptian YOU KNOW HOW HE LIKES HIS TEA! Which can be a very endearing tradition you share together. But can be annoying, b/c you find yourself wondering "when do I get served ANYTHING?" Well, in my marriage I have to throw a fit about it, and then my husband makes something nice for dinner and tries to clean up. Which I appreciate, but it's funny, because when he makes a meal, he often leaves out the salad b/c he doesn't like chopping vegetables. So I slyly say "where's the salad?" Just like he would. And he's all hurt. But all in all, my husband is a shining example to many American men. He works 2 jobs (gas station and delivering papers - he's a new immigrant) in order to support us while I'm jobless and pregnant. He would never allow me to go without if he had the ability to make more money. I'm very proud of him and he is really the BEST thing to happen to me and my life. It is a TRUE partnership in life, not like I've ever experienced. And I love the blogger's comment that husbands always ask "where's the rest?" if you don't make a complete meal. BUT, since we know making a meal for them makes them happy, it's a pretty simple formula for a marriage. Cook him dinner, and he's happy. Serve him his tea, and he's happy. After that, you can go about your business. And don't fall for his attempts to make you feel guilty for not being available 24/7 if you are working. He knows it's childish!

ski said...

Hahaha! I soooo know what you mean about the "tea!".

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this specific topic. I'm American and have an Egyptian boyfriend whom I met when on vacation in Hurghada. I've visited him 5 times but now want to get a visa for him to visit me in the US. An immigration lawyer told me that a tourist visa is likely to be denied due to the current state of affairs in Egypt. Some Egyptian "Tourists" are very likely to stay in the US past their visa period instead of returning to such a bad economic and political situation.
So, I thought about getting a fiancé visa so that we can be together for several months in the same household. However, if he gets a fiancé visa we must marry within 90 days of his coming to America.
I think he will like living in the US. I just don't know if 90 days is sufficient time for me to know that our relationship will work.
Any advice for me?