Broken hearts tell their stories!

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My articles about mixed marriages seem to have resonated with many broken hearts. Some have stories to tell. Others have strong ideas about the subject.

A Saudi woman wrote: “Unfortunately, I am one of those young women who shared their experiences with you. Born in Jeddah, I am an accomplished educator. However, I have been denied all rights to be happily married. In my family, it seems the most important decision in a girl’s life is out of her hands. Traditions, society, tribe and everyone except me has a say on who I will spend the rest of my life with. I am still awaiting Allah’s mercy.”

However, not all agreed. Another reader defended the culture of family control over children’s choices. She wrote: “We should train our children according to our traditions and never give them a free hand to do what they want. But if we choose to allow them to live as they wish regardless of norms and societal order, we should accept their opinion and support them.

“As for children, I’d say: If your parents are supporting you and giving you permission to study in foreign countries, you must respect their opinion regarding your future plans.

“My advice to the girl in love with a foreigner is that she must focus on her studies and come back home to marry a decent guy. There are many humble and soft-hearted personalities in this country, too.”

An “Irish citizen and a proud Muslim” shared her experience. “I married a Saudi man and have lived in Saudi Arabia since 1984. In the first few years, we struggled to get official permission, but we finally did. My Saudi husband sadly passed away in 2015. I stayed with my three children here. My eldest daughter is married and my other daughter will marry later this year InshAllah. My son, who dropped out of college in Ireland after the death of his dad, came back to live with me as we have no other male relatives in our family, not even my late husband’s family.

“He is now working and wants to marry an Irish Muslim girl, a person he met in college. Unfortunately, he does not meet the requirements of being over 35, divorced and whatever else is required to get permission to marry a foreigner.

“We will apply soon for permission and we hope and pray with all our hearts that it will be granted. I don’t want my son to leave Saudi Arabia. Having an Irish wife like his dad had would make my life much happier.”

A love-stricken woman wrote, “I’m in love with a Belgian man. This man has been very respectful, very loving, very kind and he has reverted to Islam and learned Arabic just for the sake of living the rest of his life with me. I know I would never be happy without him, but I also want my family to accept him. I have never met such an amazing person before, and I have been delaying the idea of our marriage for some time now because I don’t know how I’ll face my family and what their reaction will be. I’m just hoping I can pass to my 30s quickly so I will meet the age requirement to marry a foreigner. Though, even then I’m not sure if it will be acceptable.

“In my desperation I may have emailed you as a way of seeking guidance or just having someone hear me out. But this is a huge problem in our society in which I am supposed to live with a stranger that my family approves of because his ancestors decided to live somewhere and keep their royal blood within their inner circle, instead of being with the man I know for sure that I love and he loves me in return,” she concluded.

It is hard to judge such matters. You can understand why a family would hesitate to accept someone from a different culture and/or religion. It happens every day, everywhere. Even within the same country, people would prefer someone from their own, or from a higher, class, be it racial or economic. Would a European royal family agree to give their daughter to a commoner or a Muslim?

British King Edward VIII had to give up his throne to marry an American divorcee. The same could have happened in India among different classes or in Japan. On the other hand, I do side with the Romeos and Juliets of the day. Rules broken, in my opinion, are way better than broken hearts.

Care to share your experience or opinion, dear readers, please let’s hear it!

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at kbatarfi@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kbatarfi


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