Expats’ wives left behind

Muna Al Fuzai

While we are busy talking about the status of expat men and their problems here, we tend to forget or disregard that many of these men have women left behind at home. The wife of an expatriate is helpless in the face of this unjust situation due to the long absence of her husband, as she waits for a call or a visit.

I agree that financial needs and economic crises can lead to many spouses moving out in search of a better life, but the absent father puts all his efforts into earning money without considering the impact of his absence from his wife and children. The material demands of the family cannot be a substitute for psychological needs. There is a negative impact in the absence of an observer of their actions, who ignores the burdensome responsibilities on the mother of caring for a family without a father or husband.

This article is not an accusation against any particular nationality, and I believe men differ in behavior and character. Some men are truly sincere to their distant wives despite the fact that their miserable material circumstances do not help them bring their wives and children here. So they leave their wives for years in the hope of an improvement in the conditions and laws to allow the husband to bring his wife to Kuwait.

Some expat men find such a situation is cheaper for them, and at the same time may take another wife here. Such a man is likely to have children, and over time may forget the first wife and their children, making this woman bitter and compelling her to seek divorce.

In many poor countries, divorce is difficult and expensive for several reasons, because this woman may not have enough money to hire a lawyer who can follow the matter across continents, and the difficulty and complexity of legal procedures, especially in the absence of the husband from his homeland. I say this because of what I hear or read through mails from women who have suffered from the absence of their husbands for many years, or the inability of the expat husband to bring his wife to Kuwait due to the high cost of living and residency fees or the difficulty of getting a visa.

I wonder how a family can remain cohesive if the circumstances of life forces the head of the family to travel for years outside his country. The absence of a husband for a year or two or more is a long period of separation, which is expected to have negative effects not only on the strength of the relationship between spouses, but on the children as well. The result of this unstable family situation will have negative repercussions on the society as a whole.

It is strange that there is not much talk about the status of women whose husbands are working abroad. It is regrettable that there is not enough interest from civil societies and women’s associations to study the negative impact of the absence of the father from his family for years.

In Kuwait we also have tens of thousands of women who leave their families – their husbands and their children – to work here. We forget how much these women and especially their children suffer due to these extended separations. This is no light topic and needs much thought and discussion and more from us all.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net

This article was published on 08/02/2018