According to society, an ideal marriage for a woman like me would be to marry a male version of me (or my labels, for that matter). In other words: A Sunni; a Kuwaiti; someone from the same social standing as me (whatever that means); someone who shares my culture; someone of the opposite sex. A clone, basically, apart from the biological aspect!
Even though several of us locals hail from families where we are free to marry who we choose, and Sunnis and Shias often marry one another, and we have many cases of both men and women who marry foreigners, society still expects us to comply with its stipulations. If I decide to go against society, members of the community may still smile at me, even attend the wedding (especially if tons and tons of money is spent and a famous singer is thrown into the entertainment mix), but there will always be some relatives who, deep down inside, would feel let down or resent me for my rebelliousness. This is not just the case in Kuwait, but in most countries around the world, no matter how emancipated.
To be fair, as a writer and friend I admire reminded me recently, parents always want the best for their children. When children reach marrying age, parents would much prefer to see them marry someone who shares their culture and status because they think that is the best way to avoid future troubles. As she added, there are many benefits to this; otherwise, people would not continue to preserve such a way of life.
But we also know that marrying outside our own culture has benefits, such as children embracing diverse backgrounds, expanding their horizons, and learning more than one language: a classic case of the best of both worlds. Marrying outside of one’s financial status is also common, so should no longer be shunned either. Many wealthy men and women have married spouses who struggle financially, only to have the most successful of marriages. Yes, it is a risk, but it is also a risk to marry someone of one’s same financial status.
And that is because marriage itself is a risk. There is always a chance of divorce, and we know now it has nothing to do with similarities or differences. What matters most is how much love is thrown into the equation when a marital union takes place. Love consists of respect, communication, not holding grudges, fidelity, loyalty, and companionship. These, among other lofty standards, are the true components of an ideal marriage.
The human being is a lover by nature, naturally inclined to follow the heart. It could be, conveniently, with someone of one’s “kind.” But, it also might not be. Love is too grand to be confined to boxes. And if the alarming divorce rate is anything to go by in our country, perhaps we need to take a closer look at whether the boxes need to be discarded altogether.
by Nejoud Al-Yagout