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I am one of the lucky ones

Reader comment on item: Advice to Non-Muslim Women against Marrying Muslim Men

Submitted by Melissa (United States), Mar 14, 2017 at 13:03

I am so sorry for what you women went through! I am one of the lucky ones who married an Egyptian and didn't get scammed or mistreated. We met online through a mutual friend and we fell in love years ago. I was an American lawyer and didn't want to leave my career, but after visiting him a couple of times I decided to give it a shot (worst case scenario I move back to the states and resume my life). I met his extended family and not all of them were welcoming to me, because they have their stereotypes of western women just as we have our stereotypes of middle eastern men. I saw how the family lives and saw their businesses and learned about the family quarrels, etc. It is so important to actually know about the individual's lifestyle and history, but it is hard to know what is the truth. I used my gut and it worked out, but unfortunately it doesn't always work like that. Moving to the US is just not something that he wanted to do, and I wasn't too happy with my life there either since I worked nonstop and rarely saw family and I didn't drink (that left me limited on social activities).

When I moved, I kept a couple of American bank accounts open with plenty of money in them for flights, but so far I haven't touched them and my husband hasn't ever asked me for a dime. I purchase my own flights back to visit the US just because I go alone and the flights are so expensive. I gave him a hard time before moving...our relationship was on and off for years, but we were never happy with anyone else (we tried!) and we just share a love for one another that is bigger than the cultural divide. I didn't mind giving up my very open and comfortable American life to fit into his life in Egypt. It is hard, and if you don't have the right man, it is impossible. If you are very content with your life in America/Canada/UK, don't leave! I wasn't happy with mine and this made the transition easier.

He doesn't make a ton of money, but if I ever ask for anything he gives it to me. It is true, the lifestyle is very different. If you are a woman who loves to go out every day and see friends, you will hate being married to an Egyptian (or likely any Arab man). I don't post photos of myself on social media (not because of him, but because I don't care for it) and I don't have any male friends (I had one close male friend before I married, but I decided my marriage meant more than maintaining the friendship). I am home a lot, but he takes me out at least once a week and we vacation around Egypt to resorts and other cities at least once a month. I freelance online in Egypt so that I work from home. My husband doesn't want me to work outside. That was a little difficult in the beginning, but I didn't want to work once I had kids anyway so it didn't bother me to stop a couple years before I get pregnant. I worked 70 hour weeks in the states and saved plenty of money and paid my debts, so I didn't see the harm. I still make money in US dollars from freelancing (which makes me rather well off here due to the crazy exchange rate), so if I ever find myself in a position to need money I would not be trapped. I dressed conservatively before moving here, so this wasn't an issue. Even with my loose clothes and simple makeup, I still get stared at in the street regardless of whether my husband is walking with me or not since I am very light skinned with blue eyes. It is just part of life here and if it bothers you, then Egypt is not your place.

The only thing I had a hard time with is living with his parents, but they leave us alone for the most part and I have a wonderful relationship with his mother. His siblings live in Cairo and Alexandria. The flat we live in has 3 bedrooms and one bathroom. It's on a busy street and there are lots of noises from the bustle outside. It's comparable in size to an American apartment. I am just used to being in my own place, so adding a husband and a new set of parents needed an adjustment period. My husband works in his family's shop in a city about an hour east of Cairo, which is where we live, and he owns an apartment in a new city outside of Cairo. We are looking to buy our own flat, but real estate is on the rise and he doesn't want to dip into my money to do so.

My husband is extremely sweet. He wakes up and makes me coffee every morning before he works, he brings me home little things like flowers or accessories from time to time. He is very caring and passionate, and he taught me Arabic so I could be more comfortable here. He doesn't expect me to cook or clean, but I do it anyway. It is a truly amazing relationship and better than anything I could have imagined in the states or elsewhere.

There is really no way to make it work with a bad man. If he takes your money, hits you, lies to you, or keeps you from your friends and family, he is a dirtbag and doesn't deserve you or any other woman. If you can find a man who doesn't do those things and treats you with respect and love, and you can't seem to silence that little voice telling you to go for it, then it could possibly work. When I finally moved, I had no fears or doubts that I was leaving my life of mediocrity for a fairy tale love. We have quarrels and life isn't always peachy, but overall I am incredibly happy. I wish you all the best of luck in getting over those who hurt you, and I hope no one finds themselves in terrible situations like the ones described here. You are worth so much more!

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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