Category Archives: Marriage Permission

A short reunion

Alhamdulilah, after 6 months apart, my husband and I were recently reunited for 2 and a half weeks. I am tempted by cliche to describe it as having been ‘blissful’. But despite obviously being very happy and grateful to see one another again, it is not a fitting word to describe the experience. What makes it decidedly ‘un blissful’ is that you are constantly aware that this offer is for a limited time only and very soon you will be thrust back into, what in comparison, feels like the single life.

I am also tempted to say that it gets easier but that’s not quite the truth either. Each reunion initiates a process of re-adaption in which you try to remember how to be a real life couple again. Both parties must reaccustom themselves to sharing all their time with another human being and when you are on ‘holiday’ it really is all your time. The knowledge that this short period of time together must sustain you both for at least another 6 months means that when you inevitably feel the need for your own space, you feel guilty.

To overcome this false shame and hold onto my sanity I lovingly recalled a common scene from when we lived together in Australia; me silently reading a book while he chuckled to himself on the other end of the lounge as he watched his weekly manga cartoon on his laptop. Recreating this scene in our hotel room felt like true indulgence and after we established that it was ok to have our own time, we rediscovered our rhythmn. Unfortunately, by the time that happened we had to part ways once more.

That brings me to the very worst part of such reunions which is of course their excruciatingly painful ends. Mine and my husband’s goodbye’s usually take place in foreign airports from which we return alone to our own countries. This time I was armed with the valuable knowledge that unless I mentally and spiritually prepared myself beforehand, I would definetly cry hysterically and once on the plane, break down in the arms of an unsuspecting stranger. I know this because that’s exactly what happened last time.

I prepared by making du’a and asking Allah for strength the night before then remembering Him through dhikr and reciting and reading the Qur’an to myself once I left my husband to enter the boarding gate. Alhamdulilah though I did do some serious crying, I managed to control myself enough that I avoided making a huge scene or involving bystanders. Considering the enormous amount of grief and despair I felt at that time, that is a huge achievement! Wallahi, it truly does feel as if a huge and vital part of your body has been forcibly removed from you leaving you completely alone and vulnerable.

 After becoming reacquainted with the beauty and intimacy of sharing your every day life with the one you love, it makes it that much harder to return to a life of sleeping alone and communicating with your partner through temperamental video calls where sometimes the only way I can tell it is him is by the colours of the blurry figure on the screen. So it doesn’t get easier but knowing what to expect does help you deal with it in a more effective way.

Upon my return to Australia, I awaited the heavy depression and sick feeling which sat in the pit of my stomach in the couple weeks immediately after the end of our last trip. But alhamdulilah apart from one much needed crying session the day I arrived home, I appear to have been spared. I think that is due in large part to the fact that I had many projects awaiting my attention when I returned which have kept me extremely busy. Unfortunately, my husband has also been extremely busy to the point we have had to delay applying for the Saudi marriage permission which we intended to do upon our return. I am doing my best to make sure we are at least ready to apply for a visa for him by Ramadan so that he may move here but without him being able to help it is unlikely even that will happen any time soon.

Please make du’a for us to make all this work easy on us and to be reunited permanently soon with the blessing of the Saudi government and his family inshaAllah. JazakAllah khair.

Tagged , , ,

Boy meets girl, fall in love, separated by oceans, waiting for family to agree, waiting for marriage permission…

Often when people discover mine and my husband’s nationalities, they are surprised; sometimes smirking at my husband as if by marrying a Westerner he has done something deliciously forbidden. However, we are not the only such couple out there and it has been my observation that many of our stories share similar characteristics…

Most Western wives meet their Saudi husbands at university where their husband is usually studying on a government scholarship. During this time, the young couple fall in love and enjoy their time together…until he finishes his studies. At that time, pressure from family, homesickness and a sense of obligation to serve the country which gave him his education, lures him back home. Even if he wishes to prolong his stay in the country to remain with his partner, it is often impossible due to an inability to obtain employment there. Ultimately, as a student fresh out of university, even at the Masters level, the search for a job outside KSA proves too difficult.

So he returns to a country to which she cannot follow him and to a culture which is likely still a mystery to her. He himself must deal with reverse culture shock and, in recent times, long stretches of unemployment. This is without mentioning dealing with the heart break and distress at having been torn apart from his lover.

Upon expressing his desire to marry his foreign lover he will likely be met with disapproval. This can be for a variety of reasons:

  1. For a conservative, tribal family it may be the very fact that the woman is not Saudi or even that she is not part of their tribe (some such families are so insular that they will not even allow their family members to marry outside the family)
  2. For most families it is a genuine fear for the ability of the foreign wife to adapt to the very challenging and unique environment in KSA. In the Western world we have the ‘not without my daughter’ stereotype but what many people don’t realise is that they also have their own horror stories about Saudi men who have married foreign women and lost their children. Indeed, there have reportedly been a significant amount of cases in KSA where non Saudi women married to Saudi men have effectively kidnapped their children and left the country without warning, never to set foot in the country again. This was not necessarily done to escape an abusive husband but rather to escape a country which they found themselves overwhelmed by and unable to adapt to. All families want the best for their children and if they see them entering into what they consider to be a high risk situation they will naturally be uncomfortable with that and unfortunately, mixed Saudi/non Saudi marriages are indeed high risk with half of mixed marriages failing as opposed to 22% of Saudi-Saudi marriages (see link).
  3. For those women who are not Muslim, often the family will have the additional concern of how a non-Muslim woman will raise good Muslim children in the future inshaAllah.

If family approval is given (sometimes even when it’s not!), they then move onto the next obstacle – obtaining marriage permission from the Saudi government. The government require that before any of their citizens marry a non Saudi, they must apply for permission to do so. There is no set processing time and it has been known to take anywhere from days to years.

A major determining factor of the speed and success of the process is wasta. Wasta is the practice of using your connections/influence to get things done quickly and easily, or indeed getting things done at all. It can be a wonderful thing when you have it but for the many who do not, it can be incredibly frustrating. Unfortunately, big wasta is required if you want to get the marriage permission in a reasonable period of time i.e. months rather than years. However, if you are not blessed with this, there will likely be a number of people, mainly government workers, along the way offering to accept large sums of money from you in return for speeding up the process. Such under the table deals, while tempting for the many desperate couples whose patience is wearing thin, are inherently risky and it is not unheard of for these people to accept the money without keeping their end of the deal.

Meanwhile, the lovers, often compelled by circumstances to remain apart in their own countries, may marry under Islamic law without the knowledge of either of their governments. Should they choose to marry under the civil law of the woman’s country, the Saudi man faces a fine of SR100,000 which, at the time of writing, is equal to roughly AUD25,000 (see link).

They wait and they wait and they wait, at the mercy of a bureaucracy which seems only to care about wasta and dollar signs but alhamdulilah, as Allah promised us, after hardship comes ease. After what is usually a painful, lengthy wait, the couple often eventually obtain the permission whether through wasta and/or bribes or purely by the grace of God. InshaAllah they are finally free to begin the adventure that is married life as a mixed couple in Saudi Arabia.

Tagged , , , , , ,

The virgin post

Assalam aleikum everybody,

I hate firsts, so let’s just get this over and done with so we can all move on with our lives.

So, icebreaker. Hi everyone, I love life. Alhamdulilah.

Considering the trials my husband and I are facing in our efforts to do what is so easy for most- to simply live and start our lives together, some might think that it’s odd that I say that. But at this moment, I’m content with what Allah has decreed for me.

SubhanAllah it’s really amazing how as humans we adapt to situations, no matter how challenging or painful they may be. True, at first there is a period of resistance and you let your pain and suffering reign free. It’s a pity party at your house 7 days a week, 24 hours a day – why me? But then you realise, this situation is not likely to disappear for quite a long time and this behaviour will do nothing but destroy you. So gradually, you settle into these new, unwelcome circumstances and make peace with them.

I have made peace with the fact that insha’Allah until we are able to apply for marriage permission from his government and have it granted, my husband and I will be on 2 very different continents, with 8 hours time difference between us.

I have made peace with the fact it may take years.

I have made peace with the fact that his family and friends have no idea we are married and we can’t tell them until the government gives us the approval.

I have made peace with the fact that I will only be able to have a 2 minute conversation with him while he is at work, 5 days a week at most and that it will only be enough time to exchange pleasantries.

But alhamdulilah I have also made peace with the fact that on the day and a half that he has off work, we can speak on skype for a couple of, sometimes even a few hours. And his smile makes me forget how neglected I feel during the rest of the week.

And alhamdulilah I have made peace with the fact that although I have to wait another 6 months or so until I see him again, when I do see him insha’Allah it will be amazing. It will be in a country which is new to both of us and together we can explore and create happy memories.

I have made peace with the fact that once we get the approval, insha’Allah we will live in KSA indefinetly. I will leave all my friends, family and my country behind but insha’Allah I will take my Islam with me.  And at the end of the day, that’s all I really ask for.

“The one who has found Allah has found everything and the one who has lost Allah has lost everything.”

Tagged , ,