Saturday, May 12, 2007

Topics of Conversation in the Magellat

What have women been talking about in our magellat*? Here's some insight from this weekend's conversations.

Body Image- It was being discussed how now when a wife gains a few pounds, husbands are dogging them to slim down. Some of these women there have taken to extreme dieting to loose weight.

Changes in Married life- women were reminiscing about back in the days. These women are aged mid-20's to mid 40's and are all worried about getting older and appearing less attractive to their husbands. The influence of media on men's perceptions of their wives was discussed heavily. Who can compare to TV women who never change poopy diapers or scrub a floor and have perfect make-up, hair and bodies? Their grandparents never had issues like this.

Misyaar marriage- it used to be that a poor man's wife could relax when it came to one issue, her husband wouldn't be able to afford a second wife so her position was secure. But now, with some unmarried professional women willing to give up their rights to support and housing just to get married, even the poor guys can get married again. Where western women worry about their husbands having affairs with their secretary or taking on a mistress, women here worry about a second wife.

I was a quiet observer during this conversation and just listened to what these average Saudi women had to say. Some are slightly more educated than others, none of them are professionals, they have never travelled except to Mecca and Bahrain, and the household income for all of them doesn't exceed SR6,000 ($1,600).

*magellat- women's parlor, a room in a house used to receive female guests.


Cairogal said...

The great misconception to people outside of KSA is that all these people are 'rolling in it'. None of the Emirati professionals I taught (nurse, military, police) made as much as I did. And I was an underpaid teacher!!!

But back to the topic: These professionals willing to be 2nd wives, are they Saudi?

hema said...

"These women are aged mid-20's to mid 40's and are all worried about getting older and appearing less attractive to their husbands"

while women worry about this, men know they don't have to as they are perceived as "distinguished" the more they age. sigh.

how common are misyaar marriages in Saudi? what i mean to ask is, do the women worry about it so much because it is such a common occurrence? and how often does it happen without the knowledge and/or consent of the first wife?

saudi stepford wife said...

There's even a website set up that I just read about in a paper a few weeks ago (can't remember which one though) just for Misyaar marriages. It's for people who want legit marriages, not for those looking for a halaal boyfriend/girlfriend.

I'm not sure about statistics, or if statistics can even be kept on this type of marriage, but it's definitely becoming well known. Although I'm friends with several 1st and 2nd wives, it's all traditional with homes and children maintained by the husband and the wives contributing some if they work. I've yet to meet anyone in a Misyaar marriage but it's definitely a viable option for those women who want marriage and children but either can't find or don't want a man to support them.

Some professional women choose this type of marriage to maintain their autonomy from a husband. Others choose it because it's the only way they can get married. Unfortunately the whole secret marriage thing happens too often, Misyaar or not. All people I know in polygamous marriages were fully aware before additional marriages took place. Consent of the first wife isn't an issue here, men marry anyway although it's not as common as it sounds.

Ann said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

Even if the scholars say that misyaar marriages are OK, do they say that it's OK to keep them a secret?

saudi stepford wife said...

Ann- Part of making a marriage finalized and 'legal' is to make it public or known. It doesn't specify WHO you need to make it known to. If your own wife isn't included in the general public, well tough noogies for her apparently. This is the loophole.

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