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Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. Everything has been figured out, except how to live. One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished. The line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life. There is only one day left, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are, that is the fact. When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell a story: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends. You let events flow by too.Suddenly you see people appear who speak and then go away; you plunge into stories of which you can't make head or tail. You'd make a terrible witness. It is true that people who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. Luckily, I only have a few...

Dr Shaw is a lecturer in Further Education at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. She also offers philosophy courses at the School of Continuing Education, Lifelong learning, at the University of Liverpool. In 2015, she has completed her Doctorate in philosophy with a focus on existentialism, the equilibrium doctrine and narrative. She has worked as a teacher of English and Comparative literature and Philosophy at The American University in Cairo, Egypt where she also obtained her BA (Hons). Dr Shaw has an MA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of East Anglia where she also taught on a number of humanities subjects. Whilst working in North Wales in Further education, she gained a PGCE aimed at teaching in FE and HE sectors. Dr Shaw moved to Liverpool in 2010 where she now resides.

Interests: Existentialism, Narrative, Comparative Literature, Feminist Thought, Public Speaking, Arab Existentialism, Philosophy of Education, Art, Music, Film and Theatre, Greek Mythology, Existential counsellor and psychotherapist.

https://liverpool.academia.edu/ShereenHamedShaw

Friday, 10 January 2014

Egyptian Marriages: Clashes and Issues

This post is dedicated for all my unmarried friends, those divorced and those who are about to marry. 

Views expressed are strictly my own and are based on my knowledge of both cultures, Eastern and Western,over the past years. 

My overview will mainly address Egyptian culture and marriage because I would like to leave my discussion of the West for another future post. Let us first start with...

I. The Problem with Egyptian Marriages.

Egyptians have long been known to favour marriage of a young woman early enough. Perhaps on the basis that if she has a taste of success and have an established career she may not feel the need for a man. Now, this goes back to the idea that the man is the breadwinner, the man of the house and the supporting pillar for any family. I won't argue with that because yes, I admit, men has their traits and privileges- both physically and psychologically- which if put to good use, can make them excellent individuals in that respect. However, this cannot be of course true of every man on earth. So am I with the idea that a woman should marry at a young age? My straight answer is no. Although for the family, this puts their minds at ease and, if they like the suitor, they will be happy with the whole marriage and everything will go swiftly. But if the suitor is not favourable by the family, simply because he is the young girl's choice- which of course means that he may not tick every box required of him by her family- then all hell breaks loose. The problem, therefore, with Egyptian marriages is simple. The suitor is marrying "the family". Something thankfully I did not experience much first hand because my husband is foreign. But to be frank, the number of friends who complained to me about problems in their marriage process are all based on the fact that the suitor is unable to please "all" family members. Now let us consider a story here from the Egyptian folklore that I believe either my mum read to me in my youth or gave me the book to read myself. 

The story goes: Goha went to the market to buy a donkey with his son. When they got the donkey, Goha put his son on the donkey's back and began walking back home. Upon passing the first village, the people of the village began to shout and say "look at the young boy, how disrespectful letting his old father walk while he is comfortable on the back of the donkey!" So Goha listening to them, took his son down and climbed on the donkey. Upon passing the next village, and while the young boy pulling the donkey and Goha on its back, the villagers began to shout again, "How cruel of this man to be on the back of this poor donkey?" Goha got off the donkey and decided that him and his son will carry the donkey together. On passing the final village, Goha noticed the villagers laughing out loud and saying "look at the mad man and his son carrying a donkey!"



So the moral of the story is loud and clear: No one can please "All" people no matter what. 

Because I always think of a solution and NOT the problem, my solution is for Egyptian families to "Stop" consider that you are giving your own precious daughter to a good man who will support her, love her and look after her in bad times, good times, in health and in sickness. This is not a cliche of marriages but the truth. Marriage is extremely misunderstood in Egypt. It is not about how much money you give the family, it is not about how well, socially, we will be amongst others or how much money we can make. There are many more things in life that make all the difference in marriage. 

Problem II. Female mentality and expectations. 

I should perhaps add here, Egyptian female mentality. The suitor is not going to be the prince in shinning armour. He will not solve all your problems, he will not make you happy no matter how miserable you are and certainly do not expect gold and diamonds or the standard of living that your family worked all their life for. Females should understand, if the suitor is in his 20s then the chances are the family are supporting him 80% still in life. He has not been working since he was 2 years old in order for you to marry him and spend his money. I find this expectation to be one of the major problems that arise after marriage. The comments I get show a miserable female who is unable to see how she is also in this partnership of marriage, but instead, assumes that she has the upper hand of the bargain where she expected servitude and magically, her wishes to come true. 

Having said that, this does not mean that there are no Egyptian woman who understand the meaning of partnership and striving with your husband equally for a better life. I am very aware that I should not generalise since problem II affect only a portion of the population of females (or at least I wish the majority see sense) When a girl leaves her family house, she is not to think that she has lost anything at all really. Just like little birds leave their parents nest, she too leaves to embark on a new chapter of her life. It doesn't matter about the clothes, the jewellery, the items in the house or the furniture. I find it insanely trivial that these things come up in discussions between couples and even cause disagreements!!! Where is the consideration for the "other" regardless of status, society and trivialities. 

So if you are about to marry know that you are entering a life contract knowing that when you are sick, someone will be there awake the nights to look after you, when you cry someone will be there to wipe your tears and try to make you feel better, even if for moments. When you are facing the whole world, you have a hand that is ready to hold yours and you hear "you are not alone" This is what matters... 

Even though many Egyptians know all of what I have just identified as problems, they fail to put the differences aside, the ego aside, the family aside, in order to maintain good relationships.

One must know that one marries "the person" not the family, not the society, not the world, nothing else but the mere "individual" who you will be growing old together, so if this is too difficult to imagine and to also truly accept, then marriage is not for you...


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