Monday, December 28, 2009

Western Wife, Saudi Husband

As a result of my last post “Dear Susie…” another Western woman married to a Saudi has given me permission to share her recent emails to me with you. I found it distressing to know that after close to two decades in the Kingdom, she is still not happy living in KSA, and yet at the same time I found it comforting to know that I am not alone in feeling this way. Here is what she has to say…

Iwas so naive when I made the decision to follow my husband here. I had no idea of how life would be for me as a woman, how dependent I would be on my husband, how I wouldn't be able to leave the country without my husband's permission, etc., etc. And my husband did not volunteer any information either. I think he knew I would be hesitant to move to Saudi if I knew too much. My parents have always let me make my own decisions, and I appreciate their trust and confidence in me. But boy oh boy, do I wish they had put up more of a stink with regard to me going off to Saudi Arabia. Back in 1993, there wasn't a lot of info out there about foreign women married to Saudis. I wished I had had access to all that is available now. My eldest daughter has asked me on more than one occasion, "How could you move to a country you knew nothing about?" I tell her it was because I was young, fearless and looking for an adventure. I believe my faith is what has pulled me through all of these years, and perhaps, I'm a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.



I came here, too, with the bare minimum. I gave up so much, and I put my all into building a life here. But the small things that have bothered me over the years have built up into a mountain; and I'm feeling smothered and simply worn out. I'm just taking it one day at a time. Life here isn't intolerable (most days), but I'm itching to find out if there is a possibility it could be better elsewhere.

I may feel happier if my husband would take the children’s and my security a lot more seriously should something happen to him. We don't even own our own home! I do not have Saudi citizenship; but we have filed all the necessary paperwork and my file is pending in Riyadh. I will never leave KSA without having that first. I, too, think I would be happier if we had a driver. But my husband does not want to get one, which is kind of funny because he is absolutely miserable taking us everywhere we need to go. I want to help out, but I can't. I'm tired of having to schedule my outings around his mood or his schedule. Things got a little better when our eldest son got his license, but he's away at college now; and our second son, who can drive, will be leaving at the end of the school year for college as well. I just want to do some things for myself. I'm tired of feeling like a child.

My husband has no interest in living elsewhere. It wouldn't be practical anyway. He can be a much better breadwinner for the family here in his own country than anywhere else. He has no desire to even visit the US anymore. The last time he was there was more than 10 years ago. He does not write, call, email, or do anything to keep in touch with my family which, needless to say, isn't sitting right with me. They are so good to him. My father sends him a birthday package every year, and my husband doesn't even thank him via phone or email. I don't know if he thinks he doesn't have to keep in touch because they aren't Muslim; but I know that their lives just aren't that important to him.

I've tried working (teaching English), but I just didn't like it that much. Besides, juggling a job and family responsibilities was a bit stressful for me. I don't have a maid because that's another thing that my husband doesn't feel is necessary. As long as I'm not working, I don't mind.

Like you, I think spending more time with my family in the States would make me happier. The norm for me has been a trip home in the summer every other year. My husband says he can't afford it more often. We are a one-income family, and I understand. The total time I've spent with my family over the past 17 years comes to 18 months - yes, 1.5 years out of 17. That's not much is it? I've missed out on so much over the years. I'm not even very close to my niece and nephews because of the distance. I thought I would get less homesick the longer I was away, but the total opposite has happened. I went home this past summer, and it was the best visit ever. I reconnected with long-lost high school friends, traveled out West with my parents, visited relation, and just felt so refreshed and alive while there. Every time I step on a plane heading out of Saudi Arabia, I have passive thoughts of not returning; but I always do. And when I get back, it never fails . . . I always feel down. I eventually get over it; but this last time it took a while.

There are a lot of things going on with me. I'm literally caught in between a rock and a hard place. I'm not going to make a rash decision about my future. I'm taking my time . . . trying to think things through carefully. I am definitely going through a midlife crisis. In early 2009, I had a stark awakening. I decided that I deserve to be happy and fulfilled after 21 years of marriage. I have repressed my needs and wants for so long, that they have come out in a fury of rage and anger. My husband is shocked. He's worried he's going to lose me. I just want to climb up on one of the mountains around here and yell out: WHAT ABOUT ME?

All I want to do is think about myself for a change; and because of that everyone thinks I'm being mean and ungrateful. Ahhh, the word "ungrateful" . . . women are so ungrateful, aren't they? I've been told that most of the inhabitants of the hell fire will be women because they are ungrateful to their husbands. But where do you draw the line between being ungrateful and just finally getting fed up with being taken advantage of? When a woman is too complacent, she gets walked all over and her sacrifices are never appreciated. I do not feel like I've achieved much over the past 17 years; and I'm very disappointed in my husband's level of success, especially career-wise. I'm full of anger . . . I'm angry at myself, my husband, my in-laws, the children, my Creator, and especially the Saudi society.

I'm angry at the Saudi society for not providing me opportunities to further my education or work in my field of specialty, for not allowing me to drive, for making me severely dependent on my husband, for making me lose my self-confidence, for placing such high expectations upon me that I now deal with severe anxiety. Do I have the right to blame anyone but myself for my unhappiness? Why can't I just make peace with what Allah has bestowed upon me? My older kids always tell me: "Mom, you just have to make peace with the way things are." Is it because I feel like I've been used and taken advantage of for so long that I don't know what to believe? I truly feel my humble and complacent personality has led me to where I am at the moment. If I had stood up for my needs and wants over the years perhaps my current situation would be better.

So, what I'm getting at is . . . If I'm so unhappy, shouldn't I remove and/or distance myself from the things I feel are making me unhappy? Why do I feel so guilty for wanting to pack up and leave . . . for wanting to try and see if I could find happiness once again? All I know is that I need to resolve the above-issues soon or I'm never going to feel good about myself or others.

I ask myself, "What would I do if I left?" And I can't answer the question. I feel like I'm not capable of finding a job, finding new love, or continuing my education. I have a total lack of self-esteem. It's so frustrating to want to try to start over again but at the same time you don't have the confidence. I blame my husband for my current state because he has not been able to fulfill my needs nor convince me that life in Saudi Arabia is the best for me. Somewhere, somehow . . . I've lost track of how to do and experience the things that make me happy. I know I need to work on my own happiness because if I could be happy and have more self-respect perhaps my marriage would be stronger. I do want to create the happy-go-lucky, light hearted version of myself that my husband first fell in love with.

I've put little thought into what I want out of life and more thought into taking care of others. I've spent most of my days taking care of the children, cooking, cleaning and putting the needs of my family before me. I have no outside interests, no career and nothing to fulfill dreams I have. I also feel guilty for wanting to leave this place, as many Muslims would die for the opportunity to live here. I've been told that I have to be thankful and that living in Saudi Arabia is a blessing no matter how difficult it may be. So I'm torn. It just seems so complicated, especially with children in the picture. We have five, ranging from 20 down to 6.

I just can't believe I'm talking about leaving. I never thought it would come to this. For the longest time, I hid my discontentment from our children, but they know now. I would feel incredible guilt for leaving, but it may be the best for all concerned because my unhappiness is just making everyone else miserable. My family back home doesn't know how unhappy I am. I've sugar-coated everything, and they believe I'm content with life here. Maybe I shouldn't have done that, but I don't want them to worry. I think that if I were to approach them about my desire to come home, they would be supportive of me until I could get my feet on the ground.

I have made some small changes over the past year. They may not seem significant to others; but they are making me feel a little better. One, I started taking care of myself better. I joined a gym and started exercising. I've continued to exercise and watch my diet; and I've lost 17 pounds over the past year. It's really lifted my spirits. I've also stopped running around like a chicken with its head cut off, thinking that I have to have everything perfect for my husband and children and that I have to be at their beck and call. I do things when I feel like doing them, how I like doing them, and I have accepted that it won't be the end of the world if they don't get done. When the kids are off to school and DH is at work, I use my mornings however I please. I've just recently started reading novels again and writing poetry. I have a few good friends that I try to see more often.

My new year’s resolution is to find peace of mind. I pray that all of the women in our situation will find happiness and peace of mind.

81 comments:

  1. the post today is so toughing and sadly insightful. the photos are thought-provoking. i hope that she and others can make the right choices and that their families are supportive and understand. and all it would take is some respect, freedom, and understanding to have a much better relationship but gradually it sounds that the restrictions changes people.

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  2. Good luck to your correspondent in finding the peace of mind she's looking for. I wish her all the best.

    Beautiful photos, too.

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  3. We are so in the need of respect .Respect for ourselves and then each other.I read your posts Susie .I feel at loss in a way.Here I am in Norway with the way of life we have.My brother is married to an American.We sometimes see the great distance between us.But again respect and to try thinking the other persons thoughts.I notice when my daughters think about themselves and nick and say good.I will do so more clearly.This we mothers of daughters have to do more of!

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  4. I am very concerned for all women in arab countries. They are being treated like property of men. It is shameful. All women in the world need to rise up and demand to be treated like human beings. Otherwise, I recommend leaving those god forsaken countries.

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  5. When someone has their foot on your neck, it is impossible to find peace, have self respect or be happy go lucky. Your instints only allow you to survive.

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  6. I don't see how she can leave her 5 children. It is almost an impossibility. I think she is on the right track about doing more for herself and creating more hobbies. She needs to let her American family know she is unhappy. Perhaps they could come and visit her in S.A. Maybe she could negotiate more trips to the U.S. with her husband. If he doesn't want to lose her he needs to try to make her happy. She is at the end of her rope.

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  7. hi ms susie thanks for sharing this post again...nice photos also.oh may she find peace of mind for 2010 after all life is so beautiful....HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and to your family....

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  8. i really feel for the subject....her situation is tough. its good shes expressing it..even though i dont know her...i'll keep her in my prayers, that things change for the better, for her and her family.

    ....
    @anonymous....
    not all women in arab countries are treated like property. i'd have to say it depends on your father...or husband how you are treated..
    there are many people in all countries where women are treated bad. there are good men ..and bad men..in all countries.
    it might also help you understand a bit more...if you realize that term "arab" means nothing. because each country in the middle east has their own culture and way of living or belifes and it makes each country in the region very different.

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  9. If you believe that you are incapable of finding happiness and love, continuing your education and finding a job...YOU ARE WRONG! Don't you sit another minute in the funk you're in. You're absolutely capable! Women do it everyday! Tomorrow you can be one of them! I read somewhere, that God wouldn't have placed the dreams you have in your heart had He not already given you everything you need to fulfill them! You can do it! You are His child and He wants happiness for you! LEAVE! How will you ever know what you're capable of if you never try! I will keep you in my prayers!

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  10. datesandclementinesDec 29, 2009, 1:55:00 AM

    Dear Susie,

    I was planning to respond to this posting, but I guess it turned out to be a comment on the previous one.)

    (I am one of the Anonymouses, who posted about Egypt in your Courage section some time ago. I've decided I needed a name as I'm not going away:)

    I have thought of you often during this holiday period. Over the past month or so, I have devoured your blog. Your words, your challenges, your music, the issues and how you are grappling with them speak of a big big heart and an open mind, and of course all the other wonderful things others have mentioned. Thank you, Susie, your blog is a work of love-- and of sanity for you too, I imagine--for countless women out there who are strangers to you.

    As I mentioned earlier, I was sharing life with an Egyptian Muslim who had spent over a decade working off and on in Saudi. We spent about two years together in Europe and North America before moving to Egypt for good. And then the hell started. I still believe him to be a good man, but his expectations of me as a woman were unbelievable. Culture and habit kicked in, supported by rigid religious influences acquired in Saudi.

    While Egypt and Saudi are both very different, I think in both there are certain expectations of how a "good" woman acts, speaks, looks, sits, walks, and so on, ad nauseum.

    As a foreign woman, I didn't have a mother, sister, cousin, to mentor me--this also means that I was depending on his version of what was normal-- and so suddenly everything I did was scrutinized and ultimately wrong. This may seem like no big deal, but when you don't have work or school or a life and support system of your own, this becomes your life and it can make you crazy, eating away at your self-esteem and self-confidence. A woman becomes like a child with the husband in the father role, giving approval or punishment.

    Although Egypt is more liberal than Saudi, a woman still needs her husband's permission to get a passport, leave the country, get a job.

    A non-Muslim woman cannot inherit from her Muslim husband directly. She cannot bequeath her possessions or property to her children.
    She in case of divorce loses custody of her children unless she converts and takes up residence.

    At any point, the husband can say that he answers to God and in face of that, there is no discussion necessary with his wife about any of his decisions. At any point, the husband can marry another woman and keep the initial wife hanging on forever waiting for a divorce.

    Of course, there are many foreign women happily married and living in Egypt. There are a huge number of variables.

    But ultimately, a foreign woman needs to know that if things go awry and the man wants to make the woman's life a misery, as others have said, he holds all the cards.

    The woman needs to stipulate her conditions in the marriage contract. She needs to consider her future in old age should things change. She needs to have a plan B and most importantly, she needs to know the law.

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  11. datesandclementinesDec 29, 2009, 2:28:00 AM

    And now for some suggestions for sanity saving and female self-reconstruction. When things are off-kilter, it is good to consider what you can do to nourish body, mind, and soul.

    With this in mind, here are some suggestions:

    keep a gratitude journal of blessings big and small

    dvds or cds for daily yoga, exercise, and meditation

    a distance college or university course, with your experience you have so much to offer

    volunteer, if possible--maybe it would be possible to exchange services, for example English lessons for Arabic lessons or any other of your hidden talents

    do something creative that inspires you--mosaic, drawing, pottery, sculpture, beading, calligraphy

    maybe it would be possible to start something that would put you in touch w women in your immediate community, a book club, or perhaps something that is more culturally and religiously appropriate like a community kitchen with the food delivered to the poor?

    get children involved in something new

    hook up w an (online) support group that is about something inspiring

    I think each of these is a step towards a more active richer life and possibly a better perspective of where you want the future to go.

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  12. If she leaves now she could be in for a huge custody battle which she would most likely lose! She only has 12 more years until the 6 year old is 18, this is not an eternity and better than breaking up a family and having the 6 year old grow up with out her mother! I would try and make the best of this situation it could be a lot worse!!!!!!

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  13. Hi Susie , I've been reading ur blog for a while and this is my first comment :)

    What a sad story. I just wanna say to this lady it's obvious to me that the husband is just using you . I can't see why he can't hire a driver or a maid to make your life a bit easier. Those are not very expensive in Saudi Arabia especially if on part-time basis.

    I hope I don't sound too harsh when I say that I assume you have a daughter , did you think what kind of message you are giving to her by not fighting for your own happiness , and letting a man treat you as if you are his property ?

    Wishing you all best of luck.

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  14. I think too often a woman's identity becomes a casualty when she is focused on the family. and even more so when she is living in a place where she is pigeonholed into a role like you would be in KSA.

    I wanted to offer a suggestion. For a long time I have been a stay at home mom even though I am a highly educated professional. I felt myself slipping down that rabbit hole of getting lost. I decided to start an online business. It gave me a higher purpose and power and I was proud of the entity that I had created. Find your skill...and think of ways to turn it into a business. Maybe you are good at jewelry making...do it...and take photos and if possible put it on Ebay (you don't have to be in the country that you post in I don't think) or maybe start your own website, perhaps something exotic from Saudi Arabia...Jewelry is light and easy to mail. Perhaps start a blog that can help people who need your expertise and charge a small fee. All of this can be done without leaving the home so no need for a driver...it can be run from a computer anywhere in the world and at the same time you are building a solid base for yourself financially if you do decide to leave the husband and your misery behind.

    I think you need to ask yourself if you want to leave and if so are you willing to do battle? Don't leave your children...no matter what happens they need a mother. But by building something online and perhaps getting adverts for income you are able to show your children, particularly your daughters that it is not necessary to let a man steal your power even in KSA.

    Good Luck!

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  15. PS...I forgot to mention that with "Paypal" you don't even need to have money come to you. It can go to your paypal account and if someone in the States were willing to help you(one needs a banking account)you could save a nice little nest egg and not even have to bring the cash to KSA.

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  16. I realize that not all cultures are the same, but there are some similarities in most. First of all, life is short. It is obvious to me that the person writing to you feels like she is in a box. Should she go through the rest of her life questioning her worth? I would not survive that kind of life for very long. She is a human being! and is not being treated with the respect she deserves. I feel no positive energy from her statements. To me, unless she is "allowed" to spend more of her time in the US with her family, the marriage will never work. Compromise must not be part of the language in SA. Is she in danger if she decides to leave? I would feel so trapped...doesn't anyone care? Very depressing to a person like me, who has such freedom.

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  17. Unhappiness can happen anywhere. I'm in the US and all last year I was very unhappy in my marriage.

    But I also know that HAPPINESS can happen anywhere too. I made it a point to take care of myself first so that I, in turn, can take care of others.

    I'm happier this year than last, and my marriage is slowly healing.

    Best wishes to this woman and all the women who want to find the courage to stand up for yourself, wherever you are.

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  18. This terribly sad post (as well as the previous) has left me contemplating a lot about my own life and my own relationship with a Muslim from a very conservative Arab country but studies in the US. It's so difficult if he says that he never wants to move back to his country, or even that the children could be raised Christian but like Susie's case 10, 20, or 30 years later he may change his mind. Thank you to the both of you for sharing your stories because this will help a plethora of women.
    Conversely, in this woman's case what are her choices? Leave the husband and her children (in the case of her children how could she possibly), return to the States to be with her family and begin living life again whether that entails furthering her education, finding a job, etc, Demanding changes from her husband such as hiring a driver, communicating with her family (and by marriage that is HIS family too), and giving her the respect that she deserves. I do agree with "Just Passing By" that she must teach her daughter that women deserve respect, and deserve the right to be happy. I will keep both of you in my prayers. Susie, get out with your son, give him the chance to be a happy teenager he seems like a great kid.

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  19. It is sad to see how many women out there are so unhappy.Altough in every society there are good and bad husbands,the far east and middle-east countries seem to be rife with them,the reason for that being the different cultures we were born into.For some cultures the role of a woman is divided between having children and serving the males in her family,husband inclusive.When you get involved with someone from a completely different culture ,unfortunately love is not enough.In most cases is the woman who ends up giving up her culture and beliefs and by doing so she is no longer her own being creating a recipe for unhappiness.Most mix marriages do not work,so please do not be fooled by promises of change as the saying goes 'leopards do not change its spots'.I can only wish that all women trapped in unhappy marriages make a move to change their situation as it's never too late to get your sef-respect back. Love yourself first and never think that you need a man to feel complete!Good luck.

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  20. Very moving story. I am so glad to hear you are starting to take back your life a little, and making changes that make your life more enjoyable.

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  21. Susie: I hope the minister of Interior is reading this...I hope he sees the wisdom of rapidly facilitates driving for women so your friend and others can help themselves find a job and go about ..Your friend hubby did what any Saudi would normally do except may be he didn't find you job to keep you busy..I made it to myself and my Saudi wife long time ago that she should get a job.I can't bare the idea her sitting at home and every day is just like the other one..That is totally degrading for one personality .I don't know what the next generation is going to do with problems double the size the ones 20 years ago .The is a world wide situation and need full cooperation from others.Count your blessings . Imagine your friend husband was settled in Sates back then and have been laid off now by the economic crisis of now and became jobless and may be worst (God forbid) homeless with 5 children on his back .Not sure he would be very happy nor her.Life is not easy in the States .Is it? If so I will be the first to go (lol).

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  22. Wow! What a post, I have tears in my eyes, reading that. I could sympathize with so much that she has written because I have the same sentiments as the woman posting. I feel the powerlessness that she feels, the overwhelming guilt if she left her husband and children behind, and the anxiousness of starting a new life.
    There are many points for her to consider before making a decision, I hope God gives her the strength to endure or start a new life.

    It's not all midnight at the oasis out here in the big sand pit that is the middle east.

    I think we should start an online group of women married to arabs and toughing it out here in the gulf. What do you think Susie, could we get one going?

    AnnMarie
    Abu Dhabi

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  23. I just wanted to reiterate what a previous commenter said, that this unfortunate situation is not limited to Saudi Arabia or the Mid-East or the Muslim World. Its a common frustration found in women around the world.

    At the heart of the issue is the giving nature of the mother/wife, who constantly gives to the family without caring for her own personal needs until 20 years into the marriage, she gets fed up.

    Sadly, its exacerbated by the countless restrictions placed on women in KSA.

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  24. I love the honesty she has shared. As a woman I think we always feel that everything is our responsability. I do think however if she left the situation she would still feel that is was probably her fault and then feel that she would have to make it up to her children.
    Unfortunately marriage in any country can be difficult and while it should always be a team, I do think men somehow always want to be in control and the winner.
    Your correspondent does know that she could solve the problem temporarily, however 17 years of memories dont dissappear.
    We as women need to teach our sons to be more responsible and appreciative of what is done for them and not just their birth right to have everything their way.
    I am sending you peace, and understanding, this does also happen in Christian relationships in free countries, maybe not to a degree like KSA but its there in a smaller way.
    Big Hugs and love to you.

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  25. HI Susie

    Your this post and previous post was really sad and with soo much emotion i could feel the frustration.May you and all other women in your situation find the strength and happiness .After sep/11 i told my hubby lets move to muslim country where we will fit in and away from all this and he said you wont even last a month there.The rules and lifestyle of saudi and other arab countries are very different than how we practice and live her in the uk. However I would still like to move one day to the middle east.Also saudi guys who do go abroad should not get involved with western women especially if they want to go settle back home but in your case it came after many years.Western culture and Arab culture are the total opposite of each other like black and white.I pray everything works out for the best.
    Yasmine

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  26. Dear western woman,

    I pity you and feel sad about the problems you are facing. may Allah solve them.

    But really most of the unhappiness you are talking about is only inside you. A person can be unhappy in the most happiest place and vice versa.

    I understand there are genuine things that are troubling and frustrating in KSA. However, if you look around you'll find many things that you will find unique, and you would consider yourself fortunate for those blessings.

    Really, life is not a bed of roses for anyone. Everyone goes through problems, at varying degrees. That'll be true even if you were in the USA. You may not face the problems of KSA, but you will definitely face other problems that'll make you wish you had it the Saudi way.

    It's all in the mind and how you take it. You may choose to accept the problems in USA in a much light-hearted way because you have your own blood relatives there, but you may not be doing that with what you face here.

    Seriously, there are tens and thousands of foreign men and women living in the kingdom. So many are just able to get a good life, socialize and find a good purpose to dedicate their life for.

    Ask yourself, what do you have? Do you have a purpose? I think this is what the main thing is about.

    Western woman, if you approach things in a more positive way, Insha Allah you will find solutions.

    The most worrisome line in your letter I found is that you are unhappy with your Creator! Subhan Allah! Indeed the Creator's blessings cannot be counted. Just recall One blessing from the Creator and count all that it includes -- you cannot count it. Isn't it being ungrateful to the Most Merciful?

    Take a deep breath and relax! Yes, you need to get a life, do something meaningful, achieve what will benefit you in this world and eternally in the hereafter.

    But the problems and unhappiness you are facing are not a result of your surroundings. It's because you haven't focused on yourself i.e. your soul.

    Thank Allah often, make du'a to Him for every small thing you face, have patience, look at the people below you and those who are going through even difficult times.. and you'll be thankful.

    Get in touch with a good group of sisters and involve yourself in good activities. Talk to your parents and relatives often... think of the good things you have and don't allow whispers of self-pity any space in your mind :)

    Cheers!

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  27. I've read that native americans believed that ones actions have impact seven generations into the future. This mother should congratulate herself for her ongoing mother work. It is the hardest job with few tangible rewards no matter where one lives.
    A lot of what she says does seem like a mid-life crises compounded by the unique demands of life in KSA.
    In years to come when she sees her grown children and grandchildren she'll know her work was not in vain.......

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  28. Wow....

    I read your first few posts before reading the latest..and the stark differences between the Susie who just landed in KSA and the Susie is aching to leave is so vast. I don't blame you though... it must be so hard.

    Btw.. "Dear Western Woman?" WTH? Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit rude?!

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  29. I think that it's easy for a woman to lose herself in the tasks of rearing children and running a household in any country, and it must be even ore so for women living in KSA that have so few choices available to them.

    I think that I agree with previous posters that said that you need to find *something* that is just yours. If you have a courtyard area, maybe you can make a container garden and plant some things that remind you of home. The outdoor time and sunshine will help. If you don't have an outdoor area available to you, find a hobby, any hobby. Maybe you can write, or make an online business, ANYTHING to keep your mind and hands occupied and active.

    The way I see it, leaving isn't an option at this stage. You're not being abused (at least not from what you wrote, correct me if I'm wrong), and you have young children that you would lose forever if you left. That alone means that you have to find some way to make life bearable for you over there, if only until your youngest child is old enough to leave with you.

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  30. kwait qatar bahrain and uae allow woman to drive and they have more freedom why you dont move to one of these countries from the begining

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  31. Honestly, happiness is what you make of it.
    You seem to have a comfortable life, non abusive relationship, healthy children and the means to take care of them.
    Think about the single mom working 2 jobs trying to feed her children!!!
    You seemed depressed, that's a medical condition seen everywhere in the world, who's to say you wouldn't be the same in the states???

    Shake yourself, stop feeling sorry, thank God for what you have.
    You have a lot of options, do things for yourself, with the internet ,education has opened its doors to anyone...

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  32. datesandclementinesDec 29, 2009, 6:46:00 PM

    I have a feeling that Umar's comment will spark some exuberant responses:)

    I'd like to introduce my comment with an anecdote:

    Years ago, I was watching the news in North America with my mother, a traditional, conservative, profoundly devout Christian woman in advanced years, while the abortion debate was aflame. Amid the backdrop of pickets and protests, a man was presenting his analysis and argument of the abortion issue to the news camera.

    My mother turned to me and said, "A man has no right to speak on this, for either side."

    This moment has popped up in my mind at various points through the years, and I'd like suggest that Umar reflect on the profound wisdom in my mother's words, applying them to the situation at hand.

    This woman who has truthfully shared her story on this post has seen her relationship go from hopeful promise of partnership in creating a future to a choking stranglehold of denying and postponing her needs, a couple of decades of broken inshallahs
    that keep her in a narrow box, waiting.

    This woman has trustingly stepped into KSA with an open heart and an open mind, into an uncertain future in a foreign unfamiliar place for love. She has given up her past, her culture, her background
    and taken on that of her husband.

    At each step over a couple of decades, each attempt at making life a bit more creative and bearable is blocked because God said this and God said that.
    Furthermore, despite her feelings to the contrary, she is repeatedly told that God made a woman for this and God said a woman only needs that.

    Despite her efforts, she sees that her husband is not interested in making her life easier or lighter. He takes her for granted. Her efforts to communicate fall on deaf ears. He disregards repeatedly her discontent, even when a minimal effort on his part could make a difference.

    So, Umar, until the day that you have given as much as this woman to a person who is as oblivious and unappreciative of your efforts as her husband is, you do not get to tell her how grateful or how patient she needs to be.

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    Replies
    1. Your reply to Umar is crisp and satisfying. I was thinking the same but you put it so eloquently.

      Delete
  33. Very moving. Nice to see this woman is waking up to find herself. For if one doesn't know what their heart desires for happiness, how can it be found. Many women, myself included, have lost themselves in husband and family. For some that works. For others the individual flame burns too bright to be forever extinguished. Man and woman are equal! And should be treated that way.

    I hope your friend continues her self journey.

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  34. @datesandclementines...

    AMEN! You said it so much better than I could. I was getting ready to say something similar.

    I just wanted to address this comment from this lovely lady. I have been thinking about it overnight and it was bothering me.

    "I also feel guilty for wanting to leave this place, as many Muslims would die for the opportunity to live here. I've been told that I have to be thankful and that living in Saudi Arabia is a blessing no matter how difficult it may be."

    Saudi Arabia doesn't have the last word on Islam. Just because other Muslims would die to live there doesn't mean it is the right choice for you! Islam there is infused with a lot of culture...ie: the fact that you can't drive. No where in the Qu'ran does it say women can't drive. That is a Saudi thing. Also, being covered from head to foot...again it is not written you must be totally covered except the eyes...that is a Saudi thing. Islam should not be a chore and difficult and make your heart heavy. Islam can be practiced anywhere and just because you don't want to be in Saudi Arabia does NOT mean that you are any less Muslim. You should not feel guilty about that. Your issues do not seem to me to have anything to do with Islam and everything to do with culture and human nature and how men are raised there and how you have lost yourself. You can be a good and observant Muslim no matter where you reside and suffering in misery doesn't make you a better or more pious Muslim. It just makes you a miserable one. And Allah in His great love for you would never want you to feel miserable all your life just to try to be a better Muslim. So please do not feel guilty about having issues in KSA. That culture and Western culture are so diametrically opposed as to be irreconcilable sometimes. It takes an entirely different set of social and survival skills to make it in KSA if you are from the West. Don't sell that fact short or pretend it isn't true. You will be doing yourself a grave disservice.

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  35. I truly understand what she is going through. Although I have only been here a little over 5 years, I feel like I have lost myself.. forgotten my dreams, and have completely lost my self confidence. Life here does it to people. I wake up in the morning to my usual routine, which usually is staying at home all day, with no interaction with the outside world. I love my 2 babies, I love them to death, but I can't help but feel that I would be a better mother if I were happier. My husband tries his best to make me happy, we are finally moving to a villa we are purchasing (we live with my in-laws now). I want to start having my own social life... I want to depend less on my husband, but without my own driver, it is a bit hard, as I have to go out when my husband is ready (I must give it to him, he is good at that).. but at times I just want to go out whenever I feel like it, without asking anyone to take me... go out to the mall n the morning, go for a coffee with friends, take my babies out on play dates.. Let me stop here, if I keep talking I won't stop. In a nutshell, I feel for her, and I pray things look up for her.. and I am glad she is taking care of HERSELF... !

    Om Lujain

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  36. Another Saudi WifeDec 29, 2009, 9:18:00 PM

    Wow, I had to stop reading after awhile ... sort of like reading thoughts that have spun around in my own head. Six good things about life here and then half a dozen things that make you wonder what you have done to yourself.
    Pray her goal of finding peace works out.

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  37. Life is what you make out off it. There is no guarantee that after you leave, you will be happy...How about if you miss your family? how about if after all is not as bad as you thought it was? ....

    Why don't you try to find happiness in what you already have and in what has taking so much of you to build. If you have build a family, a husband, 5 wonderful kids, just TRY to build your self up and be happy and thankful of what you have. Things are not the same and its so hard to find a good man to start a new love,a new life and a while new you...I think that at the end you will regret not working on your life and your family now. You have invested sooooo many years already...so make the BEST out of it, its time to enjoy. (retirement time). Life is to short not to be happy, and you have everything ...

    My mom always told me when I was little that once I get married, my family becomes my husband and my kids, that my family (Mom, Dad, Sisters) will always be there for me.

    I wish you the best... :)

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  38. I have one comment only.

    You get only one life in this world. Only one.

    If you give your life to others and starve your hopes and dreams, it is a form of dying.

    If you want to live, do what you need to do, in order to live.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I would like to echo the sentiments of those suggesting that strong elements of this are related to time of life/time of marriage (mid-life for both). There are also echoes of the time of immigration (mid-life for that too).

    I have a number of friends who are my former professors. At midlife they all started to think about moving home and regretting the professional decisions that keep them stuck here rather than being able to have a commensurate position in their home country. They most often came to do a degree and for the adventure, and then never left, except for visits and sabbaticals. They wake up at 40 and think of what they can do with themselves, despite current successes. One started a new career, married, then resumed her old one (was wise enough to take an unpaid leave rather than quit) and moved him here. She is the same one who arrives back the evening before classes start and spends the 1st month ranting about Canadians and how dreadful we are--sometimes she remembers to exempt me/ apologize/ tell me this is part of September for her, and sometimes she is on too much of a roll to bother.

    The writer is of course in a different situation, but much overlaps. She may not be an empty nester, but she and her older children are arriving at that stage--and now what, and now what to do with the husband. In her case this involves younger children as well.

    The best is to take better care of herself and focus on incremental changes within life in KSA until she is stronger and more sure of what she wants to do and how. Bottling in her anger hasn't allowed her safety valves and supports, or even allowed her husband a chance to make small but significant changes as well.

    Sometimes married couples are forced to think things like: What is more important saving the marriage or saving money on a driver? Saving the marriage or saving the airfare to the US? Saving the marriage or being able to eat off the floors? etc

    It seems the writer and her husband are at that point. Hopefully they find the best, least wrenching solution.

    Om Lujain--great to see you commenting, and mabrook on baby no. 2! Please shoot me an email at chiaraazlinquestion AT yahoo.com. I have 2 things to discuss with you offline. Thanks.

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  40. Hi Susie,
    What strikes me about many American women who are married to Saudis is that somehow they always end up with the worst parts of being Saudi.
    I have lived abroad and I definitely appreciate the breather and would give up an arm for that kind of freedom. However there were some things that I missed about Saudi. Why not insist on getting a driver. I hate the ban on women driving but having a personal driver has its perks like never having to worry about parking and someone to run tedious errands for you. And don't let your Saudi husbands give you that "we don't have a place for him to stay" or any of that BS cuz they pull that same stuff on Saudi women but we don't stand for it. Saudi women MAKE their husbands move house just to accommodate a driver! and while you're at it get a maid too. Teach her to cook and then you'll really have time to focus on yourself. Socialize more, learn Arabic and get really involved. You come from an American heritage and history of womens rights battles fought and won, with which you could inspire some real changes. I have a whole bunch of other ideas but this will do for now :)
    Saudiwoman.wordpress.com

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  41. Hi Susie
    Ive been reading your posts for a while now and it sounds like your finding it tough. women dont seem to be on equal footing with men and it seems to irk you alot as it makes a majority of your posts. why dont you just leave Saudi Arabia?

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  42. Umar is totally missing the point. Of course everyone should try to make the best of wherever they are.

    That said- Saudi Arabia systematically and legally violates the human rights of women- ALL women not just western ones. Western women have a harder time (sometimes) because we are not used to it but make no mistake Saudi women suffer just as much, though sometimes in different ways. They too are blighted in their attempts to develop fully, which is probably why so many of them are depressed.

    Still they have an advantage. If their husband decides to dump them it's not on an exit-only visa out, without their children. they have their family there to support them.

    And I'm tired of that "be patient and grateful" crap that men here like to pull out whenever they are oppressing women. They tell it to their own all the time. While excusing whatever they do. It is a tired old line- we can be patient and grateful and that is between us and our creator- but the abuser doesn't have the right to demand that.

    I don't know what to say about these husbands who don't get drivers. My husband would HATE if we didn't have one. He doesn't want to spend every spare minute going grocery shopping or driving the kids to activities. Most of the time I'm using the driver it is for the house and kids. Clothes, dentist, swimming lessons, visiting Grandma, football games, shoes, vaccinations, eye doctor, ordering and picking up eye glasses, kids to and from school.

    Try to find some way to frame it so the driver is really for HIM. Because he will LOVE not having to do all that-especially if he works alot. My husband works alot and doesn't have time for all that.

    Get online and find some ACCREDITED educational opportunities for yourself- to feel more capable. You will feel better when living in Saudi is a CHOICE -because you know you can make it outside- rather than a trap. Also, you need to do some financial planning for yourself. What will you do if your husband dies- God forbid? You would still have to stay or lose custody. With Saudi citizenship you could live in any of the GCC countries and they can't keep you out- remember that as well.

    Hope all that made sense.
    All the best

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  43. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  44. I would like to thank everyone for their opinions and advice. You have certainly given me much to think about. There is no question that there are multiple things going on in my life at the moment that I must deal with. There are ultimately only two choices for me . . . to move on or to make the best of the situation. There are many fine details that you are not familiar with, and only I will be able to make the final decision. My intent for the new year is to try and stay more focused on my needs and wants; and I do have hopes that, with my husband and children's support, things will work out for the best. Again, thank you and a happy new year to all of you.

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  45. I've just started to follow Susie's blog and picture blog, yet have never posted before. I find the culture Susie, and others, are living in to be both fascinating and very foreign to me.

    I appreciate those who share their lives with those of us who may never even get to live there. Through blogs like this, and others, I have come to have a great interest in Saudi Culture.

    I respect the culture the Saudi's have, it seems very beautiful and exotic looking from the outside. It also seems very restrictive from a Western woman's point of view.

    I can admire it, yet at the same time know I could never live in it.

    I admire the courage for those not born into this culture, to take the various burdens of living there upon them.

    I can imagine if one were born into this culture it could feel very comforting. Everyone seems to have a place that is assigned by the culture. Having a known 'place' in life is very comforting to some people.

    But, for those not born into the culture it could seem as restrictive as a jail or straight jacket.

    My heart goes out to this guest poster. I can't imagine I'd ever have the courage to try and do what she has done. I admire her courage.

    Seems to me she has found some little ways to reclaim her essence. Going to the gym, reading novels, realizing she doesn't have to be the household's servant, etc..

    If it were me, I'd try and hold onto, and enlarge upon, things that reinforce my self worth and things that make me happy.

    With an age range of children down to 6 years of age, I can't see there's any physical escape until the 6 year old is at least 18. A physical escape would mean she'd lose her children.

    I would suggest the author try to form both an internet and Real Life support group where she could
    just 'vent' if she needs to and where nobody would judge her - just understand what she's going through and give her the encouragement to make it through each day.

    My prayers are with you all,
    Christy

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  46. Dear Western Bride,

    Hidden under the pain of your heart and the limitations placed upon women living within your environment is your tremendous spirit and strength. It shines through to us who have read your words written in your time of need. I wish you well.

    Cherie

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  47. For all "Western Women" married to Saudis and living in KSA:

    In your city, maybe you all could network together. Use the blogs and contacting Susie privately to find other women similar to you.

    Get together and pool your financial resources to (a) hire drivers, (b) start online businesses to earn your own income.

    It's true what others have written above. You can be a Western Woman still living in the West (USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Europe), and have given up a lot of yourself after marriage.

    Some of that has to happen to merge two personalities and start a new family. However, the things that made a woman attractive (and I do not mean physically) should continue in her life so that she can be herself. Then she can better serve her family.

    Susie, you're doing a wonderful thing through your friendship with this guest blogger. Help her to continue to find ways of increasing her sanity.

    The steps she's taking are good ones. And, perhaps she needs to talk with her husband about those elements of "KSA Islam" that are not truly Muslim teachings.

    And, yes, he needs to loosen the purse strings a little. Sounds like she married an Accountant!

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  48. Western woman's story could almost be mine..... I am in my 20ties, married to a Saudi, leading a sad lonely dejected life.

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  49. Dear anonymous wife,

    Don't believe that you're not strong. If you have endured that long in KSA, you're stronger than you think.

    No one really knows the best solution but you, but I believe you should leave. Nothing is worth the sacrifices you've been through over the past two decades. Women are made to believe that they are responsible for the happiness of their husbands and children; this is simply not true. It is also your husband's responsibility, and he is not doing it. That is not your fault.

    I have lived in several Muslim countries, and they are nothing like KSA. The Islam practiced in Saudi is a gross perversion.

    What you endure is like what a slave endures: no freedom of movement, cooking and cleaning with no pay but in exchange for room and board. Are you a slave? Please set yourself free while you still can.

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  50. Follow your heart but rememberit's a 20 year marriage which you built and 5 kids,it takea a minute to break but a lifetime to break.
    Good luck.

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  51. Happy New Year! Wonderful posts here. Very thought provoking. I can only say what comes to mind when I read these posts: Google 'narcissism.' KSA seems to be a society which is a monument to everything being 'all about him.' State organized around 'all about him.' Now, if I was a man from KSA, would I ever want to leave there? I highly doubt it.

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  52. Eman--I agree that whatever the cultural mix, one should learn what the same culture women would do as an idea of what is acceptable.

    Susie--just to let you and your readers triggered a post I have been thinking about for sometime, on Saudi Husbands and Western Wives in Saudi, I hope it will add further to this discussion though perhaps in a different way:
    http://www.chezchiara.com/2010/01/saudi-husband-of-western-wife-in-saudi.html

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  53. Susie,
    I think of you so much and wish you all the best in what has become an increasingly challenging lifestyle.
    You are such a beacon for those who are going through burdensome times and I'm sure that weighs heavily on you too. What to say is not an easy task.
    Thank you for visiting my blog and know that there are so many women who are in your corner and sending you all the love they can muster from all over the world.
    And know this, your decisions are acknowledged with respect and support, whatever they may be, for you alone walk in your shoes.

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  54. Susie, I've spent a good part of today reading your posts... and while I know you are absolutely spot on, I would not question a single thing you say OR that any other ex-pat living there with her Saudi Husband says. I do know that I would NO WAY become a citizen there! It seems to me that could only make things worse. Your husband looks like a very sweet and happy man. Your son is quite handsome. BUT... I can't imagine WHY you would not have qualms about your son being raised a Muslim, knowing how that means he would be taught to feel about women. I AM a Christian, so I have difficulties with religious aspects too -- but disregarding that, I would just be VERY uncomfortable having my son raised to think of women as lower class citizens. An object to own. THAT would bother me. I think it's very fortunate that your son was raised until a teen in the U.S. - but he's still young enough that over time he will be strongly influenced by them... don't you think?

    I find this all very very sad. It just makes my heart break when I think of women being treated this way - just because they are women. And to think it's 2010.... *sigh*

    I do wonder... does your husband read your blog? Does he know you have it?

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  55. Living in Saudi is a blessing?? really? I think she meant visiting Saudi is a blessing, not living there.

    I am from Oman, a neighbor, a very close one, and I will tell you this: If A Saudi guy proposed to marry me, everyone.. every single person in the family will object because of how they treat their women. So no, none of us in this country wish we lived there.. I mean, we only pass by for Hajj and al-Omra.. nothing else.. none!

    Here, I work, drive, go to coffee shops and sit with men sitting on other tables.. and no one harasses us.. Its a bliss..

    So, as an Arab and a Muslim, I really really feel bad for the lady. Hope she finds happiness..

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  56. May God wrap you in her love and light and help you find your way...my heart goes out to you...congratulations on beginning the steps to finding yourself...

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  57. You have but one life to live Ms. Susie.....live it to its fullest....you shouldn't waste even one day being unhappy.

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  58. I am also an American married to a Saudi and living in KSA. I do like Saudi a lot and I am Muslim the only thing I hate also is that I do not know when or if I will ever get to see my family again. Also, I have to depend on my husband always and he knew that when bringing me here yet he does not want to deal with that. I sit at home all week all day and MAYBE get out for 2 hours a week at the most same for my poor 2 year old. I feel stuck and depressed always being at home alone.

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  59. I'd like to thank everyone for your comments, support and encouragement. Western Wife felt better just getting some of her feelings out like she did, and then reading your supportive comments and advice also helped her.
    If there are any Western Wives out there who are depressed or lonely, I can try to hook you up with others in your same city so you might be able to make friends or have someone to talk to.
    My email is: susieofarabia@gmail.com

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  60. The "meet-ups" are a great idea, Susie. I was planning to look up that Meet-up service online that provides a forum for how to set up an interest group anywhere, but your method has a more personal touch.

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  61. Wooooow what a post! I have so much to write but my time is limited I will come back. THe woman who wrote that wow MashaAllah she let it all out and it is the truth. SO many sugar coat it all. I am married to an Emirati (United Arab Emirates) and soon will be moving there. I have sooo many questions and concerns for him. He thinks it is all silly but EVERYTHING written here...sooo true and I know it...t is just hard after 3 children...and together for so long just to leave ya know cause he is from another more restricting country...I question it everrrryy day....although UAE is a little more open...the men's mentality is all the same and I am baffled by WHYYY they don't want the wife they feel in love with...carefreee...happppy....self confident....and independant...the society DOES make the women tooo dependant on their husband and they lose their identity and wake up when it is all too late. Although I realize this...I just can't see breaking up my familyyyy...ahhh it is sooo HARD! I love this post!!

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  62. I read this with two minds. I hope what i write does not offend you, as this isnt my intention.
    The point is, I am sre to a certain extend you knew something about the culture you married into. For example, you wrote about a maid, would you have had a maid in America? OK i can see how the driving part is annoying, but I am sure that if you looked at some stuff about the way of life in America you would find that Saudi has some benifits.
    My point is, are you feeling this way because its Saudi only or are there are things that are more deeper that have you feeling like this?

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  63. Hi SaNa -
    When many of us Western wives of Saudis got involved with our husbands, there was not a lot of information out there about this closed society. Personally I tried to do as much research as I could, but it was before the internet and many of the references I found were 30 yrs old at the time.
    Regarding the maids - if we are going to make so many sacrifices to come here, and practically ALL Saudi women married to Saudi men have maids, the why shouldn't we expect this? Many of the Western wives here DO have maids, but this woman doesn't and she has five children to take care of!
    Maybe you could explain what you think the benefits of living here are.

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  64. Living in Saudi Arabia is not a blessing by every Muslim. There are millions of Muslims who do not regard Saudi Arabia as their spiritual leader. This is a false notion spread by the Arabs Muslims, which is not true. So there is need to be guilty about that.

    This woman's condition definitely unfortunate and she has to somehow come out of it. There is no point in spending an entire life in misery because of husband and children. Her husband is not being a good husband if he is not sensitive to his wife's needs and feelings. If he cares about her, he should understand her needs. If he doesn't do that, she should leave.

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  65. Awww sweety, I'm sorry you are going through this. This is not Islam. In Islam, the womens have rights and the husband is suppose to be reasonable with the wife. I know not all Saudi's are like this but it's sad that the unreasonable ones ruin it for the good ones. I myself, am married to a Yemeni. Pretty close to a Saudi but my husband is reasonable. Inshallah everything gets better for you. I feel bad how you are kept locked up in the house and hardly get to go out. This isn't right. I will keep you in my dua'a.

    Amira

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  66. While it is true that being unhappy happens everywhere, her case is different, her case was caused by the society, by culture and tradition of Saudi Arabia. I think the only solution to her problem for now is acceptance and contentment, and hope Saudi society change for the better.

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  67. Just saw this today...
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/middle-east/3237246/Australian-Muslim-forced-to-abandon-children

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  68. I believe there are many benifits as well as down falls of living in Saudi. for example, the way the asian/african workers are treated, well this is something that needed to be sorted many years ago.
    It depends what a person wants in life, if a person doesnt mind wearing the niqab, doesnt really want to mix with men and can handle a driver etc then life there is pretty easy. there are many women who live and work happily in saudi, sure the jobs are limited but for a reason. And many Western women who live there happily, reverts and non reverts, muslim and non muslim.
    All in all, the woman who wrote that needs to ask herself, if her husband was in the USA, would she be happy? Is it BECAUSE shes in Saudi that she is unhappy or because she is with her husband? There is a difference

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  69. Hi Susie.. I stumbled on your blog.. very interesting.. this particular post really touches me..I can imagine the cultural boundaries you have to live..

    I wish you peace of mind and joy..

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  70. Hi Susie,
    My daughter is a consummate blogger and over the months has tried to get me hooked, but so far no blog has 'taken.' Today, she showed me the nominees today for the 2010 bloggie awards, and, since we're living in India, I checked out the Asian nominees. The other three had no draw whatsoever, but yours has definitely 'taken.'

    Like many of your readers, I am moved by more than the unique personal challenges you face. What makes your plight so historic is the opportunity afforded by internet and the blogging phenomenon. Your open, determined effort to share your experience and reflections with the world will be enough to keep me coming back . Already I'm imagining what will happen when your son goes to college...

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  71. I know from personal experience, too, that culture shock is real and can last a long time. In fact, I think we can safely say that the British in India never assimilated. I know people who have lived here for 20, 30 years who are still critical and judge every cultural event from their own background and values. That's culture shock, in my opinion - whatever makes you highlight the differences between you and your host culture. It's guaranteed misery.

    The problem is that the native population will be far more judgemental and provincial than the expatriate. Most people anywhere only know one way to deal with other people - the way they were brought up. We are treated and judged as foreign and so we feel isolated. Also, guaranteed misery.

    I think that you are making the best of an incredibly hard situation. Even beyond the cultural and religious issues, you are personally isolated it sounds like. Yet even though you stay in your apartment for days and weeks on end, your writing gives you satisfaction (deservedly), and you have made your story important to the whole world.

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  72. I think that blogging is an absolutely valid way for isolated people to have fulfilling lives. You're doing exactly what Pioneer Woman (one of the blogs my daughter tells me about) does with her blog. She lives in the middle of nowhere with four children, all very close in age, whom she home schools (omg). That's isolated, but, like you, she has created a network of thousands of people who care about her and are interested in her life.

    So now, I'd like to throw in some homilies. Please forgive my polyanna simplicity; I do not mean to oversimplify. (In my defense, I, too, live in a foreign culture. Indian society is not American, and some days are very hard.) Still, I do not think that - even living in a Muslim society - that there cannot be many experiences that bring genuine joy, insight and beauty. I don't mean to preach. Truly. But I really believe this: There is always something human, something kind, something universal to discover in every group. I grew up in a bicultural setting and my mother worked carefully to teach my brothers and me to look for the qualities, to share enthusiastically but respectfully.

    I warned you it would be simple, but I do believe it. The only way to get out of culture shock, if you will, is to eschew judgement and be on the lookout for goodness - anywhere.Now, having declared myself a fan, I would like to make a comment. I think that you are doing a phenomenal job of holding yourself and your family together. You also share information and observations with people who will never come any closer to an Arab country than your blog. On one hand, I think that I could never do what you are doing. On the other hand, I think that billions of women have lived some of the choices you are making.

    I also read the letter from one of your readers who has been living with her husband and four (?) children in (I think) Saudi Arabia. She seems to share with you the feeling that your cultural values are very much at odds with your host country. Some of her discontent was also from missing her US family, and some was from the normal privations of life as a busy, self-sacrificing mother of young children. She recently started making choices about her activities, exercising more and finding other ways to feel better about herself.

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  73. I just wanted to say thanks for all of the great input. On behalf of myself and Western Wife, we are so appreciative of all the great advice and strong support that you readers have demonstrated in your comments to this post. I am always amazed by the amount of caring and compassion shown by virtual strangers. I just heard from her and she is doing better and taking life day by day.

    To the last 3 Anonymous Comments - Welcome to my blog and thanks for taking the time and putting such thought into what you said. I know there are many other women around the world in our shoes - it's just nice to reminded of that especially when we are so isolated and sometimes might feel that we are alone and the only ones going through what we do every day. So thanks again!

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  74. hello,

    the account i've just read literally made me cry. this just shows how tiny little things that are being swept under the carpet day after day build up and all of the sudden everyone is surprised that something is wrong.
    i'm being faced with a similar situation (the prospect of moving to Saudi because of my man) and from what I read on Susie's and other ladies' blogs I don't think it's worth the heartache.
    I might be giving up on the love of my life but I know for a fact that I would just turn into a miserable and depressed person.
    The atmosphere there seems to be suffocating any sign of individualism.
    It doesn't matter how much you try to set yourself into a positive mindset. When you face difficulties, constant control, lack of understanding and most importantly the fact that you are dependent on everyone else and you cannot be the active contributor to a family (especially when those who do help you out resent it) makes you feel guilty all the time. At least it would make me feel guilty. And the only thing you can do about it is to be quite and not complain which makes it a vicious circle...
    I want more than that and I couldn't agree on this amount of dependence on someone. I think the only person I would trust my life with is my own mother, but that just me being very suspicious of people.

    Even though I don't believe in any organized form of religion I believe in God and I will pray for your strength Western Wife to take things one at a time. I feel you really need it. I don't know you but... when you open your door there will be a parcel with a lot of positive energy, strength and hugs and kisses to keep you going! delivered by UPS :) hope it gets there okay, if something i've got the receipts :P
    look after yourself and I hope you feel better soon! xxx

    Kasia

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  75. I'm sorry for your sorrow. Unfortunately, western women who marry & move to muslim countries have no rights. You might want to wait until the kids grow up because if you want to leave you have to leave your kids with the husband. I don't think the US embassy could help you if you're married to a saudi. Your husband sounds like a typical Arab. They have little to no respect for women & don't like the west. It's amazing he lets you visit your family.

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  76. The bottom line is "Don't be unequally yolked". These middle eastern men are usually Islamic don't believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God & can make your life a living hell. You reap what you sow - warning stay away from non-believers or face the consequences

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  77. Thank you for sharing this story. I felt like I was the one writing it! I've been in Saudi Arabia for 23 years and feeling at my worst. Everything you described is what I am going through. I hope everyone going through this can find peace and happiness.

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    1. I've been living in Jeddah for nine years now, and I do have to admit that my life has gotten better the past few years. I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I'm lucky that my husband is so good to me and that I get to travel back to the US every year for a lengthy visit with my family and friends. I also attribute the improvement of my life in Saudi Arabia to something as simple as the car services like Uber and Careem. What a difference this has made for me! I do wish you all the best and hope that you are able to find happiness and peace in your life. Life is just too short not to be happy.

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