Book Review: The Bro Code of Saudi Culture

The Bro Code of Saudi Culture is a book written by Abdul Al Lily and is available on Amazon.

Living in the GCC for about 12 years and being married to a man from Kuwait for the past 6 years has allowed me a very intimate insight into the bedoin culture still embraced by many. It was my belief I had a firm grasp of the ‘ins and outs’ of the culture and was even well versed enough to answer the numerous questions I get about being married to a man from that region. Therefore, when I was asked to read and review ‘The Bro Code of Saudi Culture’ by the Author I was flattered but didn’t expect I would learn anything new. I was wrong.

The first thing I noticed about the book was the way it’s written. Abdul Al Lily has taken incredibly interesting information and put it out to the reader in ‘tweet like’ format. In today’s society, social media demands that we read, and read often. We’ve all learned to read for specific content, seeking out the most important keywords. We skim over material subconsciously avoiding every conjunction and adjective as if they’re inconsequential. And, for the most part, that’s true.

In ‘The Bro Code of Saudi Culture’, Abdul Al Lily has managed to turn an expansive topic into an ‘in your face’ type of book while maintaining organization. It answers questions everyone in the region (especially expats) might have, but without unnecessary backstories and explanations. It’s an easy read filled with great information and lots of laughs along the way.

As for me, the woman who thought she knew it all, I found myself educated and entertained. I would read a few sentences and suddenly have questions for my husband. His response was often a smile or laugh and sometimes even a look of, “Yes! I remember that”.

With all the division our country (and the world) is currently facing, ‘The Bro Code of Saudi Culture’ is a good start to bridging gaps. With all the misconceptions and misunderstandings, this book offers answers to questions everyone has, but very few would ask. And, due to cultural etiquette, couldn’t ask. So, if you’re living in the region or plan to visit there for work or vacation, definitely grab a copy of this book and spend some time reading it on your flight. You won’t regret it.

Finally, I would like to personally thank Abdul Al Lily for giving me the honor of reading and offering my honest opinions of his work. I have a great deal of respect for him as a professional in his field and admire him as someone who truly makes a difference.


Dr. Al Lily is a Saudi international consultant on Saudi culture, a bestseller, an Oxford graduate and an assistant professor of education, technology, and sociology at King Faisal University. He has worked with impact-factor journals and the largest academic publishers: Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, Sage and Oxford University Press. He has written in different languages, for academic magazines (Australasian Science, Italian Journal of Geopolitics and openDemocracy) and non-academic magazines (Your Middle East, Green Prophet, and Vocativ). He has pioneered an innovative approach in academic research, called crowd-authoring. He is the initiator and first author of an article by 99 authors; the first article in the social sciences to be written by such a large number. He was a top-0.5% researcher on in 2016. Whatsapp: +447946674377. Twitter: @abdulallily. Email: Website:


A lesson in Mut’a Marriage

UPDATE: Someone left a wonderful, well informed, helpful comment that I’ve posted for anyone curious. They have provided a great deal of information regarding Mut’a as well as offered some corrections to my inaccuracies. 

Several times a week I get emails from readers who are involved in relationships with Muslim men and are often seeking advice on religion, culture, tradition, and how the three tie into one another — if at all. Many of them are also seeking advice on marriage and whether or not he’s ‘serious’ when he asks her to consider marrying him. Obviously I don’t have all the answers and never claimed to be a professional in the field of intercultural marriages, so I simply share information based on my experience and hope that helps.

A topic I recently realized I have never covered is Mut’a Marriage. And based on a few emails I’ve gotten as of late, I figured now would be the best time to touch on this.

My experience with Mut’a is pretty much nonexistent. It’s something (from what I understand) that is practiced among the Shia’a Muslims and not so much anymore within the Sunni community. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m basing this information off of friends in Kuwait and the UAE who are both Sunni and Shia’a. Therefore, I would love to hear from any readers who have been involved in a Mut’a Marriage in hopes of helping out some of the women who might be reading this and could use that guidance.

It’s my understanding Mut’a is a ‘temporary marriage’ where a woman agrees to be a man’s wife for a specified period of time and can then participate in all things husbands and wives participate in; ie. sex. There is no dowry involved, no additional benefits, no financial gain (unless he agrees to pay her a certain amount), and no support upon divorce. Some of these marriages last as short as a few days and some can be a lifetime I suppose. As far as their legality, I know they’re not recognized in the US as our marriages (to be legal) must be documented in a court. A Mut’a Marriage is simply an agreement between a man and woman. I don’t believe there’s any paperwork involved. However, I do believe it’s a fairly common practice for boyfriends and girlfriends as a way to eliminate any Islamic guilt. You know… have sex, pretend you’re married, and Allah doesn’t know any better. No offense intended. Just keeping it real.

That being said, if you’re one of the women who have written me about your boyfriend asking to marry you ‘temporarily’ to ‘test’ out how a real marriage would be, maybe that’s not exactly what he means. It’s possible he has a strong desire to have sex with you but his religious guilt is telling him to ‘do the right thing’ and ‘marry’ you. Of course the real right thing would be to respect you as a woman and keep it in his pants. But, chances are, you’re unaware of his culture and what is and is not permitted in his religion. He can pretty much tell you anything and you’ll pretty much believe it. And of course, once he starts throwing the idea of marriage around, it makes it all that much more appealing. And, well, ‘real’ in your mind.

Do your homework, ladies. And keep your panties on while you’re studying 😉

Intercultural marriages; where to live?

When my husband and I were first married 4 years ago the question of where to live came up… a lot. No, not which city, or which neighborhood. We had to decide which side of the world we were going to call home, settle, and plan our future in. This meant one of us was going to spend much of the year away from the country and culture where we spent our childhood and made a number of memories.

By the time we were married I had already lived in the Middle East for a decade, so in a lot of ways it too was my home. However, all of my family was still in America. All of my memories and childhood friends as well. But, my family is quite small, consisting of only 4 immediate family members. While my husband, on the other hand, has about 25 immediate family members. Then of course there’s the cousins, the aunts, uncles, etc. I don’t have any of those in my family. So staying in Kuwait seemed like the logical choice. But, it wasn’t the the choice we made.

After a couple of years of marriage I started longing for life in America. We visited several times a year, but it just wasn’t the same. And with each visit I was reminded of so many things I truly missed a lot more than I had previously thought. My husband, being one who never meshed with his culture, also started missing things from America. So, we packed up most of our belongings and our beloved cats and made the move.

Should all women married to Arab men expect he’ll be willing to do the same? Probably not. That culture is deeply rooted in family. And for a man to make the decision to move to the other side of the world with his Western wife is a pretty big decision. But, over the past several years I have met a number of American/Kuwaiti couples of have relocated to America together. I’ll admit, I was surprised.

So, how is life now that we’ve been here a couple of years? Well, we’re completely acclimated, have a large group of awesome friends, invest a great deal of time into the happiness of our furry family members, have our favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and a solid schedule. We live what most people would consider the ‘typical American life’ and we couldn’t be happier. I’ll occasionally ask my husband how he feels about the possibility of moving back to Kuwait one day and he doesn’t seem to be to keen on the idea. Right now he’s perfectly happy with a few visits a year to spend quality time with the family. And I suppose I’m OK with that too.

The old and the new; self definition within cultural norms

Though we no longer reside full time in Kuwait we certainly make an effort to keep up with the daily happenings there considering we do still have family and other interests there. Let me rephrase that, I keep up with the daily happenings. My husband has almost zero interest in what’s taking place in Kuwait. He’s never really ‘meshed’ with the culture so to speak, he’s often had to pretend certain behaviors and put on the fake smile, and always knew he just didn’t belong in some odd way. In my humble opinion, and in no way trying to offend anyone; I think, over time, he just consciously educated himself beyond what was/is accepted in his culture. He not only thought outside of the box, but he left the box all together.

Perhaps it’s because I’m away from Kuwait more than I’m there I see it through different eyes. But over the past few years it feels as though Kuwait has become divided within itself. There’s the older generation who want to lean more in the direction of big brother Saudi Arabia, and the younger generation who want to follow the lead of the UAE. And if you’re familiar with Saudi and the UAE you’ll understand the stark differences between the two though their foundation of beliefs are the same. Just like the population of Kuwait.

The elders in Kuwait are also divided on some level — the open minded and those with a beard. OK, not nice, but you get the idea.

The open minded older generation are all for change in Kuwait. The type of change that resembles their childhood when Kuwait was ‘pre-invasion’ and there was a sense of freedom and equality in the country. Women didn’t always cover their heads, married couples attended mixed gender events, and people even danced without finger pointing or the fear of being arrested.

The other half of the older generation, those sporting a beard, well, they want change too. However, while their idea of change is also a glimpse into the past, it’s so far in the past few would even recognize it. In their minds Kuwait should revert to a primitive lifestyle where every action is dictated by religious beliefs.

You can see how this could lead to conflict both personally and politically. Now throw into the mix the Kuwaiti youth. Those who truly want to see a change which resembles something from the future. They’re proactive, progressive, intelligent, and educated. But sadly, all of this forward movement makes them appear to be running from the past. Obviously upsetting the elders who cling to the past like a lifebuoy preventing them from taking their last breath.

All of this internal conflict isn’t good for the country. It leaves them discombobulated, confused, and lacking any real direction. And from the outside, they appear to just be a mess. Imagine what other local governments must think of them. Saudi has managed to hold onto their ancient past… and even enforce it for the most part. And the UAE has managed to seamlessly bring modern day freedoms into their Islamic country while maintaining their values and culture. Bravo!

Kuwait? Well, Kuwait is just struggling from within to find its identity. Quite similar to many of those Kuwaiti (and non-Kuwaiti/expat) youth who are dying to be trend setters yet are only following things the modern world accomplished decades ago. And while I watch them face a number of interior challenges, I’m always rooting for their win. Kuwait holds a piece of my heart and will always be a part of my life. I love Kuwait and beam with pride while sharing stories with friends here at home. I long for the day the country finds itself and unites — because I do believe that can happen. Until that day comes change will never happen, whether it be forward or backwards.

Below are a couple of videos entitled ‘Kuwait Then & Now” (parts 1 & 2). I’ve only watched the first few minutes but found it to be quite interesting.


Ramadan Mubarak [2014]

Wishing you all a wonderful Ramadan with family and loved ones.

Remember, Kuwait is an Islamic country and eating, drinking, chewing gum, or public displays of affection could result in a month in jail, a 100 KD fine, or both. Be respectful of the law and those who are fasting.

We’ll be celebrating the Holy month in America and I’m already looking forward to preparing fu6oor for my wonderful husband 5 days a week (we’ll be eating out the other 2 days). We just had a fabulous graish together while discussing some things we plan to focus on this month. I’m so blessed to be spending my life with one of the kindest, most compassionate, generous, empathetic people I know.


Ramadan is coming! [2014]

Every year around this time I get super excited about Ramadan. I always love the preparations; having dara’a made (loving the Emirati ones this year), preparing the menu, reviewing fasting times, and shopping for necessities. Ramadan is also the time of year when families gather more often than just Fridays. I miss that! Though a handful of locals may vacation during Ramadan, the more devout, family oriented will opt to stay in the country and embrace Ramadan on every level.

My husband and I will be in America for Ramadan this year but we’re already starting to prepare and review our upcoming schedules to ensure we make the most of the month. It’s always a special time of year for us — regardless of where we are. Though there’s absolutely no sign of Ramadan here in America, we’ve decided we’re actually going to seek out some gatherings and events this year. Should be interesting.

I’ve always felt that we should be the best people we can be the entire year, not just 30 days of it. But Ramadan is a time when we’re more conscientious of our actions and have the opportunity to develop new, more positive habits. We all have room for growth. As Iv’e said many times before, it’s almost a month of meditation for me… and it’s nice.

My ex-husband abducted the children and took them to Saudi Arabia [Saudi Gazette]

I stumbled across this article in the Saudi Gazette today and felt it imperative I share it with my readers. Especially since I get so many emails from young American women who have fallen in love with, and considering marriage to Saudi students studying in America.

In the beginning of any relationship we all think our love is unique from others. Where other women might have suffered with their husband, we never will because our husband is so different and our love is so much stronger than others. Being in love is a fabulous feeling, but being realistic is equally important. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the words and feelings and forget about protecting ourselves while believing our husbands will always be our protector. But that’s a terrible mistake. What if your husband doesn’t end up being the Prince Charming you once thought he was? What harm is there in taking steps to protect yourself ‘just in case’?

As much as I love my husband and as wonderful as he’s always been… I’m still very protected by the steps I took. Yes, I love him dearly and trust him more than I’ve ever trusted anyone. But that’s not a guarantee of ‘forever’. Should anything happen and our marriage doesn’t last sure I’ll be heartbroken just like anyone would be at the end of a marriage. But I’ll take great comfort in knowing the only challenges I’ll need to overcome will be emotional. I’ll still own homes, cars, businesses, and be financially compensated. It’s a heck of a lot easier to get over a broken heart while you have a roof over your head and money in the bank.

So, for all of you young women considering marriage to a foreigner, please read the article below. Her situation is not uncommon. As a matter of fact, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard similar stories… and we’ve all seen the movies.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jessica and we hope her children are returned to her soon. I can’t imagine the loss and emptiness she must be feeling.

[Saudi Gazette]

“My three children, all under the age of eight, were abducted by my Saudi ex-husband on Nov. 24, 2013 and were taken to Saudi Arabia. When I’m asked in America why I married a man from Saudi Arabia, my response is always the same: “You can’t help who you fall in love with.” But my advice to anyone wishing to marry someone from a different country, a different culture, is to really think about how these differences will impact your marriage.

I always tried to look at the positives. Our children had a unique and beautiful opportunity to get the best of both worlds, expand their horizons and be exposed to the rich cultures of their parents’ heritage.

But I never thought about what would happen if our marriage didn’t work out. When you are in love, it’s hard to think: “What will happen to the children if we get divorced?” No one wants to think of divorce.

I became a Muslim in the summer of 2001. I then met and fell in love with a young Saudi student, and we married early in 2002. I thought, as many young women who are in love thought, that we would be able to handle any conflicts together. We discussed the differences in our backgrounds, but I dismissed any idea that I wouldn’t be able to live with him anywhere, as long as we were together.

I thought I was prepared when I moved to Jeddah in the summer of 2003. I was Muslim, it was a Muslim country. I was committed to my husband and to Islam. But the culture shock crept up on me, as I’m sure it has crept up on many. I became increasingly isolated and lonely.  I felt that I was letting down my husband with my unhappiness, and he acted like he agreed.

Our lives progressed and in the summer of 2012, my husband resigned from his job to accept a scholarship for his master’s degree in the US. I was content. I settled into homeschooling our older two sons. Our youngest son, developmentally delayed due to a congenital defect, was getting all the therapy he needed. I was close to my family. My husband was doing well in school. Our children were shining beacons of beautiful, open, friendly Muslims, better dawah (call to Islam) than I could ever give on my own.

But then, late in October of 2012, my world shattered. My husband came to me with an announcement. He had decided to take a second wife. I was shocked and then outraged when he told me the wedding would take place in five days, to a young woman who had become a Muslim only weeks earlier. I begged, pleaded with my husband not to rush into this marriage. We had been married for nearly 10 years and I did not believe I could live in a polygamous marriage.

We ended up separating. Through the pain of the destruction of my marriage, I wanted only what was best for our children. He assured me that he would always take care of them, that he would stay in America with his new American wife.

But things became increasingly strained between us. I felt that he became more controlling, irrational, and erratic as time went by. It was after I didn’t have enough money to buy groceries for our children and I became fearful of his actions towards me that I sought relief through the courts for child support and an official custody agreement.

We shared custody in the US, and negotiated the terms of an Islamic parenting plan, a contract, that scheduled travel to Saudi Arabia during the school holidays. This custody agreement was nearly done by the fall of 2013. He made every indication that he agreed with the arrangements. And then the worst night of my life happened. The children were supposed be dropped off at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24, after a regular visit to their father and new stepmother. But he never showed up. I texted, called, desperate to find the boys, with no response. I called hospitals, police, as I was worried about an accident. It was hours later that I found out that my children had left on a Saudi Airlines flight at 5:55 p.m. I literally fell to the floor in fear and grief. My children, who had never spent more than a night away from me, were gone. I had loved them and cared for them before they were even born. I had only ever wanted to do what was right for them. And they were stolen from me.

No one wants to think about divorce, about what will happen if their partner doesn’t honor the mother of his children and doesn’t respect the right of young children to remain with their mother. My children have been kept from me for six months. I have been trying, from the day they were taken, to either get them back, or get to them in Saudi Arabia. My ex-husband has refused mediation attempts. I have been trying to find help in any way possible.

The US government has filed kidnapping charges against my ex-husband and his new wife, who was recently arrested and charged with assisting in the kidnapping while traveling back to the US. Even more recently, I had a meeting with the Saudi Consulate in the US and I’m hoping for the best.

But meanwhile, the children live without their mother. They do not wake up to me making them breakfast. We do not take walks through the yard and learn about the things that live there. We do not sit together and read stories of the Prophets and Islamic poetry. We do not snuggle up at night before bed, reading and talking about our days. My house, once full of love and laughter, is quiet and empty.”

Grove Park Inn [Asheville, NC]

Before coming to the US I had a mental list of the places and things I really wanted to show my husband. Some were as simple as the local Walmart and others were a bit more ‘destination’. That really is one of the greatest things about America… every state has something truly awesome to offer and something amazing to see,

My mother was born and raised in Asheville, NC and much of her family is still there. My early childhood was spent there and I’ve always had such fond memories of our life there and many visits back for holidays and reuinions. So getting my husband to Asheville was definitely on the list. What to do and where to stay were no-brainers.

The Grove Park Inn is one of the finest hotels in the world. It’s been used as location for several movies and frequented by some of the world’s VIPs. Yet it manages to maintain such a sense of intimacy. As a guest of the Grove Park Inn you feel as if you’re the only person staying there. Their service is unmatched and everyone is made to feel like their need is the highest of priority.

Grove Park Inn

Grove Park Inn


Their Spa (with a variety of services for singles and couples) is voted one of the top 20 resort spas in the US by Condé Nast Traveler, while their golf course is said to be one of the finest in the world.

“Pamper yourself in our $50 million 43,000-square-foot subterranean spa featuring cavernous rock walls, arches, tunnels and 20 water features. The main pool area features two therapeutic waterfall pools, a warm mineral pool and lap pool with 6,500 fiber-optic stars embedded in the ceiling and constant underwater music. Enjoy exhilarating contrast pools, an inhalation room and eucalyptus-infused steam room. The 10 pools are mineral-based and chlorine-free, containing trace minerals of sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Three fireside lounges await you with overstuffed chairs, warm blankets, light snacks, hot organic teas and herbal infused waters. And step outside to enjoy fireplaces, whirlpool, and a tiered outdoor terrace with panoramic mountain views.”

“Our historic course was designed by Donald Ross and has played host to numerous PGA Tour events. Golf legends like Harry Vardon and PGA stars, including Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus, have played here. Even President Obama played a round in 2010. “

The interior and exterior of the hotel is breathtaking. Every detail is attended to. And nothing gets missed. Fresh flowers, roaring fires, and someone always willing to make sure your needs are met. To me this is the Emirates Palace of North Carolina but with a much more welcoming feel.

For the perfect romantic getaway the Grove Park Inn is still the place to go. It really is the epitome of classic elegance.

You can find all of their contact information on their website found here.

“Doubts Over Mixed Marriages” — Highly offensive article

While reading the Kuwait Times this morning I came across an article written by Muna Al-Fuzai which I find to be offensive, obtuse, and outright presumptuous.

When writing or sharing stories, we can only discuss what we have knowledge of. We can really only share personal experiences or something we’re intimately familiar with. Therefore, I have to question who her ‘source’ is. The story is written to be outright degrading to Western women to the point that it comes across bitter.


“This is the latest trend in marriages in Kuwait among expatriate women and Arab Muslim men! I’m not against mixed marriage, but I have my doubts over the success of these kinds of marriages, especially if each party has his or her own agenda to hook themselves to a stranger into a serious bond like marriage. (What agenda? Marrying someone they’ve fallen in love with?)

The Islamic marriage goes this way; the female is a Christian woman in her late forties, fifties or above, with no family back home or a spouse waiting. The male is a Kuwaiti or Arab man. The man, of course, has been married once if not several times. (I have never been a Christian, nor am I in my late 40’s, 50’s or above. My husband has never been married before and certainly not ‘several times’. He doesn’t have any other wife than me. This is the case with most Western women I know who are married to men from Kuwait. I would love to know her source for this statement.)

For them, it is an easygoing marriage in which they don’t have to spend much money and fulfils their fantasies of getting married to a Western woman with blue eyes and blonde hair. (I don’t have blonde hair or blue eyes. I was given exactly what is expected in the Kuwaiti culture, and probably even more since we had 2 cultural traditions to satisfy; gold, diamonds, dowry, marriage ceremonies on both sides of the world, houses, cars, etc. The difference is, I asked for NONE of it, nor did I expect it and even respectfully declined many things. I didn’t marry my husband for money, I married him for love. Should there come a day he can’t provide a comfortable life I certainly won’t be leaving him. Again, I believe every Western woman married to an Arab man [that I know] feels the same way.)

In fact, the men feel that they are undertaking a noble mission because these women convert to Islam in order to marry these Muslims men. Men feel proud, and the women could not find a better source to cover their expenses, needs and a secure shelter in case she is lucky to get pregnant and have a baby. (Cover their expenses? I thought we were cheap? Which is it? Writing an article with a number of contradicting statements show lack of research and/or limited sources. Resulting in an article based on emotion. Very poor writing at best. Oh, and lucky to have a baby?! Girrrrllll, put down that pipe.)

According to some of the sources, these woman are most likely homeless back home and broke. So they use Islam to solve their personal troubles. And this is why I reject and deny these kinds of marriages. (Homeless and broke? I’m a graduate degree holder from one of the most respected universities in the world. I’m proud to say I’ve always held lucrative positions of importance and eventually started my own company. While I do agree, there are many US contractors working in Kuwait making a ‘fair’ salary who are marginally educated and have no hopes of making a similar salary back home. Yet that doesn’t mean they’re broke or homeless. Nor does it mean they’re seeking to gain financially by marrying a man from Kuwait.)

In fact, most of the men, especially the Kuwaitis, don’t reveal their marriages with these women to their families and first, second and possibly third wives. (My husband’s family knew about me before they met me and long before we were married. They welcomed me with open arms and embraced me as part of their family. This is the case with the majority of those I’m familiar with as well. Except for one who has promised to marry a woman for years yet continues to hide her from his family.)

The fact that these women accept to stand in line with other women shows how desperate they are and I can’t blame the man because legally he is permitted to have four wives, but ethically I have never witnessed any successful marriage of this kind, Arabs or otherwise. (Of all the Western women I know in Kuwait who are married to locals, none of them are a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th wife [me included]. And though they’re all Muslim [many long before marriage] they are very clear they prefer to be the only wife… period. However, I am quite familiar with many Kuwaiti and other Arab women who are perfectly happy being in a multiple wife marriage.)

I can find an excuse for a Muslim woman to be in such a marriage due to the conservative nature of society, customs and tradition, but I fail to understand why any Western woman would come all the way to Kuwait just to be in such a marriage. (If by ‘Western’ she’s referring to Christian women why doesn’t she also address the fact that Christianity doesn’t recognize or allow multiple wife marriages?)

Islam is present all over the world, and she can find any Muslim man back home. It is a kind of unethical manipulation under the name of Islam. In our life today, we are witnessing some who use Islam to achieve their personal goals. Terrorists kill innocents under the name of Islam & they think they are serving their religion and some use their bodies to fulfil the needs of a man whom she would not even consider if she was in her twenties and had money. (What about the men who study abroad in the West and use Islam as their tool to manipulate women in their 20s who have money? Why is the man the victim? Because the woman is Western?)

These women accept these arranged marriages and live under stress just because of their needs. This kind of stress leads to many mental illnesses and more stress on the man who may put then put pressure on his kids or his other wives. I think there is a regulation about Kuwaiti men who marry non- Kuwaitis.

I wonder if it is ever implemented. The increase of such marriages has more negative outputs than good, and yet we are still watching these cases with no one trying to seek the root of the problem; the men for accepting such marriages or the women for making themselves goods for sale? I can never be against any kind of mixed marriage if it was for love and mutual understanding between a young couple who want to start a life together. But, when it is otherwise, I surely have my speculations over why it is happening.” (To make such a statement she should be required to show her source and a link to reputable studies to support this nonsense. I know in the most recent study done regarding Kuwait divorce rates local marriages had a much higher divorce rate than those who married a foreign woman.)


When someone is in a position to reach a high number of the population, you would think they would do so in a more responsible manner. Sadly, this article does nothing other than shine a negative light on a highly opinionated writer. It causes her to come across as bitter, angry, and even a bit jealous. It takes away from her credibility when it comes to future articles and leaves doubt in the mind of the reader in relation to her credentials.

Yeah, I’m disgusted.

Intercultural marriage and the holiday season

It’s been 10 months since we’ve moved to America and sometimes I’m still in awe. Especially now with the holiday season upon us. Our small town has been transformed into a winter wonderland overnight. Lights and wreaths on every street corner, a snow slide (with real snow), and families popping into the locally owned shoppes looking for that perfect gift. It really is quite Norman Rockwell’esque.

During our daily outings it’s inevitable that we’ll see something new which always causes me to squeal like a child. “Look, honey! Look! Santa and his sled!” My husband smiles, gently holds my hand, and lets out a few ooooh’s and ahhhh’s. Surely more for my benefit than his excitement. Don’t get me wrong, he’s loving the holiday season and watching everyone behave as if they’re starring in ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, but he’s not one to verbally express a lot of over the top emotion. There’s really only room for one drama queen. I win.

Several of our acquaintances have asked what we do to celebrate the holidays since my husband is from Kuwait, and how we handle the ‘differences’.  We don’t discuss religion but I assume they think I’m Christian because I’m American. And, well, I’ve never been Christian. I wasn’t raised in a Christian household and I don’t recall Christmas ever having a religious meaning in our family. No offense to anyone who celebrates it for religious reasons. But in our home Christmas was a commercial holiday much like Halloween and Thanksgiving. It was more about giving, volunteering, discovering ways to help others, and of course Santa and gifts.

Since my husband and I have been together we’ve spent Christmas in Kuwait. Each year he went above and beyond to make me comfortable as he was well aware of how I struggled through the holiday months. With every Christmas came gifts, social functions, and holiday dinners. He even suggested I put up a tree to ease my holiday blues, but I already stood out like a sore thumb in our neighborhood, I didn’t necessarily want a target on my back. I opted to be patient. I knew I would be home soon enough.


This is our first year celebrating the holidays together in America and so far we’ve not faced any cultural differences. Though I am certain Thanksgiving is going to bring some challenges. Those bags which come out of the turkey body contain things I would only ever feed to the pets. Unless my husband gets them first. Livers, hearts, etc. are a meal for him and he just doesn’t understand how I can view them as ‘non-edible’. I cringe at some of the things he can eat and have even reserved a small part of our freezer for his ‘special’ food.

I’m sure marrying a man with such an open mind has allowed our lives to be so ‘normal’. He doesn’t make a big deal out of anything and feels everything can be simple as long as we communicate. I had no doubt this holiday season would be magical because he’s educated, intelligent, Westernized, well traveled, and overall cultured. He doesn’t allow a difference in culture to determine who we are as a couple. Nor do I. When I’m a stressed out mess he’s the calm in the middle of my storm. And when something as important (to me) as holiday season comes along he’s going to do everything in his power to make it perfect.

I’m sure some couples struggle through the holiday season and not because they don’t love one another the same way my husband and I do. But probably because of religious differences. Intercultural marriages don’t face near the challenges interfaith marriages do. Christmas to some is the most religious holiday of the year and their form of celebrating involves lots of church activities (I’m clueless here). There’s always a risk such behaviors could be offensive to a spouse of another religion.

As for us, we’ll continue to indulge in performing arts, road trips, pets with Santa photos (uh-huh), baking cookies together, and local volunteer opportunities. After all, it is the season for giving.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones! And if you’re away from home, throw on a red scarf, grab a peppermint mocha, and bake cookies while listening to Christmas music. It’s what always got me through the rough times.