Last year I wrote a post about assumptions people make when I tell them my husband is Arab. It has gone on to be one of the most popular posts I’ve written. I have always had the intention of writing the opposite side of the equation – assumptions people make about American wives – but I wanted MarocBaba to write it. He’s not as good with words as me (his admission not mine) so I decided I would just verbally interview him and write it myself. Ready?
She’s going to take your kids from you.
Funny how this one made both lists. I think that for any international couple international abduction becomes a troublesome spot. For every country there is sure to be at least one story of a parent taking a child and escaping to their home country or elsewhere. The reality is this has nothing to do with where a parent is from but circumstances often beyond our scope of understanding.
For men who come from societies that favor the father in cases of divorce or child placement, wading into an American legal system that often favors the mother can feel like the odds are already stacked against them. Of course, when you’re just starting a marriage this is a heavy topic to put into things – it’s like already determining divorce will happen.
She’ll leave you.
Divorce is not as common in many Arab countries where marriage is taken as a lifetime commitment and divorce is frowned on. Many Moroccan men have said they are afraid their partner will get bored and decide to divorce them nilly willy. They see divorce on TV shows and movies and those are the realities they impart on everyday life. Family members and friends will say the same thing when they propose marriage with an American woman. The assumption is that marriage for American women is not taken as seriously.
She’ll do whatever she wants without taking you into consideration.
Relationships have a give and take and in traditional Arab societies it’s normal and expected that a wife would ask and inform their husband of plans that they have. This isn’t saying they are asking permission (in some cases they are) but rather checking in. The assumption is that an American woman will do whatever she wants, whenever she wants, with whomever she wants and her husband will be a second thought.
This is a huge generalization of course however it can be partially true. In a society where people even in marriage have autonomy someone entering the society who doesn’t understand the social dynamics may feel this is what is happening – if if that’s not the intention. This is one reason it’s really important to have conversations about topics such as this prior to marriage.
Many couples have expectations of the other based on social norms. Those norms aren’t even considered until the situation arises.
She will cheat on you.
This assumption goes hand in hand with the second assumption. American women are often seen as promiscuous even in the context of marriage. Again, thanks to movies and television the reputation has been reinforced in one of the only ways people have access to information. While in reality American women are neither more or less likely to commit adultery than a person of any other nationality.
An important consideration to make here is that in the US it is very normal for women to have male and female friends. This isn’t the case in North Africa or the Middle East – for the most part. If you have a male friend then chances are good your partner will see them as a threat.
She won’t care about your family.
There is a very strong assumption that Americans are individualistic and selfish. In Arab societies it is a given that children will care for their parents both financially and physically when the parents age. Many times older siblings are also expected to help younger siblings with school fees and more.
The assumption is that by marrying an American, that child will not be able to do this because the foreign wife will not accept or assist with this. I’ve personally known of marriages that were canceled because of the fear the foreign wife wouldn’t accept the need to care for the husband’s parents or siblings.
She can’t take care of you like a Moroccan woman could.
This is Amanda, I’m adding this one because MarocBaba wouldn’t fess up to it but I’ve heard this both plainly to my face, and as a sidebar when people didn’t think I was listening. There’s a bit of a feeling that the only kind of woman who can properly care for a Moroccan man is a Moroccan woman. I get that. Own it ladies.
But you’re underestimating your brethren.
No man, not a Moroccan man, or a Chinese man, or an Australian man, or an American man NEEDS a woman to take care of him. As adults men can take care of themselves. That being said, I know many American women who are just as capable of managing a home, career, and family.
The list of assumptions could go on a long time (in both situations) but I wanted to highlight the ones that come up most often. I really had to push MarocBaba to tell me the things that he heard because he didn’t want me to think anyone had said bad things about me. I don’t take any of this personally, and if you’re an American woman reading, you shouldn’t either.
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Saturday 25th of April 2020
My Moroccan Muslim husband gets messages on FB from Muslim women telling him that he should not have married me, an American Christian woman.
Friday 23rd of August 2019
Besides the last one, I would think we should not generalize with the other assumptions. I rarely, if not never, heard Moroccans assuming that an American wife will abduct the kids, leave the husband, or cheat on him. However, i strongly agree with the last assumption. Many people may not know that an American wife can manage a home and a family on her own. She will cook, do laundry and groceries, go to work, clean, take the kids out, feed, change diapers, etc on her OWN! Many Moroccan wives would go hysterical if they find themselves short of help... just for one day! Life can stop!
Friday 21st of February 2020
It's actually the norm for American women to manage their households (cleaning, feeding, transporting, etc.) and/or jobs, without any help from anyone. Because Americans tend to live farther away from their families, and families don't come over to help with chores the way they do in Morocco. Every individual is different, but I think in general American women do as much or more housework and childcare, on their own, as any other nationality.
Sunday 2nd of June 2019
Thank goodness for your blog. It always enlightens me to learn and to understand Morocco and it’s traditions. I am married to a Moroccan man and I am American. I have had so many men tell me from the MENA countries that I have the ways of a Muslim woman and that draws their attention quickly. I think getting to understand the ways and expectations of the culture before committing to anything is a start. Thank you for everything that you publish because it helps me be a better person
Tuesday 8th of August 2017
I think there is a strange phenomena with the mothers of Moroccan husbands. I think they are less apt to welcome any wife - much less an American wife.
Why? There seems to be some insecurity and control issues that Moroccan mothers have.
I can only speak from my own experience. My Moroccan boyfriend is nonpracticing Muslim and his mother manipulates lines in the Koran that mean "respect your mother" to mean "do not love another woman or treat another woman well besides your mother."
So a stereotype is that an American woman is going to use her sexuality, education, and charisma to overshadow the mother.
Another stereotype is that the American (or even moroccan wife) will head the household this marginalizing the mother's control over her adult son.
There is no competition in love because it is a different type of love (not better or worse just different). A mother can not compete for the love a man gives to his wife and vice versa.
I think a stereotype is that the American woman will cause the mother to experience insecurities, jealousies, and to feel inadequate as a woman.
Saturday 24th of August 2019
The culture breeds narcissistic behavior imo and maaaaany mothers here practice it over their sons.
Sara sasson settouti
Saturday 27th of May 2017
My husband is of Moroccan native and I married him in city hall of New York Manhatten and he promised me that he will marry me also in a mosque even though we are in Casablanca he hasn't done so yet he just keeps on promising and promising me things and still hasn't done them yet My big Question is Do we still have to get married in Muslim faith cause the American marriage doesn't exist here in Morocco I'm not considered married at all according to the law here in which I'm afraid that my husband will come by himself and marry another woman here what do I do if he doesn't do it like he promised me I'm so confused and at the same time I love him very very much
Monday 29th of May 2017
You need to have an Islamic marriage certificate to register your marriage in Morocco. I think you may have a bigger issue however if you're worried about your husband returning to Morocco to marry someone else. Even an Islamic marriage in the US doesn't mean your marriage is recognized in Morocco - there is a process you have to go through to have it done.