One of the most often read and commented posts on my website is about assumptions people make when you tell them you married an Arab. I tend to let the comments section just roll as people share their own stories and experiences. Some are good, some are bad. When I wrote that post I really wanted to share some of the crazy, and sometimes rude stereotypes people had/have about marrying a Moroccan man and felt no need to censor, sharing them openly with me.
I am really blessed that my husband and my marriage has largely defied those stereotypes. I know many other women (and men) whose relationships also defy them. I know yet others whose relationships fit the stereotype.
In this post I’m going to be brutally honest with anyone who is considering marrying a Moroccan man. Some of what I share transcends Morocco, but as I’m not as familiar with others I’m not really qualified to talk about them.
Family and children
These are essentially the two most important things that happen in Moroccan life. It’s also rarely just about the couple and much more about the joining of two families. Both men and women see marriage as a very important life milestone and aside from a select few, having children is a strong desire.
If you can’t have children either for health reasons or because you’re past the age of conception, you really need to think long and hard about how sincere and honest your partner is being if he says he doesn’t want children. Very often it happens a man will say he doesn’t want children or will say “whatever Allah wills” as a way to make it seem he is ok with not having children.
In some cases this works out, and not having children does not become an issue however more often than not it is a major issue and leads to the break-up of marriages. Don’t be surprised if this question comes up when speaking with immigration officials as they too are aware that children are an important component of marriage for Moroccan men.
Economic and educational status of your spouse will have some bearing on your relationship.
If your partner has been able to travel outside of the country they will likely have a much different worldview than somehow that has not. If they have received higher education than they too will have a different outlook and a wider set of opportunities. If they have zero opportunity in Morocco then they will be looking to leave the country.
Don’t become the way out if there’s no other basis to the relationship.
Socio-economic background has a role in every relationship, couple that with cultural and possibly religious difference and YOU WILL face challenges. For the majority of Moroccans there is limited opportunity to travel abroad so typically there isn’t as much general knowledge about life outside Morocco. Immigration is a crash course.
Even well-educated Moroccans can struggle to find work in their country. While your partner may have a degree that would lead to a well paying job abroad expect they will have to start over when they immigrate. Many international degrees are only partially transferable or not at all.
When your partner arrives and the reality hits that they may need to start over or take a very basic job – or even that they may not be able to work for a period of time it can lead to serious difficulties. Not to mention you may be the one financially responsible for an extended period of time. This can be a major strain on a relationship.
Geographic location in Morocco
A few weeks ago we took a trip to a village in the middle of the Atlas Mountains. We went through tiny villages some of which jogged my memory to conversations I’ve had with women “dating” men in Morocco. I was struck by the contrast of rural and urban Morocco.
I said to MarocBaba “can you imagine how hard the transition from life out here is to life in Marrakech, then imagine what it would be like to live here your entire life and get on a plane to the US!”
If someone told me I was going to have to live in a Moroccan village after getting married I would flat out say no. Life for a man there is HARD. Life for a woman in rural Morocco is REALLY HARD. There is a completely different subset of cultural rules and obligations.
Where your partner is from, how they grew up and the day to day reality of what their life is can not be minimized and must be considered.
Don’t Change Yourself to Fit some “ideal”
It’s not uncommon to hear of men asking their wives to change this or that to be “better.” If your partner asks you this, be prepared to stand up for yourself. Some may argue this is done as a way of “helping.” No, this is done as a means of controlling.
If someone truly loves you for who you are than he should be ready to accept who you are. If he can’t, walk away. Don’t think that his opinion will change over time because it won’t and it likely will only get worse.
Seriously, walk away.
There’s a sentiment in Morocco that jealousy is a sign of love. It’s pretty typical for men to be jealous of attention their wife or fiance may receive. This isn’t to say it’s bad for your partner to have these feelings but it can lead down a rocky road. You need to pay attention and if things are out of control then step back and reassess the situation. What may seem loving and endearing can quickly become controlling.
This may seem all bad but it’s not meant to be. Each person will internalize these scenarios in their own way. But, if you think I am being negative let me offer you the other side as well.
Loyalty and Dedication
A trait I’ve seen in every level of Moroccan society time and time again is the level of loyalty and dedication both men and women have to their families. I see this as quite noble and something that is nearly evaporated from western society.
There is no doubt a Moroccan man will be loyal and dedicated to the family he was born in. You may see that as a betrayal of your marriage and it takes time to grasp how family dynamics here work but know the infinite strength of the Moroccan family unit will extend to your new family. Just don’t expect your partner to completely cast aside his family loyalty as soon as you tie the knot. It won’t happen.
Traditional Gender Roles
Traditional gender roles are alive and well in Morocco, even if they are slowly being broken down by new generations. This might grate on western notions but it’s really not all negative. Moroccan men take pride in providing for their families.
It’s also a requirement that Muslim men care for their families financially. Even if the wife works outside the home, the money earned is hers and hers alone – it does not have to be used to provide for the family.
I’ve also seen that while men may appear to be the typical “macho” man on the outside in private it’s a different story. I see more and more men caring for their children, preparing meals, and doing daily tasks which is increasingly important as more women work outside the home.
Why are these traditional roles a good thing? Every dynamic is different but there’s something to be said for a husband who wants to provide for his family financially and wants to take the lead. Finding a good balance between the two is perfect.
Most Moroccans I know, men and women, have a “live and let live” policy when it comes to religion. They can be devout but they don’t pressure their friends, neighbors or loved ones to be the same way. They might encourage them or help them if asked but there’s no bad blood between them. In many marriages people have told me their spouse becomes more religious as time goes on.
This isn’t just unique to Islam or Moroccans there have been plenty of studies that show this is a general trend as people age. Having a partner who is grounded in their faith can be a huge positive on a relationship.
Coupled with the typical Moroccan attitude you can expect your partner isn’t likely to pressure you in your practice. It’s worth noting that Moroccan men can marry Christian and Jewish women and are encouraged to allow them to practice their faith unimpeded.
Contemplating a cross-cultural and potentially interfaith marriage is a big undertaking and really must be thought out. There is a lot of fraud relating to the marriage of Moroccan men to foreign women, it’s a fact and so it’s advisable to move forward with caution.
That being said, there are plenty of genuine, amazing, and wonderful Moroccan men that are exceptional husbands and fathers. My final piece of advice, don’t be blinded by vows of love and devotion, take your time and discover who the person really is. Consider all angles before diving in.
I’ve turned off comments on this post as I am contacted nearly daily about different relationship advice, help finding marriage partners, and whether or not I think someone’s relationship is real. I am not able to answer these questions (or provide matchmaking services) and hope that you understand.
I have been asked for more resources and help for people that are in or considering a long-term relationship with a partner of a different culture. So I created this digital guide to help you navigate the red flags, questions to ask yourself, and conversations to have with your partner. My hope is this resource will help you analyze your own situation without the need for outside input.
Monday 20th of July 2015
Hi...just want to ask. I have a morroccan bf. He loves with me and my daughter and my mother Here in the u.s. He is like Sharon s Moroccan man. Cook and etc. he had no kids. Neither of us are msrried. He has gone to visit his family this week and told me I can't come unless we are married. I talk to his brother online and he asked why I wasn't coming with him. I told him why. His parents know about me and they know about my family here. I just read somewhere that the men don't bring home girls unless they going to marry. Now I have an engagement but ...be didn't bring me there? He said they were asking for me when he arrived? ? So he told his brother to tell me he was sleeping and he goto there and then he called the next day. He was saying he can't wait to come home. Then he told me he'd call the next day...I know he is busy.he hasn't visited for 7 years. I can't help but feel on the back burner. He has texted. but like two texts. Each tIme. Gone a week now. My big question did he not bring me because he really isnt going to marry me? He said to me if I don't call him he would feel unimportant, im the one feeling like that! I'm just getting scared a little. Any thoughts?
Indiana Born and bread
Wednesday 15th of July 2015
Advice needed please. I met a Moroccan man from Fes last year on line. At first I would casually speak with him or not at all, he continued to contact me even though I mad it clear to him I had no interest in him, eventually I caved in and we really began to have in depth conversations. His English is good and he also speaks Spanish , which I do to, so we understood each other. Over the months I meet all his family, mother, father, sisters, brothers ..etc through Skype. In April I decided to go visit him, while there he asked me to marry him. I accepted. His family seemed to all accept me, and treated me with the utmost respect. Some background about me I am 48, divorced and kids grown, but I am still able to have children. He is 40 so its not a big age gap. He has never been married, nor has children, We have talked about what if I cannot have children, etc.. To him everything is fine. I am going back in October and we will get married, provided the Moroccan government accepts all my papers. 90 % of the time I really feel this is all legitimate and sincere and not after a green card. But I still have some doubt. Could this just be my nerves. I told him we did not have to live in the USA, I could move to Morocco, or we could live somewhere else. He has always said to me it is not about moving to America. Its about him loving me. How do I get over feeling like maybe I am being scammed.
Monday 6th of July 2015
Amanda, how jealous are Moroccan men and are they as bad as the other Mid East Arabic people?
Tuesday 7th of July 2015
I don't really think this is something that can be generalized. It really depends on the person. I don't feel right offering any type of opinion on it as it will vary so much person to person.
Sunday 5th of July 2015
I met a Moroccan man online in April. We had our first date in May & have been together ever since. My story is alittle different. He's been in the USA for 10 yrs & has 2 kids here w an ex girlfriend who did him extremely wrong. I also have 2 kids, I'm 39 & he's 35. I've never been w a Muslim before. When we started talking I didn't know he was one. Over the pass few months I have developed strong feelings for him & he for me. Alot of people have said bad things & have miss assumptions bc he's Muslim. I told him that I don't want more kids. He agrees. I've never been treated better in my life. He's a great man, a wonderful father. He accepts me for me & doesn't push his religion on me. He loves his family back in Morocco, esp his mom but doesn't wanna live there again. I've never been happier, I'm just hoping that people will c him for him & not his religion. He's unlike anyone I've ever meet, he cooks, cleans, supports me going back to school. He's everything I've ever wanted in a man. I'm thinking this is going to last. We live a hr apart, I'm planning to move closer to him in February, we call & text several times everyday, he calls me when he's in bed so he can go to sleep talking to me. I wish everyone could be opened minded to interracial/ inter religious relationships bc I've never been happier. Is the way he is typical for a Moroccan man?
Tuesday 7th of July 2015
I think if he makes you happy and you're at peace it doesn't matter much how typical or atypical he is. Every person is different and it sounds like you've found someone that you enjoy being with and vice versa!
Friday 26th of June 2015
I met a really nice guy in Essaouira. We are close in age (he is 3 years older), and we had a lovely time. He is a gentle soul, very respectful, earnest guy. He totally wears his heart on his sleeve, and after what I will admit was a super romantic evening (nothing scandalous) , he pretty much put it all out there about how he feels about me. Long story short, I'm back home and we've been talking over the phone for 2 months now. One thing bothers me though. Whenever we talk, he is outside--either alone or with his friends (who I met in Essaouira). He lives with his older sister, and if I call him when he's home, he is super quiet or runs to another room. I asked him about this, and he admitted that he hasn't mentioned me to his sister or anyone else in the family. I'm not expecting an announcement or anything, but I was able to casually tell my sister and father about him. I feel like if you're hiding something/someone, maybe it's because you feel like you're doing something wrong...which IMO means you should stop. I told him this, and he agreed that that usually is the case, but says it's not in this circumstance. He thinks it's very bizarre that I can talk to any family members about him, and he says it's unusual in Morocco unless you're going to introduce your wife. Do you find this to be true? I'm trying not to make this a big deal if it's a cultural issue because my brain is thinking of other possibilities/reasons. I might go see him in September and I'm wondering what would we even do? Am I not going to meet your sister? What will you tell her about where you are?
Saturday 27th of June 2015
I would say it's largely true, it's not common to bring a girl home ever unless it's your wife or someone you want to or plan to marry if you're older. Though if something feels strange to you then you should certainly listen to your gut. It is very uncommon for Moroccans (men or women) to talk about someone of the opposite sex that is not their spouse.