Saturday, July 9, 2011

Marriage: Marry someone in the US or Afghanistan?

Well it's summer time and the wedding season is upon us once again. Before I was married, I didn't really pay attention to weddings or was very interested in how weddings were conducted. I was always more interested in how a 'marriage' would work in today's times. I wondered, would I marry an afghan who was raised in the states, such as myself, or listen to the elders and marry an afghan man living in Afghanistan and do a service for the family and bring him into the US, as many people have done. Alhumduillah, my fate was for the best and I am married to the man of my dreams!

I do think it is important to shed light on an issue facing young unmarried Afghan single men and women. As in the Afghan culture, parents have a great say in how, when and whom their child marries and one of the biggest choices is: Will they marry someone from the US, an Afghan that was raised and hopefully educated here, or is it more honorable to marry someone from back home and bring them into the US after marriage.

I'd like to point out that Afghan men do tend to marry more females from Afghanistan and bring them into the states as they are considered more 'pure' and can easily be treated as a housewife, than to Afghan females who are raised in the states. There are also many single Afghan women in America who do the same, just not to the same extent as men.
It is difficult for an Afghan woman to marry in Afghanistan and bring her husband to the US. Most likely, he will not be accomplished or educated in the US, lacks English language skills (pragmatics) and will generally, have a worldview that is heavily influenced in Afghanistan (such as gender roles) to be able to live a successful life with his Afghan-American wife. The wife maybe already accomplished career wise, educated and in general was raised by American cultural standards (enjoys driving, coming and going as she pleases, eating out, shopping, etc). This lifestyle is normal to anyone living in the states, however, to someone coming from Afghanistan, they would not know how to react or handle the situation if the their wife did the aforementioned, while they sat at home as the house-husband ( very uncommon for Afghan men or most men for that matter!).

For Afghan-American single men, marrying and bringing a wife from Afghanistan can have it's benefits if one seeks a traditional role in all situations. I am not saying that Afghan-American women are not traditional ( hey I still cook and clean!). The main thing to ask oneself when considering marriage to someone from Afghanistan is: Who and Why and how will we live compatibly in the US with such different backgrounds and viewpoints?

This same questions should be asked if one is playing to marry an Afghan from the states: Are you marrying them because of convenience or because you truly want to create a meaningful life with someone special? If you are considering getting married to someone in Afghanistan, are you capable and ready to solely financially support them? Guide and teach them the American culture? Let them start/finish their education in the US and support them if they chose to have a career? Sometimes, for men, it is easy to think that if they bring a wife from Afghanistan, she will not have any of the same wants and needs as their Afghan-American women counterparts, but they do! They too have dreams of wanting to be educated, have the freedom to chose their wardrobes, provide for the families back home and assist them and also be the dream wife and mother.

We sometimes forget, that simply because we 'bring' someone from Afghanistan, they no longer have needs or wants as ourselves who were raised here and they should just be grateful and fulfill all duties that are required of them because they were ‘saved’ from a life in Afghanistan. Anyone, who chooses to bring a future spouse from Afghanistan, must be ready to care for them, give them emotional support (they most likely left their homes for the very first time and left everyone they ever knew to come be with you). They need financial support (don't forget their family! Anyone who gets married to someone in the US, is expected to contribute financially throughout their lives to the spouse's family back home).

All in all, marriage is work with anyone regardless of where they grew up. It takes patience and understanding which start from day one of their life together. Communication becomes key and one thing Afghans are great at is: talking! We love to express who we are and what we think if given the opportunity. So men, give your wife the encouragement and freedom to speak what she feels so that life is built upon love and understanding. Whether one marries an Afghan girl from the US or from Afghanistan communication is the basis for true love and a marriage that will last. Communication provides the  freedom for each person to understand who they are and what they are capable of giving to you.

Written by: Afghan Wife