Being in Saudi Arabia exposes you to a certain level of conformity to the expat wife stereotype; you can resist though. The Saudi Arabia expat wife is, by definition, a nice person who has a community with lots of tea parties, and a member of 100,000 whatsapp groups; remembers and participates in birthday parties, ladies nights, garage sales, visits to the gold and abaya souq and probably cannot go out unless her husband drives her around –and returns from all these adventures before the kids return from school!
“Do not respond to peer pressure when it comes to social norms”
It is hard for some, like myself, to naturally play along with this role. I hate the confined space I have, and the lack of personal space. I am also not a social butterfly, so it gets hard for me to remember names and events, and take photos with random strangers I do not give two shits about! So what do I do? I don’t do!! I only go to the events and parties for the people I genuinely care about. The ones whose company I wholeheartedly enjoy, and trust me they are a few! The peer pressure to measure your social status with how much you do, versus how happy or satisfied you are is just negligible to me. Do not respond to peer pressure when it comes to social norms; or you will lose yourself in the midst of what others are doing!
“Saudi Arabia is no break from your marriage”
Saudi Arabia is a good opportunity to work on your marriage… sounds weird, I know. Being an expat wife –for so many people– is about all the things you are going to be doing with others; not with your husband. Well, Saudi Arabia is no break from your marriage; it is actually an opportunity for the two of you to work on your sense of togetherness –in a community that takes away from your personal space. So why not have more romantic dinners at home? Take his opinion on more things, and spend more time with him, and your friends, having movie nights and enjoying the intimate social calendar of your family. You see, you have an almost empty calendar, fill it with the important things, rather than the things that everyone else is doing.
I will say this again and again: Saudi Arabia is a matter of perspective; just like any other place in which you are alienated from your roots, comfort zone and your social circle, you have the choice to fill this relaxed life with the things that are important to your happiness, and will contribute to your overall well-being.
HR Guru and Savy Mom!
Photo by Heba Begawi