I did a small survey among my network of both men and women on why do they think divorce rates have increased? And more importantly, why is divorce an easy decision to take nowadays? Most of the answers I got were typical, “he is irresponsible”, “I was supporting the house”, “no appreciation”, “terrible sex life”… etc. One answer turned my life upside down. One beautiful, young, professional 31 year old mother of two had a different response. She smiled at me, “expectations”, she said. I wondered what she meant and I waited for her to explain, but that was the only thing she said. Expectations, my dear.
Let this be for now.
A few years back, women in Egypt got married the only way they knew; arranged marriages. Her mother would force her into a beautiful soiree dress, the highest heels she could manage, get that hair straightened strand by strand, and drag her to a distant cousin’s wedding and show her off to all those attendees, hoping that she will get a call the next morning from another mother looking to get her son married off. As sad and desperate as it sounds, it did work. and still does sometimes.
“The ones that fell in love before their marriage continue to love each other, and the ones together because of arranged marriage learn to fall in love later.”
Only the lucky ones would meet someone at work or university and start a magical love story where they stand against all, and end up happily married. This also worked then and still continues to do. The only difference between both marriages was the way the topic was handled. One lady had her fair chance to choose the man of her dreams from the beginning, and the other was introduced to this man. She also had the right to say yes or no. No one – that I know of at least – was forced into marriage. I look at those beautiful ladies married for 20 something years, and I see the same end result. Regardless of the beginning, both women are working hard to make ends meet. Both women have their share of happiness and sadness. The ones that fell in love before their marriage continue to love each other, and the ones together because of arranged marriage learn to fall in love later.
Today, How many 30 – 35 year old (sometimes younger) ladies do we know who are divorced or seeking divorce? I lost count. How many unhappy women do you know who are either forced to live with their jerk husbands or continue in a relationship where she is lonely, miserable, unhappy, battered and broken hearted? I often find myself wondering, what went wrong? Women today have every right to pick and choose from the pool of men they are surrounded by. At work, at the gym, at the club, in Marina, over Social Media; the choices are everywhere! She can now choose and enforce her choice over her family, and out loud say “this is the man I love and this is the man I am marrying”. Families approve. Everyone is happy. A couple of years – sometimes even months – later, something seriously wrong happens. Separation and divorce take place. Why?
Back to expectations.
“How many unhappy women do you know who are either forced to live with their jerk husbands or continue in a relationship where she is lonely, miserable, unhappy, battered and broken hearted?”
I thought thoroughly of what this lady had to say. I looked at my marriage and I analyzed it. The truth of the matter is, I do have a stable, happy marriage, but when things boil and the fights come, the only logical reason behind it is that we have expectations. We, women, set very high expectations as to what our marriages should look like. We assume that men understand, so we never tell them our expectations out loud. Men do not understand; our expectations shatter everywhere. We are heartbroken and we do not even know why.
My birthday comes up, and I have all these Facebook birthday dreams in my head. I would like to walk into a room filled with balloons and 50 designer shopping bags of shoes, makeup and this amazing diamond bracelet. I walk into the room and my husband is holding his phone, in his shorts, takes a look at me and smiles, “happy birthday dear!” Where are the balloons? Where are the shopping bags? Diamonds, perhaps? Nope, we can not afford this because we just paid for school.
“We, women, set very high expectations as to what our marriages should look like. We assume that men understand, so we never tell them our expectations out loud. Men do not understand”
Birthdays are a small topic. Women have other major expectations. Sharing the responsibility is one of them; instead of assuming she is capable of doing everything. She can go grocery shopping, to the soccer practice, manage her job, do the cooking, and raise the kids. Simply, women have become the men they wanted to marry. This by itself is a deal breaker.
The only difference between my mother and I is our different set of expectations. Men have not changed, women have, and this only allowed men to become less active and less keen on changing. To prove ourselves strong, we take a burden that we can not really handle. In the middle of a fight, your man would stare at you, thinking, “where is this all coming from?” And you would think, “is he blind?” Yes, he is blind. He can not see your feelings, or hear them. If you did not sit down and say them out loud, in simple words, he will not see them or feel them. Men are not complex creatures; they are as simple as a calculator. I have nothing against women, but I for sure have something against silent women. If you do not express yourself, thinking this is the stronger approach, you lose.
“In the middle of a fight, your man would stare at you, thinking, “where is this all coming from?” And you would think, “is he blind?” Yes, he is blind. He can not see your feelings, or hear them.”
My mother was not weak, she was not stupid, and she was definitely a survivor. She had her role set right, and she had her expectations at a common sense level. She knew just what to give and what to take. I, sometimes, chase after my dreams; alone, quietly, and end up heartbroken, alone and quietly. Don’t we all?
A mother, a wife, a survivor and the Egyptian Fatonista