In Egypt today, finding a suitable husband is an issue, especially with the rising number of unmarried women relative to the available men. The statistics vary, saying that the ratio of single men to women, is 1:4, some say, 1:7……..the figures vary significantly, and are generally like most of our local statistics are not very accurate. However, a general phenomena one can easily notice, is that there are a lot of single girls around, and this does not include divorced or widowed women, but simply women, who were never married before. In my opinion, there is not much that females can do about this situation, as the expected Egyptian norm is for them to wait for their naseeb to be, to come and knock on their doors.
While there is an abundant supply of single women, surprisingly enough, there is also a plentiful supply of single Egyptian men, at all ages. Then where does the problem lie? Shouldn’t this solve the problem?
Well, apparently not. In trying to find out why- we need to look, at how an Egyptian male, searches for an Egyptian bride, for marriage purposes.
To start off, we can split the Egyptian males wanting to get married, into two types: the Man who lives in Egypt, and the Man who lives outside of Egypt, yet wants to marry someone from his homeland.
Men Living in Egypt
The men, who live in Egypt, usually start looking at their immediate family for potential brides. They usually resort to their mother’s for help, or any close, elderly married female family member. The type of men who resort to the family, are usually traditionalists and without an established social network, through which he has access to meet single women. The female relative takes from the man, his requirements in a bride. The requirements may vary, according to how picky the man is, his age, and his experience with the female gender. The requirements can be categorized according to the appearance, the socio-economic status, the family, the education, or how religious the female is. The requirements demanded in each category will be dependant on that of the male himself; i.e. his own socio-economic background, his education or simply his aspirations. For example, he might not be financially secure, however, would like to marry someone who is financially secure to support him. Or someone who is from a modest social background, yet financially secure, and wants to marry a wife from an upper class family, to give him social status. The requirements, depending on their depth and length, serve as a mental checklist for the male and the female, who is getting him women to consider.
Some men, who use this approach, are quite sincere in their search for a bride, and also realistic, in terms of what they can attain and equally offer. They are usually honest too about what they can offer. These men are the fastest to marry, as they are usually more easy to please, once their basic requirements have been fulfilled.
Work and Among Friends
The usually more liberal Egyptian males will do the search themselves and not rely on their families. Their search for a bride will be either at social clubs, work or at friends’ outings and gatherings. Just like everyone else, they do have their preferences, and a mental checklist of the girl whom they want to marry. The checklist here, is more of a flexible checklist, as these men usually spend time getting to know the women, hence there is room for emotions to develop, versus simply judging based on the surface, and one initial meeting. These men can compromise on requirements, as they are not aggressively shopping for a bride, despite the fact that, there are abundant opportunities for them to meet many women effortlessly. This approach, although informal, it is free from family pressures, and allows the couples to make decisions on their own on whether a relationship between them, is possible or not. All that being said, not all men who claim to be searching for a wife among friends are sincere, some might simply claim an interest in marriage, to get into temporary relationships with women, and leave them without an ounce of remorse afterwards.
Men who use either of the previous search methods, can see more than one bride a time simultaneously, this depends on how emotional the male is. Some men feel very heartless about the process, they view it as a shopping process, devoid of emotions; a no strings attached approach. The shopping process is usually calculated, and when you are shopping, you usually aim to get the best value for your money, or the best that is possibly out there in the market, if you can afford it.
Crossing the First Phase
Once the man has settled on a girl, whom he initially likes or thinks there is potential chemistry with, there comes the character compatibility analysis and the thorough family check. While the initial meeting, usually takes place outside the bride’s house (depending of course on the traditions of the family), the second meeting takes place in the girls home. The objective of this is usually to talk to the potential bride to be more, talk to her parents, in terms of getting further acquainted, and discussing financial expectations. The definition of this stage is usually dependant on the male’s perception and character; for example, some men view this, as the negotiation phase- when the bargaining takes place. While other men, can view this, as merely just social formalities.
There are many things that can go wrong at this phase, the girl’s family makes high financial demands, the girl realizes that the groom’s nose shines in the morning, or the groom notices that the girl’s small left toe, is not equal in size to her small right toe, which can cause severe damage to the marital relationship. Or, the families get into disputes about materialistic issues. Or also, the couple might conclude based on several meetings that they simply do not match.
Now- the result of this is either a Go or No Go. If it is a go, then it is zaghareed on both families, if it is a no go, well, theoretically no hard feelings taken by both parties, who will start the cycle again with someone else, until they find a life mate.
The Egyptian Living Abroad
It does us Egyptian women pride, when we realize that our fellow countrymen choose us over the other beautiful women of the world. The Egyptian man, working or the one who was even raised abroad, most of the time comes home back to Egypt, to search for an Egyptian wife. A lot of the time, the requirements these men wish for in an Egyptian wife, are very unrealistic requirements, especially in the expectation that women raised in Egypt are more “obedient” and “less career-oriented” than women living in the West. These men, often seek an educated bride, equal in beauty to the women they see abroad, modern yet virtuous and maintains the traditions of her family. These men usually resort to families for help with introductions to brides. They usually come for short vacations, in which they aim to “seal the deal” as quickly and as efficiently as possible, so they can go back to work and their orderly lives. However, more often than not, these men are often disappointed with the caliber of the brides, and this is mostly due to their high expectations. If the men do approve of the bride, they mostly approach the issue with extreme practicality to finalize the marriage procedures as fast as possible, and to some extent they are justified, as they are bound by time restraints.
At the end of the day, marriages do occur, as evident by the price of wedding halls and wedding planner fees inEgypt. Whether these marriages fail or succeed is another issue. Apparently, for the Egyptian male, the marriage process is hectic to the degree, that it is possible to forget about the end goal that one has in mind- which is a peaceful life with a partner whom they love or can love one day.