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Which Type of Marriage Works with Arabs? Love or Traditional?

posted on: Jun 13, 2018

By: Randa Necola/Arab America Contributing Writer

Throughout the history of marriage among Arab Americans, many of them have gotten married in the traditional way, as they went along with their parents choice of whom to marry. This method of marriage was greatly influenced by the values and traditions practiced in individual cultures and societies. The Arab history does not fall short of experiencing marriages that are bonded by love. The Arab literature has documented famous love stories and epics that are known to be some of the best love stories like Antar and Abla or Kais and Laila. Arabs and Arab Americans get married through the traditional way and through the modern way which is based on love. It’s crucial to remember that the type of marriage chosen varies among Arab societies depending on many factors such as the geographic region, religion, education, and mobility.

Traditional Marriage 

The traditional marriage is the old-fashioned method that Arabs and other cultures used in the past. This form of marriage is characterized by arranging a man and a woman, by the command of their parents, to get married. This reality may sound very weird and oppressive for anyone to hear or understand. However, at that time, Arabs focused on creating a mutual level of respect for both men and women to follow. Arab families taught their children that women should obey their men and men should respect their women which helped the newlyweds to live with each other throughout their lifetime due to its cultural importance. In addition, the parents calculate the compatibility among the couple in terms of financial, religious, reputation, and educational background before they propose the marriage and in fact, they assure the couple that love will be felt deeply after the marriage. There is a stereotype that Arabs still get married traditionally, but this is actually is happening rarely in the Arab World and among Arab Americans. Not to mention, in the old days, love marriage happened too and there were many famous love stories that were like epics for tribes and countries.

Modern/Love Marriage

Love is not a new thing that the west transmitted to the east through globalization. Love has always been present in the Arab way of life, even some of the best-known love stories came from there. Such stories deeply influenced the lives of many who read them. The Arab love stories deeply influenced and affected Arabs’ and Arab Americans’ minds as countless couples began to live as the love stories. Arabs and Arab Americans grow to love people from outside their own family circles; they express their affection and intention to marry them to their parents, and it successfully happens. However, some experience difficulties from their Arab families because some of the parents of the older generation got married the traditional way and want their children to do the same because it worked for them. Recently, many Arab and Arab American men have proposed to Arab women to show their love and many parents have no issue with their children getting married the non-traditional way.

Semi-Love Semi-Traditional Marriage 

Combining both methods, traditional with the modern/love way is known among many Arabs but rarely among Arab Americans. It’s when the man visits the woman’s home and expresses his intentions of a possible life with the daughter. The parents usually give them an opportunity to get to know each other through many interactions over a period of time, under some supervision of the woman’s family. much more before they can ultimately decide if they will get married. This is actually both: a traditional way because it happens through the acceptance and blessings of both families but it’s modern in that the couple gets to know each other very well and make the ultimate decision about marriage. As mentioned above, this was and still is used mostly in the Arab World because it follows the cultural code that the parents must give the blessings, but it also allows the youth to decide what they actually want for themselves.

Yes, I do…… 

The traditional marriage used to work in the earlier days when people’s cultures taught them how to manage this kind of marriage. Nowadays, the modern way of marriage, based on love is the most used type of marriage in the Arab World and in America. They are definitely are departing from the traditional as young people decide about their education and careers and individuality; however, Arabs and Arab Americans young people still make sure that their marriage is blessed by their parents. Young people use their own minds to make their own decisions and women have their rights equal to men. This cultural change is a great thing for Arabs and Arab American young people because their marriages are based on love and at the same time they practice their culture by showing much respect for parents’ opinion and blessings. At last, love, mind, and tradition all win!