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Family Matter
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momoffour
 
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Quote momoffour Replybullet Topic: hate living in Saudi Arabia; husband won't move
    Posted: 13 September 2008 at 10:28am
My husband and I are currently living in Saudi Arabia with our two little boys.  We have been here now for five years.  He is of Yemeni decent and I am from the US.  I have two older children from my first marriage.  They didn't like Saudi from the beginning and I sent them home to live with relatives.
 
I've come to hate the culture and way of life in Saudi and I want us all to move to America so we can all be together.  My mother is also getting elderly and will require home care soon and I want to do that for her.
 
My husband refuses to move.  He says he wants his boys raised as arabs.
 
I'm feeling very guilty about my older children and think that I owe to them to try and get this family all together. 
 
What advice can you give me as to what comes first: my obligation to my husband or my obligation to my children?  I believe it is to my children, but I have a hard time thinking that if I leave, I will be leaving my babies as he will not let them come with me and I will be breaking my husband's heart.
 
Thanks for taking the time to read this!
 
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Hayfa
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Quote Hayfa Replybullet Posted: 14 September 2008 at 2:45am
Asalam Alaikkum,
 
Welcome ot  the Forum.
 
How old are your older children?
 
I am not sure of any legal ruling persay, but what about Saudi culture do you not like? Changing cultures is a shock to say the least.  Some people find it more challenging than others. I am sure it was hard for your older children.
 
Have you made friends there?
 
Obviously you miss your children. I know parents who send their kids to different countries for different reasons, I know one woman who sent her kids back to Kenya after her teenage niece ended up unwed and pregnant in the states. It makes it hard on families.
 
I am not sure any solution wil lbe completely satisfactory to all. Hard as it is. My Duas for you.
 
Hayfa 
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. Rumi
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Quote momoffour Replybullet Posted: 14 September 2008 at 7:16am

Thank you for the welcome!

My older children are 16 and 14 years old; the older one is a boy, the younger a girl.  They both are at very sensative ages.
 
We have been here in Saudi for five years and I have made acquaintances, but not friends.  I am not a social person. 
 
What do I not like about Saudi?  Wow, where do I start?  In general, I find the muslims here in a state of "I'm the most important one here" state of mind.  There is a lack of common courtesy.  Everyone here is so quick to judge.  The nature of things occurs in the evening, making the average bed-time around 2 am.  Those that don't work end up sleeping until noon.  The streets are so littered, no one seems to care about their city or the environment.  Its no big deal to be driving, following a car, and watch a plastic bottle go bouncing out the window or entire trash bag full of trash.  I've witnessed price gouging due to the fact that I'm an American.  My husband can walk into a store right after me and ask for the price and we are stunned at just how low they dropped the price for an Arab.
 
I could go on and on, perhaps I should write a book.  But that's not my concern right now.  I just have a guilty feeling inside me about my children and feel I have to act and do something.  I found this inspirational quote this morning and thought wow, this is speaking to me.
 
Man improves himself as he follows his path; if he stands still, waiting to improve before he makes a decision, he'll never move.

-Paulo Coelho

Thanks for getting back to me.

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Quote abuayisha Replybullet Posted: 14 September 2008 at 8:12am
Dear Momoffour, first of all I totally understand your feelings about the Kingdom, and this is why I have my wife in Los Angeles.  First, I suggest that you take a vacation for at least three to six months back home in America.  This will allow for a proper "perspective" to return, which will assist you in making rational decisions for your future.  It was a big mistake to split the family and send your children back to the US, which undoubtedly must contribute to your unhappiness.  Once you've taken a vacation consider the following suggestions: By the way, are you a Musllim?  Anyway, there are a few cities in Saudi which I consider less difficult to live in for an American - Abha and Al Baha, which are both close to the Yemeni border.  Also, if your husband can work for Saudi Airlines or Aramco, they both have large housing complexes throughout the Kingdom, where you will find other Western families, Muslim and non-Muslim, this may be more socially and culturally to your liking.  Likewise you may want to explore moving the family to Bahrain or Dubai, which are both "Arab" but also more "Western" and thus you and your husband both can feel somewhat satisfied.  Whatever decision you take bring the other children back into the family, unless they are ready to enter college, and this would interfere with their education.  Lastly, if you haven't already, I suggest that you learn the Arabic language.  This will allow for greater social integration and literacy in your new home country.  Oddly, there are many Western converts who would love to be in your position, although most have zero idea of the difficulties living in Saudi.  It must be awful to feel trapped in such a society, but know that every situation in life has its good and bad.  There exist no utopia.  I wish you all the best.  Plan for that vacation.
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momoffour
 
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Quote momoffour Replybullet Posted: 14 September 2008 at 11:24am

I am a new muslim, yes. 

Honestly, I think my first mistake was bringing my older children here to begin with.  We are very happy in America.  But I thought giving them experiences to other cultures would be good for them.
 
However, in Saudi Arabia there is not entertainment for those who not among the rich and wealthy.  We go to the grocery story and we go home.  There's no money for mall shopping or going out to eat. 
 
My husband has worked six months in the last three years.  I have worked as a teacher to make ends meet and he borrows from his family to meet what ends my paycheck cannot. 
 
Perhaps my problem is bigger than I thought....I just don't know what to do about it.
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Quote Hayfa Replybullet Posted: 16 September 2008 at 10:15am
Asalam Alaikum,
 
I commend you for your efforts.. really I think becoming a new Muslim and then moving overseas takes actually alot of courage. Saudi Arabia, like all places is quite distinct. It has its own way of doing things and operating.
 
It was interesting, on a related note, I met a woman in Pakistan, when I visited the first time. She was in quite a wealthy family, husband was a doctor and such. I briefly met her and she said it took a long time to make friends. Part of that is culture, but part is also what strata you live in. This is not universal, but most of the time in my travels, its the average people who are down to earth and real. 
 
And I wouldsay its a double challenge as your husband is not Saudi, so both of you are "outsiders" without family to back you up and help you intergrate. It can be a blessing to be on your own so to speak, but it can be lonely as well.  
 
Can you plan at least a visit to your kids as Abuayisha suggested?
 
Living anywhere where you are an outsider is difficult. People are like that, and Muslims should be better but let's face it, they are as human as the next. They can be just as ignorant as anyone else.
 
There are Yemini communities in the west.. and maybe that would be a more suitable compromise.
 
I think you are very strong. You really are.
 
Hayfa
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. Rumi
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Quote momoffour Replybullet Posted: 16 September 2008 at 12:55pm

My husband is not lonely at all.  His entire family lives here in Jeddah.  Most of the women in his family do not speak English and I refuse to learn Arabic.  I've enough knowledge to recite a few verses while I pray, but otherwise read the Quran in English.

My husband goes out quite frequently.  He has friends and relatives that call on him several times a week.  They go out for coffee, dinner, or just to walk and chat.  I do not have the luxury to do any of these things except with my husband; and we all know with two babies how hard just getting in a quiet moment at home is.
 
People in our financial situation can not just "take a three to six month vacation".  Tickets alone for us would be nearly six thousand dollars because of Ramadan and such.  That wouldn't even include just staple day to day expense coverage.  Its not even an option.
 
I've realized in the last few days that there are no easy answers.  I will have to trust that Allah brought me to Saudi Arabia for a reason and when that part of my journey is over, he will deliver me to the next part.  I can only pray that the next part of my journey will return me to my other children. 
 
May Allah bless all of you that cared enough to take the time to read my posts and for those that responded.  May your fasting and hard-ship during this blessed month be accepted, and insh'allah you will be rewarded.
 
You have given me a warm welcome and I'm so glad I've found some friends I can turn to!


Edited by momoffour - 16 September 2008 at 12:57pm
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Quote Hayfa Replybullet Posted: 16 September 2008 at 8:36pm

Salaams,

 
Well it is clear he is quite comfortable and no wonder.. he has his family! Well that makes a big difference?
 
So why won't you learn Arabic? I am just curious?  I have thought of living in a forign country, did 4 months in Pakistan and could not imagine not getting more of the basics of the language down... But I guess as you mentioned you are not a social person... so... but if you had a couple of good friends it would make things easier just to have a friend or two to get together with...
 
Me, I've been a Muslim for 4+ years and making Muslim friends is very hard. The culture differences, some subtle and some not so subtle makes it hard. Ramadan is when that is most noticeable, not having a Muslim family.
 
I do think you have alot of inner strength to do what you are doing. Really.
 
I aslo hope that your husband gives you support. Many men just don't get the extraordinary changes you have gone through. When you are raised in a Muslim family, culture etc. you often do not have a clue as to what strength and determination it takes to not only become a Muslim but to then live abroad.
 
I think most of us reverts, to a large extent are on our own. Muslims are not trained, or equiped to guide and help us. How hard it is to be the "outsider." Last weekend I went to Iftar at the masjid and stayed for prayers.. It was highly stressful to do. People come with familes and communities they grew up in the whole feel, and mentality so it is oh-so familiar. We show up, quite lost and the odd sort out.
 
It made me leave at the end, with no urge to return.
 
You are very strong.
 
Hayfa 
Yes the financial constraints are tough. You probably are not going too far too soon.  
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. Rumi
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