Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Discussion About Marriage Proposals in Egypt

A comment was left on the post Email from an Egyptian Guy:

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks so much for your comments, and I know it's very much about 'carrying on the family name and having children to look after you when you get older'. By the way, I don't live in Egypt, but have known my man for 2 years & gone back twice to see him - we are in process of doing his immigration papers. Believe me I was VERY CAUTIOUS at first(so many bad stories western woman & Egyptian men), but after all this time and what we've gone through it's finally sunk in that he really does love me genuinely. Last time I was in Egypt we married at lawyers office - his nephew is a lawyer (I guess you call it Orfi style). We could have done properly at Embassy / Ministry of Justice, but alot to organise and just didn't have the time etc. He always says to me that the worst mistake he's ever made in his life is that he didn't marry me properly the first time and that in his words 'he doesn't want to have an experience with another woman, only me'. Because of his past experience with women he is so cautious, especially about 'arranged marriage'. He is a lovely man - real honey! and always very honest with me about what his family put him through. So I would like to say that there are some really good Egyptian men - not all are bad, just unfortunately some (especially some in the resorts etc) give you guys a bad name (but this happens throughout the world, not just in Egypt. Can someone please tell me exactly what happens at first 'salon meeting' when you men have to meet a woman. Do you actually have to propose to her at first meeting, or do they just meet and say 'yes or no'?, then go back for a yet another meeting? We have talked about this, but not much as he knows it upsets me. He says he just has to go along 'to please his mother'. He has assured me not to worry & has promised he will not marry another woman. Even though he doesn't live at home (he has just moved to a flat), he still depends on his family (takes his washing to mother's to do) - that's when he gets 'hassled' about finding a wife - it's a bit like bribery - unless he marries an Egyptian, then he can't take his washing there! (Can you understand? They make him feel so uncomfortable and not nice to him. He says he will get a washing machine very soon - so hopefully that will solve the problem! Would love to have some more comments from Egyptians (men or women) about all of this. PS I'm from New Zealand (not United States or United Kingdom). Hope to hear from you soon - take care!!

October 31, 2009 9:26 AM


Our reader wants to know about "salon marriages" and what happens during the first meeting when the man goes to the girl's family for presumably the first time.

It appears from her comment, that the man is being pressured by his mother to make these visits. Is anyone else (male or female) going through this experience now perhaps being pressured by the family?

What is your feeling and opinion on this?


  1. I don't really have first hand experience about "salon marriages" as my hubby's sister chose her own husband (she was over 30 yrs and no one pressured her to marry) as well as he did choose his wife [me]. All I know of it is what I have read so I don't go there.

    But I have heard similar situations often and always discussed about them with hubby. Of course these must happen here (pressuring to marriage) but in his mind it doesn't make it right, it is backward culture. It's not right and to my knowledge we have proof in islam for this? Ok, it is very easy him to say (since his family supports their children in everything they choose to do and trust children's own capability to choose well) but he says this is just crazy. No man should bend for this just to please mother. You can please her if she's being reasonable. BUT like I said I think it is easier said than done and don't much help those with "problem".

  2. 1. If you have to be cautious and are unable to judge his intentions from the beginning good or bad, you don't know enough about the culture to be making a well-informed decision about this relationship
    2. Getting married legally is not hard and does not take more than 1 or 2 days
    3. That he has had "experience" with other women at all is a bad sign. Maybe in your country experience is normal, but in Egypt a man with experience is not good marriage material. If they wouldn't marry an Egyptian girl they know has experience, why should you marry him if he has the same?
    4. "Blah blah blah, there are good men because I found one." That is the classic line that a woman who desperately wants to believe her relationship is real says.
    5. Do you want a man who deceives his mother and deceives other women into thinking he might be interested in marrying them? If he is capable of tricking them, he may actually really be pulling a trick on you!
    6. That his mother doesn't know about you is a screaming red flag. He's willing to do the salon thing with his mother but not tell her about you. What's stopping him? If he wants to be with you and only you forever he would have told his mother already.
    7. He has a flat. It means he can marry one of these salon girls NOW. And he might just do that too if he takes a fancy to one, even if he plans to marry you too!
    8. Finally you lack even a wee amount of self-respect if you don't see the farce of the lack of a washing machine being the cause of your man cheating on you. If that is his excuse, he will come up with more and more excuses all equally silly but you will accept them all. And really, he probably just needs you to buy the washing machine for him so he can marry the salon girls.

  3. Hi Mago, thanks I've taken your comments on board, but would like clarify a few things:-
    2. Reason we did not get married legally (apart from the time issue) is I hadn't firstly obtained certificate from my country to say I was free to marry - this is required.
    3. He is talking about his past 'experience with Egyptian wife & French wife' how unhappy these relationships turned out to be (not his sexual experiences!).
    6. His mother DOES KNOW ABOUT ME. He has talked to her many times about me, showed her photos etc. and assures her he will be happy with me. She has told him she wishes to see him happy. The biggest problem is his sister-in-law (his mother rarely gets to 'put her word in now'. She's 80, had a stroke, not mobile (pretty much bedridden) and has difficulty with her speech. THEY KNOW ABOUT ME, IT'S JUST THEIR VIEWS ON ME ALREADY HAVING CHILDREN THAT'S A PROBLEM WITH THEM (NOT HIM!).
    7 & 8. Yes, I'm fully aware of these points (not completely stupid!) and believe me I've made him aware of these matters previously. By the way, he's never asked me for money and I won't be buying the washing machine - he can do himself.
    Would like to hear some nice comments (good outcomes)many people on these websites are here because they've had real bad experiences - but remember not all Egyptian men are crooks.

  4. I have had an excellent experience. And my husband and family are nothing like yours. No kids, no ex-wives, no scheming in-laws and washing machines in the picture. You want to hear about a good experience? You are not going to hear about it from someone like yourself involved with a man like yours. There are so many women like you desperate to hear that their bad backgrounds and the bad backgrounds of their husbands can be overcome but it is a losing battle. Take it from someone with years of experience in a good marriage, you ain't got what it takes!

  5. I have to agree with Mago here. I'm an Arab American, married and living in Egypt to an Egyptian man. 99% of all men, regardless of whether they are Egyptian or not are pretty much the same. It doesn't take much to read your story and make the conclusion this guy is stringing you along. Doesn't it strike you a bit weird that he's only married "foreigners" and ended in divorce??? Hmmmm. Think about it, without those rose coloured glasses on.
    Just so you know, Orfi is not only not a legally recognized marriage, it's not LEGAL ISLAMICALLY anywhere else but Egypt, and only because the sexually oppressed community wants an unbinding guilt-free way to have sex.

    That's besides the point. To answer your question about "salon girls":
    1. Marriage is very much a family affair in the Arab world, Egypt no different. Men usually go to the women's house, not the other way around, and men go willingly, not out of any pressure.
    2. This is a first introduction meetign with the mothers, if all parties are interested, then the men of the family go to the girls' house and officially ask for the hand in marriage.
    3. At this official visit, they read the Fatiha (the opening of the Koran) for God to bless the union if the union was meant to be.
    4. This means the couple are now officially engaged.
    After that there comes a lot of other steps, but up until then the families start going out with each other and the couple gets to know each other more. If problems arise between them, they break up and each one starts over again.

    Hope this helps.
    But if I were to help in anyway, it would be to tell you to drop this internet dud of yours and look for someone in your own area. Egyptian men are just like any other man anywhere around the world. This guy has got you hooked for some reason, but it seems, if you have to make excuses as to why the both of you aren't actually together he doesn't really love you. If he did, he wouldn't leave you hanging somewhere out there in the big world, while he takes his washing to his mom's.

    Good luck

  6. I married an Egyption man while I was in Egypt doing business and moved to Egypt Helwan I am very happy during the day with his family who loves me very much and I live in the same building with his family shop with his sisters his mother loves me and I am Muslim and Arab then he comes home from work eats and goes to bed no talking no going out no nothing any thing I ask NO now all of a sudden after 8 months of marriage he wants to go to the states he thinks I like Egypt and put up with him and his brothers and brother in laws are all like him work and sleep so be very careful as to what you want they are in charge all of the time

  7. This reply is really long past the original posting but I have been married to an Egyptian man by law and the mosque(Islam) for 7 years. I have known him for 9 years. However, we did not meet in Egypt, we met here in the states but we did meet online. I've gone with him to meet his family in Egypt and they seemed to like me. When my husband calls them they talk to me and say they love me and so on. Then my husband and I started having problems because his family wanted us to have kids and I didn't. He agreed with me at first but then started bending to their pressure. My husband has been a U.S. citizen for over two years now so marriage for papers is out. The pressure you're talking about is very real. As much as his family said they loved me, they advised him to divorce me and marry an Egyptian woman AND arranged for him to meet three candidates for wives. Unfortunately, I should refer to my husband as my ex-husband since the pressure for kids was too much for our marriage. We are divorced now and he lives in Dubai but he still calls, texts, and e-mails me telling me he loves and misses me. He begged me to reconsider the children thing but it's just not what I want. But as I said, yes, the pressure is very real and although I don't know the intentions of the man you're wanting to marry, I can tell you that it really doesn't matter if the family knows about you, they are still going to try to force him to do what they think is best for him even if it's not what he wants. Hope this helped.