Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Marriage Problem

To start with, I debated with posting this topic for quite a while. This blog is supposed to be a reflection of my life and my writing journey, but more and more I'm posting about topics that are important to me-topics that aren't always writing.

Hence today's entry.

Still the debate about today's entry was more about if I wanted to get into something this personal and really share my opinion on a new law in Kuwait. It's a bit of a controversial topic, and I like my blog to reflect more happy, shiny things.

But it's hard to reflect on happy, shiny things when you have something weighing down on your shoulders. And all writers know that sometimes we just have to get it out.

So here it goes.

The Kuwait government could refuse to recognize my marriage.

I guess I should back up a bit to help all of this make sense.  I'll stick to the basics to make it easier. I moved to Kuwait six years ago, a (naive) 23 year old with a one year plan. Live overseas for a year, then move home and live in Canada for the rest of my life.

Enter the husband.

I met my husband at the end of my first year in Kuwait. We didn't start dating for another year, but when we did I knew it was something special. Last summer, we got married in Canada. Legally, we are married.

But my husband is Kuwaiti. And that wasn't a problem until just last week.

Last week, a colleague of mine sent me a link. He asked, "Is this going to be a problem for you?"

So I clicked on the link (it was this one, by the way: Mixed Marriages in Kuwait)

I laughed as I read the article. Little bubbles of incredulous laughter. I could not believe the article. 6 months after getting married, I was now being told that Kuwait might not recognize my marriage.


Because I married a Kuwaiti and I am not Kuwaiti.

If you read the article, you'll see the government is basically stating two problems. The first is that the government is afraid mixed marriages are being formed based on common interests, rather than on a desire to form families.

I will let that ridiculous statement stand for itself.

The other issue, and what I think is the governments bigger issue, is the concern that expat women are taking husbands from Kuwaiti women.

Well, here, the government has created a bit of a problem for itself. Kuwait has many laws about marriage, many based on Arab traditions and on Islam. I'm not going to argue if this is right or wrong, but it is what it is.

Some of these laws there are designed as double standards. A man can marry a woman who is not Muslim and is not Kuwaiti, but still keep their status and pass on their nationality to their children.  A woman, however, can not marry a non-Muslim man. More importantly, if their husband is not Kuwaiti, their children will not be.

Instead of saying "maybe this law should be changed". The government has come up with a different, more creative solution for the problem. Try to tell people who they can and can't marry. I know this is not the first place to deal with something like this, and it could be much worse as it could be illegal to have a mixed marriage. But it doesn't stop it from sucking.

But lets be honest for a second, if they told my husband, who is already married to me, that they won't approve the marriage, do they really think he'd go out and find someone else instead?

Ummm, I'd like to think not.

So what does this all mean for me?

Honestly, right now I have no idea. Currently, they have just mentioned withholding residency visas for expat wives married to Kuwaitis. This wouldn't really apply to me because my job provides my visa. But I don't know what it means for anything else, besides not getting the benefits we'd otherwise be entitled to. I'm sure we'll find out more as we get further into the process.

It does feel good to get it all off my chest. My husband says not to worry about it. If we have to, we'll use our wasta to solve any problems (I'll explain wasta on another day). So I'm trying not to worry about it, we have a whole bunch of other bureaucracy to get through before we even get to that stage of validating our marriage, I will let you know if there are any exciting updates though.

Thanks for listening!


  1. Here via AW.

    I don't really have anything to add, I just wanted to say that that's . . . staggering, and I wish you all the best.

    Life is hard enough without society throwing things like that at you.

  2. Here via AW.

    I just wanted to comment to say I had read your post and am thinking positive thoughts for your situation - you still have each other no matter what a government or anyone else says. I know there are many things tied into the legality of a marriage, but "something special" is something special - it will definitely work out :)