Dr. Norman Brown : I've read your previous two questions, and even though Deardebra answered them, I want to add to what she has written. I've taught lots of Muslims from Arabian countries in my previous 23 yr experience as a college professor at a premier aviation university in Daytona Beach, FL.
Dr. Norman Brown : I think your worry that he'll take over everything is a valid one. NOT because I know that he will, but because he stands to shame himself and his family if he is NOT MARRIED TO YOU. So you need to try to balance the power between you and him, in order to make your marriage an Egyptian-American marriage. you'll need to say NO to much of what he wants--because he's "wanting" all these things because that's how he HAS TO RUN HIS FAMILY to be a good son of his parents. OR you'll need to decide that you set up your fate when you had sex with him, so you're going to be as good of an American wife of Egyptian husband as you can be.
Dr. Norman Brown : First, I'd advise you to NOT allow his mother to come, until you've worked out an arrangement that you can be satisfied with, not just now, but in the future. If you live in a metropolitan area, look for a group or a marriage in which Egyptians, or Arabians are together. Yet you'll have to be very careful who you ask about your prospects for living a life you'll want if you marry this Egyptian.
Dr. Norman Brown : You're also going to have to consider whether you want to keep living in USA, or move to Egypt, or be open to some time spent in each country.
Dr. Norman Brown : You're very justified in being nervous about giving in to being in love with him. Here are a few HEADLINES ABOUT LOVE: 1. the really romantic love period normally lasts up to 3 years, and then things normally simmer down. Well before then, however, there normally are some pretty difficult if not irreconcilable differences that arise, though couples that are madly in love and escalating their relationship towards engagement and then marriage can often ignore them--until later.
Dr. Norman Brown : 2. You're heading into an ARRANGED MARRIAGE, in effect, because the accident of getting pregnant has led him to decide he must arrange to be married to you to save face. That doesn't mean he can't really Love you now, for I have interviewed married Muslim young men, and they said it's normal to fall in love with a good muslim girl even if you've never actually seen her until you're getting married. So he can really love you. And he probably loves you MORE because of the emotional intensity that teetering on the edge of feeling publicly shamed and enduring the shame of his family--that's like a crowd of attacking bedouins circling his camp with you in the desert, and only the strength of his love for you shines brightly enough to keep them from overrunning the campsite: There are NO UNBELIEVERS IN THAT FOXHOLE (war metaphor) because believing in LOVE feels A LOT BETTER than FACING HIS SHAME.
Dr. Norman Brown : How old are you? How much FAMILY do YOU have that will support you and potentially help you build a balanced Egyptian-American relationship? Because you've had the baby on your own, you have the power to say NO to him, and I advise you to NOT LET GO OF THAT POWER.
Dr. Norman Brown : Another possible path for you to take since you don't want to jump into something that he's going to want to convert into MARRIAGE ASAP--as I said ARRANGED MARRIAGE. [In Egypt they might use an expert to read your astrological charts and advise on your level of natural compatibility. You could ask an American astrologer to do that--an American because you want her or him to tell you BOTH the truth as it stands on the charts. That's actually pretty easy to do with a Composite Chart for the relationship, which could be cast for both where you live now and for where he would want you to live in Egypt. If those chart readings came out "not so good" then HE'D have a reason to embrace HIS plan B, assuming he's had to figure out how to manage avoiding shame if he gives the child and you up. But even if it came out pretty good (and perhaps YOU &/or HE don't believe in astrology) you'll still have the cultural and geographical--and PATRIARCHAL differences that can wreck even a great marriage!
Dr. Norman Brown : I was going to point out a different path than that one. You seem to be interested in the adventurous option of getting deeply involved with him to see if your relationship works well or not. I suggest that if you do that you should insist that it has to happen on YOUR TURF and UNDER YOUR RULES, not his. I strongly suspect that if you let your son become a muslim, YOU WILL LOSE HIM if anything happens to crash your marriage. Or you'd have to use American divorce law against Islamic Shariya law, and your son would be caught in the crossfire.
Dr. Norman Brown : So what are your RULES? The relationship stays here, your boy does not visit Egypt. Your boyfriend's mother does not visit here. You BF is free to go to Mosque, but not with your son. Basically your BF has to continue what he was doing when he seduced you (or you him): He's having an adventure of being in America and living and loving like an American, except for practicing his faith as he sees fit. If he has many arab friends, that adds to the complexity. He's apparently told his family that he's married to you; but he has to tell them the two of you are living your first few years like Americans would, in order to find out if you're compatible enough to take the much bigger step of formalizing an Egyptian-American marriage system with an American-style balance of power between you.
Dr. Norman Brown : If this sounds pretty impossible to do, it could well be that impossible.
Dr. Norman Brown : I've asked you some important questions: How much family do you have to back you up? Do you have it in you to be as assertive with your Egyptian BF as I've suggested? Right now you do still have more power than he does, but that won't last unless you say NO to his mom, and NO to his making your boy into a muslim (AT THIS TIME, before you KNOW YOU WANT TO MARRY HIM AND EMBRACE a good cultural compromise for a life together.)
Dr. Norman Brown : Previously I've suggested inquiring among Egyptian/American relationships. Find out who the most liberal & American-friendly Imam (Mosque-priest) in your extended area is, then ask him yourself or get a male relative to ask him HOW a balanced American-Muslim relationship can succeed. Or inquire with an Islamic cultural center if they know any mixed-American/Egyptian or Am?Arab couples, and then interview those people. There's NO better way to find out if a happy (for you)long-term relationship is going to be possible.
Dr. Norman Brown : You've got a huge challenge ahead of you, if you don't want to get seduced and then surprised. I have done very serious counseling with some male and female muslims, and I've learned some things that Americans are unlikely to know. For example: Muslim men can be extremely good lovers, and can devote long periods of time to pleasuring their partner. But this loving is not the same as face-to-face emotional intimacy, or honest expression of his ideas, goals and values. I don't know how widespread this "good lover" treatment of women in the bedroom may be, so I can't presume to generalize from my informants to your Egyptian man. But this long-lasting pleasuring is not a substitute for verbal, mental and emotional intimacy, even though it may convince the woman that (as the James Bond themesong says) "Nobody does it better . . . . . darling you're the One."
Customer: After reading what you wrote, I think it makes sense to protect myself and my son. I do t know this man well yet, and at this point I don't want to think about a relationship with him. I don't have alot of family left, and the ones I do have don't live in this state. I do, however have lotsof great friends in my corner.
Customer: i think what is best is to file for sole custody of my son, offer a decent amount of vîsitation time with the father, and move on with my life. I don't feel comfortable with his mother coming later in the year, she can certainly come for a visit, but not for six months. Also, what's going to happen if I say I don't want to be in a relationship with him? He actually seems like a pretty liberal Muslim to me, doesn't pray 5 times per day, his roommates (who are also Arab) drink alcohol, etc. I feel that I have no problem bending on certain issues (adding another first name to my sons name, getting him circumcised), but as far as marrying him, and potentially converting my son to Muslim, I don't want to do this.
Customer: So if I need to go through the court system to protect myself then that's what I'm going to do. I mean, we only went on 3 dates, and had sex the last time we saw each other (a whole ten minutes)
Customer: I'm not going to bend over backwards to please him, especially when he was the one who committed the act against his religion, family, etc. on a side note though, he does often tell me to "take my time" when asking me for these things. I'm not sure if that's a bit of reverse psychology, but I'm a pretty intelligent woman so I'm wondering if there's something that. I don't want to be scared of the situation, but you're right, I do need to put my foot down. He always talks about "when we go to Egypt in a couple years to visit my family it will be great". But then later on he's added things like, "maybe he can go there for summers, learn alot of Arabic, etc". This is why I think it's important to file for custody and give him visitation.
Dr. Norman Brown : You're sounding pretty strong here, and I'm glad. I was moved when I read in your second question that deardebra answered that you basically have been doing without any older generation guardian figures for quite some time. I was dismayed when I read in DD's answers that you're supposed to figure out what feels right to you and not bend to your friends' well intentioned advice. For the vast majority of human history ALL marriages were arranged with the input of both sets of parents and the wise people of the village (if it was a village society). Only in the last 200 years or so have some people been marrying "for love." But then we have to figure out how Love can be "True-enough Love" to guarantee a durable and fulfilling marriage, without realizing (until some time 3-10 years later) that feelings change over time, by their own nature--even though the original love feelings can also persist along-side the new ones.
Dr. Norman Brown : So I've been nominating myself to be one of your "good fathers" that you've never met, in order to give you input from a scope of experience that neither you nor your same-generation friends have had a chance to have. I can tell you from my own experience, of a domineering and rigid father, that every tribe (and Jungian psychology's use of anthropological universal facts) knows we can have many fathers and mothers: For I've been deeply touched by an older math teacher (& modern-"beatnik" culture buff) in high school, an admiring (medieval French) professor in doctorl grad school at Stanford, one of my (female physical & psycho-)therapists, 3 slightly older doctoral profs at 2nd PhD in Psych, and finally by my father's younger brother, who understood as little about me as my father did, but who loved me without any preconditions about what I had to aspire to in my own life to be worthy of him.
Dr. Norman Brown : Because you've been without benevolent parents since so early in life, you can allow other older generation people who genuinely love you to touch those spots with healing care--without having to become a slavish follower of whatever such a person wants any of their own offspring to do.
Dr. Norman Brown : My reason for cautioning against letting his mother into your life is that she's probably very hooked in to his family's intention that you should be married to their son. IF she speaks English, she might make you feel like she's one of those "good mothers" you've been craving even without knowing it, so you'd slide into becoming family with both of them because of her effect on you. Last night I talked with my wife about you, and she ended up emphasizing that you really COULD lose your son if his father makes him a Muslim or if he ever visits Egypt, with or without you being along. Patriarchal power is very oppressive in Muslim societies, and I wanted to warn you about that. I'm still very interested to know your age & situation with regard to work & life goals, as well as his reasons for living in USA and his life goals. One thing you might not realize is that it's very common for Arab students (men always) to do things in America (like drink, date and have sex) that they would never do back home, and then to suppress what they experienced in order to get along in their native countries. The culture clash is very difficult for them, but they'll still knuckle under to get their father's money and social connections. But for young women it's really RADICAL because they are practically Prisoners back home--unless they go to college to be a doctor, nurse, teacher or lawyer (the only professions allowed to them) and then never marry or divorce their husbands and live as single women in an atmosphere where extramarital sex is a rampant unreported phenomenon.
Dr. Norman Brown : PS I guess the "great lover" section didn't pertain to your situation, since it was only once, and he was possibly a virgin himself. The "Love is the Answer" theme in America bothers me, because I found out through my own wounded heart in my early 30s after my first 9yr relationship broke up that "it's so easy to fall in love" For, I discovered later, that's how we're designed to work, less so women than men, though, because YOU have to give birth and nourish the child that men can sow in 10 min. SO I tried to get my students (1989-2010 Psych of Relationships course) to practice "safe-love" by developing prequalifications for "dating" someone, so they don't fall-in-love by falling-into-a-tarpit of problems. (Aka a "shopping list"). One "rule" for women: Don't get involved with a man who's not as educated (or high status) as you are: because men usually can't deal as well as women with the one-down position in a couple vis-a-vis public status and preferred activities. In your case the operative rule would be simply: Don't get deeply involved with a man whose culture normally subjugates women. Unless YOU make enough rules to insure that his culture can't take over in YOUR relationship.
Dr. Norman Brown : Your Egyptian seems like a very naive and not-yet too male-chauvinistic young man, from your story about him refusing to kiss & cuddle until he has a job to support you--but that's NOT a rule he followed when he took you on those early dates. So he's switched cultural rule-systems from "America's Fre-4-All, & nobody back home will ever know" to "Now I'm an Egyptian of good Moral Character"--so there's his culture clash. I'm dubious that he'll want to stay around and play by your rules if you won't let him think that if he's just good enough to you (AND you don't start dating anybody else!) you might fall in love and want to marry him after all. Sticky Tarpit!
Customer: Wow this has been so great communicating with you. Yes I love that I have a father figure from a distance. Actually I am one of those people that others tend to "adopt" into their family. I lost my mother at a very young age, didn't know my father (I met him at 22 years old) and was raised by grandparents who were rather tired of raising kids. So most times we had no money and my brother and I often felt like burdens in their care. I was lucky enough to be skilled in dance and singing and was offered the opportunity to travel starting at age 18 as a showgirl overseas. It was really exciting to me, and I learned so much about the world, different people, cultures, religions, etc. So, although not very educated in Arab matters, I'm pretty well traveled and pretty aware of what's going on in the world around me. In some ways I feel like the issues I'm having with this man, where he comes from, etc, may not necessarily have to do with h, but my need for love and companionship, since I had do very little of that as a child.
Customer: As far as he goes, he came to the US 6 years ago by accident really, a friend nominated him to be part of a "pool" of people to be chosen to receive temporary work visas and come to the US. So he's quite Americanized I would say by now, he really loves it here and plans on making the US his permanent home (although he plans to go to Egypt every couple of years). He is the oldest child in the family, and his mothers favorite, so she is so happy for this new grandson that is in you family. She has actually come to the US a couple of times the past couple years to see him for a few months at a time. I would definitely say he's a mommas boy. So in some ways I am nervous about taking my son to Egypt. But on the other hand, I think that they are so close and she would forbid something like that to happen because of the relationship they have. (Not to mention the very special relationship between a mother and child)
Customer: I did ask him point blank the first time I saw him "hey, do you know what people are saying? They are saying be careful, you don't what this mans intentions are, that he could take your son, etc). He was shocked actually and said "are you kidding? I would never, could NEVER do something like that. It's not right, and my son would hate me for it, and I couldn't deal with that. A child needs to be with his mother, and you will always be his momma". That did give me some relief, and you can't believe everything you read in the media or see on CNN. I choose to not live in fear. So anyway I think he is pretty Americanized, but he is so close with his mother and wants to share this beautiful child with her. By the way, he told his mom we were already married lol. On our first meeting, he asked if I would be willing to "make union with him in the mosque". I was VERY wide-eyed at that request and said I would think about it but I needed to know all details first. That was actually about 3 weeks ago and he hasn't brought it up since then.
Customer: All in all, I think it's going to work out well. Like I said, (and I think he knows by now) that I'm not planning on marrying him anytime in the near future, I will NOT be converting to Islam EVER (I don't care how good of a lover you are lol) and I plan on staying a smart independent American woman who can think for herself. Honestly he's already lied to his family about us, so I'd he wants to continue doing that it's up to him. I'm having mixed emotions now though, about pursuing custody in court. I just feel like why can't we just see how things go over the next few months? if I'm stern with him in my demands then maybe all will be good and we can just try and be a normal American type family. But I'm not the expert on that, lol. I just need to get to know him more and feel out situation. Also, not letting my emotions get the best of me. Right now I'm overly tired, overly worked, and still hormonal from having a baby. So all these emotions tend to take over and I'm on a roller coaster with all of this stuff.
Dr. Norman Brown : Thanks for giving me more background. I can't respond now. But it does sound possible that as long as he doesn't go back to Egypt with you and your son any time in the next year or two, his mother may have time to side with him on becoming further Americanized, and that's what you want. Then the issue would be for HIM to find a way of managing his Islam without taking over your son's spiritual development. In that context, if you live in a city with plenty of highly educated people, there may be a Unitarian Universalist Congregation that would welcome BOTH a Muslim (when he wants to come or even talk about his own faith) and an agnostic like yourself (Did I say I'm an agnostic too, though I'm sure there's a higher power than my ego-consciousness, because of what I've seen in thousands of my own and many hundreds of other clients' and students' dreams). And it's religious education program trains kids in ALL faiths as well as Humanism and Atheism.