He loves me, he loves me not...
IF anecdotal evidence is to be believed, a large number of Saudi women are visiting psychologists’ clinics complaining of “a lack of love” on the part of their husbands. Their proof? Their husbands have never said “I love you” to them.
Apparently, a lot of Saudi women think only Saudi men don’t express their affection verbally, but this is a ‘problem’ that afflicts marital relationships across the world.
“I feel Saudi husbands are either not aware of their wives’ emotions and feelings or they simply don’t care. They are only interested in taking their marital rights,” said Zakiah Ahmad, a 29-year-old Saudi woman who has been working in marketing for five years.
“I would prefer it if my husband told me the truth when I ask him whether he loves me or not. I can understand if he says “no”, because matters of the heart are really not in our hands. He cannot force himself to love me, especially when here in the Kingdom most couples have arranged marriages, where the choice of a spouse depends on the family’s opinion and not on his personal likes and dislikes,” she said.
While talking to women from different nationalities, it emerged that they were divided on the issue: Some women prefer to hear the sentence “I love you” even if it is not the truth, while other women prefer to know the truth even if it is bitter.
“My husband used to say “Insha Allah” (if God wills) when I asked him whether he loves me or not -- I think that is a very rude thing to say. I prefer my husband to say that he loves me even if he does not,” said Khawla Abou-Asal, a Palestinian housewife.
She added, “Some time after he spoke to me in this rude manner, I discovered he was actually in love with one of his relatives. I destroyed all the letters that she had sent him in the past five years, then I spoke with him openly about the reason that made him seek an extra-marital relationship.
He changed the way he treated me after that. Now when I ask him whether he loves me or not, he says, “Yeah, I love you”. Although I am not sure about his emotions, but I still feel it is better to say “I love you” even if it is a lie, instead of “Insha Allah”.
Many women said they are ready to change their lifestyles in order to make their husbands love them -- but only after they make sure that their husbands are not involved in an extra-marital relationship.
“If my husband told me that he does not love me, I would try to mold myself according to his preferences. But if the reason stopping him from loving me was another woman, I would hate it,” said Areej Salem, a divorced Saudi woman.
“Women in general are emotional in their approach to life and are more affected by words, so they feel it is important for a spouse to verbalize his thoughts,” said Dr. Mohammed Al-Hamed, Head of the Psychology Department at Bakhsh private hospital in Jeddah.
According to Dr. Al-Hamed, “Women prefer to hear verbal expressions of appreciation from their husbands, for example for their looks, elegance and even their cooking. However, men generally find it difficult to express their emotions in words and show their feelings in intimate moments and by taking care of their family’s needs. Women should understand that saying “I love you” is considered trivial by men, which is why most men rarely say these words in real life, outside of movies and TV serials.”
In certain Arab communities men are raised to believe that expressing love for their wives openly is a kind of “weakness”. “A lot of men in this part of the world prefer to hide their emotions and never express their love to their wives, because they think she will take him to be a ‘weak’ person.
Men who get involved in pre-marital or extra-marital relationships don’t mind showing their love to their girlfriends because their relation is ‘unofficial’ and does not fall under social rules,” said Dr. Al-Hamed.
Interestingly, Sheikh Asem Al-Hakim, Imam of Jafer Al-Taiyyar mosque in Jeddah, said, “In Islam, men are recommended to talk gently and lovingly with their wives to strengthen love in a marriage. Even if the man has to lie to his wife by saying “I love you“, it is not considered an untruth, since he may really love her one day.” “‘Lack of love’ in a marriage may not be a man’s fault alone, since many women stop paying attention to their physical appearance after marriage, making their spouses lose interest in the ‘romantic’ aspect of married life. “Some women never wear make up, or attractive clothes or use perfume unless they are visiting friends.
If they can’t be bothered to make an effort to look good for their husband, how do they expect their husband to act lovingly towards them? the divorce rate is so high nowadays because spouses don’t pay attention each other’s emotions and to the importance of keeping love alive in their marriage,” said Dr. Al-Hamed. – SG