What Strengths and Weaknesses Do Saudi Women Perceive in Their Marriages?
In line with the objective of formulating a viable and pertinent premarital program to help in preventing and dealing with problems in marriage, a critical question that was explored in detail and garnered immense and inclusive responses from the participants was what strengths and weaknesses do Saudi women perceive in their marriages? The reality as evidenced in the responses of the participants is that marital relationships weaknesses permeate most of the marriages even though the few marital relationship strengths keep the relationships intact with conflict management problems topping the list of weaknesses Saudi women perceive in their marriages.
An overwhelming seventy-four percent of the respondents expressed their frustrations when it comes to managing conflict problems. Their inability to manage conflicts effectively stems from a lack of temperance with regard to their feelings, stubbornness, reluctance to justify opinions and the resolve to maintain one’s opinion regardless of whether it is right or wrong. Thus, what is deducted from these responses is the reluctance of couples to compromise in their marriages, especially husbands. The outcome is recurrent shunning of conflicts or problems rather than dealing with them which eventually results in the problems resurfacing. Not repaying evil with evil is an advice that is not heeded by most Saudi women in their marriages who tend to get angry whenever their husbands are angry. It is for this reason that anger management is a key marital weakness stated by forty-eight percent of the respondents.What Strengths and Weaknesses Do Saudi Women Perceive in Their Marriages?
In as much as sexual relation is a key component of marital bliss, the sexual difficulties that most Saudi women face in their marriages cannot be swept under the rag. Due to their inexperience when it comes to sexual relations and meager knowledge about sex; a problem that is rooted in a conservative upbringing for the women and different social and cultural norms for boys and girls that influence their demeanor and attitude towards sex as is explained by the Symbolic Interactions Theory, sexual difficulties is a marital weakness that is reiterated by forty-eight percent of the participants. These sexual difficulties manifest in the form of pain during sex, lack of sexual desire, sexual fright, difficulty in achieving orgasm and embarrassment during sex on the part of women and low sex drive, premature ejaculation and more than frequent sexual demands on the part of the men.
The sudden realization of different personalities and identities in marriages also results in lack of respect as denoted by forty-one percent of the respondents. According to LaRossa and Reitzes, based on the Symbolic Interactions Theory, people develop their concept of self and their identity through social interaction (LaRossa and Reitzes, 1993). However, when the social interaction in the unit of marriage is one that results in low self-esteem and disregard for each other’s sentiments and identities, the outcome is gross disrespect in marriages. This lack of respect often resulted in another marital weaknesses whereby the couples refrain from sharing their thoughts and feelings out of fear of being judged by them.
The severity of these weaknesses in marriages has culminated into the unfortunate non-expression of love as stated by thirty-seven percent of the participants. This is another marital weakness that stems from the difference in self-conception, identities and expectations between husbands and wives as evinced by the Symbolic Interactions Theory, resulting in certain husbands or wives feeling embarrassed when expressing love, feigning feelings, showing meager expressions of love and finding it difficult within their nature to express love.What Strengths and Weaknesses Do Saudi Women Perceive in Their Marriages?
It is imperative to note that in as much as there are several weaknesses in marriages that this research brings to light, these weaknesses have root causes that the participants identified as family of origin, dominant husband or submissive wife, as well as, family interference. Research shows that a person’s family of origin plays a significant role in shaping his or her marriage or the trajectory the individual wants his or her marriage to follow (Dinero, Conger, Shaver, Widaman and Larsen-Rife, 2011). Thus, it is no surprise that an overwhelming one hundred percent of the respondents quoted family of origin as a factor that influenced their marital relationships. Participants coming from strong and stable families wished to model the relationship qualities of their parents in their own marriages based on their parents’ ability to solve problems quietly, appreciate each other and attitude towards each other. Those who wanted a different path from that of their parents’ marriages did so based on their parents’ conflicts regarding family roles. Another group of respondents viewed their families of origin as lessons on what not to do in their marital relationships so as not to make the same mistakes as their parents. This shows that in as much as families are a huge influence on the people’s personalities, some individuals fight to rid themselves of these influences or are cautious not to let their families influence their personal and marital lives (Mokomane, 2012).What Strengths and Weaknesses Do Saudi Women Perceive in Their Marriages?
Almost all religions, traditions and cultures view the man as the head of the family. However, with the empowerment of women, the dominance of men in marriages has been questioned by most women including those in this research who are of the opinion that role of the man as the head of the family has been misinterpreted to mean controlling, uncaring about wives’ feelings and making decisions without consulting their wives. They further stated that these expressions of dominance by their husbands have reduced their role in marriages to that of submissive wives who please their husbands and ignore themselves, relinquish their rights in marriages and serve their families while shunning their own interests. Thus, as a result of the dominance of their husbands and their submissiveness in marriage, the respondents ended up experiencing problems in their marriages and frustrations borne from loss of identity and lack of freedom to pursue own interests and express their feelings and opinions. This response reiterates the Symbolic Interactions Theory argument put forward by Zhang and Li that wives often suffer from low self-esteem when they feel that they have little value in marriages (Zhang and Li, 2011). Another factor stated by the participants that impacted marital relationships negatively and resulted in weaknesses is family interferences. The incessant interference by in-laws from both sides in marriage life in terms of family roles, raising children and how to solve their conflicts resulted in even more problems in Saudi women’s marriages. Notwithstanding, despite the various weaknesses in marriages outlined in this research, there are certain strengths in marital relationships that the participants brought to light in the interviews.
Majority of the respondents, that is, forty-four percent were of the opinion that spending quality time together is one of the strongest pillars of marriage. This is because spending time together enabled the couples to grow close to each other, share romantic moments and have intimate conversations. The participants reiterated that investing in time in their marriage, that is, time spent together, yielded immense benefits that only made their martial relationships grow stronger. Love conquers everything, is a message that thirty percent of the participants were quick to point out as another strong pillar of marriage. Simple gestures such as apologizing when wrong, showing tenderness, getting worried when your partner is absent and making a point of expressing your love verbally and physically are the foundations of strong and happy marriages as denoted by most delighted participants.
Communication is often emphasized by many people when giving marital advice and it is no surprise that is stated as one of the strengths of marital relationships in this research. Being able to share one’s problems, thoughts and feelings is not perceived by as weakness by their partners. Instead, it is viewed as a show of trust in one’s partner and appreciation of their value and worth in helping solve marital problems and build happy homes. Finally, honesty is a key ingredient of strong marital relationships emphasized by the participants. Certain problems that arise in marriages are brought about by the lack of honesty by the partners about their expectations, personalities, problems and feelings. While being honest might cause some problems, it is the surest way of building trust between partners and strengthening their marital bond.What Strengths and Weaknesses Do Saudi Women Perceive in Their Marriages?
Based on the findings of this research, weaknesses in marital relationships denoted by Saudi women are many with the majority being conflict management problems, anger management problems, sexual difficulties, lack of respect, lack of sharing thoughts and feelings and lack of expression of love. These weaknesses in marital relationships can be attributed to certain factors that influence marriages such as family of origin, dominant husband or submissive wife and family interference. These weaknesses are also connected to the difference in self-conception, identities and expectations between husbands and wives outlined by the Symbolic Interactions Theory. However, despite the various weaknesses in marriages outlined in this research, there are certain strengths in marital relationships that this research brings to light such as spending quality time together, loving each other, sharing problems, thoughts and feelings and honesty that keep the marriages intact.
Dinero, R., Conger, R., Shaver, P., Widaman, K., & Larsen-Rife, D. (2011). Influence of family of origin and adult romantic partners on romantic attachment security. Couple And Family Psychology: Research And Practice, 1(S), 16-30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/2160-4096.1.s.16
LaRossa, R., & Reitzes, D. (1993). Symbolic Interactionism and Family Studies. In: Boss, P.G., Doherty, W.J., Larossa, R., Schumm, W.R. And Steinmetz, S.K., Eds., Sourcebook Of Family Theories And Methods: A Contextual Approach. Plenum, New York, 135-163.. http://dx.doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-85764-0_6
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