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Are You the Right Man?

I read an article in a local newspaper that Nancy Ajram and Haifa Wahbi “destroy” eight households in Makkah and 12 in Madinah every day. The word “destroy” in this case is one I would like to see defined. I have a suspicion that the two singers are being used as an excuse and that there was not really much to “destroy.”

The article went on to say that the two are also the main cause of marital problems which lead to divorce. It added that most husbands compare their wives with these stars and their wives naturally feel angry and jealous at the comparison. The men seem to think their wives should look like the stars. (Why, I wonder, do the wives not demand that their husbands look like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt or Hugh Grant? After all, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!)

In any case problems appear, dissent is stirred and the lack of competent marriage counselors leads to divorce. The question I would like to ask these foolish men is: On what basis do they compare their wives to Nancy Ajram and Haifa Wahbi?

Those two stars are only seen or photographed when everything about them has been carefully arranged and planned; nothing is left to chance: Hair, makeup, clothing — even accessories. That of course is the price they pay for being stars. Don’t these silly men realize this?

Nancy Ajram and Haifa Wahbi do not have houses to run and families to care for; they can spend hours at the most expensive beauty salons where centimeters are added to or subtracted from various parts of their bodies. Certainly both realize that their popularity is due not only to their perceived talent but also to their faces, their looks and their body language. Their lives and their success depend upon those things and I am not passing judgment upon them. I am, however, judging men who expect their wives to be their own private versions of the two stars.

What about a quick look at the men themselves? Have they checked themselves out in a mirror? Not the one that shows only the face but a full-length one? Do they think they are God’s gift to women and have the suave looks and charm of Kamal Al-Shinnawi, Omar Sharif or Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Grant and others who make any girl or woman feel faint?

The truth is as we all know that the men are nowhere close to any of these admired male stars. Many are too thin or too fat with oily skin and unkempt hair. Some smell of sheesha smoke because of the number of hours they spend in cafes. Others, I am sure, have bad breath. Most are in very poor physical shape and if asked to run 50 meters would probably collapse somewhere around the 30-meter mark. And these men have the audacity to make jokes about their wives and compare them unfavorably to the two well-known singers!

Women, of course, have a responsibility to their husbands and families. Men do too. I believe that both men and women should take care of their minds and bodies. They should exercise (even at home), wear clothes that are attractive to their partners, exude the hint of a fragrant cologne or perfume and be interested in — and curious about — life.

At times the kind of hasty marriage choices that are forced upon some people do create big gaps. A man, for example, may be educated and still be “forced” to marry a relative. The woman may not appeal to him and thus there is a void in his heart from the beginning. The same might be true of an educated woman and her relative.

I know one young man who was brought up abroad, a real global Saudi who speaks four languages with ease. He was made to marry one of his cousins who was very naive and had not traveled much outside the Kingdom. He confessed to me that there was nothing to bind him to her but as a sensitive and educated man, he separated from her in a very civilized way, without ridiculing her or diminishing her self-respect in any way.

In this particular case, the two really were incompatible. I should also note that the man was very handsome, with movie-star looks in fact, but he was humble. Most men, however, who compare their wives unfavorably with stars and make cruel jokes about them are themselves sadly not up to much.

I know another young man who had divorced three times before he was 32. At a gathering, he was lamenting over and over, “I haven’t found the right woman.”

With the wisdom of age and experience, an old Makkawi gentleman looked at him and wryly asked: “Are you the right man?”


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