Back dated to Sept 30th
Getting married always is a huge deal no matter where you live, whom you are marrying and what socio – religious -cultural traditions you are following.
Morocco is no exception. Being that I had only been with my host family for a couple of weeks it was surprising to be absorbed into the fabric of the family so quickly. Indeed to find out that my host cousin was having a sit down with a prospective husband was VERY surprising. Of course I was curious from a religious and cultural perspective how the process was different from the American Muslim culture I had witnessed in comparison to Morocco.
Well the first difference with my host family is that the women themselves don’t go out seeking a husband. They tell the head of the family – which in this case is my host father – although he isn’t the oldest of the men in the family he has the most status- and then he starts seeking out a man interested in marriage.
I am not clear on how he finds a man – mostly from my understanding networking through the extended family. In the Moroccan understanding of family and the Islamic law perspective even your first cousin is ok to marry – which is the case of my host parents. I was surprised to learn my host mom was married at the age of fourteen – yes you read that right – fourteen. Its not uncommon for there to be a huge age gap between the man and the woman getting married as it often takes a long time for the man to save enough money to purchase a home, have enough for a dowry etc…
Through family in Casablanca he found a man and the man – I should say young man as he is only 22 and my cousin is 19 – met the following criteria – he didn’t mind my cousin doesn’t wear the headscarf, he has a good job as a captain of his own boat, he has his own apartment in Casablanca that he purchased recently and his family has a good reputation in the community.
What was confusing was that I understood this to mean it was a first meeting and my cousin could see the man in question and speak with him before saying yes but she had said she said yes to the marriage already. I then asked if she could still say no.. and she said yes. Confusing?? Yes!
In the end the young man in question never came because he was out at sea – so instead his mother and aunt came to look over my cousin and speak with her.
They were very insistent that she has a baby as quick as possible after the marriage and she was trying to indirectly say.. she wanted to wait but the mother was pretty insistent saying she would do everything in the house as long as she had a baby as soon as possible after the wedding.
My cousin in question is very smart and was pulled out of school at the age of fourteen because the harassment on the way to and from school was getting dangerous. She spends her days cooking and cleaning in her father’s house, napping, watching TV specifically Mexican soap operas dubbed in Darija and on Face book in the afternoons. Her best friend is her cousin who lives in the house attached to hers in the compound and they study English together. Together these cousins have learned enough English in one year to communicate at an Intermediate Mid to High level through their own self-motivated study.
She enjoys children and is the more adventurous of the two.
At the end of the night an agreement for engagement with the young man from Casablanca had been reached and they “friended” each other on Facebook by the end of the week to begin talking.
In January, they will have an engagement party and I am sure by next autumn they will be married.
I hope she will be happy although I couldn’t see myself in her shoes – she seems pleased and ready to experience change even though she is scared at moving away from all that she has known her whole life to start something new with a man who is essentially a stranger.