Thursday, September 9, 2010

Moroccan Bachelors Seek Wives who Work

This piece from Magharebia about the status of marriage and mate selection in Morocco now speaks for itself.
Moroccan bachelors seek wives who work


The process of courtship and marriage is changing for many Moroccans, with financial questions looming larger than ever.

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 09/08/10

The classic Moroccan ideal of marriage is giving way to modern necessities. Men's pursuit of a soul mate is changing, as are the days of parents choosing the right bride for their sons.

These days, many men begin by looking at the financial situation of their future spouse. Although not long ago men used to seek women who had no job aspirations, so they would be free to take care of the housework, things are different now. The high cost of living is spurring them to seek brides who are working and can help them make ends meet.

"Young men are not greedy, but they are trying to adapt to the times," said sociologist Hamid Soundoussi.

Marriage represents one more institution undergoing change in Morocco due to eroding purchasing power, he continued. "Once upon a time, a primary school teacher could easily support his family single-handedly, but that has become very difficult now. The marriage age has risen in Morocco due to the increase in the cost of living. The concept of mutual financial help between spouses is a fairly recent one, especially in urban areas."

For 33-year-old Farid Laafraoui, the search for a wife has lasted three years. He set a number of criteria that his future spouse must meet, including the need for her to have a job. He told Magharebia that the time when love came before marriage has passed.

"Love is essential, but it is built following marriage on the basis of mutual respect," he said. "If a couple's financial situation is stable, they will have fewer problems. My monthly wage is just 5,000 dirhams. A second income will be necessary to run the household and pay for the children to go to school."

Farid is one of many people who are attributing their focus on women's financial circumstances to the new demands of daily life. Women are also aware of the change and are placing higher demands on men in return.

Narjiss Bahaoui, a 28-year-old bank clerk, said that several men close to her family and at her workplace had made overtures towards her, but that she preferred someone "ready" to tie the knot.

"Since feelings are not a major criterion for marriage, I have the right to marry a husband who already has a flat and a nice car," she said. "But despite everything, I'm willing to abandon these preconditions for someone who would love me for myself and not my monthly income. I'm both romantic and realistic at the same time."

Some women are now so sceptical of the greed of suitors that they become hardened singletons and end up regretting it.

One such woman, 44-year-old Houda T., is a manager with a large company in Casablanca. She turned down several offers of marriage over the years because she always had doubts about the men's real intentions.

"I learned rather late that I shouldn't be so mistrustful," she said. "I should have gone for it with one of them and settled down. My success in my career has not lessened my desire to have a home and children, like my sisters and friends, especially since society takes a dim view of unmarried women, and this causes me a lot of stress."

Some young women say one should be realistic and objective, and not take a prejudiced view of men. The sexual equality they strive for presupposes the same rights and responsibilities for both parties in a marriage.

"Since women have always demanded a husband who has a job, men also have the right to marry a woman who is working in this society of ours, which is becoming more modern," said 22-year-old law student Souad Chatibi. "This doesn't mean that a home can't be built on the foundations of love and respect."

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