For such women, getting married, settling down and starting a family is top priority. However, this leads to many of them being left hurt by unscrupulous manipulative men.
One such woman is Shadia Hussain, aged 48. Shadia recently married a man in his 20s and provided her husband, who was of a poor background, with all the luxury he could possibly dream of. “I gave him a car, a house and even helped him open a bank account. I thought that this would make him feel proud of me. However, he is extremely ungrateful. One day I went out with him and he met a previous girlfriend of his. He spoke to her even though I was with him at the time,” said Shadia, clearly upset at her husband’s actions.
“When we returned home, I expressed my disappointment. He didn’t even bother apologizing and said it was unreasonable for a young man to marry an old woman. I cried a lot and couldn’t answer back,” she said, adding that she still lives with him but feels he does not respect her.
Nouf, a 49-year-old Saudi woman, married a man 15 years younger than her. “Initially he was kind and gentle. I gave him some land, a car and money. Within a year, he left me and married a younger girl,” she said, adding that she managed to locate him and reminded him of what she had done for him. “He told me that I was the one who had benefited from the marriage and that the money was nothing compared to what he had given me,” she said, adding that she became fed up and divorced him.
Hissah, 44, married the doorkeeper of the building where she lives. “I got attracted to my doorkeeper. He was in his 30s. He was extremely kind and served me well,” she said, adding that he pretended to be honest and that she would trust him. “I allowed him to do whatever he wanted with my money and belongings. After having a few kids I discovered that he had married another young beautiful girl. It hurt me but I have stayed with him so my children know who their father is,” said Hissah.
Aminah, a 49-year-old teacher, said she never managed to get married when she was young because her father wanted to get the most out of her salary. After her father died, she once got into a taxi and became attracted to the driver. “He was a gentle and talked to me about himself. He said he was studying at university and is supporting his siblings financially,” she said, adding that she then employed him as her driver.
“Over time I fell in love with him. I also realized he was attracted to me. One day he proposed and I immediately agreed. We got married and I began financially supporting him and his family,” said Aminah.
Through her support, Aminah’s husband managed to get his degree. “After graduating from university he got a job and asked me to buy him a car and a plot of land. He built some shops and rented them out making a lot of money,” she said.
However, after some time he began mistreating her and spending lengthy hours away from home. “I then heard that he was going to marry another woman. I confronted him and he admitted to it. So I asked for a divorce to save my dignity. He didn’t even hesitate. Now he lives close to where I live with his new wife. I see him passing by every day,” said Aminah.
Head teacher Laila, 45, fell in love with her driver who was in his late 20s. “I got attracted to him, he was educated and was very nice. I told him about my feelings and he said he felt the same but was afraid to express his feelings,” she said, adding that they are now planning their marriage.
“I know we are slightly incompatible but I still want to face the challenge and try for children. In the end marrying him is better than remaining single,” she said.
One man in his 20s, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he got married to a wealthy 41-year-old teacher. “I used to earn SR2,000 a month and after marrying her I became rich. In our life now, money controls and does everything,” he said, adding that he is extremely satisfied with his life and wife. “She provides me with everything that I need and on top cares for me as well. When I am late she keeps calling me to make sure I am OK,” he said.
Sheikh Ahmad ibn Qasim Al-Ghamdi of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Makkah said: “We often hear of women, especially those who have been busy with their careers and education, getting married this way. Such women are usually eager to get married and don’t bother about who their husband is and forgo some of their personal rights. This is not something that is forbidden in Islam.”
However, he added that dowry is necessary even if it is just an iron ring. “Women need to be careful though. There are many men out there who want to financially manipulate women. Women should try asking their male guardians for help in finding good husbands. This would help in ensuring they are not manipulated by unscrupulous men,” he added.