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Love and Marriage from an Egyptian point of view

by Dalia El Kady 

When we talk about Love and marriage we are talking about two different things. Love the mysterious word, that many failed to explain, is where the secret of survival lies. Only very few were able to find their way through this maze and avoid getting lost in it. Falling in love is a very sophisticated psychological behaviour that many find in interpreting since it is not instinctive as parental love for example. Hence, it is liable to be affected by external facts such as time, place and the major shift in social conditions. In a very simple attempt to identify what love is, I may say that it is a complex process that grades from the stage of presentable attraction to reach the ultimate phase of soul unification. Mutual understanding, respect, trust and the sense of full integration are all crucial elements that help love grow and develop on a good basis.

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Despite the fact that Egyptian society is rich with romantic singers like Abd El Halim, Aum Koulthoum, Abd El Wahab ...,etc of whom it is very proud and whose anniversary it celebrates, recalling to mind the age of romanticism, it still considers love a taboo that should be confined to such romantic songs only as such it has no real existence in the concrete world. Hence, there is a contradiction within the Egyptian society, which at the same time extends a love invitation to people through commemorating such romantic singers who represent the best of romantic songs and through celebrating valentine's day twice a year on the 4th of November and on the 14th of February. Yet, when it comes to real real experience, society starts laying obstacles social conventions and restrictions. as well as traditions about marriage. Some deem love as standing in contrast with moral and religious values and social norms, a taboo that should not come to light. They have this preconception that love cannot be the basis of a successful marriage, since as the Egyptian proverb says "Love is blind" and as love has to do with emotions, marriage has to do with reason, which are two extremes. Therefore, they draw a line separating love and marriage. I agree that what they call "blind love" cannot be the basis for establishing any kind of relation that could lead to marriage or even a real love affair. Moreover I do not believe in the delusion of "Love at the first site", since superficiality is one of its basic features. One must not confuse between love and fascination or admiration. You may like a person for the way he speaks, dresses, for his personal views, but it does not necessarily mean that you have fallen in love with him. Usually such confusion results in a fragile relation that people mistakenly called love, while in fact it is nothing but mere fancy. We should also bear in mind that easy come, easy go, and the more time you take to get involved in an affair, the more solid and genuine it will be.

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I do not agree on separating love from marriage as two independent notions, although I confess that each has its own implications. Love is an abstract individual relation free from heavy responsibilities, while marriage puts such relation in its concrete legitimate and social context, sets rules and regulations and offers rights, in return for duties. However, I do not admit a crucial difference between the two notions since love also entails certain commitments and obligations, for it has its own rules. The only difference lies in the kind of these responsibilities. During premarital love they take a relatively moral for, which after marriage they start to exist in their marital form. Thus both cases entail a sense of responsibility and require a serious commitment.

I think that love and marriage are interrelated, for I deem marriage as a development stage of the love affair itself. It is love that leads to marriage and not the other way round. Naturally. marriage is not always the inevitable end, but I believe that we should not let ourselves slide into an affair that we know beforehand that it is deemed to failure. Hence, we should have some control and self restraint on our feeling, so as to direct them in the right way. However, I do not mean that love excludes problems and difficulties. In fact they are part and parcel of any human relation and they represent a challenge through which we could unveil our true feelings and test their solidity, since it is easy to fall in love, while it is difficult to protect such precious treasure from being wasted.

Men and women feel differently about love, according to their different psychological makeup. Inside every woman there is a lidded stream of emotions waiting for a man who is courageous and intelligent enough to unleash her emotions and let them flow.

I have read a very interesting book entitled "On love and life" by Ibrahim Nafea. The book deals with different issues focusing on the relation between both sexes. Studies proved that woman in her very nature is proud of herself so she never takes the first step, instead she waits till the man makes the first move. However, if she decides to take the initiative, she will never give him up under any circumstances. Moreover, her love will tend to last since she will be able to forgive and tolerate his lapses, because after all he is her own choice.

There is another part that attracts my attention in which the writer talks about a book called "Ces Femmes Qui Aiment Trop" that makes an attempt to study woman behaviour while in a state of lov, in terms of psychological and sociological thesis. The writer states that women in general are more expressive of their love and profound emotion, and when a woman truly loves a man, her sacrifices surpass his to a great extent. Accordingly, she is more keen to maintain and protect their special relation, and is always looking forward to let her feelings grow, while still in the bud . Comparing men to women it was found that Eve represents emotions, while Adam reason, since emotions for him are a means while for her feeling is an end in itself. The man could remember what first attracts his attention to the woman he loves, but he cannot remember when he starts loving her. On the contrary, the woman would never forget when was the first time love found its way to her heart, and as Jean Jack Rosseau said "The woman lives to enjoy love, while the man lives to enjoy life". Hence, love, such lofty relation, exists since beginning of creation. And, no one on earth is excluded from falling the trap of love. I described it as a trap because once we fall in it, we are unable to get out again even if we want to. You unwillingly fall and unwillingly stay. Thus, love is an integral element to the human nature and a gift from God to mankind.

Finally I would like to end the discussion with the same words I admire very much :

"When God gave Adam power he offered Eve a tenderness that can melt such power. When God gave him muscles, he granted Eve the soft female intelligence that can tame these muscles. And when God set man on earth to earn his living, he made her the home, where he seeks refuge, relief and shelter" On Love and Life, Ibrahim Nafea.

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