Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Cultural Divide Surrounding Weekends

Sometimes being an American living in Kuwait is more difficult than others. It's not always the overtly apparent things like clothing, driving, or restrictions on society that are hardest to get used to. For me, it has been the demands and or expectations of my time that are exhausting both mentally and emotionally. Of course I am only speaking as an American who is living here and married to a Kuwaiti because a non-tethered American wouldn't face these issues.

I don't want to complain a lack of time because it's not truly that; it is rather the sense of obligation attached to time and how it is spent. Take for example the weekend. I work the whole week, deal with the children's demands, plan meals, and other motherly duties, so when the weekend rolls around, I want to relax. I want to not have to worry about what I am wearing, throw on some jeans, and languor in the luxury of forty eight hours of 'free' time. What happens instead is: Thursday after work is "family time", not our little family, mind you, but Baba Oud's and the extended family. Ok, that is understandable, but then we have Friday where the time is divided between prayer and what time we can eke out to go have a dinner in the middle of the day together as our nuclear family. Then, Saturday rolls around and it is another day of extended family obligation, and then the weekend is over.

Many would say, and have, "Why don't you just not go?" To which my reply would be that I have missed many a family gathering, but my husband pays the price for it. They ask where I am, why I am not there, what is wrong with me, and make plenty of assumptions and inferences that are simply not true. The fact of the matter is that it is just a huge chasm of cultural difference that separates us revolving around the ways of spending down time. I get it. And I am not saying that my way is right and the other wrong. I just would like to have some peace from the continual knock knocking in my head of compulsion calling and me feeling like a jerk for not answering.


Anaïs Forlot said...

If you manage to talk about it with the family and make sure things are understood in a peace way... I am sure you could have one week end just for yourself every two weeks. It would be the best I guess : As much time spent for both habits and cultures. I can understand you need to relax, I would be just the same :)

Carly said...

Thanks Anais,
Still struggling with the division and allotment of time. :)

Sandra said...

It's difficult to get your husband's family to understand that you need time to yourself. They have never needed it! These family gatherings are what they have been brought up to expect. Huge cultural difference on many levels, that's for sure. And it's not because you're American. I'm Lebanese. I've got a sister in Kuwait and a boyfriend in KSA...You can take it from me,even between middle eastern countries, the cultural divide is vast. Anyway, stay strong :)
check out my blog if you have the chance:

Carly said...

Thanks, Sandra. I appreciate your insight. I will check you out too!

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Nicole said...

My hat off to you.
I would go nuts :)
We never had family gatherings (we would have probably strangled each other), so, I would be totally lost with so many people around.
Best of Luck to get a bit of free time for yourself and some family time just with your little family!
Cheers from a stranger :)