It takes real work to have a good marriage, its the sort of commitment that requires a lot of effort, compromise and a hefty dose of communication. With it being World Marriage Day, we wanted to unpack this phenomenon, starting from the common misconceptions we have prior to entering a marriage all the way to the many means of improving and sustaining a marriage. Speaking with Egyptian marriage expert Moni El Ramlway, we got into the nitty gritty of this legally and socially sanctioned union.
Let’s talk about the phenomenon of marriage in the Arab world and truly unpack it starting
from the earliest phases of a union. What are some of the common misconceptions couples would have prior to entering a marriage? What effect do these misconceptions have on the dynamics of the relationship?
This is an important question, one of the common misconceptions about marriage is that this
commitment will solve any problem one has. For instance, many people get married because they
are lonely and they believe that marriage will fix that. Similarly, it’s common that people think “my
partner will change after marriage”. Those specific misconceptions put pressure on the partner
because there is an expectation that they’re responsible for their partner’s happiness and that they
must change to fit the predefined criteria.
At the start, the bride and groom would be faced with many financial obligations including
the wedding, how can couples avoid the pressure?
The word “obligation” makes it seem like it’s legally or morally binding. If a couple wants to spend a
fortune on their marriage because it will make them happy, then they definitely should. However, if
they feel that, for any reason, it’s a duty, this is when it can have a negative effect on them and their
What role do culture and family expectations play in maintaining or breaking a marriage?
Boundaries are important. However, partners come from different backgrounds and family
dynamics. They have different expectations. It is vital for a couple to discuss those matters before
tying the knot. When couples have firm boundaries and a system that works for them, they can have
a healthy relationship.
In the Arab world we always say, you marry the family, how much interference should the family have?
I believe that families of both partners should not have a “role” in maintaining or breaking a
marriage. Again, BOUNDARIES is the magic word here. A marriage is made up of two people, an
enmeshed family results in a dysfunctional marriage.
What other sorts of external factors play a major role in effecting the dynamics of a
Anything can have an effect on the dynamics of a marriage, work, stress, household responsibilities,
major life events, family conflict, financial hardship, etc. How it affects a couple and how they deal
with it is what’s important.
Based on the couples that you have met so far, what do you think are the most common
reasons why marriages fail?
I don’t see divorce as a fail because if people remove themselves from a marriage that is not working
anymore, this can actually have a positive impact on their wellbeing.
But to answer your question, one of the common reasons I see is lack of communication.
What are some of the warning signs that a marriage may be falling apart?
Resentment and when couples stop communicating.
So now let’s shift our focus onto ways of improving a marriage. What advice can you give
couples on how to both improve and sustain their marriage?
Communicating more about their emotions. Sometimes couples can find it difficult to figure out
their triggers and deeper emotions. This is where therapy can come in and help couples gain that
How can couples maintain trust in their relationship?
By showing consideration, care, and taking responsibility.
You have mention communication quite a lot, so simply, how can a married couple better communicate?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s important for a person to be able to identify how they
feel, what made them feel that way and what can make them feel better, and then communicate that to their partner. A person would be more receptive when they hear how their partner feels rather than being criticized for that they’ve done.
To bring things to a close, we wanted to know if you would give one piece of advice to any
married couple out there, a one size fits all approach?
Never assume; Ask!
It is true that any type of relationship requires work and marriage is no different. As Moni El Ramlway mentioned, its all about communication and trust, both of which are considered key pillars of any marriage. Beyond that, couples can also go for extra support by attending couple’s counselling which has been on the rise across in the Middle East as one of the many ways to improve a marriage.