Cultural Comparison of Theme of marriage between Arabs and Americans.

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Regarding time, subculture and individuals involved, marriage means distinctive things to people. One act may appear utterly absurd in one culture and applicable in another. Marriage may mean a lot of one of a kind things according to the time and region of the culture and people involved. What can also seem absurd in one culture can also be entirely relevant in another. In the Fiji community, for instance, it is a obligatory for the bridegroom to present a whale tooth to his better half’s father for approval of marriage. In China, among the Tujia people, it is a common wedding ceremony tradition for the bride to weep an hour a day, for a month before the wedding. Other women in the community are urged and encouraged to engage in the crying act as they believe that crying is a good luck sign. Marriage, as a cultural agent, is, therefore, no exception to the evolution and dissimilarity among the plethora of cultures globally. Family, on the other hand, forms the basic building blocks of societies. For most of the part, it is the marriage that seems to affect a family’s wellbeing. While marriage and family face dynamic changes and evolution, admittedly, it remains a permanent institution shared by all cultures across the globe. This analytical essay, therefore, seeks to amply explore the heterogeneity and vastness of marriage between two cultures: the Middle East and American Culture.

Choosing a marriage partner

By and large, basic taboos, such as incest is similar between the two cultures. However, unlike the American culture, most taboos are governed by socially acceptable tradition; religion governs customs and taboos within the Arab culture. Forbidden aberrancies like marrying a brother or mother are particularly outlined. One striking difference in this domain is the first cousin marriage. It is not only normal but also encouraged in the Arab culture for first cousins to marry. In the Middle East, in the Baldwin subculture, for instance, first cousins are expected to get married, and failure to do that imposes a negative social stigma on the woman. A key thing to remember is that even western societies, the USA included, has a history of first cousin marriage and to some little extent today, is still covertly practiced. While 90% of American teenagers believe in completing educational and career goals for economic stability before marriage, early marriage is rife with the Arab culture. It is at the inception of menstruation that Arabic women were branded ready for being wife. It is a common to see young girls, as young as 12 or 13 years old married. Men usually marry before reaching the age of 20. Contrastingly, a disproportionate 80% of American women would marry at 25, and the men, at the average of 26 as reported by the national statistic in 2000 (Hirschberg, 2017).

Most marriages, in historical context, are arranged marriages in the Middle East. Usually, it is the parents’ role to choose a bride for the man, inform him of the chosen bride and commence with marriage arrangements. Parents may try and recommend choices for children in some liberal communities. Little time is given to courtship and in some cases; the two couples might not or have never seen each other, or the marriage could have been organized in childhood. This practice has however changed in Arabia due to influence by western trends and socio-economic progress. If an arrangement made is approved by both families the two couples can have a period of courtship (supervised). This is different from American culture where the couples need no approval form family members on when to date, marry or court.

Engagement rituals

In America, courtship trails behind marriage. Courtship involves the period the two parties become acquainted with each other for compatibility. Courtship does not necessarily lead to marriage. Courtship does not begin with the thought of marriage and if courtship develops into “something serious’ the two envision and plan for a wedding. It is symbolic at this point for the man to present an engagement ring to the women to symbolize agreement. In contrast, when parents accord on a specific marriage in Arabic culture, financial arrangements are laid down before the Annunciation of an engagement date. A dowry, locally known as Maher (includes money and jewelry), form the groom an indispensable matter of marriage. It is only after the completion of Maher arrangements that an announcement is made. Notably, just like other early rituals mentioned, western influence has significantly affected this norm. However, unlike Americans, cohabitation and sexual acts are strictly forbidden during this period. Dowry payment in America is not practiced since it is Christian oriented as a nation although friends and relative come carrying gifts and other gratuities.

Wedding rituals

It is on Thursday nights that wedding rituals take place in Arabic culture, and it differs slightly in different Arabic communities. The family and in most cases attend the wedding celebration deploying outdoor activities such as enacting tents solely for separating the men from the women. The feast celebration, usually lasting several days, even seven, is carried out by his parents or the grooms’ home. Music is played during the occasion and the groom set to sit high for everyone to see on a pedestal. An indication of the value and attached to the man in the Arab culture. In America, wedding cultures are governed by the couple’s ethnic and religious beliefs. However, most ceremonies center on religious settings involving churches, or wedding chapels and finally the reception at parent’s home. These ceremonies are religiously distinct with the Arab culture proclaiming the marriage in private while the American culture involves public expression and witness of the promulgation.

View on marriage

Defined as the union between man and woman in the Arab culture, marriage in this culture is based on religious notions. The American culture, owing to the rise of alternative forms of marriage, its definition is not an explicitly set and many scholars agree with the American idea that it is impossible to define marriage universally. Americans view on marriage has witnessed gradual changes over time but the idea that marriage should be built on love and romance (with emphasis laid out on individual) still holds place as a cultural view. Christian concepts of marriage asserting the importance of accepting ones partner for better or for worse has lost ground in the American thinking since Americans highly regard individualism and success rather than compromise and family values. The Arab society, on the other hand, views marriage as the joining two families and resources. Wife individualism is not stressed, and family success is of more pertinence. Sadly, that sometimes means husband goals become family goals. Culturally, the American law advocates for monogamy while the Arab Law permits polygamy under the Islamic rule that allows a man to marry as many as four wives legally. The Mormon religion members in the USA in earlier days have attempted to fight for the legalization of polygyny but have failed. Additionally within the Arab family, elders are heralded as leaders of the community and children. Consequently, important choices relating to children’s entirely rests upon the elders. Father’s also perform a patriarchal role while women perform traditional roles like mange the home and raise children although this is changing in the contemporary Arab community. In the American way, both parents are responsible for making decisions and choices regarding children.


None of the existing cultures is correct: there simply are diverse forms of marriage. It is the right of no culture to force its beliefs and ideas governing marriage on other cultures, and the power of no religion or sub-culture to monitor or control marriage rules within their own culture. Some cultures believe in polygamous living while others adore the thought of monogamy. None is correct; all are just different. What works for one society may fail to apply to another for a variety of reasons. With the aim to finish school and attain social-economic independence, our American culture, sees most marriages take off at late stages in someone’s life. Attending higher education and securing a paying job are of crucial value to the contemporary American. The man is the head of the family although both are actively involved in the decision making process. In both American and Arabic cultures, the belief that marriage is the impetus that solidifies families is prevalent. Correspondingly, social issues like teenage pregnancies, family violence, and divorce are afflicting both communities. Hence by respecting other people’s culture, humanity is set for a “unity in diversion” theme for the betterment of planet earth.


Hirschberg, S., & Hirschberg, T. (2017). One world, many cultures. Pearson.

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