What is marriage to a Tunisian?

J

Justchecking

Guest
I've reached the conclusion that my fiance is not a rat. Our problem is that we seem to have very different value systems. He does not value emotional support, talking through his problems with me, or even companionship when things are rough for him. The only thing he values from me is money.

So when things are tough for him (no food in the fridge, no job, can't pay his rent) he asks everyone he knows for money, and when they don't come up trumps he demands it from me. When I refuse he tells me every European woman "helps their relationship" by giving money. He can't understand why I "choose" not to help him.

I'm on a low income and have almost bankrupted myself spending £2k on a recent visit that I cut short but am still now paying for. He knows this, yet he still insists that I have money and should help him. "What is £40 to you?" is the sort of thing he says. "Would you throw away our relationship for £40?". I get threats, bullying, the whole nine yards. I have told him this is unacceptable, and I won't be bullied.

The whole experience is making me think: our value systems are different. He values financial security, and I value emotional support and mutual respect. Fundamentally, what I want from a marriage and what he wants is not the same.

So here's my question: am I expecting too much? Should I lower my expectations because I am with a poor Tunisian? (I'm guessing that wealthy Tunisians don't have this desperate need for cash.) Should I accept that there will be times when I have to fork over the cash regardless of my beliefs?

Our Western concept of marriage as a meeting of equals is fairly new historically, and unheard of in most cultures around the world. Historically marriage has been for combining wealth, land, joining families, settling debts, having babies to continue the species... basically anything but love.

Where is modern Tunisia on that spectrum? And does everything change when the woman in the relationship comes from the West?
 
J

Justchecking

Guest
I should add that when he told me about his current situation I wanted to help. This isn't the first time we have fought about money, and last time we fought we agreed that he should be able to discuss his financial problems with me without me offering him money, so as hard as it was to hear that he was going hungry, I didn't offer him the £40. I listened to him and gave him emotional support, and encouraged him to ask the men in his family for help.

It was the next day that things turned ugly. He texted me out of the blue saying "You won't help me will you?" and he picked a very nasty fight. That is when he tried to bully me into giving him the money, threatened to leave, told me I needed to buck up my ideas if I ever wanted to keep a man... basically he let me have both barrels, and no warning shot - he just launched straight in.

We're not speaking at the moment as I have asked him to think carefully about all of this. I consider the fight to have been completely unprovoked and unacceptable. He apologised afterwards, saying he is angry with his family and he didn't know what he was saying, but that is not good enough for me. It is easy to apologise for bad behaviour after the fact and for it to mean nothing and change nothing. This is becoming a pattern for us and I am stopping it before it becomes ingrained - fight, apologise, act nice until the next time when the fight is nastier and the cycle starts again.

I told him what I have written above about marriage - and that he needs to think about whether he wants to be with me for who I am and value having me in his life, or whether he wants to own me and he thinks marriage to me is about sharing my assets and me always giving him what he demands.

I'm waiting for an answer from him, but I'm not holding my breath.
 

crystal

The Punchy Scot
I should add that when he told me about his current situation I wanted to help. This isn't the first time we have fought about money, and last time we fought we agreed that he should be able to discuss his financial problems with me without me offering him money, so as hard as it was to hear that he was going hungry, I didn't offer him the £40. I listened to him and gave him emotional support, and encouraged him to ask the men in his family for help.

It was the next day that things turned ugly. He texted me out of the blue saying "You won't help me will you?" and he picked a very nasty fight. That is when he tried to bully me into giving him the money, threatened to leave, told me I needed to buck up my ideas if I ever wanted to keep a man... basically he let me have both barrels, and no warning shot - he just launched straight in.

We're not speaking at the moment as I have asked him to think carefully about all of this. I consider the fight to have been completely unprovoked and unacceptable. He apologised afterwards, saying he is angry with his family and he didn't know what he was saying, but that is not good enough for me. It is easy to apologise for bad behaviour after the fact and for it to mean nothing and change nothing. This is becoming a pattern for us and I am stopping it before it becomes ingrained - fight, apologise, act nice until the next time when the fight is nastier and the cycle starts again.

I told him what I have written above about marriage - and that he needs to think about whether he wants to be with me for who I am and value having me in his life, or whether he wants to own me and he thinks marriage to me is about sharing my assets and me always giving him what he demands.

I'm waiting for an answer from him, but I'm not holding my breath.
Best way to find out if this relationship will work is simple..... just keep saying NO..... look towards your self.. do you really want a additional financial burden....in the disguise of a man?... why should you send him money? never.. tell him to go to a bank... he shouts at you and gives you the guilt trip...comon... you already know the answer to this farce and what to do... it is not about him it is about your wants and needs whether he is rich poor does not matter.. it is about respect. caring, and love, sorry I cannot see any of this from this post... get rid of him...
 

Laurence

Major Ratslayer
Oh dear......
Let me tell you this : I am married and live together with my tunisian husband for more than 7 years now and still, when I'm in Europe for an holiday (as I actually am) my husband will NEVER touch the small amount of my own money I keep hidden in our house for exceptional or urgent situations (although I told him to do so if necessary), even if this would mean that he would be eating only bread with some oïl... THAT'S what a decent tunisian man does: NEVER EVER ASK FOR MONEY FROM HIS WIFE, because this would make him loose his face and mean that he's NOT A GOOD MAN!

What is marriage to a tunisian man? If your tunisian man is a decent one, it's about the same to him as to ANY OTHER DECENT MAN in the world!
 
J

Justchecking

Guest
@Laurence would that change if your husband needed the money for his family? Also, does your husband have his own money that he uses while you are there in Tunisia, or do you support him? If he was out of work and the two of you were living together would he expect you to keep him?
 

Laurence

Major Ratslayer
No Justchecking, it wouldn't change at all if he needed the money for his family.
My husband works and earns his living (and mine as well) but for example during the revolution he didn't earn enough...this was for him a very difficult time as he didn't want to accept anything from me.... So we just lived on the small income he was earning and he did whatever he could (even selling maadnous out of our garden on the market and fresh legmi palm juice) to earn a better living! He would never accept me keeping him, it would make him very very unhappy and he would not feel a man. That's also why during that time I did with what he was able to give me... In fact, when I suggested him to complete our income with some of my own money, he said "when we got married, the raïs baladyia (mair) told us that I was now in charge of the household, so I will stand up to that, keep your money to yourself".
In fact, no tunisian wife would respect a man asking her for money!!!! Some of the men do, but they're seen as big loosers, both by their wife and their wife's family!

As long as my husband is able to work and earn (even little) money, he will never accept to live on mine, as ANY OTHER DECENT TUNISIAN MAN.

I am sure that your BF is a RAT. He does what all of them do. Drop him. Tell him he's a shame for Tunisia and decent Tunisians.
 
J

Justchecking

Guest
@Heidi This is why I prefer to talk in hypotheticals. Because very few people see past the bad behaviour to the underlying structure of my question. It's easy to say that he is a rat and to shut the conversation down. It is much harder to examine why he has these beliefs and to question whether they come from his culture or whether they are a part of him. And more than that - whether he has internalised them to such an extent that they have become part of him, or whether he is acting on bad advice from his so-called friends at the cafe feeding him crap about what he can expect from a European.

In my view some rats are born and some are made. Some men are born lacking the mental and emotional equipment needed to relate to women, and some men learn bad behaviour from their surroundings.
 
D

Deleted member 146

Guest
It's easy to say that he is a rat and to shut the conversation down. It is much harder to examine why he has these beliefs and to question whether they come from his culture or whether they are a part of him. And more than that - whether he has internalised them to such an extent that they have become part of him, or whether he is acting on bad advice from his so-called friends at the cafe feeding him crap about what he can expect from a European.
Who the hell cares

as Laurence wrote, his believes do not come from his culture: "In fact, no tunisian wife would respect a man asking her for money!!!! Some of the men do, but they're seen as big loosers, both by their wife and his wife's family!"
 

crystal

The Punchy Scot
I don't get this reply? It does not matter how much you analyse him.. why, where , and what if.... He is a man.. and all the person he is gonna be... does not excuse his behaviour now?? as I said before it is what is acceptable to you here and now surely?
 
J

Justchecking

Guest
mmm Lawrence... that is a big debate I think.... all on its own... not sure I would agree with you completely.
I agree. There are men born with something missing. They happen in every culture and no amount of decent upringing and healthy surroundings will stop them from being antisocial, dangerous, uncaring, even violent. Then there are men who are born "whole" and shaped by their society, their family, their friends, and who learn to act in a certain way. It is my belief that what has been learnt can be unlearnt, so long as the man can come to realise that this learnt behaviour is damaging to him and to those around him.
 
J

Justchecking

Guest
I don't get this reply? It does not matter how much you analyse him.. why, where , and what if.... He is a man.. and all the person he is gonna be... does not excuse his behaviour now?? as I said before it is what is acceptable to you here and now surely?
Do you believe that we are all the people we are going to be? I don't.

What is acceptable to me here and now depends on a number of things. One of which is understanding him better. I realise there are two possible responses to a situation like this: one is to say it is unacceptable at face value and to walk away. The other is to take a longer term view. I haven't yet decided which is the appropriate response for me in this case. I'm starting to realise that for some people the only option they can see is option 1.
 

crystal

The Punchy Scot
Yes ..well we have all been in that position before of trying to understand the behaviours. Many here including myself have taken on board the cultural differences/the fact that there partners are not well off. Tried to compromise and make the relationship work of course.. and as you say in a longer view.. tried to make it work... possibly ignoring the niggles that you/I already knew that it would never work...

Some women are in marriages..but at what cost?? to lose themselves, cultures and self respect...because your post are showing already that your partner has made his position perfectly clear to you already.. many are more devious... he wants you for money and think it is his god given right to get it.. not caring of you and your position. as long as he is taken care of.. I go back to the beginning forget his wants and needs and rights an wrongs or change or not... If you are hoping that he will grow and change.. yes I can accept that you would think like that...but sorry ...even if you give them a business, a car, prospects, bring them to your country.. you will never be able to give them enough,, they will never change,grow,prosper. and if some are intelligent enough to grasp the opportunity, they certainly will never thank you for it... I accept that a minority of these relationships/marriages work/ but it is not because these men change maybe because the men were decent in the first place... You have a rat sorry... that is not to hurt you but to warn you...
 

wallah

Major Ratslayer
Just checking, doesn't his comment that ''all the European women help their men'' sufficient to ring huge warning bells. Clearly it is something that he dos not suggest -- but EXPECTS. It is very much NOT normal behaviour for a Tunisian male. My female Tunisian friends would be horrified if this was said to them -- why should you be treated any differently
I will also say this to you, Like Laurence, I have lived in Tunisia for a long time - in a hotel. It is quite normal for the very great majority of the hotel staff to be either ''laid off'' or on very short hours during the winter months. What the sensible people do is save from their generous summer tips etc to see them through the winter months. many go back to their families during the time off. This is NORMAL. No family would see their son, daughter etc going without food etc. This is not how it is and you can tell him that I said so. It is an inherent part of the Arab culture that I admire so much -- they help the family - yes and neighbours - through the hard times. What they do not do is bully and threaten anyone to get a free handout. It is early days - do you really want to be saddled with this man for the next 6 or 7 years ------------ regular members willl know why I have used this time limit.
Please think carefully x
 
J

Justchecking

Guest
Just checking, doesn't his comment that ''all the European women help their men'' sufficient to ring huge warning bells. Clearly it is something that he dos not suggest -- but EXPECTS. It is very much NOT normal behaviour for a Tunisian male. My female Tunisian friends would be horrified if this was said to them -- why should you be treated any differently
You're right Wallah. He expects me to help him financially, and I have a problem with this. This is why we're fighting, because I can't get him to understand that this view is wrong. I agree that I should not be treated any differently than a Tunisian woman, which is why I am fighting him on this.

No family would see their son, daughter etc going without food etc. This is not how it is and you can tell him that I said so. It is an inherent part of the Arab culture that I admire so much -- they help the family - yes and neighbours - through the hard times.
He's the eldest in his family and sees it as his responsibility to take care of his mother and younger siblings. It's them as much as him going without food (I'm saying this to clarify, not to defend him). What I have been trying to do is to get him to think about who really should be responsible for their welfare - him, yes, and his father (who is a waste of space), his brother (who ran off to Tunis with a month's rent back in May), and his many uncles. Not me! What this seems to have done is stir up a lot of anger and frustration in him that he vented at me.

What they do not do is bully and threaten anyone to get a free handout.
This is what upset me about his behaviour. It's not acceptable to be treated like that.
 
J

Justchecking

Guest
even if you give them a business, a car, prospects, bring them to your country.. you will never be able to give them enough,, they will never change,grow,prosper. and if some are intelligent enough to grasp the opportunity, they certainly will never thank you for it...
Can anyone else support this view? This is my basic premise! Offering opportunity where there was none before. An intelligent man would see this as a godsend, surely? Would they really never thank you for it or grow from it, or is negative experience clouding your view?
 

Fern

Major Ratslayer
Can anyone else support this view? This is my basic premise! Offering opportunity where there was none before. An intelligent man would see this as a godsend, surely? Would they really never thank you for it or grow from it, or is negative experience clouding your view?
I would keep this for normal people. Rats see it as a vulnerabity to plunder, see you as an easy target. Shocking but true
 

wallah

Major Ratslayer
Just checking -- if you ever have time to read my Coping Strategy, I suggest that you do so. This is part of it. Does it ring any bells for you?

Don’t compare his behavior with normal feelings - how could he etc? He could because he can and unlike the majority of humanity, has no moral conscience.
Don’t think about the ‘relationship that you thought you had – it was never there. You gave your own, but he simply used you as a means to an end.
Don’t think that he did love you – accept that he never did – and sadly, he may not even have liked you. You were simply a commodity to be used to gain money, visa, sex etc
Don’t make excuses for him. He did what he did in a cold calculated deliberate way with no regards what-so-ever for you or your feelings
 
N

Npk

Guest
This is exactly as I was thinking he would always go home to family for whatever no question asked. So he is trying to get extra tips from you.
Sorry JC but thats the facts. and belive all saying they are such great actors they can resort to anything with no shame.
Cry Bully Curse Scream through the tantrums of a two year old.
Then still call they next day to play and twist so to make us doubt our own strenght as women to put up with their behaviour towards us.
To try and understand their mentality its not black and white and to lable rat should not be done so fast either.

The way of their thinking is so far removed from what we conscider normal eg Have kids to look after us when we are old. To us WTF. To them the more they better.

To get back to your situation even to shout at you like that over money or anything is disgusting anyway. That is abuse. You could not even try to explain verbal abuse to them they would not understand.
If I could send you the strength to stand up to this guy I would. Best wishes xx
 
J

Justchecking

Guest
To get back to your situation even to shout at you like that over money or anything is disgusting anyway. That is abuse. You could not even try to explain verbal abuse to them they would not understand.
If I could send you the strength to stand up to this guy I would. Best wishes xx
Yes, it is abuse. It's unacceptable and I have told him so. We are not speaking.

I don't need strength to stand up to him - however well-meaning it is. I also don't need coping strategies. I don't need to be told that he is a rat. I don't believe he is a rat. He is a person who is responsible for his own behaviour. I believe that all the "rat" generalisations that are coming out now in this thread are unhelpful.

What I do believe is that I need to better understand our different value systems, whether they are cultural, or personal. From what Laurence and Wallah have said, it sounds like his value system does not come from Tunisian culture. It sounds, from what Wallah has said, that his value system is a bit fucked up. I tend to agree that it is.
 
J

Justchecking

Guest
Negativ experience has opened my eyes wide
And has led to sweeping generalisations?

I note that now Laurence has even edited her post to say that my fiance is a rat! :mad:

Honestly, it's very hard to talk to anyone when they are so quick to make sweeping generalisations and to attach labels to people. As I said at the start this is why I stick to hypotheticals. People may think that they are helping by pointing out the obvious, but the general assumption is that I am being an idiot! I am not! I'm not looking to excuse his behaviour - I am looking to understand it and discuss it. This happens to be a very important part of the process for me, and one that is near fucking impossible to do with any of you! Have you ever had a conversation like this with anyone where you have said "he's a rat" and they have said "Oh, you're right. I hadn't considered that possibility before. Off I pop now to finish my relationship based entirely on being told by strangers that it is fucked up."

Share the facts, share your experiences, and let me decide for myself. Don't lecture me on how I should react.
 
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