Why are Arab/Muslim communities abroad so much more conservative than back home? I noticed a little bit of that when I was studying in the US but here in Sweden it seems so much more pronounced.
Being new in town - and being out of work for the time-being, I find that my social life revolves around families my mother-in-law knows. I mean, it's not like I can go out and meet people on my own yet. I am so busy with the baby and helping my MIL. Besides, not speaking the language and being unfamiliar with the city makes me kind of reluctant to venture out on my own too much.
No one actually said anything to me. My MIL is not overly conservative herself - but I find myself feeling self-conscious about a lot of things I would not normally have thought twice about - because I notice that no one around me does them.
Isn't it crazy that I feel that more in Sweden than I ever did in Abu Dhabi?
I am no where near as confrontational about these things as I used to be. I don't have my own life here yet. I am a guest in other people's house and other people's lives so I feel the need to not stand out or offend. I have a need for conformity that is new to me.
It's a breath of fresh air when we have time to go out with K's friends. Those are the only times I am comfortable letting my hair down and the only times when I get to go places and really see the city. Except I am not that comfortable going out and leaving my son behind too much. My MIL has problems with arithritis and already has her hands full taking care of my FIL. It feels wrong somehow to dump on her when we're supposed to have moved here to help her out.
After the baby was born and before we moved out here, I went through a phase of being really jealous and paranoid about my husband and other women - mainly because I felt so fat and hideous and the sex wasn't like it used to be. I think I was pretty unbearable for a while.
Then we sat down and talked about it. We agreed that we seem to have more problems with jealousy and possessiveness than any other married couple we knew and that we couldn't continue with at least one of us throwing jealous fits at any given time in the marriage. And so we set some ground rules for when we moved - the assumption being that we would have a new life out here and we should try and start it on the right foot.
But since we got here, we haven't actually had a chance to test any of the ground rules - because there is no social life to speak of. He went back to work immediately after and I got so wrapped up in the baby and my in-laws etc....
Now we hardly ever go out or see anyone who is not a family friend or relative of his.
The relative isolation suits me for now. I spend my free time reading or catching up on my exercise, getting back in shape. And it is good to be involved in his life. I used to feel his family issues were taking him away from me. Now I feel like part of his family, that we're in it together. And the issue of children isn't standing between us anymore. He still helps out with the baby when he can - given that he's at work so much.
Our financial situation is also more stable now that he's working. So basically a lot of the old issues that were stressing us out and keeping us apart are resolved. We are closer than we've been in a while.
Sometimes, though, I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic and can't go back to sleep, feeling the loss of my career, my friends, my family, my own life. I am happy with the current situation most of the time - because it feels temporary, like I am getting ready for something. But sometimes I start to think wait a minute, what if this isn't temporary? What if it's always like this? Am I cut out for this? And then my mood and my thoughts turn pretty dark for a while.