Eloping: Rebellious Love?
Many find eloping to be an absolutely romantic, charming, and captivating way of getting married. It’s a story… something to tell your children when they are older, something to give you that “storybook” ending. I beg to differ, if I may ofcourse. In Lebanon, the word “khatifeh” (aka eloping) is one we hear of a lot. “So-and-so has gone khatifeh with her love”. Awhhhhh! How romantic! NOT! It’s not the Prince Charming or Snow White story we grew up reading, because in Lebanon it’s a rebellion. In Lebanon, people elope all the time… of course the two love each other, but eloping is not usually their first “choice”. Let me explain. Lebanon has 18 different religions, God-knows how many different political groups, and many different ethnic races living inside of it. A lot for a country you cant see on most maps huh!? Intermarrying between these three dimensions of Lebanese society is well… not very welcome for the most part. I know what this is like first hand because I have seen it in my life, with people who are close to me. But in Lebanon, forbidding love is not based only on religion, politics, and ethnicity… it’s now also based on money and status. I won’t talk about the difficulties of eloped Lebanese couples in their early years, nor the amount of distancing they have from people who “once loved them”… so I introduce to you Fatima, Khaled, Michel, and Joelle… four individuals who can explain it much batter than I can. These four individuals, have four different stories, and 4 “somewhat” different opinions. I got in touch with two of these individuals here in Canada, while the other two via a friend in Lebanon. They were asked two things: Why did you elope? How is the relationship between them and their families? These are their stories:
Fatima: I met Omar 2 years ago at my University. I was studying at LIU, and Omar was in 3 of my classes. Omar talked to me a couple of times, mostly just a “hello” with the occasional “how are you”. After a group project, me and Omar had more contact, and we became good friends. Eventually we fell in love, and Omar was more than willing to come to my family and propose. I was never raised with differentiating people, especially between Muslim groups, but when Omar came to ask for my hand… my father simply said no. I was Shiite, and Omar was Sunni. My dad simply said “it will never work”. After many attempts, begging, and the family feuding, I ran off with Omar. We left together from the University to Syria, where he has a cousin who owns a business there. Omar’s family quickly accepted the fact, but they weren’t very pleased… but none the less it was their son who has eloped and not their daughter. Today, my mom and my sisters are the only ones that talk to me. My father and brother refuse to do so, and don’t even want to see me after I give birth. I’m not theirs anymore, because I betrayed the family. I tried to explain that Omar was a good man, who treated me like a queen, and never hurt me in any way… it doesn’t matter. [ Religious differences ]
Khaled: I eloped with my wife after a 3 year relationship. We were both Sunni Muslims, and from the two towns (very close to each other) in the Western Bekaa Valley. I tried many times in asking her father to give our marriage his blessings but he wouldn’t. I was from a farming family, who was not very wealthy. My wife’s dad owns acres and acres of land, and has a lot of money. She was not in my “level” nor was I in hers. We left together one night while we were at a wedding party for one of the towns men. We left the town, and soon after we came to Canada. I have two children now, they don’t know anyone from their mother’s side, or my side either. All my family is still in Lebanon, and I’m here because of the threats that we receive telling us that if we ever went back “there will be blood spilled”. My family isn’t very happy either, and our relationship hasn’t been the greatest. They blame me for the problems I have caused for them. [ Both Sunni Muslims – But “status” played the determining factor here ]
Michel: I eloped with my wife over something very stupid. We are related somewhere through marriage, so it’s not a very close relation. We are from the mountains, and had gotten engaged. We were engaged for about 1 year, and then the time of the election came. My family voted for one group, while hers another group. It started off simply as arguments back and forth between the families, sometimes easily brushed off, but then it started to get worse and her father wanted to “fik el khoutoubi” and not want us to get married. So we eloped the same night. Our families talked to us the day after, and it was forgotten. But the fact we had to elope, with no wedding , is ridiculous… and all over politics. [ Eloping here was because of political differences ].
Joelle: My family never cared about the issue of religion in our household. We were raised in the Orthodox tradition, but my parents were so accepting tot he religions of others. My older sister is married to a Lebanese man from Beirut who is a Muslim…. and that was never a problem. They had a large wedding and the families are very close. I fell in love with a Muslim man later in my University years, and when the time was right, I told them. They were okay with the religious difference, because like I said my sister is married to a Lebanese Muslim man. The problem arose when I my husband’s family came over. They were Palestinian, and my family wouldn’t have it. They told him we don’t have any girls who are ready for marriage here, and with that his family left. He was a university graduate, he had a very good job, lived in a great area, and was the most perfect man, but they couldn’t look past the fact his accent and nationality wasn’t Lebanese. So I got into his car a month later and we got married. I really don’t talk to any of my family except my sister. It bothers me a bit, but Salem’s family have become mine I guess… they treat me great and I’m happy. Maybe one day things will work out. [ Eloped because of Nationality differences. ]
I actually laugh everytime I read these, don’t get me wrong… not at the unfortunate stories, but at the unfortunate society we have. I completely understand if families want their children to marry “inside of their sect”, thats their right I guess, or their wishes. But to forbid a marriage over politics, nationality, and social status? What is this country coming to. Seriously. What if you can’t help who you fall for? I guess you must try, unless you want to marry like all the other “Love Rebels”. Last night I was watching a Bollywood story, and in it the Indian Caste System was present. One of the guys said ” See, we don’t have this type of thing in Lebanon”. Yes, we do. I think Khaled’s story is very similar to the Caste system of India. Joelle’s story is a PERFECT example of racism and prejudices found in our country, while Michel displayed the utter “sakhafeh” and absolutely ridiculous politics we have, and how large of a role it really does play in our Lebanese lives. Fatima’s story isone I found to be the most unfortunate. Sectarianism inside the same religion. Very sad stories indeed.
What do I say about this! I say… a job well-done to the individuals who fight it out to the end for love. They forget the world and elope. It’s funny because earlier I said eloping in Lebanon isn’t romantic, but I guess it kinda is. Forget all the silly reasons, the family problems, and the threats…. I guess it’s a little lovey dovey. More like a Bollywood movie if you ask me. And thats where it struck me (as I write this btw), Lebanon is one big FILM HINDI (Indian Film). Ughhh. Oh well. At least love seems to be prevailing. No?
*Thanks to the 4 who gave their input. NOTE: They have altered their names, at their request, but kept it in accordance their religious group I guess. *