x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

His parents were just perfect; too bad he was so awful

A man's parents are not necessarily the best guide when it comes to finding the perfect husband.

Gentle, kind, attentive and funny, the person sitting in front of me was almost perfect, with many of the characteristics people look for in a life partner. There was just one hitch: this wasn't a potential husband, it was his mother.

She learnt about my favourite dish, remembered a story I had once told, and even found a gift for my cats - not because she likes cats, but because she knew I love them.

All in all, this lady was enough to melt anyone's heart. I fell in love with this potential mother in law.

Then there was the son: arrogant, careless, forgetful, rude, unmotivated and a womaniser. I couldn't stand him, but was forcing myself to be civil for the sake of his parents, who were adorable and amazing.

I was in a dilemma. The mother kept inviting me over for dinners and special occasions, as she still had faith that somehow a miracle would happen and her son and I would grow compatible. Fat chance, especially as he disliked me as much as I disliked him, if not more.

It wasn't just the mother who was amazing. The father was a manly man, funny and confident. I usually get along with older people, and spend a lot of time with the older generation when I'm writing feature stories about history or heritage. So it wasn't surprising that I could sit for hours with these parents, and enjoy every second.

What happened? How can the son be so different? Perhaps if we give it time, we all eventually become a bit like our parents. There must be some truth to the saying that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I couldn't believe this sweet humble woman had raised a man so conceited, and with a cruel streak that shows up even with his mother. She would try to talk to him and he would cut her off or ignore her and start talking on his smart phone in the middle of a conversation.

One thing I noticed is that I didn't hear her telling her son the whole "habibi, there is no one like you, you are God's gift to women", the kind of talk that so many other mothers are known to offer.

Some mothers I have seen and heard tell their sons that they do deserve the best and should look for a quiet, gentle, angelic blonde Barbie (a phenomenon I wrote about last week) and that all other women are not worthy of marriage.

"You can go out with whoever you want, just don't marry them. I will find you the perfect wife," a friend's mother actually told him during a family lunch.

Interestingly enough, the mothers who insist on this perfect Barbie for their sons are often not Barbies themselves. So what happened there? They found men who married them, and some even found Ken-like men, when they themselves were and are in no way comparable to Barbie.

People don't realise the harm it causes in relationships when one of the partners believes he or she is the most amazing thing on earth, and so ends up mistreating or taking for granted a partner who may deserve much better.

I have seen what a mission hunting for a wife or husband becomes for certain parents, that it is almost brutal and along the way many people have their hearts broken or their pride hurt. But then again, it works for some people: I know of many happy marriages that came about through the efforts of a picky mother and an even pickier son. It can also happen that the young woman is a daddy's girl and he is adamant about a certain list of expectations and demands. Then again, why not? Perhaps more parents should be involved in their children's marriage decisions as they offer a certain kind of protection from heartache and disappointments when one searches on their own. Parents can serve as a kind of buffer.

Whatever the case, I felt sad when I had to "break up" with the parents of that arrogant son, which happened because it was getting complicated: I was growing too attached to them.

It was obvious to everyone involved why this had to happen. I found myself saying a new version of an old cliché: "It is not you. It is your son."



On Twitter: @arabianmau