For me a traditional Arab marriage has always been an enigma to me since I grew up in the West where dating is the norm. You have someone from your family or network of friends help find you a suitable list of candidates, you eventually either court them with the approval of both sets of parents for a short period of time generally up to a year and then boom your married forever. Even before my apostasy, I found it very difficult for me to view this model as an acceptable way to find a spouse. For one thing, the courting session from observing my slew of cousins and friends has ranged from a month to a year, in my opinion that is not a substantial amount of time to actually get to know someone on a deep psychological and physical level, which again in my opinion only can lead to some problems down the road.
This problem is only exacerbated if you are an Ex-Muslim. Now for some Ex-Muslims they have either come out to their parents and things are cool, or things are very rough and it does not matter what they do now so why not marry whoever they want. Marriage, though still not a walk in the park, it probably is a little less complicated then it is for Ex-Muslims living in the closet, like myself.
Here is the conundrum I face and I will assume many like me face. I am in the closet about my apostasy and intend to remain in the closet because I highly value the relationship I have with my parents, and extended family. Overall, I have concluded that by staying in the closet I get the best of both worlds, I live my life of apostasy (I don't live at home) and I get to still keep a strong relationship with my parents by simply not telling them about my life choices. This is where marriage becomes an issue. Before I go on I will acknowledge that I have heard and understand the arguments of you must do what you want to be happy, your parents don’t live your life, blah, blah, blah. Those arguments are all valid, they make perfect logical sense but at the end of the day it comes down to me being selfish and wanting to maintain a strong relationship with my parents and enjoy my apostasy at the same time.
In the current situation that I have placed myself in, I find it difficult to find someone that my family will accept and at the same time, I will be happy with in marriage. The difficulty comes with finding a spouse in the first place. Speaking from an Arab perspective finding someone in general of my own ethnic background or close to it (Southeast Asian, Persian, Turkish) is difficult in the west when the number of available candidates are limited due to population size. Once you even find someone it is incredibly difficult to even interact with them since we are conditioned to avoid the opposite sex, so dating becomes a delicate waltz of discretion and backroom dealing. If you are unlucky like myself and cannot even find a way to meet candidates from your ethnic group in the wild then you have to resort to family and friends and that in itself is a whole other situation.
At the end of the day, is it even worth all of this trouble? I have no idea how this will end up developing, but I do not think I am alone in this sticky situation so to all of you Ex-Muslims out there still trying to keep close strong relationships with your families, good luck and I hope you are successful!