On 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way, Ariela Weinberg and Biniyam Shibre are clashing over so much.
Do these two ever have a shot at being together? Should they?
One of the easier obstacles for the two of them to overcome is differences in customs.
Ariela doesn’t want to see a goat killed to greet her when she returns home from the hospital after giving birth.
Discussion, honest communication, and advanced notice can help them overcome hurdles like that.
Up next are their very different standards of living.
Though Biniyam has previously been to the United States, where he married his now-ex-wife Bria, his ideas of what a house should have are … different.
Notably, he only fixed up their apartment’s toilet when Ariela’s parents were on their way. Ariela had been dealing with no toilet seat for who-knows-how-long.
Before that, we saw Biniyam present Ariela with not one but two different examples of apartments that he imagined were suitable for his pregnant girlfriend.
The first did not have running water or a refrigerator and was truly not up to quality of life standards or safety standards.
The second place was an unfinished apartment that Biniyam could not possibly have livable as quickly as he had imagined.
None of this is Biniyam’s fault — Ethiopia’s standard of living is the result of centuries of colonial exploitation by Europe.
What he and Ariela need, for themselves and for their son, is communication — where Biniyam listens to Ariela as she lays out everyday necessities.
She has stated a lot of things that they need, and her parents have added more. If he listens, Biniyam can learn about why things that he considers luxuries are needed.
Another major obstacle that these two are facing is family.
Now, Janice Weinberg, Ariela’s mother, was gentle but firm about ensuring that Ariela had a hygienic and safe environment.
She is even more adamant now that baby Aviel Biniyam Shibre has been born, such as reminding Biniyam that he must wash his hands before touching the baby after handling random livestock on the street.
Janice and Fred Weinberg have offered feedback on the kind of housing that Ariela and Biniyam need for their family.
They have also, of course, offered money to go with it.
Not all of the family members involved in this story are quite so helpful.
Mimi and Wish have regarded Ariela with growing hostility over the course of Season 2.
They fear that she, who has bent over backward to accommodate Biniyam in so many ways, will simply pack up and leave for the US just like Biniyam’s ex did.
The sisters dangle this over Ariela’s head to try to pressure her to do things their way, knowing that she is determined to not repeat Biniyam’s past experiences.
The sisters use this pressure to discourage Ariela from getting her way … even once, it seems.
Though the two have dropped by for social visits, they seem to do this only to sow doubts in Ariela’s mind about Biniyam’s fidelity.
And in group settings, they pile on the pressure for Ariela to do everything Biniyam’s way, no matter what she wants.
This of course brings us to the religious differences between Ariela and Biniyam, something that should have been addressed in depth long before this.
Ariela is from an interfaith home, but she like her father is Jewish. She chose Judaism in part because it does not have the concept of eternal damnation.
Biniyam is Orthodox Christian. Not only is Hell a very literal thing in his beliefs, but he is fixated on certain things for his son … like a baptism within his faith.
At first, it looked like the only path for Avi to get baptised would be if Ariela was also baptised, which she was obviously not going to do.
It looked for a time as if she had dodged a bullet.
Then, Biniyam’s aunt said that they could get Avi baptised without that, so the topic came up again.
Ariela’s family was admittedly shocked, stunned, and a little upset when they learned that Ariela had caved to Biniyam’s demands for a baptism.
She explained that she told herself that it’s a harmless ritual with some water, and that Biniyam had come to her crying to try to pressure her into it.
The questionable ethics of infant baptism aside, this was manipulative behavior … once again, Biniyam gets whatever he wants.
Which unfortunately leads us to one of the most divisive topics in Ariela and Biniyam’s storyline.
In Ethiopia, it is culturally expected that infants with penises will be routinely circumcised at the hospital shortly after their birth.
Incidentally, the FMG (female genital mutilation) rate is nearly as high, as nearly two thirds of girls experience this horror in some form.
Ariela was adamant that her son would not be circumcised, even though she is Jewish and circumcision is customary with Judaism.
There are Jewish intactivists who point out what Ariela noted on the show — concerns about Aviel’s human rights and bodily autonomy.
Ariela did not want to perform a medically unnecessary cosmetic surgery on her son’s penis, especially when her son might grow up to justifiably resent or even hate her for doing this.
And then, suddenly, in the next episode, Ariela was scheduling the appointment herself.
Ariela had a hard time listening to her son’s shrieks of pain, but the trauma of his is a drop in the bucket beside his anguish if he grows older and realizes what he’s missing.
Circumcision rates in the US are in steep decline, and Ariela gambled with her son’s eventual happiness.
Speaking of Biniyam getting his way yet again (and let’s not forget that this is after Ariela agreed to live and give birth in Ethiopia), there are their ideas of gender roles.
Biniyam thinks that it is appropriate for him to just leave the house with a moment’s notice without telling Ariela where he’s going or when he’s coming back, because she’s “the wife.”
They’re not married, but that’s moot since they share a baby. Most of us wouldn’t tolerate this from a roommate, let alone from a fellow parent who goes to play the drums on his ex-girlfriend’s butt.
Biniyam’s relationship with Bria allegedly fell apart because she was concerned about whatever his relationships might be with other women.
Well, Ariela has similar concerns. Biniyam performs with his ex-girlfriend. He entertains foreign women (his type). And he doesn’t feel beholden to share where he’s going.
We’re not saying that Biniyam is cheating … but it’s possible. And even if he isn’t, the way the he totally disregards Ariela’s feelings about his frequent absences could destroy their relationship just as thoroughly.
Speaking of Biniyam’s ex … Biniyam applied three times for a visa, but only got to the US to marry Bria under special circumstances (Bria’s family got a legislator to make it happen).
If Biniyam applies for any sort of US visa … this time with a different American woman … this will be his fourth application. We’re not sure if even a spousal visa would be enough, and they’re not married.
Despite that, Ariela’s recent photos have suggested that she may be living in the US. Many have suspected that their plan all along was to film the show, then move to America. We’ll see.
At the end of the day, their relationship needs communication and respect that they don’t seem to have on screen.
Yes, Ariela whines, cries, and changes her mind about important issues. But so often, she ends up caving to what Biniyam wants on many things … and while Biniyam seems very sweet, we have yet to see that reciprocated.
If their relationship is going to have a future, this has to be a two-way street. No more surprises, no more tearful manipulations.