Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Divorce rates are a challenge for a changing society

Sometimes divorce is the only solution. But society has a stake in successful marriages, and should find ways to encourage solid matches, and to help, if possible, when difficulties arise.

Decades ago, when men left home to go pearling and fishing for months on end, women kept the families running. They were responsible for raising the children, looking after finances and providing food. In many ways, women were the community leaders.

Those days are over, but women are still engines of national development. With advanced degrees and senior leadership roles, Emirati women are earning more money and assuming more power in the public sphere than ever before.

These dramatic changes have had a great effect on the socioeconomic fabric, and have affected family structures as well. Most of these changes have been for the better. But not all. As The National reported yesterday, divorce rates are on the rise. In Dubai they rose 26 per cent last year. They also increased in the previous year.

There are many contributing factors. For one, women today are more empowered. They are outperforming males at every educational level and make up the majority of university students. In a historically patriarchal society, this can create tensions at home.

Fakir Al Gharaibeh, a professor of social work and social policy at the University of Sharjah, says others factors include "disparities in the ages of the spouses, disparities in education levels, communication failures, an inability to get to know each other before marriage, family interference, domestic violence, jealousy, lack of intimacy, and alcohol and drug use". Those are issues that affect marriages in every society.

Divorce may be the only option for marriages that are irredeemable, but holding the family together is very important, especially if children are involved. This is all the more true in traditional Arab societies where the family unit is so fundamental. In a 2012 survey sponsored by the Marriage Fund, 44.3 per cent of divorced women said their children had suffered. Separation has many negative effects: on children's health, on sleeping patterns, on schoolwork and on relationships with their peers.

Reducing rates of divorce may not be easy, but there are tools. Marriage counselling is one option. In arranged marriages, better attention should be paid to matchmaking - linking couples with similar educational backgrounds and career ambitions, for instance.

Marriage in the Arab world is more than a union of individuals, it is a union of families. Keeping families strong, for everyone, means building a stronger nucleus. Ultimately, that will require finding new ways to encourage partnerships of equals.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Lionel Richie performed many of his hits from the 1970s and 1980s at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Jaime Puebla / The National

Lionel Richie dishes out the hits to Dubai crowd

At his Dubai concert on Thursday, Richie greeted the audience with “Yalla habibi” – a statement of intent as his energy rarely let up.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National