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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Meeting the challenge of rising divorce rates

As long as counselling networks are cultivated, there is no reason that more marriages cannot be salvaged

The study found that half had divorced within 3 years. Getty Images
The study found that half had divorced within 3 years. Getty Images

Divorce seems to be one of the big issues of the day. Separation rates appear to be creeping up, whether due to bad decision-making, poor communication or stress factors, such as debt.

As The National reported, almost a third of Abu Dhabi couples who ended their marriages last year had been wed less than 12 months and half of these couples were married less than three years. Overall, divorce rates in the capital have risen at an average of almost five per cent annually since the mid-1970s (despite the fact that an increased number of marriages were registered last year compared with previous years).

These statistics seem to reflect an overall growing trend in the number of marriages dissolving around the globe. In the US, more than half of marriages end in divorce. In parts of Europe, the rate is almost 2 in 3 and in Belgium, almost 75 per cent of marriages eventually end. High divorce rates in countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue to rise.

In a report published two years ago, experts told The National that social media and financial considerations seemed to be the main culprits behind irreconcilable differences.

While there must be no doubt that some marriages must end (if not for immediate concerns, such as verbal and physical abuse, for the wellbeing of the children if the conflict becomes intractable), there is ample literature to suggest that the qualities needed for long-term marriage have dropped under the strain of information overload and the pressure “to be perfect” that is ingrained in us all through social media.

Some people look for particular characteristics in their partners, such as wealth, looks, family status or job security, according to the Emirati psychologist cited in the report, while also failing to manage what might be their own unrealistic expectations. This, in turn, leads to many young couples failing to remedy what become sources of disenchantment.

It is hoped that an expanding network of counsellors and support services could help couples by mediating before their relationship completely caves in on itself.

Reconciliation efforts, which can be achieved through psychological counselling, government initiatives or family guidance sections, are strengthening year on year. The stronger they become, the better our chances of reducing divorce rates and reversing the trend.