Once, the idea of divorce was unthinkable in the Asian culture. Over the past decade, the divorce rate in Asia has soared. Time magazine quotes, the percentages of marriages that ended in divorce in 2002:
South Korea – 47%
Hong Kong – 41%
Japan – 38%
Alhamdulillah, Muslim countries still have the lowest rate of divorces, compared to their Asian counterparts. However, this does not mean that cracks are not beginning to emerge in the family value system.
Clearly, stigmas once attached to divorces are losing their force. People are becoming more individualistic. A marriage counselor Rita Leung, states, “Because of globalization, couples in Asian cities are more like American couples nowadays.” If a problem emerges after getting married, couples tend to think more of their own interests, than of harmony within family.
Surprisingly, women are initiating more divorces today than men. The metamorphosis has occurred mainly due to economic independence, which empowers females not only to take care of themselves, but also bring up their children. Married men, who have been denying rights to their spouses, are also a major contributing factor. Suffering abuse is no longer modern woman’s prerogative.
We feel that for most men walking out on a failed relationship is as easy as pouring a cup of tea. Research proves the opposite – urban men do not cope with divorce that well. According to councilor Ikeuchi, divorced men live nine years less than their married peers, even though many may envy their freedom and the assumed peace of mind.
The question is – where to go from here? Nowadays, the concept of ‘marriage education’ is being introduced as the way to control the epidemic of divorces. It simply means learning the ropes before tying the knot. A councilor explains that it is like a vaccination instead of surgery.
According to Gottman, a clinical psychologist, in relationships conflicts are common. However, only 31% of conflicts get resolved over the course of a marriage. The other 69% are perpetual, unsolvable problems. The insight is not to bother to fix the unfixable. However, what one should attempt to do is conquer four of the most common negative factors of unstable unions: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
As Muslims, we have a very simple formula that always works, provided it is followed. We build every relationship with trust in Allah. Then, for nourishing the ties, we use the skills given to us by Him. If self-improvement is required by giving up bad habits, we do it. We make every effort to save our relationships, rather than give in to easier choices, such as breakups. Finally, if it works, we thank Allah. In case it does not, we still thank Allah, trusting that His supreme decision is for our best interests. Without losing hope, we try to make a new beginning.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) married Zainab (rta), who was the divorcee of his adopted son, Zaid (rta). Thus, he gave her the second chance to rebuild her life.
“…if they disagree (and must part), Allah will provide abundance for all from His all-reaching bounty; for Allah is He that cares for all and is Wise” (An-Nisa 4:130)
Concerning divorce, the Prophet (sa) said that it was made permissible by Allah, but it is also the deed most disliked by Him. Divorce must be viewed as the final resort, after all sincere efforts for reconciliation have proven futile.