By Dr. Fowziya Al-Bakr
14 September 2017
THE present generation experiences many problems in marital relations between men and women thus increasing divorce cases. This situation threatens the very existence of family, which is the main social institution.
An earlier article about the new Saudi family structure sparked a lengthy discussion among social media activists including Twitter followers. They discussed the issue of divorce and its different causes. The following were some of their comments:
One tweet said the idea of holding marriage to control young men and women and make them act intelligently had destroyed the lives of many. “Our marriages have not changed and they remain as before despite society’s rapid changes,” said another while exploring the reasons for increasing cases of divorce and spinsterhood.
Today’s women have knowledge and culture, and have become more aware of their rights. They would prefer divorce rather than humiliation and violation of rights, one social activist pointed out. In recent years, the society’s awareness has increased considerably but most marriages still take place in a traditional manner as held during the time of my grandmother, because both parties believe the first marriage is a time for acquaintance, another Twitter message said, adding that many divorce cases take place soon after honeymoon.
“I support prolongation of engagement period before the marriage reaches its culmination,” the Tweet added. Another Tweet blamed the lack of awareness of both parties about marriage responsibilities and lack of readiness to make concessions in married life as the main reasons for divorce. He also blamed wrong concept of freedom and psychological incompetence.
Another social media activist said: “Each community has its own reasons for increasing divorce cases. The main reason for divorce in our community is marriage without understanding, knowledge and love.” Other reasons are: marriage without planning as some individuals marry brides who are their mothers’ choice; lack of belief in future security and decay of social values and lack of efforts to formulate alternative values and systems to stabilize families.
Marginalization of women by men is another major reason. Husbands’ reluctance to accept the views of their wives could lead to divorce, one Tweet said, adding that some women would not be able to bear authoritarian policies of their husbands for long.
“The lack of choice is another major reason for divorce,” said another activist. “When a woman exceeds 40, she regrets: ‘If I had married any other person, I would have given birth to children and would have enjoyed the rest of my life with them."
Many young men and women get into marriage contract without understanding its responsibility, said another Tweet. Some husbands refuse social and cultural involvement of their wives. Lack of intellectual consensus between the couple leads to failure of marriage, added another activist. People often focus on marriage festivities rather than achieving concord of the bride and groom.
Undue interference of parents and families is another major reason for growing divorce cases in the first year of marriage, said another Twitter message. Financial difficulties of husbands may also lead to divorce as they would not be able to treat their wives properly due to debts.
“I know a man who was paying installments of loan taken for marriage even after his son reached Class IV. Such marriages are likely to fail as wives expect everything from their husbands,” said an activist while participating in the discussion. Focus on opulence, pomp and pageantry and disregard of love, understanding and sacrifice as well as high demands from both sides requiring huge financial spending are other reasons for marriages ending in separation.
The above discussion highlights the major reasons that destroy the institution of marriage, which plays a significant role in social development. I believe that the change in values and the difference in expectations of new generation couples from each other have contributed to increasing divorce cases in our communities. Young men and women lack choices as parents and families interfere in selection of their best halves on the basis of tribe, financial stability and other conditions.
Saudi youth pass through social and cultural changes and they face change in values. They are forced to follow traditional marriage which does not satisfy their needs. Many couples part their ways in the first year of marriage as they do not know each other and has lots of unrealistic expectations from each other. Many of them are unable to bear even a small friction in their lives. The use of drugs, alcohol and other narcotics by young men has forced many girls to end their marriage.
The oil boom has brought about many negative trends in Saudi families. It has made them spendthrifts and engage in extravagance. Wrong use of cell phones has also caused many social problems affecting family relations.
We are in need of a team of psychologists and sociologists to narrow down differences between young couples and strengthen family bonds. I would like to request our readers to give their opinion and proposals on how to reduce divorce cases in our society.