The key to a happy marriage

A successful marriage relies on consistent effort on both sides, and factors such as love, compromise, compatibility, trust, and respect


Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Mon 30 Jan 2023, 11:45 PM

Last week, the government announced it awarded almost Dh200 million in marriage grants to Emiratis in 2022. The unique and generous programme supports eligible citizens by covering wedding costs, sparing them one of the biggest financial expenses that couples face, and setting them off on the right foot for a promising family future.

According to Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, “Marriage grants help our younger generations build a stable life and enhance material stability.”

The grants are just one example of how the UAE government supports and encourages Emiratis take that next step into family life. Mass weddings, where hundreds of couples wed, are also regularly organised by the ministry and free marriage counselling and guidance services are also available to help couples learn more about their marital roles, the various dynamics and managing expectations as part of efforts to help them create and maintain long and happy unions.

These are significant and admirable steps taken by the government, but the success and longevity of a marriage remains the couple’s responsibility. A happy and long union is usually the goal, but that is often much easier said than done, and requires plenty of work to nurture. A successful marriage relies on consistent effort on both sides, and significant factors such as love, compromise, compatibility, trust, and respect.

According to Harvard Health, those who are married tend to live longer, have fewer strokes and heart attacks, have a lower chance of becoming depressed and be less likely to have advanced cancer at the time of diagnosis and more likely to survive cancer for a longer period of time. Yet, this doesn’t mean that just being married automatically provides these health benefits. The benefits of marriage only apply if you are in a healthy and happy relationship.

People who are in stressful or unhappy marriages could in fact be worse off than unmarried people who are surrounded by caring friends and a supporting family. Interestingly, however, many of the aforementioned health benefits are more pronounced for married men than they are for married women.

I know this too well, as I was once in an unhappy marriage – the most stressful time of my life. So much so they manifested in physical ailments. It turned out that the man I married was an imposter who fooled many others just like he did me. I was able to get out without too many complications as at the time I did not have any children, and I feel very lucky for that.

Coming to a decision to end a marriage is an incredibly difficult one, and due to societal and sometimes family pressures, it’s no surprise that some people choose to stay in a marriage in which they are not happy. It is complex and there are many reasons why people choose to stay, especially when children are involved, with guilt playing a major role.

However, I think most would agree that there are some universal red flags that signal it’s time to get out, and sooner rather than later: perhaps a spouse is violent, aggressive, or abusive (including emotional and mental abuse), a spouse may have committed a serious crime, or if you are in fear for your own or your children’s safety.

Thankfully, more often than not, marital troubles are solvable and the marriage salvageable - with some effort and support. Couples therapy has a proven track record in helping feuding partners find common ground. And if the love is still there, even if the smallest of sparks, you owe it to yourself to try and then try a little harder. But, if a therapist or psychologist concludes there’s no way back, and that the relationship is irreparable, then it is surely best to work out a civil arrangement and not cause disturbances that can have a life-long effect on any children involved, for example, shared custody.

Mental health is important, so continuing in a toxic relationship can be very damaging to one’s psychological and overall health and well-being. An illustration of that is that according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Justice, 596 divorce cases were recorded in the UAE in 2022, including six couples that divorced just less than 10 days after tying the knot. They were the shortest marriages recorded in the UAE last year.

It’s a reminder that choosing wisely, taking time to get to know each other, communicating, being genuine and letting your real personality shine in as any ways as possible, like sharing important views on life, is vital for any successful partnership... and can avoid surprises later.

The truth is that marriages don’t always have a fairytale ending, and a decision to wed is one of the biggest decisions a person can ever make. I will forever be grateful for making the decision to divorce Mr. Wrong, as it gave me strength and helped me move on to find a person who was really suitable and enabled me to live the happy life I deserve. Yes, choosing the right mate is often complicated and difficult, but face the facts, living with the wrong one is worse. Life’s too short to spend it being miserable.


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