UAE: How early-stage divorces can be prevented with counselling

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Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi's Department of Community Development earlier this week launched an initiative to reduce the phenomenon.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Fri 30 Jul 2021, 12:15 PM

According to psychologists, infidelity, lack of preparation and commitment, poor or lack of communication, physical and verbal abuse, social media, and unrealistic expectations are some of the main reasons for early divorces in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this week, the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi (DCD) launched an initiative to reduce early-stage divorce rates. The first digital platform of its kind in the emirate, rolled out in cooperation with the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and private sector partners, aims to raise awareness about the importance of seeking professional help at the first signs of conflict to reduce divorce rates during the early stages of marriage.

The platform has been designed based on the results of research conducted by the department, which show that approximately 62 per cent of Emirati couples in Abu Dhabi face divorce during the first four years of marriage.

Dr Dolly Habbal, a clinical psychologist working with Advanced Cure, told Khaleej Times that many marriages end in divorce because of a lack of commitment to the marriage and responsibility.

"Many people prepare for the wedding and not marriage. When partners are not committed to each other, they may fail to put enough effort into their relationship, and with time, it may weaken the connection between them and lead to divorce," she said.

"When you are in a committed relationship, you need to reassess your priorities and to think about both of you and not only you."

The psychologist also cited incompatibility and differences in mentality and personality as another reason for early divorces. She said this leads to continuous fights and arguments as each of the spouses want to prove that they are right and the other is wrong instead of engaging in a genuine confrontation and making compromises.

"Some marriages also break up because of infidelity or extra-marital affairs. One of the partners being unfaithful can lead to divorce as many people cannot tolerate cheating. Infidelity is a bad habit in a marriage," she said.

Dr Habbal noted that many marriages also fail because of fights over money. Some spouses are reckless when it comes to spending money, whereas their partners are conscious spenders and each of them may have different views or long-term financial goals.

She also advised couples to speak regularly and to listen to each other as lack of communication leads to family disputes resulting in divorce.

"Be flexible all the time and do not think that things will always be your way. Do not compare your partner with someone else as there is no marriage that is 100 per cent perfect," she added.

Dr Habbal also attributed the increasing number of divorces among new couples to the abuse of social media.

"Instead of couples getting into bed and discussing issues related to family, work and children, they instead opt to be on social media and engage with friends," she said.

The psychologist advised couples to seek counselling services whenever they have family disputes, stressing that it can help settle issues amicably and prevent separation.

Naser Al Riyami, a psychologist at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) in Abu Dhabi, said the major problem affecting most of the youth is that they are never prepared for marriage.

"Marriage is one of the most important things in someone's life, but many people take it for granted. Young people enter into marriage unprepared, which is very bad," said Al Riyami.

"Many young people have high expectations when they marry; for example, happiness, good treatment from the spouses, expensive lifestyles and others."

He explained that young people need to be educated about the expectations in marriage so they can live happily with their spouse.

According to Al Riyami, early education about marriage, especially from parents, schools and marriage counsellors, should be taken into consideration to help prepare youngsters and reduce cases of early divorce.

He pointed out that it was also important for couples to quickly go to marriage counsellors and psychologists for counselling when they face family disputes before they escalate into major irreconcilable differences.

Dr Layla Al Hyas, Executive Director of the Social Monitoring and Innovation Sector at the DCD in Abu Dhabi, said results of research conducted by the department showed that approximately 62 per cent of Emirati couples in Abu Dhabi face divorce during the first four years of marriage.

The studies also focused on the causes of divorce that include poor communication and conflict resolution skills, lack of quality time spent together and a delay or reluctance in seeking marriage counselling, she added.

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