Divorce is on the rise and not just in western societies. Muslim women specifically in West are getting married and divorced at a shocking rate. It seems that relationships just don’t have the same value as they used to years back. Jobs which used to be a way of bringing in income are now becoming insurance policies for when things don’t work out. There’s a growing trend of young couples getting married and instantly getting divorced.
Why is the divorce of Muslim women on the rise? We look at some contributing factors in this article:
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (swt) said: “the most perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one whose behaviour is most excellent; and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives’. [At- Tirmidhi].
Many marriages take place without either party finding out much about the person that they’re meant to be marrying. A lot of times families will guarantee the character of a man and reassure their daughter that the potential spouse will keep her happy. But once they are married, the story behind closed doors becomes drastically different.
Domestic abuse itself has no boundaries and can often take place in the most affluent of homes. A man could be the picture of perfection and in truth in public, but be a hideous monster behind the façade. If the family had attempted to get to know the guy as well as his family they might begin to pick up on key indicators such as controlling behaviour, irrational anger and an irrational mindset and intimidating ‘JOKES’ which are strong indicators of a person’s character.
Sometimes despite having taken precautions to ensure that the relevant investigations take place, families can miss out on these important factors and these marriages go ahead. After a short period of time the daughter will have left her husband due to his controlling behaviour or abuse that she might suffer at his hands. Unfortunately, not all women are blessed with the strength to escape and some remain stuck in an abusive relationship. When a woman marries someone, she comes into the marriage with expectations and when she’s faced with a different person to the man she had gotten to know, it can be a huge shock to her.
Often though, domestic violence is not just physical. It can also be emotional . Constant degradation and calling the person inferior or not good enough and controlling her actions and dressing are all forms of domestic violence. These days, a lot of women will stand up for themselves and will not condone staying in an abusive relationship. What was once hidden away because it was considered more important to protect one’s parents’ ‘honour’, is now not tolerated.
However, playing devil’s advocate, it is necessary to stress that there have been a few cases where women take advantage of so-called domestic violence. It may happen that a small argument will spiral out of control and the woman will accuse her husband of domestic violence. Should such accusations be made without reason, they are difficult to come back from. Trust will often be lost.
Ups and downs are very normal for a couple and do occur once the “honeymoon” period is over. What is less normal but seems to be happening more and more often, is that the families of each spouse start to involve themselves in a couple’s marriage. From the moment the couple is married, their entire life is dictated by either their own family or their spouse’s family.
It’s very common for the guy’s family to have expectations towards the girl which will burden her perhaps even before her married life begins. They expect her to cook, clean and take care of her in-laws. Furthermore, the husband and wife’s actions are scrutinised: when they go out and do things together. Commonly, the girl becomes answerable to her in-laws no matter what she does. In Islam, it is clearly stated that the only person a wife is answerable to is her husband.
A man does have responsibilities towards his parents and if his wife chooses to assist him in fulfilling them, she will rise in the eyes of her husband and Allah (SWT) will be pleased with her. BUT, the crucial point here is that she should choose to serve her in-laws voluntarily or in an effort to obey her husband, not because her in-laws are making demands upon her and making her unhappy by using her and her husband as a crutch.
“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable” (al-Baqarah 2:228).
On the other hand, often when a wife has problems at home, she will turn to her parents for a solution. She will divulge the details of the personal problems she is facing with husband and in-laws. This can also exacerbate things. The parents and siblings of a woman can give the wrong advice in support of their daughter/sister which results in, rather than fixing the matter at hand, instead things are blown out of proportion and the wife suddenly feels even more unfairly treated. Sometimes a woman is given guiding principles by her mother prior to her marriage even taking place! She is told how to be smart and avoid certain situations and take a stand so that no one can tell her what to do. In some cases, girls’ fathers can be very controlling as well.
An incident I personally know is that a little while back a girl’s father told her to not get pregnant quickly once she was married just in case the marriage broke down. In listening to her father, she took contraception to stop herself from having kids and did not get pregnant for 2 years. When she finally did stop the contraceptives, she had difficulty falling pregnant. Worse, when her husband found out why she had done this they went through a hard time trying to make their marriage work.*
There’s a saying that goes if your marriage is strong enough, nothing should really affect you. However, we are all humans. Sometimes, the words of others can indirectly influence you. And, if you’re already feeling hard done by, then you are likely to want to accept the support that will strengthen your argument rather than what makes the most sense.
The Prophet (saw) said: Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension between people); the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” Shaytaan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” He then embraces him” (Sahih Muslim).
It’s All About The Money!
This is the most important and very frequent cause for divorce and it’s the one that seems to infect almost every home. Competition rears its ugly head in many ways. For instance, in the case of a wife who may want to work after marriage and her husband is fine with this, she may be unhappy if she’s required to contribute more to the house than her husband does.
There may be taunting and arguments and the wife can at times try to be the leader in the relationship because of her monetary upper hand. In other cases, the husband may feel jealous or insecure and try to sabotage his wife’s success as a result. On the other hand, for a stay at home wife, especially if her husband does not allow her to work, there’s frustration and tension if her needs and desires aren’t being met by her husband.
Ideally, any financial issues or differences should be addressed before a marriage takes place. However, sometimes people get caught up in the romance and so don’t even think to discuss these kinds of issues. It’s small things that you don’t look at the beginning that later lead to divorce later on. For example, many young couples these days love to eat out. It would be good to know where your future partner likes to eat and how often they eat out as well. If you’re the type of person that likes to stay at home, and your spouse loves eating out, this will affect your money management. Prior knowledge of each other’s habits will let you compromise and sometimes eat out whilst other times eating at home instead.
Take the following incident that Maira told us about: Abid took his partner Maira out every day of the week before they got married. Afterward, when she expected him to continue the pattern, he got frustrated. According to Abid, he took her out only so that they could get to know each other and after marriage, this was no longer needed, nor did he want to spend the rest of their lives eating out. Over time other small things started to build up until eventually, they ended up divorcing.*
Women love to shop, to buy clothes and makeup etc. which is great when the woman’s using her own money or her parents’ After getting married, she would expect her husband to take care of her in the manner she’s used to. Her husband may not be able to deal with her spending habits and she may get frustrated that her partner is not willing to spend on her and make her happy.
In most cases, divorce occurs as a result of a lack of communication. These couples don’t discuss their needs and financial requirements or even their savings habits which means that they’re going into a marriage blind and by the time they do begin to talk about these topics, it’s just too late!
Cheating & Lack of Responsibility
The dreaded terror. Cheating is terrifyingly common in these times. It’s almost like people are candy or chocolate – you see a new flavour and just cannot resist. There’s so much temptation out there with no strings attached that it’s easy to cheat. In a close-knit office environment, it’s easy to be constantly joking and flirting with the opposite sex. As time passes, these types of relationship often progress to outright cheating. Emotional cheating is one of the most common ways of cheating to begin. This then worsens into physical cheating.
One of the main causes of cheating is a lack of satisfaction at home. Rather than confronting the problem, it’s easy to look elsewhere for happiness. Alternatively, there have been situations where a woman doesn’t feel well or is ill and her husband chooses to find someone else to fulfill his needs instead of being tolerant.
“And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immortality and is evil as a way” (Surah Isra 17:23)
Many women also turn to another man for comfort if their husband does not pay the required attention to them. They justify their actions by saying that they felt lonely and isolated and their husbands had no time for them. Contraception has taken away one of the biggest reasons women hold themselves back from having affairs. There’s no longer a threat of pregnancy and the increased economic and societal freedom results in women who do not fear consequences anymore.
These are just some of the many possible reasons that it’s become so common for women to cheat. Within their marriages, they still continue to behave in the way that is expected of them – they conform to the societally dictated norms for what it means to be a good mother, a good wife, and a good daughter. But when they cheat, it all becomes about what they want and how they feel. They’re suddenly given all the power and feel empowered.
An affair can make or break a couple. When a relationship has a weak Islamic foundation, then affairs become ever so easy. But why is it so easy to cheat? In an affair, you don’t have to take any responsibility towards anything. When their responsibilities at home overwhelm them, people feel the urge to escape by cheating.
When a marriage begins, all the fun and excitement of courtship seems to disappear and practicalities like finances and children begin to take over. To get away from all this, an affair seems like a way to get away from everything and destroys a marriage.
It is an unfortunate fact but incompatibility is a big part of why divorce rates are on the rise. There’s a common myth that a courtship of a certain length will always give you an accurate estimation of how compatible you will be with someone. Dating and going out with someone, speaking to them on the phone for hours – all this is meant to make you learn whether you’re a good match.
But what are you talking about during these meetings and calls? Most often, you’re trying to make yourself look as good as you can rather than being truly honest. You might avoid important questions out of shyness or an unwillingness to offend. Are you really getting to know one another? The true versions of the two of you? Or are you putting on a show?
Many relationships these days begin with some kind of attraction. Lots of people go for beauty and it becomes a priority for your spouse. Beauty is not a bad thing, but it should not be the main deciding factor in who you marry. Both women and men care about looks but women’s first focus is on whether their husband can support them.
A man goes into a marriage thinking that his wife will be forever loyal and a woman will ignore big problems thinking that she can change her to-be husband. These are dangerous thoughts that lead to awful consequences and are best avoided. You’re setting yourself up for a disaster if you pick a partner by their beauty, riches or level of education. It’s more important to think of how they’ll treat you and how they behave, not to mention what kind of parent they will be.
Incompatibility is a growing problem. People have a different understanding of Islam and there is a great lack of tolerance among young Muslim couples, who seem to think that they and only they are always right. This mentality is destructive as even minor Islamic disagreements are blown out of proportion which is disastrous for our Ummah.
This topic is hardly ever talked about and is wrongly seen as taboo or embarrassing.. Well, until frustrated young people start to backbite about their spouse’s lack of sexual function. Marriages are being wrecked because a spouse is dissatisfied by their husband or wife and rather than seeking advice to help fix the problem, people are either turning to divorce or seeking sexual satisfaction elsewhere.
Couples are finding it difficult to understand that marital relations can be difficult and time-consuming but with time and patience, any difficulties can be resolved. Sometimes, it can be a simple medical problem. Some men & women might not be able to perform due to stress or nerves. Immediate intolerance or divorce without attempting to fix these issues at all is not the answer.
You need to seek help. Either appropriate medical assistance or a sympathetic and understanding Islamic scholar can help you work through these problems. These days, sexual counselors exist solely to help you through these problems.
Fairy Tale Romance
Many young adults are getting married these days without any knowledge of the true reality of marriage. Couples plan elaborate weddings and honeymoons but neglect to plan for their upcoming lives together. It is amusing that the expectations people form regarding their relationships are based on fairy tales written by the media, where a young woman meets her Prince Charming and lives happily ever after with him. Young women dream of finding their Prince Charming and living happily ever after because of their diets of pop culture and media fairy tales. Often couple wrongly assumes that all the problems they face after marriage will sort themselves out without them needing to put in any effort. People hope using marriage as a solution to their problems or as an escape.
Young adults have unrealistic images of what love, sex, and marriage is. Instead, they latch onto what is portrayed through film and television. When those expectations are not met, suddenly the marriage breaks down. Men expect the women they marry to be amazing in bed at all times and fulfill their every desire whilst women expect a multitude of orgasms just because that is what they have seen on TV or have heard from friends. Many couples are not prepared for marriage, have not cultivated the skills to create a lasting relationship and instead have formed high expectations which lead to disappointment, unhappiness and, eventually, divorce.
So, in conclusion, you can see that there are so many reasons why divorces are taking place. There is not necessarily one reason Instead a variety of reasons and the ease with which divorce is available is now allowing couples not to make compromises, after all, if you can say stuff it I can make my own way, why would you try and fix things?
What are your thoughts about whether Muslim women are causing divorces? We would love to hear from you and find out your views! Please feel free to leave comments below.
*Please note that the incidents quoted above are real incidents but the names have been changed to protect the identity of the people involved.