Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Divorce Rates in the West and the East

Some days ago, I promised that my next blog post was gonna be on the divorce rate in the west -- and I totally (like, TOTALLY!) forgot to post it. So! Here.

Regarding the claim that the *reason* marriages in the west don't last long is that they're not arranged ...
... actually, that's not (necessarily) true.

Reasons for why divorce rates are extremely high in the west compared to those in our culture are many, actually. The lack of divorce in OUR areas is mostly because of forced arranged marriages. I mean, think about it -- if a couple isn't really given a choice to be with each other for the rest of their lives (i.e., their opinion in THEIR marriage isn't considered), then do you really think they will be allowed to end the marriage? I mean, their voice isn't usually appreciated.

Then there's the fact that we're allergic to divorce. It's the worst thing a woman can go through. Divorced (and widowed) women have no respect in our society. So women generally try their hardest to make sure their husbands don't divorce them. I know of some women who tell their husbands, "Marry other women if you have to, but don't leave me!!"
Re-marriage for women isn't very convenient, but it is VERY convenient for men. It's not a problem for a man to find another woman to marry right after he becomes a divorcee or a widow.

Our men prefer women who have never been "touched," and even if their husbands have died, men are less likely to marry them! IFFF they ever do get to re-marry, it's to men who have another wife already and has kids ... and his children need to be taken care of, something the man doesn't seem able to do (or can't do for whatever reasons).

As for the west, their whole understanding of marriage and family is different. And they don't believe in "settling for less." So, during their dating period, which starts at the age of 11 for many, if not lower, they start looking for "the perfect man/woman." And instead of trying to compromise, most of these people leave the person right after the first couple of fights or the first few misunderstandings, saying, "We just didn't get along well" or "We both wanted different things from life."

Yeah, well, you can still have a safe, stable, and happy marriage without both of you expecting the SAME things from life.

Most also don’t bother to discuss important things BEFORE they decide to marry. Whatever is important to you, make sure your mate-to-be knows about it and respects it; and you do the same in return. But too many of them seem to be focused on lesser important things, I guess, because some actually date for years but still fail in a marriage. So, clearly, it's not a matter of how LONG you get to know the person, but it's more a matter of what it IS that you talk about / discuss before marriage to get to KNOW each other better.

And in the back of their minds, many of them always have this: "I can always divorce him/her if I want. I'm not obligated to stay in this relationship." So divorce is, I wanna say, just about their first or second resort when it shouldn't be.

Both sides (our society as well as the western society) are wrong, if I may say so openly. One side never seems to consider divorce as an option, and the other side considers it the first/second option. We should give our everything we have and we can in our marriage, and we should consult as many people as we can who can help us to keep our marriage alive, but if all fails, we SHOULD keep divorce in mind.

By the way, have you noticed that because we Pukhtuns look down upon divorce SO much that even if our husband is being SO abusive and SO disrespectful of our rights and feelings and utter existence, we will STILL stay with him -- just because we don't wanna be divorced. It's great to respect society, but if you have to disrespect yourself to respect others, that respect is not worth it, k? And then when we have kids?! OMG, divorce is not even an option then! The husband might be the worst creature on earth, the worst beast allowed to live, but just because we have kids, we wouldn't even THINK about divorcing him. We need to remember that marriage is a two-way road, not one-way; so BOTH partners, NOT just the wife, need to give their best shots at making it work.

Now, THAT, I completely disagree with. What the heck kind of a message are we giving our kids, for God's sake, when we stay with such a beast? (No, I'm not saying all men are beasts, or that all marriages are abusive.) Our kids watch us suffer and live a miserable life (and many men so don't see anything wrong with beating their wives in front of their kids :S), and our sons grow to think that it's OKAY for the man to beat his wife to pieces and our daughters grow to think they must accept these abuses as a part of life.

And these children miss out on the whole idea and the whole sacredness of marriage.

** One thing I must add... while I'm a strong supporter of marriage, and I think it's a great deal and all, I DON’T think it's the only thing we should worry about the way many people do. Girls at age 27 or 28 or 30 or beyond worry to death about not being married, and I know a few who've rushed into it because they feel too old and "unsettled," so they marry the next guy that comes along just to be "married" :S THAT, I'm entirely against.
BUT then again, I might have to get in their shoes in order to understand why they do that; otherwise, who am I to say anything about their decisions?

However, marriage should be something that the person getting married WANTS; one shouldn't get into it just because one is expected to, feels pressured to do so, or just feels incomplete or unsettled without marriage. Me, if I never get married, I looooooooove kids and one of the things I want badly is to adopt an orphan (whether I have my own or not) :) Some people get married just because they're lonely, and for them, that marriage is an attempt to kill their loneliness. I would most likely just adopt a child if I don't wanna get married and am lonely or something :D
But, anyway, so yeah, we have to create our OWN happiness when our surroundings fail to give it to us. You have to find your own ways of feeling alive, happy, settled, etc., and whatever your ways may be, just be sure they're something they make YOU happy as a person, whether married or not.**

One of my *upcoming* blog entries (I won't say "next"!) is gonna be on the process of divorce for women and men in Islam -- how/why the processes are different and what current/contemporary debates about them are. And custody of children for divorced women ... ahhh, I long to talk about that!! Coming up in some future posts, ka khairee. :)


  1. And in another paradox, divorce rates in the khaleej match or are higher than those in the west.

    Something tells me that money has something to do with marriage and divorce.

  2. YES!!! So it's not so much religion's or culture's role in it than the material aspects of the region.

    It actually makes sense.

  3. A very well balanced analysis, and that too, in a very light manner, good. Just one addition, in a Pakhtun society, divorce is a social stigma or taboo not only for women, but men as well. Word "talaqi" i.e. a divorcee is the worst title/introduction of all which can lead to murder and enmity. Therefore, even if a woman is not what the husband prayed or wished for, shall still be his wife for life.

  4. Pa khair, Ata!
    Thank you for dropping by and commenting! I appreciate it very much! :)

    Yeah, a teacher of mine tells me that divorce is really looked down upon on men (he's more aware of Middle Eastern societies) and not just women. So, yeah, I can imagine it's hell for men as well. Especially when it has the potential to lead to murderous situations! God.

  5. Hi, interesting post. Being from the west (nordic countries) I must say I don't agree much with how you portray dating and divorce.
    Especially divorce. I think one factor you leave out is love, most marriages end because the love is gone. If you base your choice of partner on love, and that love goes, why stay? Better then to move on. If it's love you want, it's love you should seek, right?
    But I agree that marriage shouldn't be taken to lightly, that you should wait with marriage until you know it will keep. But on the other hand, since I'm from the nordic countries, there is nothing keeping me from having several other relationships first, before I decide to marry or settle down. I guess that makes a big difference.

  6. ur westernized westernization is burried in ur mind dear don't mind but its true. u r fighting with islam and u can't islam is perfect

  7. I agree with pretty much everything here! I've been thinking about this issue a lot, ever since I was a little girl, even, and the whole arranged marriage thing too. As a western woman my natural inclination was to side with the western views but I soon learned to question them. I do think westerners, at least people who aren't Catholic or very religious, do jump into marriage too lightly and divorce too easily. Divorce should definitely be an option but it shouldn't be the first or the second or even the third one. And there should really be more respect for the vows in our culture. Otherwise, what do they even mean anymore? What's the point of marriage if it's so often ended at the first big row? And I do think that it should be about learning to live with the other person and learning to respect each others' differences. It's also incredibly sad when couples don't even try to get beyond their petty rows even though they could have something beautiful and lasting if they tried.

    On the other hand, I also agree that it's not alright that divorce is completely vilified either! Sometimes things can go really badly wrong and in those cases divorce should be an option, without the social stigma.

    As for arranged marriages, I have mixed views on them. But I do see that it can be a good thing and I do think that the parents probably often know better. But it has to be approved by both of the people who are actually getting married; it's their life after all! So I guess I'm just saying that arranged marriage is fine but forced marriage is not. So I do agree on that. Whether it's better than the western model, I don't know. I think it probably depends.

    Anyway, this blog is really interesting! I love learning about how people from other cultures see the world. And it's great to find connections with people who live in such different cultures from mine.

    ~Maria from Finland


Dare to opine :)

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