Elu­sive ‘hap­pily ever af­ter’

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY - *Names have been changed For in­for­ma­tion on work­shops and sem­i­nars visit www.fam­ily.org. my and www.lppkn.gov.my – By GAYATHRI NAIR

WHEN she said “I do”, *Rachel couldn’t imag­ine any­thing else but be­ing bliss­fully mar­ried. She and her hus­band were deeply in love and sim­ply adored each other.

But, their bub­ble of eu­pho­ria was soon burst by the tri­als of liv­ing to­gether. Seem­ingly petty things like wet tow­els left on the floor be­came overblown, and they couldn’t see eye to eye on big is­sues like hav­ing a child. Ex­haus­tion from work stress only strained their mar­riage even more.

Rachel found mar­riage drain­ing, and her hus­band chose to dis­tant him­self from the re­la­tion­ship. They didn’t make it past their third wed­ding an­niver­sary and were di­vorced in 2010.

In that year, the Na­tional Reg­is­tra­tion Depart­ment (JPN) recorded 166,973 divorces in Malaysia. Over 12 mil­lion Malaysians are mar­ried, 15 mil­lion un­wed and al­most a mil­lion wid­owed.

Like Rachel and her hus­band, most cou­ples cite in­com­pat­i­bil­ity and ir­rec­on­cil­able dif­fer­ences for di­vorc­ing, says Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Na­tional Pop­u­la­tion and Fam­ily De­vel­op­ment Board (LPPKN) Dr Siti Nor­lasiah Is­mail. She also shared some of the sta­tis­tics and other rea­sons for sep­a­ra­tion and divorces in the coun­try based on stud­ies by JPN and Is­lamic De­vel­op­ment Depart­ment (Jakim).

In 2010, 41% of cou­ples who filed di­vorce cited in­com­pat­i­bil­ity. This was fol­lowed by ir­re­spon­si­ble spouses at 11.4% and in-law in­ter­fer­ence at 8.7%. In­fi­delity con­trib­uted to 6.5% of the mar­riage break-ups, and polygamy to another 6%. Drug abuse also caused the break­downs in mar­riages.

Based on the 2010 sta­tis­tics, over 150,000 peo­ple aged 15-19 were mar­ried and over 1000 divorces were recorded in that age group. Mar­ry­ing at a young age is cited as one of the causes for sep­a­ra­tion and divorces.

The high­est num­ber of peo­ple al­ready mar­ried were those aged 35-39 while the high­est num­ber of divorces were those aged be­tween 40 and 44.

So­cial net­work­ing site Face­book popped up as one of the top rea­sons for divorces as well.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Siti, the av­er­age span of mar­riages that even­tu­ally ended in di­vorce is 6.9 years, based on the 2010 sta­tis­tics.

“Sta­tis­tics also re­veal that women tend to be di­vorced at a later age com­pared to men,” says Dr Siti, adding that most women tend to stay mar­ried longer to keep the fam­ily unit in­tact for their chil­dren.

“I be­lieve some­times chil­dren can be the key to spic­ing up their par­ents’ mar­riages,” she sug­gests.

“Plan­ning se­cret get­aways, or ar­rang­ing ro­man­tic din­ners dur­ing their an­niver­sary can be con­trib­uted from chil­dren to help rekin­dle their par­ents’ re­la­tion­ship,” she con­tin­ues.

Go­ing back to the di­vorce rates in the coun­try, Dr. Siti men­tions that th­ese fig­ures are af­ter tak­ing into ac­count cou­ples who have re­mar­ried their same spouses. “Through sev­eral means of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, there have been cou­ples who have de­cided to give their mar­riage another try,” she adds.

At LPPKN, they be­lieve in sav­ing as many mar­riages as pos­si­ble through var­i­ous rec­on­cila­tion pro­grammes. “We would like to see as many rec­on­cil­ing cou­ples as pos­si­ble. How­ever, we are aware of some of the rea­sons for the sep­a­ra­tions or divorces and re­spect the cou­ples’ de­ci­sions. Still, if there is a tini­est bit of hope in the union, we are happy to lend a help­ing hand in mak­ing some cou­ples see a so­lu­tion to their is­sues,” she said.

LPPKN to­gether with Fo­cus on the Fam­ily and the gov­ern­ment have formed a two-day SmartS­tart pre-mar­riage course to pro­vide knowl­edge, guid­ance, skills and tips for a happy mar­riage and fam­ily life.

dr Siti says women tend to be di­vorced at a later age than men to keep the fam­ily unit in­tact.

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