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Polygamy to hike in Kuwait divorce rate People get married prematurely: Dr Scull

KUWAIT CITY, Oct 3: It comes as no surprise that the fast-track lifestyle of this modern age has given the traditional institution of marriage a hard time, and Kuwait is no exception. Various factors contribute to this phenomenon and grounds for divorce by men and women may differ from culture to culture.
This week’s Arab Times poll questioned readers on why the divorce rate is on the rise in Kuwait.

Interestingly, 30 percent of the 606 respondents see polygamous relationships as the main cause of divorce. Although recent data on the rate of polygamy in Kuwait is unavailable, men are permitted to take up to four wives in the Islamic Gulf state. 

Meanwhile, 26 percent believe that the “extravagant lifestyle” of individuals in Kuwait lead to divorce, while 19 percent thought it’s “eroding family values”. Furthermore, 15 percent of the respondents consider “lack of trust” between partners to be a major problem, while 10 percent believe it’s “the busy lifestyle with both partners working”.

Speaking to the Arab Times, Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute Psychologist Dr. Nicholas Scull explained that couples often lack in basic and fundamental communication skills. Couples are unaware of how to give each other feedback without hurting feelings, how to listen to their partner when they are also struggling and how to de-escalate a situation when an argument happens.

“Often when people start to fight, they keep fighting in order to solve the problem without realizing that they are actually doing more harm,” he said.

Dr Scull said that in Kuwait, people get married prematurely before really knowing their potential partner. Marriages are arranged or encouraged by family and potential partners do not have the time to get to know each other.

Couples should consider going for couples counseling before and during marriage, Dr Scull suggested, as it is often helpful to develop ways of communicating. “People usually wait to enter couples counseling until they are around the verge of getting a divorce and often times its too late,” he stated.

According to the latest statistics, Kuwait’s courts recorded 2,328 cases of divorce in the first four months of 2012 compared to 6,984 marriages. This indicates that divorces rated is at 42 percent from and is likely to increase to 50 percent in the coming years.

Earlier statistics showed increase of 4.8 percent in divorce cases between 2010 and 2011. In 2011, 6,260 cases of divorce were reported between different nationalities, including Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis, as compared to 5,972 in 2010. The number of divorce cases among Kuwaiti couples reached 3,809 cases and the number of divorce cases between Kuwaiti husband and non-Kuwaiti wife was 1,280 during 2011.

Psychologist Dr Vincenza Tiberia of Al Razi Counseling and Assessment Center believes that “the concept of marriage is evolving and in a state of flux in Kuwait”. Therefore, “social institutions must adapt to the rapidly changing environment within today’s modern world.”

Dr Tiberia observed that the young’s expectations for marriage are radically different from those of their parents and even their older siblings; therefore divorce in Kuwait is on the rise particularly among young married couples in their 20s. She explained that young people in Kuwait are increasingly meeting their prospective spouses through the internet and although it provides young men and women a “meeting place”, it does not facilitate intimacy.

“At the same time many people today are afraid of emotional intimacy and may avoid any real commitment as a result. Many people will marry because they have reached a certain age or because they want to please their families but they are not emotionally invested in the marriage,” said Dr Tiberia.
She confirmed that premarital counseling with a qualified professional can be very helpful in preparing people for marriage. “Young people of marriage able age must be allowed to play a greater role in their choice of a life partner and be allowed the time and freedom to get to know each other and determine compatibility prior to taking their marriage vows,” concluded Dr Tiberia.

By: Nihal Sharaf Arab Times Staff

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