By Naadiya Adams
Divorce is a painful experience that all societies go through; according to experts, it is becoming more prevalent. The difference, however, is how we, as a society, respond to divorced couples and how we fight the stigma associated with divorce.
Radio Islam’s, Faiza Munshi chats to Councillors Suraiya Nawab and Zaakirah Ansaarmeah who gives some insight into dysfunctional marriages, life after divorce and the process of re-emergence once the couple has parted.
Nawab who founded the Islamic Careline in 1992, notes with divorce on the rise, the initial response to marital disputes is always an attempt to mend the marriage, once that is no longer an option, an amicable parting is a next step.
Ansaarmeah, an Aalimah for 15 years, is a trusted pillar in the community. She advocates for open discussion of mental issues in dealing with the sense of lost identity felt by many women after divorce. She says: “While professional women will plunge into their work, the woman who assumes the home-maker role, being that wife becomes the essence of her being and women who go through divorce feel uprooted and struggle, to find themselves again.”
Both councillors believe the mindset must change, and the realisation that you are a full, whole person before you are married is of utmost importance. The focus should be placed not so much on what you are, but rather who you are, reverting to your core identity and values as a human being.
Affirming to yourself that you are enough and building on that because as humans we never stop growing.
While the discussion takes on the female perspective, genders have different reactions to divorce, primarily because of the roles we play –they are either stereotypical or cultural.
Muslim women have the blessing of iddah, which allows her to work through her emotions and accept that the marriage is over. It also allows her the time to heal and reinvent herself.
While men tend to hit the ground running; not taking time to mourn the end of their marriage, and tend to carry on, work and possibly even remarry. Though they do struggle through this period, they cope with it very differently.
Shock, denial, pain, and guilt are just some strong emotions that get people down. Some begin self-sabotage and have destructive ways of dealing with pain and guilt.
What needs to be realised is that there are ways to mitigate the strong emotions experienced in a dysfunctional marriage which can help you understand what you are going through.
Seeking help is of the utmost importance – people then realise what they are feeling, how they are feeling and how to convert those feelings into a means of self-growth and self-development. And learning from the experience at the end of your depression and acceptance, you begin looking for a way forward and start reinventing yourself.
The re-emergence after divorce is not an easy one. Couples are marred with judgement from people around them and the stigma that comes with being a divorcee.
Ansaarmeah and Nawab believe that society must change their reaction to divorcees and let go of the need to know what happened; an alternative response is to show support to the divorced individuals and realise the trying time they have been through. “Society needs to stop feeding into the stigma. Divorcees can go on and enter into contented, blissful, fulfilling lives and healthy marriage,” says Nawab.
Many young women have started blogging about their experiences. It is a way of encouraging young women who seek that support.
There is so much support out there for marital disputes and, couples need to make use of it. Working through your emotions and experiences with a support system is fundamental to healing and makes way for an amicable divorce, especially when children are involved.
Councillors say that whatever trials and tribulations you face, whether it is spousal or child-related, take the opportunity to learn from your experience and come out of it wiser, want to live a happy married life.