Divorce: Shortly after marriage

Q172 :One of our friends married a girl with a university degree. They have barely lived three months together when she went back to stay in her parents' home. She has been living with them for more than a year now, stating that she wants a divorce. Her husband, who seems to us to be a good man in every respect is unwilling to give her divorce, because he wants his marriage to succeed. In our community, a stigma is cast over a divorcee which may jeopardize her chances of marrying again, and indeed the chances of her sisters. Yet, the wife of our friend seems determined, stating that this would be her first and last marriage. We may add that her parents have given her support. Please advise.

A172 : Something must have gone drastically wrong with this marriage. It is often the case that newly married people experience some profound disappointment as they begin to discover the sort of transformation their lives are taking after marriage. Personal peculiarities may not be easy to overlook or reconcile. Sometimes quarrels may take place over small matters or for causes which are difficult to pinpoint. It is often the case that patience and the willingness to understand the other party's likes and dislikes, prejudices and preferences, is all that is needed to bring stability to a marriage and establish a degree of mutual affection between a man and his wife which is far more important than any passionate love of the type poets and men of letters are never tired of describing. From another point of view, when you go into a marriage, you are clear in your mind that you are establishing a relationship which you hope will last for the rest of the couple's life. Things must go badly wrong for a married couple to want to break their relationship three months after living together. I can only say that your friend and his wife must have made plenty of mistakes, and must have caused each other much unhappiness to make matters reach such a stage. [One of the aspects affecting may be pride; which is described by the Prophet, peace be upon him, as: "Ignoring the truth and denying people their rights."] It is also most probably true to say that the mistakes were on both sides, I do not question your testimony in favor of your friend's character, but I can say that it is impossible for anyone of us to tell how a friend of his behaves at home, or how he treats his wife. Although you have not given me details of what took place between your friend and his estranged wife, I can say that the uncompromising attitude of the woman in this case provides some indications. Those three months must have been so hard for her that she is now adamant that she would never be married again. It is quite possible that she is to blame for much of the troubles that have shaken the foundations of her marital home. Be that as it may, she must feel that her reasons for wanting to be divorced are so strong, as far as she is concerned, that she is willing to accept the social stigma that is cast over a divorcee in your society, as you say. This is further strengthened by the support she enjoys from her parents. They are more likely to take a less passionate view. They have to look after the interests of their other five daughters who, you admit, will be affected by the outcome of this case. They apparently recognize that it is hopeless to try to patch up the differences between their daughter and her husband. My advice to your friend is to adopt a cool approach, realizing that it is no use continuing with a marriage if the other party is determined to break it. This is bound to prolong the misery. If he knows his father-in-law to be a reasonable man, he should suggest to him the process Allah has outlined to achieve reconciliation. This involves the appointment of two arbiters, one from each family, who should meet and discuss the differences and problems of this marriage and degree of reconciliation, outlining what each party must expect from the other. The arbiters should refer to the two parties concerned and determine whether they can implement the points they have agreed between them. If everyone involved approaches the matter with goodwill, then reconciliation is sure to be achieved. If not, then the arbiters, or the man and his wife should work out the terms of their separation and divorce. If the man takes the initiative and divorces his wife, then it is a simple case of divorce and he has to give the woman all her rights, including her full dower. If he does not and feels that he would still prefer to go through with the marriage, but the woman is persistent in her demand to be divorced, then the case is one of "khola". This is a term which applies to a case of dissolution of the marriage at the wife's request. The husband is unwilling to divorce her because he prefers to maintain his marriage. An Islamic court could grant a wife's application for 'khola', outlining the terms of separation. The husband is entitled to have back all the dower he has given his wife at the time of the marriage. Whatever your friend and wife ultimately decide, each of them must remember that Allah will hold them to account for their deeds. Therefore, each one of them should be keen to treat the other fairly and to make sure that the rights of the other are absolutely respected and guaranteed.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )