According to the Singapore Department of Statistics on Divorces in 2004, among Muslims, personality differences was the main reason sited for 30 percent of the divorces in 2004 followed by infidelity (19 per cent). The proportion who cited neglect and irresponsibility increased from 0.7 per cent in 1994 to 8.6 per cent in 2004. Proportionately more Males (44 per cent) than females (19 per cent) petitioned on the grounds of personality differences. More females (26 per cent) than males (3.4 per cent) petitioned on the grounds of inadcequate maintenance.
Why is personality differences cited as the main reason for 30 per cent of the Muslim divorces in 2004? I personally believe that there is more to Muslim divorces than just simply “personality differences”. That such “personality differences” is a result of unmet expectations in the marriage itself, that marriage is seen as an end in itself, that marriage is a solution to the problem of fornication or that marriage is a panacea that will solve all problems, especially to inculcate a sense of maturity and financial responsibility.
Marriage is seen as the eventual goal to be achieved in life, and nothing else. This level of contention disregards the possibility of a highly successful career, stellar academic qualifications and other possible life goals which you may desire (I always had a dream of travelling around the world, meeting people of different cultures and eating all the delicious food I can find). According to the Department of Statistics, Muslims divorces for males (648 out of 1855) were mostly between 25 – 29 whereas for females (780 out of 1855) were between 20 – 24. Looking at these statistics, I would argue that to most Muslims/Malays, a life of academic achievement or career development is not as important as marriage which they see as the next stage of life. Being in line with the Malay culture deficit thesis, Malays lack a certain cultural gene for initiative and progress and would rather accept the modus vivendi that is marriage itself. Therefore, marriage is the end in itself.
To add a religious dimension to the whole argument, marriage to some Malay Muslims is seen as a guard towards fornication. By marrying your child as soon as he reaches puberty, the problems of premarital sex or having teen pregnancies would be averted. In the worst of all cases, as globbed mentioned in a comment in my previous entry, the Malay teenager is forced to marry because of unplanned pregnancy before marriage. Again this contributes to the Malay teenagers marrying early, and heading straight for divorce.
One other argument which I find extremely puzzling is the belief that marriage would force a sudden metamorphosis, that the transition between being single and being married would cause an individual to be more mature, more financially responsible and more intelligent in some way or another. Or in some cases, solve all the problems the abovementioned survey noted as reasons for divorce, like personality differences, infidelity, etc. Its as if marriage is a social panacea to cure all of societal ills, or at least act as a catalyst to speed up the maturity process in adolescence. Again there’s not logical reasoning behind this belief. The largest proportion (35 per cent) of Muslim divorces was among couples who were married less than 5 years. If two people already have problems before marriage, how would being married solves such problems?
My thoughts on this issue. Its interesting hearing the responses of different people to this problem. What do you think?