LIGHTS, camera…action! Elaborated fresh flower decors, lavish menus, thematic fairytale settings, expensive attires, choreographed movements and proper cinematics are a common sight for any modern-day wedding events that you attend in Pakistan these days.
With modern theme, the essence and idea of starting a new relationship is also redefined by couples tying the knots. Marriage and family are the fundamental keystones or building blocks of any society.
Marriage is a legal/social contract between two people who unite to build their own family unit together in accordance with their geographical and religious cultures or norms, hence contributing towards the sustenance and growth of their society.
Families, in a society, are defined as socially recognized units, usually formed by blood or marriage, that are emotionally dependent and connected to each other to serve as an economic and social contributor towards their society.
Unfortunately, not all dream-weddings are fateful matrimonies that get their fairytale endings.
Recent spike in divorce rate in the conservative society of Pakistan is alarming which needs a concerning introspection.
The reasons and factors for this spike in divorce rates varies from urban to rural households.
In addition to the pressure on the youth to settle down or marry at the right age and time, many overlook the key factor of right person and right reasons to marry that person.
According to a survey carried out by Gallup, 58% Pakistanis believe that divorces are becoming more prevalent in our country.
While investigating the causes for recent divorces, survey revealed the main culprit is STRESS and its management.
Stress due to financial instability and insecurity, excessive interference by extended families especially by in laws, emotional stress of having children after marriage and imbalance in sharing their responsibility, decline in marital satisfaction leading to infidelity and most importantly violence and abuse.
Furthermore, from 2019 to 2021 COVID also contributed to sharp rise in divorce rate, which took an extra toll and added more stress to the challenges of world health and economy.
Unlike the western culture, in Pakistan, marriages don’t depend on trial and error option of cohabitation; where couples can choose to live together before marriage to check for compatibility.
In our culture, our elders of the family decide in arranging most of the marriages. For this reason, our family units are strongly integrated and interdependent.
However, sometimes this very reason is also the cause for break ups in many marriages when privacy and space are continuously intruded.
Our cultural norms have evolved the institution of marriage into a sacred cow that one cannot break from without getting the ire of the society and the elders of the family.
Due to negligent support, massive taboo and shame surrounding the option of divorce in Pakistan, many couples, especially women, continue to choose unhappiness and compromise to stay in an abusive and toxic marriage which is totally unreasonable as every person has a birth right to be respected as an individual.
Many abusive marriages that don’t end amicably, often end up in becoming a living hell for couples, which eventually leads to instable upbringing of their children that are mental misfits for society.
A key step to avoid such outcomes is imbedded in educating and empowering your children to enable them to make better decisions/choices and providing them with a strong and positive support system as a family.
Additionally, adequate counselling options, keeping open mindset for accepting difference of opinions, sharing responsibilities equally with mutual respect and better stress management can all help in identifying and resolving marital disputes keeping in mind that good communication is the key to any relationship.
Call it a gamble, an institution or a honeytrap, marriage has been the oldest and most sacred bond between a man and a woman; adorned with complications as well as challenges and beautiful with all the joys it brings.
Marriages have led to the formation of multicultural societies that we see today. Some couples do get their happily-ever-after, while others find their path to happiness in parting ways for a better and healthier future.
The choice of staying in a marriage or parting ways must be respected and supported by the families and society.
The taboo surrounding divorce should be addressed with sane, non-judgmental open minds. No matter how harsh it sounds but a divorced person is better than a dead person.
—The writer, Accountant by qualification and a travel influencer by choice, is a freelance columnist and an award winning filmmaker, based in Karachi.