When love is gone

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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

MARRYING the love of his life when he felt he was ready to become a husband at the age of 27, Johari thought he was the luckiest man in the world.

It never crossed his mind that the marriage he thought would last a lifetime, would go down crumbling only after five years of venturing into the marriage life.

His journey as a husband ended in a divorce in 2009 when he found out his wife cheated on him, leaving him on the lurch of trying to find out what went wrong.

According to the 33-year-old divorcee, he lost his wife’s interest when he was too busy with his work and would often come late for dinner.

“We lived in Bandar but I work in Belait. Every day I have to back and forth from Bandar to Belait. It became a daily routine and I thought my wife would understand my work’s condition. I knew she was seeing someone from my friends. They saw her several times with another guy.”

The former couple’s seven-year-old daughter is staying in Belait with her mother who has remarried.

Only choice

After several years or months of marriage, divorce is the only choice a married couple has when they lost hope, interest, and trust and most importantly understanding between each other, said the Acting Assistant of Syariah Affairs Department.

The department provides counselling services under its Family Consultation Services Unit (Bahagian Khidmat Nasihat Keluarga) for any family-related issue such as marriage and divorce.

From 2010 until 2014, a total of 3,141 cases have been filed for issues related to family and married couples.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Hj Saharuddin Hj Patra said many of the married couples who came to the unit were already in a hopeless relationships and had a little chance to get back together due to the feeling of resentment for each other for a long time.

“Marriage couples have to come here for counselling session before they file the divorce petition. However, many cases are too late to be reconciled as they already see divorce as the only solution for their marriage,” said the official who is also the unit’s head of counsellor.

The official said some married couples keep their relationship problems to themselves for years and when these come out, instead of having proper talk they tend to argue and fight.

He said married partners tend to bottle up their feelings for years instead of properly communicating and confronting their spouse.

Divorce in Islam is one of the undesirable things, but if anyone in the marriage is oppressed and it threatened the life of one person then divorce is allowed, said Hj Saharuddin.

“But it is suggested that the married couple should resolve their marriage through counselling with anyone they trust, instead of (only) seeing divorce as a way to resolve it,” he said.

Rising number

Statistics from the Syariah Court show that the number of divorces in Brunei rose to 524 last year from 494 in 2014.

According to Hj Hassan Hj Metali, chief registrar at the Syariah Appeals Court, divorce rate has been inching up, particularly for couples who have been married for less than two years.

Hj Hassan said the number of marriages lasting only a year rose to 12 in 2015 from five in 2014, while those lasting only two years increased to 48 from 37.

“In previous years, most couples who filed for divorce had been married for at least five years. But the latest figures are worrying, as marriages are not lasting as long,” he said.

Despite, the wish to separate, the couples were actually ready to take their wedding vows. “In the moment when they signed documents (before the solemnisation), they actually shown their determination to live together with their chosen one,” said Hj Saharuddin.

“When people get married, they are certainly ready with any commitment, responsibility and challenges that they will face during their lifetime as husband and wife.”

“There are even courses (kursus nikah) that they have to get through. The courses include ways of handling their finances, sex, responsibility as husband and wife and so on,” said the counsellor.

Stopped fighting for marriage

“Wedded couples who are on the verge of separation often stopped fighting for their marriage instead they often argued on ‘who is right or who is wrong’. They sleep separately; they ignore and stop communicating with each other. They don’t overcome the hardships together. These, will eventually lead to separation,” added the official from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Divorce does not happen for a particular reason. It is the end product of rather many of correlated issues.

Hj Hassan said there were more than ten family issues which commonly lead to divorce.

“Most common reason is misunderstanding with 1,163 recorded cases. This problem often happened due to lack of communication between the couple. This indirectly caused them to build a sense of negativity or negative mindset towards each other. They blame each other, curse and hurt their partner emotionally and physically,” he said.

The figure provided by the department shows that financial problem or irresponsible husband and cheating came as the second and as the third reasons with 896 and with 322 cases respectively.

This is followed by 152 cases of abusive husband, 58 cases of polygamy, 55 cases of husband or wife running away, 49 cases of drugs addiction, 38 cases of imprisonment, 34 cases of disobedient wife and three cases of impotence.

“When couple misunderstands their partner, they tend to behave differently. They find someone else to confide about it and when their partner found out about this, they started to fight and hurt them physically,” he said.

“Some couples who came for the counselling held grudges towards their partner for years. When they came for the counselling that’s when they revealed everything. There were some cases where the married couple kept their bitterness for years,” he said.

“There is one case when young married couple fought over Facebook. The wife accused her husband of cheating just because he deleted his wife’s pictures in his Facebook account. The husband defended himself by accusing her wife doing the same. Sadly, they never discussed about this individually,” he said.

A 27-year-old female divorcee, who wanted to be named only as Nurul, said that her one-year marriage was complicated as her divorce was caused by several reasons that involved a third person as well as their parents.

“We were married in 2013. My husband felt pressured when my parents were not happy with my family’s financial problem,” said the now single mother.

She said after a few months, their marriage began to fall apart when her former husband met someone new. “The first time I asked him about it, he refused to answer but the second time I asked he replied with harsh words and he kicked me in my face.”

“I was afraid and left him the next day. His parents and sibling were afraid to interfere. I lived with my relatives for a few months and sometimes he came to my parents’ house to ask about me and my daughter.

“After few months, we officially divorced and I got the child custody as our daughter was only few months old back in 2014,” said Nurul.

The Brunei Times