Marriage vows have become more susceptible to life’s challenges

11 Jun 2021 / 08:20 H.

PETALING JAYA: Sparks fly when two people are in love. But under Covid-19 conditions, there are also likely to be glints of anger and resentment.

Being forced to spend extended hours together has led many couples to get on each other’s nerves and marriage counsellors fear that may lead to many marriages falling apart.

In fact, the institution of marriage is already losing its shine, raising questions about how effective a pre-marriage course is in this day and age.

While most still regard it as essential before a couple take their vows, there are calls to review it to meet current challenges.

The numbers tell a sad tale. Last year, 56,975 Muslim couples broke their vows, up from 50,862 in 2019, accounting for a 12% increase.

The story is equally depressing for
non-Muslim couples. The divorce rate rose 8.3%, from 10,593 in 2018 to 11,473 in 2019, according to data from the Statistics Department.

This led national Wanita MIC leader Mohana Muniandy to urge the government to make pre-marriage courses mandatory for non-Muslims to help reduce the number of divorce cases.

Relationship and marriage consultant Dr Hamidah Mohamed told theSun that being confined to the home has exacerbated communication problems between couples rather than bring them closer together.

“Among the factors that lead to
break-ups are financial woes and the lack of privacy.

“Under normal circumstances, a couple could spend some time together or alone outside the house, to let off steam. Otherwise, they can spend some time apart to think things through,” she said.

However, this option is no longer available under Covid-19 conditions.

The sad thing is that even marriages that have lasted years have crumbled.

“Individuals lose their personal space when they are under lockdown. This causes mental breakdown. Pressure from work can also cause damage in a relationship,” Hamidah added.

She said going through a course to prepare couples for a life together is still relevant but the current format will have to be updated to include practical skills such as managing financial needs.

“I believe one of the biggest factors that lead to separation is financial problems.

“The issues faced by couples today are quite different from those faced by their parents.”

While a pre-marriage course is not mandatory for Christian couples, it is expected of them, said Reverend
Johua Ong.

“The priest or pastor who presides over their wedding would expect them to have gone through the course with an organised group or programme.”

Ong said the objective is to provide couples with some fundamental Christian teachings or understanding of the meaning and purpose of marriage and that God is part of the equation when two people come together to establish a family.

“Marriage is a lifelong commitment that is meant to be taken reverently, responsibly and after giving some serious thought to it. In summary, a pre-marriage course is to affirm marriage as a gift of God and a means of His grace,” he said.

Ong added that many factors can lead to a couple parting ways.

“They are often very complex and traumatic emotional issues that result in irreconcilable differences.

“There is a fundamental conflict between ideals and expectations and the reality. I normally give worksheets for prospective couples to fill out in those areas,” he said.

“I also remind them to keep the worksheets as reference until they find the perfect love in having grandchildren.”

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