Divorce lawyers. They see it all. The fights, the drama, the money disputes & so much love lost.
“People know that matters discussed with lawyers are confidential, so clients do feel comfortable opening up about the details of their lives & share their experiences & problems” Nita Maru told Gulf News. Nita Maru is a Solicitor & Managing Partner at TWS Legal Consultants.
All the lawyers we spoke to said that a marriage doesn’t break, it tends to erode over time. Devanand Mahadeva, a fourth generation lawyer told Gulf News.
“I used to handle an average of one divorce case a month. I now see four to five couples getting divorced each month” Devanand Mahadeva, heads the Inheritance & Personal Lines Practise of the Goodwins Group in the UAE. “I want to give advice to both the couple as well as their extended families” he stressed. “External factors like family involvement in a marriage has such a big influence”.
Get a mutual consent divorce in the UAE in one month
“Although I am a Family Lawyer, my work is predominantly about divorce. 80 per cent of my clients come to me with divorce as the request.” Dee Popat told Gulf News. Dee Popat is a family lawyer from James Berry Associates Legal Consultants.
So what would a UAE Divorce Lawyer say to a couple just about to get married?
1. Don’t let your extended family interfere;
Most issues I come across, especially in this region, is because of couples involving their families too much in their life. Whether it’s decision-making, fighting there is generally a strong presence of extended family members in a couple’s day-to-day lives. Couples need to learn to sort things out on their own. Family interference is cited to me as the most common reason to why people become frustrated with each other & therefore separate. Keep your problems private & solve them together as a team.
2. Marriage is not a fairy-tale;
It is so important to be aware of expectations that your partner has of marriage before getting involved on such a serious level. Human beings have only ever wanted to show the rest of the world how happy & successful they are. We don’t ever want to show that we are struggling. So in order to keep up appearances, people share photos of their best moments together. Publically, they act in a very doting way. But marriage is hard & it’s important to understand what the other person expects in this union.
3. Make sure you have the basics down
The most important thing is to have mutual respect towards each other, as well as trust, love & commitment. The next most important is open channels of communication. That is imperative.
3. Again… Communication
People need to talk! I am not sure what it is, but most people just aren’t trained to communicate well. It is so important for couples to ask how the other is doing, what their troubles are, what they need and how they feel.
4. Watch your wedding video every year
After years of marriage, many people tend to forget how they first felt when they fell in love. So make sure you regularly read your letters (Emails), look at your old pictures together. All of the couples who come into my office forget about how they used to love each other. They don’t want to see each other anymore & here I am caught in between. I always try to go to the other with an olive branch. They usually don’t want to see each other.
5. Forget about competing with your friends & ignore all the peer pressure!
Everyone appears to be happy. People tend to show this great exterior image of themselves living the dream life. Marriage looks so appealing to those who aren’t married. But you have to be logical & pragmatic. Just because your friends are married, does not mean that you, as a couple, are there yet.
Life is not a competition & you should not do something just because ‘you are supposed to’ or because ‘it’s time’. Many of the divorce cases I work on, cite this reason. “I rushed into it & now I regret it”.
Sometimes there is a strong desire to get married because couples cannot spend as much time together without being married. As a result, many people hurry into it & eventually regret their decision.
Taking the time to get to know each other is so very important. So try & spend as much time as possible in close proximity, so you can really understand your partner before marriage.
6. Don’t be too independent;
It is important for a couple to still need each other. These days men & women are more self-sufficient than ever. Both of them have careers &Bin most cases both know how to run a household. These are obviously great habits for individuals, but as a couple, it’s necessary for them to need each other. It strengthens their bond.
7. If you have kids, you should focus on your partner even more
Usually when a child comes along, all the focus is placed on them. However, it is extremely important to make time to connect with one another as a couple on a regular basis. Date nights are invaluable as it gives the couple exclusive quality time together especially if they have busy working schedules.
Date nights help to update each other & opens communication on matters such as feelings, any issues that need resolving (avoids escalating them) & generally gives the opportunity for a couple to enjoy their beloved’s company.
8. Raise these kids together
Both parents need to have a 50-50 role in raising the kids. Raising kids as a team isn’t always the case in the region, with the mother taking up most of the responsibility. Long working hours & a hectic & demanding social life often triggers the common situation where children can be neglected & family life gets disrupted.
Usually the husband is frequently travelling abroad or working long hours, so there is a lack of quality time spent with the wife & children which results in many issues & doesn’t help in building a strong family unit.
The mother ends up taking up a lot of the responsibility when it comes to raising children, rather than a more balanced form of parenting.
9. Regular visits to couples therapy
Professional help should not be sought out only when something is wrong, it needs to be done as a regular check-up, just like our visits to a GP or a dentist. I refer many of my clients to psychologists, because they are people who can really delve deeper into their issues.
10. Tell each other how much money you earn
Generally, it is important to just be very honest about money right from the begining. If you have financial problems, be honest about them. I handle many pre-nups at my law firm, so I see the couples who are very honest & open about their finances right from the begining. And those who are not aware about each other’s finances, it leaves a sour taste in their mouth. These are things that need to be discussed.
The more you speak to your partner & get to know their tendencies, their spending, their financial issues & habits, the more normal it becomes to discuss it with one another.
People don’t talk about their money problems & it could lead to many deeper issues. Financial disputes could even lead to domestic violence both verbal & physical. I have come across it often.
11. If you don’t love each other, then at least tolerate each other
Many couples don’t stay in love forever. Eventually they just need to tolerate each other. And in this day & age, where everything is all about instant gratification, our levels of tolerating others have gone down. We need to remember the love & respect we had or still even have for one another.
12. Make sure you always fight fair
Many of my clients who deal with verbal abuse from their spouses, usually knew about the habit before they got married. Many of them could tell the partner loses his/her temper easily, or doesn’t fight fair. And the mistake that many of them do, is ignore it & wait to deal with it after they get married.
It is important to nip it in the bud early on & work with your partner on how to fight fair, rather than fight dirty. Anger is when many people’s true colours come out, so those should be important indicators as to how this person develops over the years.
13. Put the phone down when you are together & use it when you are apart
Technology is a big distraction in a relationship. However, distractions come in all shapes & forms, not just restricted to technology. In our experience, if one partner is unwilling or unable to put the phone down & set aside time to connect on a one-to-one basis with the spouse then this results in resentment & distance forming between the couple.
On the other hand, technology can also be used to a couple’s advantage if used in an inclusive & not excluding way. Including your spouse in your day when apart by messaging can be a topic of conversation later over dinner. When travelling, technology can be used to bring a couple together with the use of online video calling facilities.
As with many things, technology is not inherently negative & has its advantages. However, we decide whether to use it to as a tool to isolate ourselves within the relationship or use it to bring us closer to our other half.
14. Wait until you are ready before you have children
So many of my clients have been rushed into having children because their in-laws were nagging. Children are a blessing, for sure, but I wish people would stop doing that. In this day & age, a couple needs to be so, so ready for a kid. You have to be mentally financially & emotionally ready.
You have to be ready to give up your free time & so much of who you used to be. Many couples need to spend some time together, building the foundations of a healthy marriage, before they can introduce someone else into the mix.
15. Physical & emotional Intimacy. Make time for it!
A lack of Intimacy can often be ignored between a couples but is usually cited as one of the reasons why a spouse will stray during the course of the marriage.
Couples often work long hours & return home too tired to make the effort required to enquire with their spouse about their day etc. which can lead to a chasm of isolation which continues often until breaking point.
Intimacy is not necessarily physical but also includes the act of opening up to another fully that there is no fear of reproach or rejection from the other side. In this era of online distractions & temptation it is important for couples to set aside time to connect with each other regularly to provide the reassurance the other party may be seeking.
16. Divorce is sometimes the best solution
Sometimes divorce is good. If you look at a pattern normally divorces happen in the first 2 or 3 years or after 20 to 22 years. The longer ones are the couples that tend to stick together because of the kids. And the former case, are the ones who were too young perhaps, or not right for each other & they wanted to put a stop to it before their lives progressed any further.
It is important to be happy in life. Don’t live with someone who makes you miserable, but make sure you take your time choosing your partner & allow time to get to know your partner.
Extra: Advice to the In-Laws.
If you want your children to have a successful marriage, stop getting involved in your child’s marital problems. Stop rushing them to have their children. Stop taking sides. Stop being too emotional. You have to be more pragmatic & teach them how to fight fair.
Teach them to solve their problems, instead of giving them a solution. Pull away when needed & give them their space to grow as a couple.