Why do Egyptians get Divorced?

Date posted: September 18, 2008


This question has been circulating a lot in many unrelated circles nowadays. Statistics show that 75,000 Egyptian couples got divorced in 2006/2007. Wandering Scarab is trying to provide us with some answers:

It's been noted that divorce rates in Egypt are on the rise. That is despite the fact that Egyptians generally see marriage as a means of gaining independence and engaging freely in sexual activity, as well as gaining stature from being married. It's possible that divorce rates are skyrocketing because couples have misconceptions about marriage that are created by the media in addition to the preconceptions planted in young minds by parents and family about how a marriage should be.

Examples of marital misconceptions follow:

Egyptians often get hooked on mythical marriages like that of Hollywood where phrases such as "love conquers all" and "what matters most is love" constitute the majority of mainstream dramas and romantic comedies, and let's not forget the superficial and misleading soap operas. The average Egyptian mother continues to tell her son to reign in the new wife like she's part of a cattle herd. The same mother will also tell her daughter that it's the sole responsibility of the woman to keep the household running as long as the man is financially capable. In reality marriage requires a lot more work. Some of the bigger C words that come to mind are Commitment, Compromise, and Communication, none of which the average young Egyptian has a clear understanding of it seems.

As harsh as her judgment might sound, Wandering Scarab clearly defends her point:

Newlywed Egyptians seem to be unequipped for marriage. Egyptian girls are brought up with the expectation that life is a journey and marriage is the destination. Women are not encouraged to be financially independent nor are they given the opportunity to be responsible for their own actions. Every choice the woman makes reflects on her family and so there's always pressure and biased sources that seep into the process of decision making. She grows up in a household where the father is the head of the family and is financially responsible for all his children until each one is married. Nowadays, some parents go even further and continue to support their sons and daughters well after marriage. That is one of the most damaging things to a marriage. It stunts its growth. It takes away the feeling of independence and responsibility, and in turn affects the way newlyweds see their marriage. It forces both parties to acquiesce to certain pressures and forcibly give in to demands, especially from the financially contributing parent. The husband resents his new wife and she loses respect for him because he's unable to provide. When our parents demand that we remain shackled with them until marriage it sets the precedent for the woman that her new husband will take care of her just like her father did. And the son who just got married is expected to shift from someone who is not responsible for anything to being responsible for everything within 24 hours. This is a completely unrealistic expectation of both genders. Egyptian parents do not give their children room to grow.

Another valid point is raised by the Egyptian immigrant:

In addition, Egyptians grow up with a set of stereotypes that continue to be enforced by society well into adulthood. Men often want women who resemble their mothers. They want a household that is similar to the one they just left. They complain that women don't cook as well as their mothers or run a household in the same manner as their mother. Nostalgia, insecurity, or call it what you will. It's the environment they are used to and the one they know works. But they fail to realize that the new household is different and the new wife is precisely that, a wife, a life partner, an equal. Women on the other hand, often expect their partner to be the knight in shining armor, the be all end all of their life. The man becomes the center of their world, and in his absence they lose their sense of balance. This is unrealistic as well as grossly unfair. We cannot expect our men to be superheroes. They are human, and no one is perfect. By expecting either partner to perform according to a preexisting (and unrealistic) benchmark they are setting themselves up for failure. In that sense both partners lack the communication skills to make a marriage work. Instead they rely on traditions and notions passed on from generations before and expect things to magically make sense.

On compromise or the lack of, she writes:

There is also a lack of compromise. When couples get married, often women expect the same kind of treatment during the engagement, but life is not always so rosy. Both partners had less responsibilities prior to marriage. It is extremely callous of a woman to expect the same man who is working over 18 hours a day to come home and make love to her like a horse or take her out to dinner, let alone listen to her nag endlessly about common stuff. Women seem unwilling to meet their partners half way. They interpret the man's exhaustion as a sign of less love or less interest. And while men care very much they are generally discouraged from showing affection lest they be less manly. Women seem to forget that their men are working two jobs most likely to keep them happy. When a man fails to make his woman happy, he sees the marriage go down the drain. Men who cannot satisfy their wives or make them happy often see themselves as failures. But also, Egyptian men are trained to take their wives for granted after marriage with the idea that she will always be there when he comes home. They forget that women who are taken for granted become bitter and in turn seek alternate ways to display their resentment, which could be manifested in any number of ways.

From compromise, she moves on to communication:

When both partners refuse to compromise and carry resentment for each other, communication inevitably breaks down. A marriage that lacks communication is like a ship without crew, a train wreck waiting to happen.

On the taboo side of marriage, Wandering Scarab talks about sex:

But it's important to note that sexual incompatibility and frustration is one of the leading causes of divorce. Many couples expect that sex will solve their problems, or that sex is a reward for putting up with celibacy for so long and so it's profound enough to fix anything. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Sex in marriage often transforms into a display of affection, more commonly known as "making love" and raunchy sex is seen by some as pure passion. Sex is just that, sex. It can be an act of love between two people, but ultimately it is a physical need which humans desire to fulfill. Sex cannot solve marital problems and it cannot create affection where there is none. In fact, problems unrelated to sex often penetrate into the bedroom and translate into miserable sex or lack thereof. Egyptian couples seem to understand the significance of sex but fail to see that it's just a barometer that measures how well the marriage is doing. Couples who suffer from problems in the bedroom almost always have problems in other areas of their life that simply have been translated into the bedroom. Many Egyptian couples are overwhelmed by the sense of frustration, especially newlyweds, when they fail in the bedroom. They see it as a form of betrayal or a reward that's been denied after being celibate for so long. And that frustration can lead to abandonment. They both jump ship so to speak. Problems will always arise between married couples and that's why commitment is key to the success of their marriage. Couples who are committed to fixing their problems or meeting half way are the ones who can make their marriage work. But Egyptian couples seem to put an effort only in relation to the short term gain often because both partners come into the marriage with preset notions, misconceptions, unrealistic expectations, and excess personal baggage.

In conclusion, she writes:

Marriage is all about the big Cs. Marriage in it's infancy is a fragile thing. It needs to be nurtured to grow and flourish. In a successful marriage, both partners are consenting adults who have successfully sorted through their personal baggage, set their misconceptions aside, and adjusted thier expectations to be in line with reality, all through communication. Unfortunately, I don't see many Egyptian couples who fit that description. Their solution, based on a short term gain, is to divorce or remain in an unhappy marriage.

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