Friday, October 7, 2011

Complex couples

This is an expanded report of a blog post for our magazine Panorama (Oct.7, 2011) Sorry about the length:
Abdul Rehman runs a photo studio in Sharjah. Buoyed by the business boom, he decided to tie the knot. The marital bliss, however, turned out to be brief as he was exposed to a peculiar habit that his wife had developed. If any of her demands were rejected, she would wake up at midnight and create a scene by cutting her wrist or threatening to jump off the window. Rehman's wedlock fast snapped into a deadlock.
Anil Nayar of Dubai recently returned home from office with his brand-new Land Cruiser, all pumped up with joy. Three nights later, his possessive wife deflated his newly-found happiness after learning that he had dropped a female colleague home the same evening. What started as a midnight chat on the subject ended in a fight with the couple not talking to each other for the next three days.
Marriage is a complex subject. Psychologists caution that taking a partner for granted can prove costly for couples, especially in these days of unabashed materialism. With individual ambitions on the rise, so are stress levels. Reports indicate that with more and more couples bickering over trivial matters, household finances have become a burning cause for discord.
Dr Raymond H. Hamden, Clinical & Forensic Psychologist, Human Relations Institute, Dubai, is not surprised. “In fact, rarely do couples fight over big issues. Most of the time, petty matters pile up and lead to a crisis in relations.”
Dr Hamden suggests that couples should learn to balance their lives. “They need to communicate effectively. One should not tell the other ‘my way is the only way.’ There should be a clear interaction without any emotional garbage.”
“Complex couple” is a term in vogue, to define a pair whose relationship has landed in troubled waters for unclear reasons, says psychologist R. Hassan. “The term may be new, but the problem has been prevalent since ages. People have started talking about it more openly these days," he says.
According to the psychologist, irrational expectations from each other, more often than not, lead to trouble brewing in a marriage. The situation can be addressed by both parties talking and spending quality time together, maybe by going on a vacation.
After this has been tried and a solution is not forthcoming, the problem could be intrinsically psychological in nature, over which individuals have little control. In such cases, a visit by either, preferably both, to a counsellor or clinical psychologist could prove beneficial.
In some cases, people fail to realise that they could be suffering from some psychological disorder until matters turn too complicated to handle.
Ashish works in a multinational company. A handsome and cheerful guy, he was naturally disposed to interact with colleagues and friends, especially females. His wife, however, took objection. When the matter came to head, relatives suggested that the couple take a vacation. The attempt though proved futile and the bickering continued.
The entire family was distressed until a well-wisher suggested that the couple visit a clinical psychologist. It was then that the wife was diagnosed as suffering from a “Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD).
PPD is a condition characterised by excessive distrust and suspicion of others. The disorder is diagnosed only when these behaviours become persistent and reach distressing levels.
It is not always women who are the cause of conflict. There are several instances where chauvinistic men cause a relationship to collapse with their biased attitude. 
The result of discord can be varying. There are instances of couples who have been married for long, but not talking to each other. Surprisingly, they may even be having children and stay together only for the sake of the child.
Says Hassan: “All marriages will face marital conflict at varying degrees. Couples should learn how to handle these problems effectively. The impact of modern-day stress can be devastating if couples do not learn to cement a formidable understanding.”
Interestingly, while marriages in the UAE have steadily increased over the past few years thanks to economic progress, the number of divorce cases has also shown a sharp increase.
A report by the National Bureau of Statistics gave no figures for 2010 but according to the state Marriage Fund, divorces remained high through 2010 as economic uncertainty loomed large.
From 13,001 in 2005, total marriages in the UAE rose to 13,190 in 2006 and 13,321 in 2007 before jumping to 15,041 in 2008 to record their highest annual growth rate of 12.9 per cent. Marriages continued to rise in the following year but at a much slower rate of 0.8 per cent to reach 15,175.
The report showed divorces dropped from 3,638 in 2005 to 3,335 in 2006 before surging to 3,761 in 2007. They rose by about 2.5 per cent to 3,855 in 2008 before jumping by 23 per cent to 4,760 in 2009.
The Marriage Fund said that more than a fifth of the marriages involving national spouses in the UAE ended with divorce in 2010, maintaining the countryƕs status as having the highest divorce rate in the region.
“The bottomline,” experts agree, “is that couples should love and trust each other. There should be no comparisons. They should spend enough time together and be lavish in the appreciation of each other.”                    
(Some of the names have been changed to protect identities).


  1. okkk..well quite an insight..
    ...I know happy couples and happy marriages too ..
    its two sides of the same coin...
    Divorce and getting married and then getting divorced again...I mean..for how long?
    In US divorce rates are high But there are people (Americans )married for twenty four yrs or more..
    I wud sum up ... its mutual love and respect ..towards each other...the more you give the more it grows!

  2. It is true that either partner should not take the other for granted.But,Indians are getting a bit too westernized and falling into the same trap.

  3. spending time and communication is very much essential in maintaining all kind of relationships. A wonderful post.

  4. an interesting read!! did not mind the length!

  5. Good article. BTW, counselling psychologists also would have done a good job of marital counselling. All cases need not go to clinical only! :-)