Divorce Cases Reached an All-Time High for Young Muslim Couples in 2019… But Why?

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Bangunan Mahkamah Syariah Wilayah Persekutuan. (NSTP/GHAZALI KORI)

In the last 5 years, divorce rates have been at a maximum high amongst young Muslim couples. The Selangor Shariah Court has recorded over 24,000 divorce applications from 2017 to 2018. This is a staggering number especially because the Menteri Besar, Amirudin Shari, has cited that the separations occur due to trivial matters that are almost laughable. However, the underlying factor seems to be a much bigger issue than what it appeared to be. He stated,

“Many of the reasons given sounded very funny but the actual fact why many couples are divorcing is due to pressure as well as third party involvement. ’’

Kursus Kahwin Bandar Baru Uda (source: joinkursus.com)

Not only are nasty in-laws labelled as a cause for divorce, the obligatory kursus kahwin has been named as a culprit as well. Granted, the premarital course is not problematic on its own, but instead, it is the lack of proper kursus kahwin that has contributed to the downfall of marriage. Amirudin mentioned in his speech that current kursus kahwin mostly focuses on the preparation before marriage rather than the goings-on in the marriage itself.

While I partially agree with Amirudin’s take on kursus kahwin, it’s important to note that trying to cover all bases for a healthy marriage is impossible as different couples come from different backgrounds with varying challenges. Some couples have financial issues, others have communication problems, and so on. There is no one shoe-fits-all marriage counselling syllabus. Also important to note, non-Muslim couples are not required to attend pre-marriage courses, and their rate of divorce doesn’t seem to be as high.

source: Stepmom, 1998

It’s not all bad news though because the proliferation of divorce rates have spurred a financial aid for ex-wives who are in need. Payments will be given to mothers who file a case at the Shariah Court and they will receive their money within 6 months. Child support, on the other hand, is seldom enforced with many ex-husbands skipping their child support payments, sometimes for years.

This recent development has begged the question, why are young Muslim couples the focal point of divorce in recent years? Of course, there are many reasons to this occurrence and some are more serious than others.

According to Deputy Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development – YB Hannah Yeoh and the Shariah Court, here are the most common causes of divorce starting from the most absurd to the most alarming:

1. Snoring

source: akamaized.net

Why go through the hustle of couple counselling when all you need are some nose and ear plugs? Apparently, Malaysian men and women are snoring up a storm to the point where their spouse is willing to divorce them. I guess the haze is really taking a toll on our nasal passages?

2. Husband/Wife doesn’t know how to perform chores

It might sound ridiculous to divorce someone because they like to do the laundry at night, leave dishes in the sink or forget to flush the toilet but surprisingly, many young couples have gotten a divorce for far lesser mishaps. The Shariah Court has released a report whereby stating the reasons these couples are choosing to separate and the list is almost too funny to be true.

From not hanging the clothes correctly to dirtying a husband’s kopiah because he likes to lepak too long at the surau with his friends, young couples nowadays are like a ticking bomb, just waiting for an excuse to cut-ties with their spouse. Maybe a kursus kahwin isn’t what our generation needs, but a How To basic tutorial on being a decent, functioning human being might come in extra handy.

3. Selangor’s quick and efficient divorce process

Did you know that in Selangor you can get divorced within 6 hours? That’s not even the length of a Lord of The Rings trilogy…

Due to this apparent ease, couples have taken the system for granted and seem to be getting divorced just because it is easy. Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Hannah Yeoh, was incredibly perturbed when she read the statistics of divorce in 2019 which was 8,794 among Muslim couples and 2,068 divorces among non-Muslims. As you can see, Muslim divorces are almost 4 times greater than non-Muslims’. If the numbers continue to rise, it will eventually affect family institutions in Malaysia.

It is great that anyone can get a divorce, for it eases the burden for those who truly need it, but abusing the right and the efficiency of the system is surely to lead to a revocation of that privilege. Not only will this endanger lives of men and women who are suffering from domestic abuse within marriages but it will permeate to the safety and mental well-being of children who are stuck between two unhappy parents.

So, maybe ponder on that decision for a little while longer and not act rashly just because you’ll be done by the midway point of Harry Potter’s Order of the Phoenix.

4. Cheating

A not-so-friendly meeting between wife, husband and mistress. (source: Nymphomaniac, Volume I)

Now, this one’s a viable reason. Dewan Rakyat reported that infidelity is currently one of the top causes of divorce and it’s not hard to believe. With cheating scandals saturating the media, there seems to be a lack of responsibility and commitment within the current generation. Not only is the act normalised through memes on social media, but it is also being perpetuated through the numerous gossip sites and tabloids that love reporting on celebrity infidelities. Additionally, the popularisation of dating apps has contributed to this statistic.

The tumultuous Aliff Aziz and Bella Astillah debacle (source: mstar.com)

With more pressing issues at hand, the media needs to halt in their production of incendiary articles pertaining to this topic, especially because the intent of said content is not to educate the public on the ramifications of cheating but more so to spread gossip or, as the young-ins call it, to spill the tea.

5. Financial troubles

Hannah Yeoh stated after launching the Women of Will’s (WOW) Community Kitchen at the Batu Muda People’s Housing Project (PPR) flats that, “For 2018, out of 6,901 cases which were referred to the tribunal, 2,971 cases were related to financial problems in the family. This is a problem.”

Gone are the winsome days when we love-drunk kids believe that the power of love can solve almost any problem. Reality is more devastating and it hits hard when couples are faced with financial issues within marriage due to the current drop in wage for fresh graduates coupled with the rising cost of living in Malaysia. A famous statistic from a recent Bank Negara report stated that 75% of Malaysian are not able to withdraw RM1,000 at any given time for an emergency. What more, the recent controversial findings by United Nations human rights expert, Philip Alston, stating that the national poverty line of RM980 per household per month would see an urban family of four surviving on RM8 per person per day. Let that sink in for awhile…

Instead of being able to spend money on extravagant dates and frivolous items, married couples are now forced to budget their income to focus on groceries, paying the bills and eventually diapers and baby formula for their offspring. 9 times out of 10, when a couple is not well-prepared with a steady income, this becomes a heavy weight on their shoulders which causes arguing, abuse and ultimately, divorce.

source: Bank Negara Malaysia

Bank Negara has released an estimation of living costs and it is beyond the expectations of most newlyweds. Making ends meet is becoming more difficult as the years progress and this hinders a harmonious marriage for those who are just recently starting to garner income.

As a reflection, it is highly encouraged for young couples to think twice about getting married as soon as they graduate for the exact reason that they might not keep afloat due to the economical struggles they will face when married. All the romance films that tell us, “Money isn’t everything and it’s love that makes the world go round” are just lies and false propaganda to get you into unnecessary situations and financial debt. Let’s be realistic because our lives are not grand movies directed by Baz Lurhman.

No, Ewan, it’s not. (source: Moulin Rouge, 2001)

It is also important to remember that marriage often leads to having children. How can you support your kids and give them the easy life that you’ve always coveted when you yourself are struggling to keep afloat. Don’t just think of love, think of responsibility as well.

source: Kill Bill Volume II (2014)

As a conclusion, this article is not meant to deter you from marrying the love of your life. It is simply a precautionary tale to get you to fikir masak-masak before putting a ring on it. We want you to feel relived after getting married, not regret.

Good luck in your romantic endeavours!

Main image: cilisos.my

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