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December 3 2021 3:09 AM ˚
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Did marriages improve during COVID-19?

Experts suggest that while divorces decreased, marital problems remained

(Photo: Jordan News)
(Photo: Jordan News)
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AMMAN — The Chief Islamic Justice Department (CIJD) revealed that divorce cases decreased from 28,013 cases in 2019 to 22,780 cases in 2020, possibly due to postponed divorce applications during the COVID-19 pandemic.اضافة اعلان

According to the agency, the percentage of divorce cases for marriages that did not last more than one year decreased from 6.8% in 2020 to 5% of all marriage contracts for the same year.

The total number of divorce cases of all kinds and forms decreased from 28,013 in 2019 to 22,780 cases in 2020, a drop by 5,233 cases. 

(Graphic: Jordan News) 

“In the year 2020, there was a significant decrease in divorce rates, most probably due to spouses postponing their cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, and safety measures requiring social distancing,” said Ashraf Omari from CIJD, in an interview with Jordan News. “This will show by the end of the year 2021.” 

The decrease in divorces is not tied to a decrease in marital problems, according to professionals speaking to Jordan News.

“Marital problems have significantly increased under the coronavirus pandemic,” said Nedaa Abu Qadoum, a sharia (Islamic law) lawyer, in remarks to Jordan News. “One of the most important reasons left by the pandemic and reflected on the family is the deterioration of financial conditions.”

“It is known that the economic situation of the family plays a major role in its stability. The man, by nature, becomes nervous if he is unable to fulfill his family’s financial demands, which is reflected in his relationship with his wife,” she added. 

The pandemic also affected the department's plan to reduce divorce rates through a program it developed to hold premarital rehabilitation courses. The program was temporarily halted to prevent social interaction and limit the spread of the virus, according to Abu Qdoum.

Marriage counselor and therapist Mariam Hakim explained how certain interpersonal problems may have been amplified by the stress of the pandemic.

“Married couples that had very minor problems between each other prior to the pandemic were able to handle their issues during quarantine in a peaceful manner and faced very small obstacles,” she said. However, “Spouses that initially had marital problems were unable to compromise a solution as easily, and complications between them spiraled during the lockdown.” 

“A strong couple that implements communication and teamwork in their relationship will have the ability to surpass any problem, even the ones related to sickness or financial crisis. Contacting a marriage counselor from the early stages of an issue will help prevent further friction,” she added.

Hakim explained that marital problems usually fall into five categories that couples may face: the personal relationship, the sexual relationship, relationship with the in-laws, financial means, and children.

“The problem here does not lie in these factors. Rather, it relates back to how the spouses deal with them and their lack of communication skills required to overcome such hurdles,” explained Hakim.

“Couples therapy is crucial in every relationship and should begin prior to marriage to help prevent both an increase in marital issues and divorce rates.”

Hakim stated that as a marriage counselor, she witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of clients she received during the COVID-19 crisis relative to prior years, indicating that problems only grew as couples were locked into close quarters and facing difficult financial straits.

The dip in divorce numbers during the pandemic is slightly unusual for the region. In contrast to Jordan, Oman faced an increase in its divorce rates. Official statistics from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs show there were 1,113 divorces in Oman during the year 2020, an increase of 49.5% from 2019.

Similarly, Jordan’s neighboring Saudi Arabia witnessed an increase of 30% in divorce rates during the pandemic, as reported by the Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News, who quoted the Saudi Justice Ministry. 

Meanwhile, in the United States, divorce declined during the pandemic, at least according to a study of five states.

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