Love, marriage and expert tips for working through the hard times

It is almost impossible for a couple not to fight. (Shutterstock)
Updated 04 October 2017

Love, marriage and expert tips for working through the hard times

JEDDAH: Although marriage can be beautiful and fulfilling, many couples face pitfalls when it comes to resolving the more stressful issues in marital life. In light of the Gulf region’s soaring divorce rates and headline-grabbing, bizarre tales of marital break down, Arab News spoke to a relationship therapist to understand how to attain marital bliss and work with your partner toward a healthy relationship.
In August, a bizarre divorce case reported by Al Watan newspaper saw a Saudi man allegedly separate from his wife because she forgot to add a sheep’s head to a dish served to dinner guests. The woman, who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity, said that her husband had been angry at the slip up as he believed serving a sheep’s head was a sign of generosity.
It is not the only eyebrow-raising reason given for a divorce. From a WhatsApp status that seemed to paint the husband in a bad light to a man whose wife supposedly ate her peas in a manner that irritated him, there have been some strange divorce cases across the Gulf region.
According to a July 2016 report by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics, divorce in the Kingdom happens at the rate of 127 cases per day, or about five cases every hour.
According to the report, more than 157,000 marriages were recorded in the courts between the summer of 2015-2016, while over 46,000 divorce cases were recorded during the same period.
The report stated, however, that the number of divorces recorded a decline from the year before, which saw more than 54,000 cases of divorce.
Arab News spoke to Dr. Nisreen Yacoub, associate professor at King Abdulaziz University and founder of the Dr. Nisreen office For Counselling and Psychotherapy, to learn more about practical tips married couples can follow to work through difficult situations.
It takes two to build a successful, happy marriage, she told Arab News, adding that young couples should not enter a marriage believing it will be free from stress, fights and other marital woes. There are key things to remember when it comes to marriage, Yacoub believes.
Be realistic
Getting into a marriage under false assumptions fosters high expectations. Living a meaningful life is the goal couples should strive toward, Yacoub believes. Any person who is ready to get into a marriage needs to understand that it is going to be tough and they should be prepared to dive in and work it out. There will be growing pains and tough times when you least expect it, but giving up is the last resort. Flaws should be accepted, idealism should be forgotten and acceptance is always the best way forward, but only if it is mutual.
Take other people’s opinions with a pinch of salt
Yacoub maintains that “outside influencers” are not the right people to turn to for advice. These may include friends and family and sidelining their opinions can be difficult for many due to how close-knit Middle Eastern societies typically are. Each person will base their opinion on their personal experiences, making for advice that may not be relatable to one’s own experience. Yacoub advises that it is not wrong to seek help, but it is best to reach out to a professional family counselor or therapist. These professionals will give their unbiased opinions and help to clear any misgivings in the marriage where possible.
“We can’t fix a society, we can only help the mindset of the individual. When he or she is willing to listen, that change happens. This happens when the individual comes to a realization that there is a problem that needs to be solved. Society plays a major role in all divorce cases and the change will happen gradually,” Yacoub said.
When you fight, fight fair
It is almost impossible for a couple not to fight, but when you do there are various tips you can use to ensure there is no lasting emotional damage and that the argument is resolved in a calm, kind manner.
The key to any disagreement is knowing when to make an exit, even if you have not resolved the issue. Taking a deep breath and leaving the room can go a long way in creating a foundation for resolution. It is also crucial to agree with your partner that neither of you should “win” or “lose” a fight. Both parties to the marriage should understand that the concept of winning and losing will build resentment and, ultimately, hurt the relationship. While negotiation and compromise are essential, it is also important to understand that the process cannot be rushed — sometimes you may need to cool off before you can handle the situation and that is perfectly fine. However, walking away from an argument should not be seen as a ticket to better times. Couples should pin down a time and place to ensure that the issue is discussed and resolved, seeking professional help if necessary.
Share quality time together
Every moment of disclosure — being real, fragile, kind and passionate — can further a couple’s understanding of each other and, therefore, help the marriage succeed. That is why spending time together is so important. Couples can get weighed down in the day-to-day hubbub of life, but setting aside time to spend with your partner alone, doing something you both enjoy, is important for a happy marriage. Sharing a hobby or volunteering together will go a long way in ensuring you remain friends as well as husband and wife or mother and father.


Marie Fredriksson of Swedish pop duo Roxette dies at 61

Updated 10 December 2019

Marie Fredriksson of Swedish pop duo Roxette dies at 61

  • Per Gessle: You were an outstanding musician, a master of the voice, an amazing performer
  • Fredriksson formed Roxette with Per Gessle in 1986, and in 1989, the pair had their international breakthrough with The Look

STOCKHOLM: Marie Fredriksson, the female half of the Swedish pop duo Roxette, has died at age 61, her management agency said Tuesday.
Fredriksson formed Roxette with Per Gessle in 1986. The two released their first album the same year and went on to achieve international success in the late 1980s and 1990s with hits including “The Look” and “It Must Have Been Love.”
The Dimberg Jernberg agency said Fredriksson died Monday “of the consequences of a long illness.”
It “is with great sorrow that we must inform you that one of greatest and most-loved artists is gone,” the firm said.
On his Facebook profile, Gessle wrote: “You were an outstanding musician, a master of the voice, an amazing performer.”
“I’m proud, honored and happy to have been able to share so much of your time, talent, warmth, generosity and your sense of humor,” he wrote in English, adding “Things will never be the same.”
Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2002. She underwent aggressive treatment that took its toll but ultimately was successful, her management agency said. However, she was left blind in one eye, with limited hearing and mobility, and was unable to read or write. She was also unable to speak for a considerable period of time after her treatment. Over the years she was able to make a gradual return to the world stage
Fredriksson was born in southern Sweden on May 30, 1958, and had her artistic breakthrough in 1984 in Sweden. Two years later, she formed the duo Roxette with Gessle, and in 1989, the pair had their international breakthrough with “The Look.”
They achieved international success with their albums “Look Sharp!” in 1988 and “Joyride” in 1991, and had six top two hits on the Billboard Hot 100. The pair sold 80 million records worldwide and embarked on world tours.
They were Sweden’s best-known band since ABBA in the 1970s and 1980s, and in 2003, Sweden’s Carl Gustaf XVI awarded the duo a royal award. Fredriksson made her first public appearance after her brain tumor operation to receive the honor with Gessle.
Fredriksson is survived by her husband, Mikael Bolyos, and their two children, Josefin and Oscar.