More children reduce divorce risks: Qatar study

July 22, 2011

Having more children lowers the likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce, a Qatar study has found.

According to the research on marriages and divorces in Qatar in 2009 by Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA), 57 percent of the registered divorce cases in 2009 occurred among couples who had no children, 16 per cent among couples with one child, and nine per cent among those with two children.

The percentage goes down to six per cent for couples with three children, four per cent among those with four children, and only two per cent for couples with five children, the study said.

According to the same report, 30 per cent of the total divorces occurred before the consummation of the marriage, whereas 16 per cent of the divorces took place in the first five to nine years of marriage, Qatar Tribune daily reported on Wednesday.

In a conservative society that puts family before the individual, the economic prosperity and family laws may explain the data presented in the study.

According to the daily, economic prosperity enjoyed by the Qatari society contributes to the reduction of the challenges and responsibilities that go with the birth and bringing up of children.

Overwhelming responsibilities, sleep deprivation and stress associated with Over time, this shift in focus from playing the role of a wife to one of a mother that packs overwhelming responsibilities can hurt even the strongest of relationships as the husband increasingly begins to feel neglected by his wife.

Qatari women do not have to face alone the big challenges and bear responsibilities of raising babies and running homes that usually take their toll on their physical and emotional health.

Hiring housekeepers, drivers and nannies is very common in Qatari society and takes a lot of work and responsibilities off the wife’s back.

“I think having kids in Qatari society is not as challenging as in societies elsewhere because of the financial capacity and the availability of cheap labour,” Fatima Mohammad, a mother of three kids, said, quoted by the daily. “Also, there is a certain level of flexibility in the society when it comes to raising kids. For instance, trusting a nanny to fully take care of the kids, bathe them, play with them and even take them to fun places is not something frowned upon as in other societies,” she said.

Family laws and traditions also play an important role in preventing unhappy spouses from seeking divorce. Having to provide for the ex-wife and the kids often leave the husband with little money to remarry and start another family.

Because of this obstacle, many would rather stay in an unhappy marriage than undergo a financial hardship or stay single for the rest of their lives, according to the daily.

Another factor favouring this phenomenon is the values of the Qatari society which encourage the concept of self-sacrifice and putting kids and family first.

These values push couples in troubled marriages to exclude the option of divorce when they have children. Most spouses would rather choose to be trapped in an unhappy marriage than risk exposing their kids to the devastating consequences of divorce.

“In the Arab society, it is very common to hear of spouses staying in unhappy marriages for the sake of raising their children in a family where the mother and father are not separated,” Hanan Abdul Rahim, associate director of Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI), said. “This has something to do with the fact that society may stigmatise children of ‘broken homes’. So it is understandable that there would be few divorces when the couples have many children to raise.”

Majeeda Al Kuwary, a Qatari citizen said that her relative was a businessman and a father of five who despite serious problems with his marriage, did not want to divorce or take a second wife “because he does not want to hurt his kids.”

“Even though he is over 40 years of age and financially capable of providing for two families, he sees such a decision as selfish and unfair for his kids and I think he is right,” she said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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