07/16/2009 10:53 PM
Sharjah: "For the last eight years my wife has been living with her father, she is refusing to leave her father's house and come live with me," says Faisal, a 30- something Emirati who has recently filed for divorce.
"Her father is very controlling, she wants to be with me but is scared of her father," he says. "We are living in secrecy; hiding away to talk on the phone and sneaking out of the house to meet up. People who have illicit affairs don't sneak around as much as we do, and she's my wife and mother of my children. I respect her father and her family, but he has no respect for anyone."
Faisal spoke at the second part of a workshop on marital conflict held on Thursday at Sharjah's House of Justice complex. This time it was a chance to hear the concerns of the husbands.
The workshop was set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) as part of their awareness programme with the Family Guidance and Reform Initiative.
"We are grandparents now, our eldest daughter has two girls of her own, what is this talk of divorce?" says 59-year-old Bu Saeed.
Bu Saeed's wife filed for divorce after 25 years of marriage. She attended the workshop for the wives on Wednesday.
"He hasn't been a husband or a father in more than ten years and in the last two or three years I feel that he is ruining everything I have built with my children," says his wife. "She is too forceful and too controlling [with the children]," he says.
The couple has been separated for the last year.
"She says that I'm keeping her children way from her, but I can't prevent my children from seeing their family. They are living with their grandmother, her mother, does she expect me to force them to go and live with her? Her own mother is against the way she treats them and against her filing for divorce."
"My wife asked for a divorce after only one week of marriage," says Jasem, who after six years of being happily married and four children, decided to get a second Emirati wife. "My first wife is wonderful and we still have a great relationship, it's my second wife that I have a problem with," he says.
"She has a huge temper and is very materialistic. All she wants is money, that's all she ever asks for, even though she has a job. She kicked me out of my apartment and changed the locks. All she wants is for me to slide the money under the door every month."
"We have already seen some success," says Na'imah Al Shamsi, psychologist, family counsellor and Head of the Family Empowerment Section at the MSA.
"Four of the women, who attended yesterday's workshop, withdrew their divorce papers and opted to try and resolve their differences through counselling."
Na'imah says the next step is to arrange for private sessions with the couples and maybe even the children.
"The UAE now has the highest rate of divorce in the GCC," says Amnah Al Mandoos of the Family Affair Department of Sharjah Court, who also attended the workshop.
"Four of every five cases that come across my desk are Emirati."