The Islamic Garden
How to Have a Successful
Amid worldwide soaring divorce rates we still keep hearing about how to have a successful marriage. This is good; it shows that we, as the human race, are still hopeful that we can learn to build happy stable families. However, keeping the divorce rate in mind, we should perhaps step back and ask ourselves if it is possible to have a successful divorce.
Don’t laugh! Having a successful divorce may well be more difficult that having a successful marriage. When a person gets married he or she is usually filled with hope and is positive about the future. However, when it comes to divorce the individual is more often than not feeling disappointed, disillusioned and often harbors feelings of grudge and resentment. Now those feelings alone are enough to daunt anyone and make it difficult to step out of negativity and become a positive, kind and balanced human being again. At the same time, with divorce, it is usually not just the person who is coping with all these feelings; there are often children involved and family and ex-inlaws and a host of people who all have opinions and may or may not be feeding the fire of the divorced person’s already flaming discontent.
The children are in the middle of the battlefield of divorce. It can easily be described as a ‘battlefield’ because people usually refer to it by saying things like: ‘I encountered his mother’ or ‘we always clash’ or ‘there is too much conflict between us’. People usually divorce because there is no harmony and not enough love and insight to see them through the problems. They end up in a state of conflict where resentment, anger and frustration increase to boiling point. Then the children, the innocent bystanders in our family life, bear the brunt of both sides; both parents. The situation may even end up in court, ‘battling’ over the children with each parent determined to win this battle! Ironically, the children end up the losers and in divorce battles, there are no winners.
What we can hope for, however, is that the troubled couple can find the inner resources, the strength, the forbearance to apply the words of Almighty Allah when He says (what means), ‘to separate in kindness’. Imagine what the world would be like if divorced couples could separate in kindness! How much easier their lives would be. How settled their hearts would be. How prone they would be to forgive and be lenient. How happy the children would be, even though they lost their home. Can we do this? Can we learn to separate in kindness? I believe so.
Managing relationships requires us to know ourselves well; to understand our own shortcomings, our fears, our insecurities. This is necessary because if we can not do this; if we can not be honest with ourselves, we can not be honest with another person. So if a person sees his or her relationship on a downward spiral; with little or no hope left to salvage the bond that initially led them to marriage, there are certain things to keep in mind. Here is a word of advice for couples who are getting divorced.
Just because this person whom you are about to divorce, is no longer in love with you and can no longer find a way to enter your heart, it does not mean that he or she has no value or worth. It does not mean that this person is completely bad with no positive traits. The hearts of such a couple do not find comfort in each other; they do not relate to each other; they are far from each other, but that does not mean that the same hearts can not find harmony, love and tranquility with someone else. This person, the one who is about to leave the center of your life, is still walking the path of his or her life, learning lessons and will face Almighty Allah one day, just like you will.
If you can both accept and acknowledge that both of you have good points and bad points, if you can both forgive and just let each other go – in peace – you will have more stability in your hearts and forgiveness; soft feelings, that will help you to move forward. To do this, the couple must be mature and farsighted, recognizing that just because this person is not suitable for you, does not mean you have to make his or her life a living hell for as long as you possibly can. Indeed, such an attitude bemoans a negative and hostile heart that will find it difficult to be happy with anyone.
Perhaps the couple has injured each other in different ways. ‘He said this,’ ‘She did that’ and so the stories go on and on and there are so many examples of how we injustice each other. There is an old saying that to ‘err is human but to forgive is divine’. Almighty Allah loves us to forgive and He is the most Forgiving. It is the feelings of disappointment and frustration when it comes to divorce that makes it so difficult for people to soften up their hearts and forgive and just let it go.
We know from reading the Quran that when we do this; when we forgive and let go of resentment, that Almighty Allah will give us more in return, if we did this for His sake.
Can the couple look at the faces of their innocent children and acknowledge deep within their hearts that just because they are divorcing his or her father or mother, does not mean that the child is divorcing the other parent. Let this sink into their heart because if they seek to separate the child from their spouse they are damaging the child and in later years this will cause great resentment that will fall onto them. Children are only young for a short time, then they mature and start to realize who did what in their lives and they will soon know the reality.
When feelings are running high it is easy to try to justify why the child or children should not see their other parent, but if the couple can stop, think, calm down and remember that children can not divorce their parents, they will change their ways. This is not an easy thing to do. But then we are adults and expected to use our self control and rationale. It is vital that both divorced parents speak positively about the other parent in front of and to the children, because whether they like it or not, the child is a combination of both of them. If the child feels that the parent is not good; has no value, he will think the same about himself. Some parents may think that by doing so they are actually belittling themselves if they speak about the good qualities of their divorced partner, but the opposite is true. Almighty Allah says (what means) “The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel the evil with one which is better…” (Sura Fussilat, 41:34) This is true for friendships and marriage and it is also true for divorce.
How does the couple imagine their post-divorce relationship to be like? Wouldn’t it be positive if they could both discuss issues about the children in a caring, logical and constructive way? Wouldn’t it be positive if they could both deal with situations and problems without getting angry or insulting each other? Wouldn’t that be a good example to the children? Wouldn’t that give the children good role models to emulate?
Children of divorce can grow up happy and stable. Divorced couples can forgive and let go and move on to find happiness elsewhere. They can learn to see the good in each other and speak positively about each other to the children. It does happen. It needs to happen more. Divorced couples can make it happen.