Case Study G2 – Is Divorce the Answer?

By Khalid Iqbal – Founder Rahmaa Institute

Nineteenth-century author Leo Tolstoy observed, “What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”

Zafar and Isra (Not their real names) came to me to seek divorce counseling as they have had the most unpleasant and miserable last 3-4 years of marriage and have decided to break up according to them after trying everything they could do to keep their marriage. They told me that they were married for about 16 years, the first dozen years according to both were beautiful and memorable but things changed when Isra started working again.  They were concerned about their two children Ali 13 and Saira 11.

They felt that they have been stuck in an unpleasant marriage for the past three to four years and instead of displaying dysfunctional marriage behavior in front of their children the only way is to divorce and remarry to someone that will bring happiness.

I find it ironic at the general perception that the only two options facing an unpleasant and dysfunctional marriage are:

  1. Stay married and miserable or
  2. Divorce and become happy

That may have sounded logical to this couple but the reality is that divorce rarely brings happiness to either party. Even if one may feel relieved and happy it is usually temporary. When I counsel couples going through divorce it is heart wrenching to see them and their families suffer. Divorce is one of the most traumatic and expensive experiences for the couple, children, family and friends. Lawyer’s fees, child custody, support payments, depression, loneliness, responsibility of raising children without both parents and list goes on and on.

Allah has made divorce lawful in Islam, however it is one of the most disliked actions of the servant of Allah. The only time I might recommend getting divorce is in the case of domestic violence, abusive situations (Physical, emotional or sexual), infidelity, adultery, alcoholism, gambling etc. Even in extreme cases such as this divorce could be traumatic and have terrible consequences.

Recently, a report by the Institute for American Values, a private, nonpartisan family think tank, challenged the divorce presupposition.

“In popular discussion and in scholarly literature, the assumption has always been that if a marriage is unhappy, if you get a divorce, it is likely you will be happier than if you stayed married,” said David Blankenhorn of the Institute. “This is the first time this has been tested empirically, and [the tests show that] there is no evidence to support this assumption.”

“Divorce leads to many ills including poverty, depression, poor health and a greater likelihood of suicide,” said Ms. Maher, a policy analyst on marriage and family at the Family Research Council. “Divorced men have higher rates of mental illness and death due to accidents and suicide than married men. Also, divorced fathers who do not live with their children are more likely to engage in behaviors that compromise their health. A study of children’s home environments found that divorced mothers are less able to provide the same level of emotional and social support to their children than married mothers.”

The research also shows that the unhappiest marriages had encountered the most dramatic turnarounds when spouses addressed problems together, individual partners found ways to improve their own lives, or time simply passed. In each situation, commitment served as the underlying foundation for a lasting and often happy marriage.

My observations are that the couples often fail when they try to resolve all the issues at once and feel overwhelmed and frustrated often ending in a bitterer ending than before. I counseled Zafar and Isra for months slowly getting them to work on their marriage, one issue at a time. Instead of telling them the solutions for their issues we worked together on the conflict resolution techniques according to the Quran and Sunnah. I emphasized that the solution does not lie with me rather only with them; all they need was a little guidance and motivation to resolve it.

Once they realized that the best solution to any situation and issue is when they both win rather than only one, they were on the way to resolving their issues themselves, even the toughest ones that in the past they felt unrecoverable. They quickly realized that their true friend is each other rather than those who were trying to interfere in their marriage.

Now I get calls from them to tell me what they did together and how happy they and more than anyone else their children were. Both children are now excelling in their studies instead of failing as was the case during their marital struggle.

As I said before while circumstances — such as domestic violence, abuse (physical, emotional or sexual), domestic violence, infidelity, adultery, uncontrolled drinking and gambling etc  — may make divorce a necessary evil, it is still a tragedy, and like any other misfortune, divorce causes pain.

Word of wisdom from an unknown writer: “All couples have approximately ten irreconcilable differences – ten issues they will never resolve.
If we switch partners, we’ll just get ten new issues, and they are likely to be more complicated, the second time around”.
Take it as a challenge — Give your marriage a chance, No matter what the issues are.



  1. Share your comment on the case above?
  2. Share your own experience of Marriage? How do you handle disputes?
  3. Are you closely aware of a family or friend who might have gone through divorce? Can you share your wisdom without naming actual names or places
  4. Have you or someone you know have used marriage counseling service. How was your experience? Email us at

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