Adultery putting marriage vows under strain, say experts

Dubai: Rising infidelity is the main cause for marriages falling apart in the UAE, experts have warned.

While official data show a 34 per cent surge in divorces in 2014 in Dubai alone, experts said 75-85 per cent of the cases they handle involve infidelity.

An Asian woman who has been married for 23 years but discovers her husband has been having an affair with his secretary since 2010; a western expat’s wife desperate to prove his string of affairs; an Arab couple, both 24 and both cheating on each other — experts said the cases cut across all nationalities, professional backgrounds and age brackets.

According to Nita Maru, solicitor and managing partner at TWS Legal Consultants, “Infidelity is the main cause of the majority of divorces in the UAE. Eighty five per cent of the divorce cases we handle/advise fall within this category.”

Key factors

She said: “Infidelity is common among expats due to a number of reasons: marital and sexual dissatisfaction, sexual addiction, the thrill of ‘wanting the excitement’, social networking and general lifestyle. Increase in financial wealth also makes many husbands to want more freedom, away from their spouse, as they do not want to be restricted to their own family unit anymore. Further, the ‘anonymity’ people enjoy here has turned many towards infidelity. Affairs happening ‘underground’ are very common, especially when one cannot bring their spouse/family here from back home.”

Clinical psychologist Dr Rory McCarthy agrees. “Infidelity is an issue in over 75 per cent of my cases with relationship problems. Women are more prone to cheating when they are forced into a marriage while the men often try to justify their behaviour and get away with it. This is true of all nationalities.”

She said it is appalling how couples stray in the first few years of their marriage. “They lack maturity and their expectations are unrealistic. They don’t think twice before having an extramarital affair – almost as if they are popping a pain killer whenever they feel the need.”

Trap

Life coach Sunaina Vohra, most of whose clients are Asians, said: “It is easy to fall into a situation like this in the UAE. Young expats are away from the sobering influence of their elders and think they can do anything without anyone coming to know about it. I blame lack of fear and this perceived anonymity for infidelity.”

She said long working hours and frequent travel also don’t help matters. “Couples get to spend little time with each other and the distance between them grows.”

Sociologist Dr Rima Sabban sees infidelity as the bane of an open and modern society. “Couples getting together out of wedlock is a dangerous trend. This is happening because of many factors – growing modernisation and exposure to different kinds of encounters between men and women. Lack of communication also takes a toll.”

Not all couples end up divorcing. As Vohra pointed out, “Many women tend to keep quiet about their husband’s roving eye because they feel they have failed in some way or because the children will be adversely impacted. This only emboldens the straying partner.”

Things are not easy even if one of the spouses is considering divorce. Maru said couples find it a challenge to proving adultery in a court of law.

Highlighting such cases, she said, “We would first determine if they are able to resolve the issue, and if not we try to arrange mediation with a view to bringing them to an amicable agreement. In cases where an amicable agreement is not achieved we file a divorce case before the Personal Status Court in Dubai.”

She said in infidelity cases the course of action would depend on the seriousness of the offence. “We advise our clients that in order to conduct a case for adultery, this would have to be filed separately as a criminal matter with the police initially and then with the public prosecution. They would need firm evidence such as photographs, video footage and actual witnesses that can confirm the nature and extent of the adultery. If found guilty, the husband could be deported, fined and imprisoned. The situation can be more serious if the wife is accused and she has children.”

Why do some spouses cheat?

  • Lack of family values
  • Perceived anonymity
  • Large singles population
  • Marital discord, immaturity
  • Sexual dissatisfaction
  • Sexual addiction
  • Social networking
  • Money to spare
  • Long work hours, extensive travel
  • Loneliness, frustration
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