Happily Ever After: DIFI Conference Explores Challenges to Marital Happiness
Mutual respect, understanding, support, commitment, trust, affection, and transparency are the ingredients for a happy marriage, according to speakers of the international conference on marriage hosted by the Doha International Family Institute (DIFI).
To achieve marital happiness, we need two aspects. One is pre-marriage – this is parents’ approval over choice of spouse, and that the couple intending to marry get to know each other. The other is post-marriage. Spouses must engage in a lot of dialogue, have effective communication and tolerance. Additionally, the couple ought to be aware of their rights and duties within the marriage institution, said Family Consultant Sheikh Ahmed Al Buainain, during the first plenary session of the conference titled, Foundations of a Happy Marriage.
The discussion identified the challenges married couples from all over the world face and highlighted how partners can overcome such challenges. The session also shed light on the impact of work-family balance and proposed social and policy recommendations to support and maintain strong marital relationships.
Sharing his insights on the challenges of cross-border marriages, psychologist Dr Khaled Al Mohannadi of the Daam Healthcare Behavioral Center, said that spouses from different cultures and nationalities sometimes face problems that can spread across social media platforms, feeding conflict between cultures and nationalities.
When partners come from different cultures, they can feel like they are at odds with each other. They tend to compare their culture and nationality at the expense of the other. If a couple falls into this predicament, this may affect not only their relationship but how they bring up their children. In some cases, the children may be exposed to bullying in school if one of the partners is from another culture. This places more responsibility on the couple.
Ask the Expert, now a popular component of the conference featured Dr Mostafa Aboussaad, an Educational and Social Expert from Kuwait, who answered questions about the challenges of a happy marriage.
Arab families are characterised by stability and are nowhere near fragmented, violent, and neglectful. The Arab family does, however, face challenges, including reluctance to marry and lack of preparation for couples entering into marriage. Challenges also include being addicted to social media, which in turn impacts marital stability. What the Arab family is going through is the same as what families all over the world are going through, but we derive our notions of affection, compassion, and intimacy from our Islamic religion.
Meaningful Relationships: Key to Avoiding Loneliness
HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, meanwhile, said that meaningful relationships are key to avoiding loneliness. HE Sheikha Hind is Vice-Chair and CEO of Qatar Foundation. She joined the session on Marriage: Formation and Constituents of Stability, which explored the theme of loneliness, and what children need in order to feel they belong in a community.
She emphasised how parents need to spend time with children in order for them to build an understanding of where they come from. She said that the conversations we have with our children are critical and need to start at a very young age.
They have to feel they are able to ask questions, and that we have the time to answer them. And they have to feel they belong to a community, which they can only do if they understand how they are connected to it, and who they are.
The conference’s final day featured more discussions on important issues that influence the stability of marriage.
Organised in partnership with the League of Arab States, the DIFI International Conference this year is focused on marriage in the modern era, the challenges it entails and the tools to support it. For more information, visit difi.org.qa.
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