A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

when honesty becomes a test

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 6, 2009

Yesterday I came across this very interesting piece from Abu Dhabi’s The National, written by Hani Bathish (formerly of the Daily Star), called “Honesty is not always the best marriage policy“.

Its a sexy title, but the actual article addresses a much more substantive issue, and shows the Dubai Courts’ family section in a very progressive, pro-woman light. The “policy” in question belongs to husbands who ask their wives to provide the details of their romantic pasts (and, since this is Dubai, “romantic pasts” seems largely limited to crushes, phone conversations, and maybe some handholding) as a sign of trust and full disclosure, and then hold these pasts against them.

I’m not sure that I agree with family counselor al Hamadi’s view that “anything that hurts a partner’s feelings must not be revealed”, but men – or women – who invoke honesty as a test are merely being manipulative.

Here’s the article:

DUBAI // The Dubai Courts’ marriage guidance section yesterday took the rare step of issuing a public statement advising women not to reveal details of previous relationships to their husbands.

The Family Guidance and Reformation Section warned that absolute honesty in a marriage may turn “from a blessing to a curse and may serve to destroy a family” if the information undermined trust or hurt a partner’s feelings.

“It is not the husband’s right after marriage to demand his wife tell him her life history nor ask her questions which would only contribute to increased divisiveness in married life,” wrote Abdel Aziz al Hamadi, a family counsellor in the guidance section.

The statement was prepared after a woman’s query to the section, which offers counselling to couples seeking divorce. The service seeks to resolve marital differences and, where possible, prevent divorce.

The Government has said divorce rates in the UAE have risen significantly in recent years.

In May, the Islamic Authority issued a sermon on divorce, urging men, who often initiate divorce, not to do so lightly.

A sermon in August urged parents not to force their children into unwanted marriages.

Mr al Hamadi said it was counterproductive for a wife to tell her husband about any previous relationships.

He said such revelations would in most cases sow the seeds of doubt and mistrust and have a psychological impact on a husband that would take him years to get over.

“A smart husband would do better not to ask his wife after marriage to reveal her life history, as by so doing he shows that he entered into a relationship with a woman without knowing anything about her,” Mr al Hamadi said.

He added that it was a man’s right to ask such questions before marriage, but not after.

“Such questions as ‘who did you love before me?’, ‘to whom were you engaged?’ or ‘with whom did you go out?’ only serve to increase divisions between a couple and are a warning sign of the imminent end of the relationship.”

He said honesty was a pillar of a happy married life, and that there was no alternative for developing a loving, intimate relationship, but opinions differed over whether such honesty should be absolute or selective.

“Honesty between couples is not as some suggest absolute, since by such a definition honesty turns from a blessing to a curse and may serve to destroy a family, especially if either or both spouses are not mature or understanding enough or have enough trust in each other to accept certain truths,” Mr al Hamadi said, adding that anything that hurts a partner’s feelings must not be revealed. At the same time he stressed that honesty remained the “spinal column” around which a sound family life is built.

“Many forget that a believer is commanded to be discreet concerning events in his or her life in which he or she veered of the straight and narrow,” he said.

“As for a spouse’s life outside the home, whether in relations with friends or a spouse’s own family, such details must not be revealed to a partner, as revealing them does not serve any purpose and friends’ and family’s confidence must be kept.”

The guidance section often deals with requests from wives in desperate situations, either suffering from husbands who are abusive or fail to provide for them adequately, seeking a divorce.

The section’s counsellors endeavour to resolve their differences.

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One Response to “when honesty becomes a test”

  1. Anonymous said

    Mom Blogs – Blogs for Moms…

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