By Jalal Abu Saleh
Is the mismatch of intellectual and educational levels of spouses reason for divorce? That depends from case to case, but generally, a meeting of minds, which comes with similar education and cultural exposure, often ensures a close relationship between equals.
Things are then relative in this regard. For some, differences may contribute to improving marital life, and diverse ideas may enrich and enhance a couple’s life, while for others, they may be a reason for constant fights and discord that make married life impossible.
Happy marital relationships contribute to forming strong families and, on a wider scale, a society capable of changing the course of its future for the better. Cultural, educational or intellectual difference between spouses, on the other hand, may be the reason for a miserable life and lead to divorce, which emphasizes the need to take into account these differences when considering marriage.
The case of young couple may serve as an illustration. At the beginning of their marriage, the young woman, 25 and holding a diploma, and her husband agreed to delay having children until he completes his university studies and pays the financial obligations incurred. The wife agreed without hesitation.
After the five years during which the husband finished his university studies with a specialization in medicine, the woman suggested that they have children, but he repeatedly refused, eventually throwing his wife out of the house, citing lack of mutual understanding due to the “great intellectual difference between us.”
Shocked, let down and sad, the wife blamed herself for the failure of her marriage, despite the five years of patience and endurance, believing that she did not deserve the marriage because of the educational and cultural differences between her and her husband.
The wife suffered greatly psychologically, she moved in with her sister who studies at university. A month later, her sister reached the legal aid department of the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), which provided her with psychological and legal support.
As a priority, the legal department explained to the wife her rights and duties. She had given up on things and had not asked the husband to honor her rights. As a result of the counsel she received from ARDD, she now receives JD180 monthly expenses from her husband.
Article 59 of the Jordanian Personal Status Law stipulates that “every person shall support himself from his funds, with the exception of the wife who must be supported by her husband, even if she is wealthy”
Gaining this right by law made a difference in the woman’s life, psychologically. She then filed a divorce petition based on strife and discord , asking to be given the compensation stipulated in her marriage contract, which enabled her to complete her studies.
The Jordanian Personal Status Law (2010) defines cases of strife and discord that justify a request for separation in Article 126: “Any of the spouses may request separation due to strife and discord if he/she claims that harm was inflicted on him/her by the other party, with which the continuation of married life is impossible, whether the damage is tangible, such as harm by deed, verbally, or morally, and any disgraceful act or behavior or a breach of good morals that inflicts a moral offense on the other party, as well as the insistence of the other party to violate marital duties and rights is considered moral harm”.
The above case highlights the need to empower women psychologically, legally and intellectually to enable them to fight adversity. It also draws attention to the importance of cultural and educational parity between spouses, of judiciously choosing one’s partner, and of the need to hold awareness and guidance sessions on marital rights and social issues for those who wish to embark on marriage.