Oman sets up counselling service for troubled expat marriages

Published:  25 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: Canada, Money
It’s sad but true that relocations with trailing spouses can lead to divorce, but getting relationship advice in a strange land with an even stranger language isn’t easy.

Cultural differences aren’t easy to adjust to, especially for trailing spouses who’ve given up on their own careers to follow their partners half way across the world. It’s especially tough if the destination is one of the Gulf States, as the status of women is dramatically different than its equivalent in Western countries, thus making it harder for new arrivals to connect with new friends. Marriage problems need experienced help by qualified practitioners, but until now finding the right therapist has been difficult if not impossible.

For expat couples in Oman who’re experiencing problems in their relationship, there’s now a ground-breaking development set up to counsel both Omanis and expats whose marriages have taken a wrong turn. Set up by order of the state’s Ministry of Social Development, its motif is that marriage problems don’t need ignoring – they need fixing. In the emirate, the number of marriages has been steadily declining over the past several years, with the number of divorces staying the same, indicating that since 2014 the number of divorces has topped the number of those getting married. Many Omanis are now delaying marriage in order to focus on their careers or save more money for marriage, and for expats the lack of job stability across the region is causing stress which can lead to marriage break-ups.

The ministry’s Department of Family Counselling and Guidance has assured the media it intends to treat Omanis and expats alike in the same manner, offering anonymous counselling for everything from marital issues to advice on child care. For expats, counselling is available in the English language, with the most common problems related to raising children in an unfamiliar culture, problems with their childrens’ academic performance or actual abuse of children. In the emirate, a relatively small number of expat marriages end in divorce, but this doesn’t mean expat couples are happier than their Omani counterparts. Advice will also be given about programmes which can help couples whose marriages are in trouble, aid them to focus on the family as a whole and advise on how to share the responsibility of childcare.
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