One in five marries in Serbia end in divorce, the majority of them in the first three years, statisical data showed, with couples that married because of an unplanned pregnancy having the least chance of making their marriage work.
In spite of traditional attitudes and family and social pressures not to end the marriage, in some parts of Serbia more than half of marriages break down.
Despite a widespread belief that the seventh year of a marriage is the riskiest due to the ‘seven-year itch’, data shows many couples in Serbia do not survive even the first few years and marriages crumble under the pressure of having to adapt to the many new roles in their lives, including being a husband/wife, daughter and son in law, mother and father.
Many of the marriages that survive the first couple of years break down when the couple reach middle age and their children are in their teens.
“For the majority of women, communication is a cornerstone of the marriage, while men don’t like to speak about emotions since they have been taught to hide their feelings and to be strong,” family therapist Vera Despotovic told Politika daily.
She said lack of closeness and communication, poor sexual life, physical violence and abuse and alcohol addiction are the main reasons Serbian women ask for a divorce. Men usually take the step to divorce if a wife does not accept her traditional role and the family as the focus of her life, when she has a rich social life and is financially independent.
“When a woman insists on conversation, a man often reacts by saying, I have no time and nerves to speak, tell me what’s the problem and I’ll solve it. The more men withdraw, the more women insist on discussion, which opens a Pandora box of new conflicts,” Despotovic said.
She added that no matter who initiated the divorce, the woman always ends up being the one who feels more guilty, since she is traditionally seen as the one who should safeguard and save the marriage.