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‘Save-Marriage’ Plan Second Phase From April
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‘Save-Marriage’ Plan Second Phase From April

As divorce rates continue to rise, new studies by different organizations reveal “hidden aspects” to the crisis. Among them the State Welfare Organization (SWO) which has been focusing on the issue for the past four years, launched the ‘Bashir’ plan in 2013 on a pilot to turn the tide of marriage break ups.
The second phase of the plan is expected to start from April in 11 provinces where divorce is more prevalent such as Fars, Isfahan, Alborz and Tehran among others.
The Bashir plan is still in its infancy. “We need to train more counselors and devise more material,” says SWO social deputy Habibollah Masoudi. Once this is accomplished, the plan will be launched on a national level.
Back in 2005, the SWO was successful in passing an enactment, making it mandatory for couples to receive premarital counseling. The ‘Family Protection Act’ obliges the judiciary to refer couples to counseling centers before a divorce is finalized.  
Masoudi said most of the splits take place in the first five years of marital life, “since greater conflict and misunderstanding surface during this period and tolerance is required.”

  Joint Effort
The plan was launched as a pilot in the central province of Yazd for one year through a joint effort between the SWO and the judiciary.
“While conducting the plan, we noticed that intervention works best when it is used with accord and harmony,” Masoudi said in an interview with the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).
The plan was quite successful in its pilot period with divorce rate dropping by 60% in Yazd Province. The majority of couples sent to Bashir counseling offices by divorce courts, halted their separation and went back to live together.
The success of the project prompted SWO officials to not only continue the program  but also to expand it nationwide. The blueprint of the plan was chalked out by five family and relationship experts who had worked with the SWO for many years. They are authors of many books in the field and have held several family workshops in the past.
Couples who go to SWO offices for counseling give firsthand information on the underlying causes of divorce. “By studying the cases we identify the main reasons for failed marriages and thus focus on the important issues,” says Masoudi.
The plan is comprised of three phases: premarital and post-marital intervention and intervention early into the divorce. “This is because we concluded that divorce is a process that takes place gradually overtime,” he says. “We shouldn’t wait until a couple files for divorce and then take action because then it’s often too late and stopping the split is difficult.”

  Intervention
Masoudi says “the premarital stage should start with high school years.” This is because some high school students don’t go to college and marriage for some people - especially women - is deemed suitable before they enter university.
“How to choose the right spouse is the quintessential message to high school students and cooperation from the education department in this area is needed,” says Masoudi.
The next target groups are those who are on the verge of marriage and need counseling. “The lessons also target parents to improve their perceptions of what the true criterion is for picking the right spouse and teach them where to be balanced.”
Insisting that merely “raising awareness” in people is not adequate, but rather “inculcating life skills” which individuals will implement in their lives is what will finally make the difference.  “Change can be brought through education in small groups through workshops,” he maintains.
Reiterating that most splits occur in the first 5 years of marital life, he called this period a “very sensitive” stage in marriage. “Most often a couple’s disagreements are over small issues and if they receive prompt counseling, separation can be prevented early on”.
‘Family life education’ includes teaching couples such skills as ‘conflict management’, ‘child raising techniques’, ‘promoting morality and spirituality in the family’, ‘effective communication’ and ‘ family financial management’.
When things hit rock bottom and divorce seems like the last recourse, SWO counselors are there to lend a helping hand. Experts are present in most family courts or else the couples are referred to their centers to make a last-ditch effort at averting a break-up. “In many cases, the couples themselves opt for counseling before filing for divorce.”
The hotline 1480 is also available from 8 am to 8 pm to offer counseling.

  Precursor
“Emotional distancing” sometimes referred to as “emotional separation” is the precursor to many divorces. Masoudi says SWO family experts play a significant role to prevent this problem before it spoils relationships.
Warning about the alarming rate of divorce, which now stands at 5 per marriage, he said although divorce is in part related to socio-economic factors, individual and personal factors should also be taken into consideration.
“Single children” are more prone to get a divorce later in life since they grow up in special circumstances which make it difficult for them to adapt to new situations in social life. “Selfishness and egotism in these people should be removed,” he said.
Masoudi says the save-marriage plan takes a realistic and holistic approach vis-a-vis divorce. ‘Bashir’ which literally means ‘herald’ is hoped to be a harbinger of marital harmony for beleaguered homes.
More recently, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi announced a nation plan aimed at reducing the divorce rate. She said it would be launched next year (beginning March 21) and told Iran newspaper that “lack of coordination” between institutions that address the problem of divorce “has scuttled efforts at curbing divorce.”
Emphasizing that no single body can tackle the problem of divorce, Molaverdi said: “The upcoming plan intends to synchronize the work of all institutions so that each knows what to do.” Such unprecedented synchronization will add synergy and efficiency, she said, and called for institutions to ascertain its efficacy.    

 

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