Divorce rates high in the UAE. Image Credit: Corbis Images

Dubai: Few things are worse than feeling like a stranger in your own life. That feeling of disconnect, of lack of intimacy, say experts, can cause a serious rift within a family. It is, says one senior government official, also responsible for about 30-40 per cent of the divorce cases she comes across in the UAE.

In an interview with Gulf News, Dr Huda Al Suwaidi, Director of Family Development Department at the Community Development Authority (CDA), said: “When one person is not feeling loved or satisfied it becomes a family issue, especially when it is the mother who is suffering.”

The feeling of loneliness can seep into a person’s sense of self, often resulting in withdrawal, not just from the spouse, but the rest of her family members as well. Children become particularly lost, not knowing what the matter is, but feeling the repercussions of a distant parent.

While connections require communication, doctors also point to a more hidden, deeply dividing issue that women find hard to articulate – the issue of female sexual dysfunction. Did you know, FSD affects as many as 60 per cent of women aged 18-59? An independent survey conducted in the Middle East pointed to the astonishingly high number while calling for a shift in perspective.

“Women should be aware that it is their right to have a satisfactory intimate relationship with their husband. She does not have to suffer in silence. Without [the connect], women can carry a lot of baggage which can lead to several medical problems.”

The doctor stresses that talking about and tackling the issue “will save emotional, social and physical illness in the future.”

“Distress between married couples has [also] been associated with an increased risk of psychological disorders and diminished productivity,” she added.

Dr Sandrine Atallah, a consultant in sexual medicine and a certified psychosexologist, explains that the causes of lack of intimacy may be manifold. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension; hormonal changes like the menopause, postpartum and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS); as well as mental or emotional issues such as depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, stress and marital discord may all be responsible.

“It's common for couples who have been married or committed to each other for a long time and have busy lives, to drift apart. The good news is that if you've lost the spark you once had, you can rediscover the lost feeling and get back on track.”

Conversation is key. We need to remove the stigma from the conversation, if you feel the disconnect, speak to a doctor or relationship expert. Here are some pointers to help you get that old spark back:

1. Set aside time for date night

Before came the responsibility, the jobs, the family, there was romance. A time to get to know one another as individuals. Go back to this time with date night – where you put aside the daily grind and find time to just enjoy the company of each other. Do something special, take the time to dress up, go out and try one more time to woo each other. The effort in itself will pay dividends. Just go into it with an open mind – and some patience – they are trying just as hard as you are.

2. Find a common hobby

We may grow together or grow apart, but we will grow. To make the most of the human condition, explore an activity you both can get on aboard with. And in doing so, reconnect with your old friend, your partner.

3. Try to do one nice thing for the other person

Do you smile when someone does something nice for you? The thing is, everyone else does too. Little notes, a smile or just being considerate, pay the ‘be nice’ card forward.

4. Compliment each other once a day

Find something nice about your partner and tell them; it’ll also add to your feelings of gratitude.

5. Discuss the issue with a therapist

If you feel a wall, sometimes the added benefit of objectivity can really help. Find a counselor, who without bias, can help you come to an understanding.

-  With inputs from Karishma Nandkeolyar, Web News Editor