When Marriage Fails could easily be the title of this important book by Suzy Ismail. Ms. Ismail’s book is actually entitled, When Muslim Marriage Fails: Divorce Chronicles and Commentaries, but the stories on these pages could come from any culture. The characters in When Muslim Marriage Fails are fictional composites, but the problems they face are factual, the problems of marriages today all over the world.
From Newlyweds who become disillusioned after the honeymoon is over, to men and women who leave a loveless marriage after living together for a lifetime and raising a family, these stories are sadly familiar to anyone who is married, has been married, or who is friends with at least one married couple. That sounds like just about everyone, and that’s exactly who should read this book, everyone. Because although details and language from the Muslim religion are threaded throughout the stories, told twice each, one from each partner’s perspective, this makes the book a richer read if you are not Muslim and I assume creates even more resonance if you are a practicing Muslim.
Following each story the reader finds an analysis by a Muslim scholar. Each of the biographies that follow the analysis tells the reader that these are accomplished people who walk various paths in life. This emphasizes what I stated above, that these stories are for everyone, because failing marriages affect everyone, the people involved and their immediate families, but also extended families, entire communities, and sometimes, whole cultures.
If you are experiencing difficulties in your marriage, this collection of stories may offer you a mirror that will help you see what needs to happen next for you. If you are in a happy marriage, the stories serve as a reminder of how to keep your marriage happy, or perhaps may simply show you just how lucky you are.
Love, communication, commitment as well as the lack of all those things show up in Ms. Ismail’s tales about relationships as they begin and end. I feel that these same qualities are most definitely present in Ms. Ismail’s writing and her choice of topic. The stories are very well written, and the fact that Ms. Ismail has written them at all reveals she is a compassionate person who has valuable ideas to share that can help modern marriages survive these complicated times.
A deconstructionist artist, Ms. Ismail shows us the ways the married couples in her stories could have stayed together–by taking them apart. In her stories, just like in life, Ms. Ismail shows us that marriage is impossible unless each partner can grow, change, and develop the ability to truly love.