Curbing divorce in marriages
The divorce of a respected politician in Ekiti State went viral on the net and in Nigeria dailies. The 28 years old marriage was dissolved in a court of law and this raised lots of questions as to why they both waited that long to call it quits.
Christianity and Islam frown at the issue of divorce which is against the sanctity of marriage ordained by God.
Divorce is a legal action between married people to terminate their marriage relationship. It can be referred to as dissolution of marriage and is basically, the legal action that ends the marriage before the death of either spouse.
It is also the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court or any other competent body.
The Law Dictionary defines it as the legal separation of a man and his wife, effected, for cause, by the judgment of a court, and either totally dissolving the marriage relation, or suspending its effects so far as it concerns the cohabitation of the parties.
In traditional societies, the norms tend to exalt the institution of marriage, even in polygamies, while discouraging divorce.
Though it sounds simple, but majority say it is not easy for couples to decide to end a marriage. Oftentimes they spend years trying to resolve their issues before deciding to divorce. But sometimes they just cannot fix the problems and decide that divorce is the best solution.
The children are the most affected in divorce cases. They are sometimes left to face the hurdle that can affect them for life.
Oraoma Idakwoji, a psychologist and social worker, said that there are many factors that contribute to the high rate of divorce in our society today, adding: “From the psychological point of view, the termination of a marriage or marital union depends majorly on the individual’s background, mindset and the environment in which he/she grew.”
She said factors such as the age of an individual, time since the divorce, parenting style, financial security and type and extent of parental conflict all contribute to post-divorce or future divorce of individuals.
“Children learn from parents and replicate such saying, after all my parents are divorced so there is nothing wrong with it.”
According to her, another factor is deceit. Most people get married and later realise they married a totally wrong person. “Like the saying goes, ‘love is blind’ but marriage is an eye opener.
“We can however minimise incidences of divorce. This can be achieved when we learn to live sacrificial lives, become more tolerant and imbibe truthfulness when starting relationships .Truth will always stand the test of time and truth will stand before the King.”
Grace (not real name) is a victim of divorce and a single mother of three with the first being an undergraduate of the University of Lagos. She divorced her spouse over eight years ago due to irresolvable difference.
According to her, it is better for her to stay single and take care of her children than to be managing a home that is not functioning. “Many women die just because they want to keep their homes, but afterwards the same man marries another woman, she added.”
The mother of three said people must learn to flee from anything that will endanger their lives. “Though it is believed that marriage if for better for worse, but I do not think one should allow the worst to happen before taking steps.”
Mr. Dapo Joseph, who said his marriage packed up a year ago, is now catering for his three children. He said his experience in marriage is a painful one, not worth remembering.
“Everything was going smoothly until I had some financial difficulties. Things were no longer the same again. No more support, romance or trust. When a woman cannot be supportive and trusted, your life as a husband is at stake. Many women want to be wives but are ill prepared for the responsibility in marriage. What do you say about a wife who still wants to continue with her single lifestyle even after marriage?”
He said that he was shocked to hear that his wife re-married few months after packing her things out of their matrimonial home, adding: “That shows that she has been cheating on me while we were married. It is painful but life must continue.”
Pastor John Shuaibu is a marriage counselor. He said we must understand the fundamentals of marriage in order to get a grip of what divorce is doing to marriage.
“God made man and woman to help each other. The bible states: “A man would leave his parents to cleave to his wife and become one flesh.” This means man was meant to “unite or fuse with his wife.” Mathew 19:6 says: “wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together let no man put asunder.”
He said that divorce was never intended in marriage, explaining that divorce contradicts the purpose of God in the school of marriage which one dies inside, not graduate from it.
The counselor said the rate of divorce today is unfortunate, adding that societies have embraced the worldly system which negates anything God upholds.
He said: “The society has turned marriage into a ‘convenience’ either because of financial gain, social status, parental pressure, peer pressure, ignorance, misplaced emotions and age. These are foundational matters that crack the wall of the home and lead to collapse eventually because if the foundation is not solid, the building must surely fall.
“Ego of the man is another factor. Ego is like an iron shield which a man wears and he feels untouched by the feelings of his wife.”
Malama Ummu Maryam, while giving the Islamic view, said divorce is permitted as a last resort if it is not possible to continue in marriage.
“But before it is carried out, certain steps need to be taken to ensure that all options for peace have been exhausted and both parties are treated with respect and justice.”
She said the first step a couple should make is to really search their hearts, evaluate the relationship, and try to reconcile.
“In Qur’an chapter 4 verse 35, Allah says: "And if you fear a breach between the couple, then appoint a judge from his people and a judge from her people. If they both desire agreement, Allah will effect harmony between them; Verily Allah is Knowing, All-Aware."
She said all marriages have ups and downs, and this decision should not be arrived at easily without making efforts to reconcile. “Ask yourself, ‘Have I really tried everything else?’ Evaluate your own needs and weaknesses, think through the consequences. Try to remember the good things about your spouse, and find forgiveness, patience in your heart for minor annoyances. Communicate with your spouse about your feelings, fears, and needs.”
Maryam said if after thorough evaluation the couple finds that there is no other option than divorce, there is no shame in proceeding to the next step.
“But note that Allah gives divorce as an option because sometimes it is truly in the best interest of all concerned. Nobody needs to remain in a situation that causes personal distress, pain and suffering. In such cases, it is more merciful that you each go your separate ways, peacefully and amicably. Recognise, though, that Islam outlines certain steps that need to take place before, during, and after a divorce. The needs of both parties are considered. Any children of the marriage are given top priority. Guidelines are given both for personal behaviour and legal process.”