FAILED MARRIAGES, ONE DIVORCE TOO MANY: By Chris Okafor

FAILED MARRIAGES: ONE DIVORCE, TOO MANY. BY CHRIS OKAFOR

Marriage is an act of joining a man and a woman together in a holy matrimony as husband and a wife. It often calls for fun fares, weddings, celebrations and conviviality.

People spend a lot of money in planning for these big occasions and sometimes end it up cruising around the world on honeymoon. The couples had, without doubt, in church and in present of a Reverend Father, vowed to be faithful and to love one another until death do them apart. To most people who had partaken in this vow, it must be upheld with respect and dignity at all times. They sees marriage as a sacrament while to many, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying “I do” today and within the next 4 months, it is all over.

This school of thoughts viewed the entire institution of marriage as “free-entry-free exit” kind of a contact. It doesn’t matter if their well publicised and celebrated marriage would come to a halt within months of its inception.

On the other hand, divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of marriage or marital vow before the death of either spouse. It can be contrasted with annulment, which is a declaration that marriage is void, though the effect maybe recognised in such unions such as spousal supports, child custody and distribution of property.

The problem of failed marriages and divorce around the world particularly Europe and America is so enormous and inexplicable especially when there is no basis to determine necessary or sufficient causation. It is, indeed, a social problem with a hereditary attachment of which many are completely ignorant of and never believe in existence of the following concept which I am going to outline here. When one decides to put an end to his/her marriage on a mere provocation and on issues that ought to be resolved amicably, you have no moral justification to tell your children in future that there is anything wrong with divorce or having children with different parents.

In Nigeria, for instance, there are some ethnic groups that advise their male children never to marry from a single parent or a broken home. The ironic reasons are palpable. They believed that marriage is all about tolerance and the woman being submissive to their chosen husband at all time and therefore no amount of disagreement between couples that would warrant a woman to abscond from home. In most cases, men reserve the exclusive right to send their wives out of their matrimonial home on the ground of infidelity and promiscuity.

Women are normally the victim and in contrast, because of male dominance, cultural and religious affiliations, it is customary for people in most African countries to come back home from their respective daily activities and announce to their wives that they are marrying the second or the third wife as the case may be without questioning. They have the sole right as well to have as many girlfriend(s) as it pleases them or go out and come back at will.
In fact, it is not only a taboo but it is also an abomination for average African woman to go out like their European or American counterparts, get drunk and have a one night stand that often lead to pregnancies. Such women would possibly be disgraced before their children and sent packing from home without compassion of any kind.

This is liken to ” if you cannot stand the heat get out of the kitchen” kind of marriage which have been viewed in some quarters as some kind of slavery. The truth of the matter is that some of these women knew what it meant to them for their children to be jointly raised and as such, they choose to stand the heat rather than getting out of the kitchen. The respect to their chosen husbands, no matter what he does or did is total and it is fundamentally important that they do not bring shame to their respective family no matter how wretched, poor or rich that family may be.

Recent research has shown that the evolution of marriage has taken place despite an increased life expectancy that has theoretically made a longer and healthier life together as a couple possible. Although in the past, the death of one of the two spouses was the typical end of marriage, divorce is now the most frequently observed cause.
In Switzerland, for example, the number of newly divorced residents actually exceeded the number of newly widowed residents in 1988 (OFS, 1990).

This is a relatively recent phenomenon, having existing for less than half a century and even less in some countries where it was forbidden or severely restricted until very recently (The mid 1970s in Portugal and Italy, 1981 in Spain, and not until 1997 in Ireland). Divorce is not only a legal instrument freeing a couple from wedlock, but an act that is at the heart of familial and social processes.
To understand the rise in the number of divorces in various countries, one must first understand the reasons causing couples to marry. France, Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland are representative of the diversity of marital and familial situations existing in Europe.
What we see sometimes in American reality television is an eye saw. An unacceptable situation where one is married and within 3 months, the man is sleeping with his wife mother. There is no basis of comparison between African marriages and other people around the world because what they see as a way of life is completely forbidden in Africa. Again, most people see this as being totally primitive.

It is difficult for average women in Europe generally to stick to their marriage when they eventually realized that their husbands are cheating on them. That would invariably be the last straw and would be used as an affront to divorce in which they would be beneficiary to their husband’s stupendous wealth and without recourse to how such separation would affect their children.
The ratio is 1 out of every hundred and we have seen this ratio at work sometime ago when a footballer wife defiantly resisted their former assistant shameless confession in order to thwart her marriage. She chooses to stand firmly by her husband throughout the trying period. In United States, during Bill Clinton era, a similar newspaper unconfirmed report between Bill and a Monica Lewinski almost ruin the marriage between the then president and his wife. Again, the latter choose to remain with the husband rather than divorce.

This is just one in a million and like a reoccurring decimal, one hardly turns the pages of newspapers these days without reading about ones divorce or the other. There are countless number of lawyers placing adverts on newspapers and magazines for cheap divorce rates.
Today, one of the primary reasons why most celebrities cannot marry is that they are not ready to let what they have laboured all their entire life to be given to a nitwit in the name of divorce settlement .It is quite obvious that people go into marriage for number of reasons while some people, most especially women, go into marriage for the financial gains not really because they needed a family.

According to Jenny Burley and Francis Regan, the Irish story of family law reform in the post-second world war era is quite different from the experience of other countries. One of the main reasons why the story is different is that from 1937 divorce was banned under the Irish constitution. Divorce law reform therefore required a referendum to change the constitution. Even though there were thousand of separated people in Ireland in early 1980s, the proposal to introduce divorce was vociferously opposed in referenda in 1986 and 1995.

The opposition to constitutional change was fuelled by anti-divorce campaigns which used fear tactics, related to money, children, property and inheritance to argue that divorce would tear apart the very fabric of Irish society. The campaign also claimed that divorce would open floodgates to marriage breakdown. The availability of this divorce in Ireland since 1997 has not, however, borne out of dire predictions of the anti-divorce campaigners.
Successful and failed marriages have its origin and background from family circles and some people has argued that it would take a divine intervention for the products of broken homes to triumph where their parents have failed. This is simple. Children learn a great deal from the good and the bad we do at home.

What are responsible for most ignominious exit in most marriages particularly from most women are sheer greed, drink and drugs, insatiable lust and lack of tolerance, which unavoidably, is contributing immensely to the drastic decadence in family and societal values.
The devastating effects of divorce on children and families are enormous. Research made by Dr.Todd.E Linaman on families noted the following:
Future effects of divorce
• Children deal with the effects of divorce not only as children, but into adulthood. The effects of divorce will impact the next generation of children as well.
• The child’s suffering from the effects of divorce does not reach its peak at the time of the divorce and then level off. Rather, the emotional effects of divorce can be played and replayed throughout a child’s life.
Academic effects of divorce
• Children from divorced families drop out of school at twice the rate of children from intact families, and they have lower rates of graduation from high school and college.
• Children from divorced homes performed more poorly in reading, spelling, and math and repeated a grade more frequently than did children not facing the effects of divorce.
Social effects of divorce
• Children of divorced parents are significantly more likely to become delinquent by age 15, regardless of when the divorce took place, than are children not dealing with the effects of divorce.
• The single best predictor of teen suicide is parental divorce and living in a single-parent household.
• Comparing all family structures, drug use in children is lowest among children not facing the effects of divorce.
Emotional effects of divorce
• Divorce has been found to be associated with a higher incidence of depression; withdrawal from friends and family; aggressive, impulsive, or hyperactive behavior; and either withdrawing from participation in the classroom or becoming disruptive.
• Adult children of divorced parents experience mental health problems significantly more often than do the adult children who didn’t witness the effects of divorce as children.
Relational effects of divorce
• After divorce, children tend to become more emotionally distant from both parents.
• As adults, children of divorced parents are half as likely to be close to their parents as are children not dealing with the effects of divorce.
• In their own marriages, children of divorced parents are more likely to be unhappy, to escalate conflicts, and to reduce communication with their spouses.
• Some studies concerning the probability of divorce for children of divorced parents have found the risk to be more than twice the risk for children who haven’t personally experienced the effects of divorce.

This is just one of the numerous factors affecting divorce on families and the list is endless. One thing about people that I have met in my life is that they do not realize the impact of the mistake they must have made in terms of making a decision that would ultimately shape their life until such mistake begin to hit them. It is, however important amidst these factors that we should think very carefully before considering divorce.
Chris Okafor
Galway Ireland: chrisokafor@myself.com

Chris Obiajulu Okafor was born in Ogwashi-Uku in Delta state of Nigeria few months before the outbreak of the protracted Nigeria civil war. He had both his primary and post primary education in Ogwashi- Uku and later studied Mass Communication in the University Of Lagos.He came to Ireland in 2002 where he is presently living with his wife and 3 children. Chris is a journalist and a creative writer that has participated in many comtemporary issues both here and in Nigeria.
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