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Just Before You File For That Divorce

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To the best of my little knowledge, Christianity is the most restrictive religion on divorce. The only condition permitted in the New Testament Bible for divorce is, porneia, (sexual immorality), and there is a caveat, ‘if you cannot forgive your partner.’ Ironically, those who profess to be Christians (I did not say those who are Christians), are at the forefront of the advocacy for marriage divorce at the slightest squabble. Christians have the highest divorce rate in Nigeria and across the globe. And the reasons are not always “unforgivable sexual immorality”.

In Islam, physical, mental, or emotional abuse or torture and violence, failure to fulfil the objectives and purposes for which the marriage was initiated, like sex and love, infidelity, inability of the husband to provide for the home, are some of the valid reasons for divorce.

Couples are also encouraged to stay together if they can forgive, and if the lingering feuds can be resolved amicably with guarantees they won’t happen again. Yet Muslims are permitted to marry four wives and still have lower divorce rates.

In most traditional African societies, divorce was not something that was easily permitted. The process of achieving it was also woven with so many discouraging encumbrances and divorce rate was very low.

Obi (1990), defined a traditional African marriage as a union between a man and a woman that lasts the duration of the man’s life and the woman’s life, as well as a social structure that promotes an association and agreement between two families. Marriage is not a two-people business in traditional African society. It is usually between two families and communities.

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If divorce was allowed in traditional African society, it generally was on the grounds of adultery, though this ground and a few others unfairly weighed against women. Even delayed conception did not provide justifiable grounds for divorce in African society. Rather, it more often prompted a husband to seek a second wife.

Sometimes the first wife herself took the initiative to procure a second wife for her husband, like Sarah did for Abraham in the Christian Bible. Or the man seeks the help of a close male friend or family member to impregnate his wife.

But a combined number of factors have changed this narrative and this vice has been nearly elevated to a virtue and moreso, a profiteering venture. Childlessness, infidelity, domestic violence, socialization, technology and social media, immaturity, finances, sexual preferences, inter tribal marriages, religious beliefs, undue interference from inlaws and interlopers, educational attainment, feeling of failure, and loss of security, hopes, dreams and support that the marriage offered, are amongst several reasons that are spiking this negative trend.

In spite of this obvious significance of marriage and its life time vows, every society is still faced with situations in which marriages fail and the couples cannot tolerate living together. But the consequences of this decision cannot be over emphasized. Back home here and elsewhere, most divorced people have had to remarry and about half of those who do are already parents.

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Some have had to become side-chicks to other married spouses. This results in the creation of “blended families” also called “stepfamilies”, forcing a large percentage of children into living with single or step parents.

The children then suffer a lack of adequate parental love and affection and run the risk of discontinuity in their emotional and intellectual development. Additionally, the greatest cause of juvenile crime is broken home. Divorce is also still regarded as a stigma till date.

It may be difficult for both husband and wife to heal from the emotional and psychological effects of divorce. Parents may be crushed by a sense of shame, fear, and hatred, depriving them from living a meaningful life. Sometimes, divorced parents may fall victim to alcoholism or other fantasy inducing pills and drugs to manage their situation.

It is therefore imperative in the final analysis to note three things, namely: That marriage as the definition entails, is contracted for life or for an indefinite period. Therefore all efforts must be made to encourage couples to stay together or get back together, even after they have separated.

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Secondly, it is not everyone that must or will get married. The institution of marriage is not a stroll in the park and the stamina, patience and sacrifices required to make it work is not everyone’s endowment.

Some people are too self engrossed and self indulgent to accommodate others. It is only their own happiness that makes them happy. They are competing with everyone and may not possess the ingredients to cook a good marriage. It is not by force nor a must. Such persons should avoid embarking on the marriage journey.

Lastly, if you are in there already and you are having difficulties, please don’t bolt away like the later days feminists and masculinists are advocating. Patiently explore avenues of resolving your issues. Try your best, try again and again and again, until it becomes obvious that you need a break.

The break may not even be the end, it could be the stop gap, until it becomes practically impossible. Social media is not the place to walk away from a marriage that was consummated by family and friends. Give it a thought again, before you file for that divorce.

Yours sincerely,
Citizen Agba Jalingo.

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