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M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E: A failing institution?
Going by reports in the Nigerian society, divorce cases are said to be on the increase. Taiwo Olanrewaju looks at the causes, effects and solutions to divorce. Her report:
THE marriage institution is gradually failing, many thanks to divorce which is currently on the rise.
D-i-v-o-r-c-e! The seven-lettered-word was almost unheard of among couples some 50 to 40 years back in most parts of Africa, especially in Nigeria. In the 50s, 60s and the 70s, the sanctity of the institution of marriage had not been corrupted; it was still very much intact and respected as a sacred institution.
If a couple got married then, it was for better, for worse, till death did them part. Marriage was a worthwhile venture then, especially among Christians, Muslims and traditional worshipers.
However, with the advent of the Western culture, the marital institution began to suffer setbacks. Pressures of life and the western way of life, made divorce, a hitherto foreign word in the lexicon of couples, an everyday word and a way of life. Even when Yorubas and Hausas indulged in divorce, it was a taboo in Igbo land, but now it seems as if it is the in-thing.
What is it?
Divorce or the dissolution of marriage, according to the Wikipedia, the online dictionary, is the final termination of a marital union, cancelling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties involved.
In his views, Pastor Abraham Ojekanmi of the School of Marriage International, Ring-Road, Ibadan said divorce is a situation where the marriage fails and either of the couple decides to call it quit, adding that the many reasons for divorce are not tenable before God since the couple are not imposed on each other; therefore, “God expects them to stand straight and continue the marriage till death do them part because God does not recognise divorce in marriage.”
Alfa Abdul-Rasheed Ekanoye Delesolu, the Naibul-Imam of Oje Community Central Mosque, Ibadan and member, Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), opined that divorce is a situation whereby a couple decide to part ways through a mutual consent, more so when they sense that their marriage lacks love, which is a vital ingredient of marriage.
Lamenting the spate of divorce among couples in Nigeria now, the custodian of Yoruba culture and tradition, Arole Mabinuori Adegboyega Aare Latosa, said divorce is the in-thing now compared to what marriage was in the past. He said the Ifa oracle considered marriage, from inception as a union between a male and female(s), adding that Ifa encourages matured man and woman to marry in order to live peacefully, adding that Ifa stressed that marriage should not be dissolved.
Causes of divorce:
A lot of reasons have been adduced for the failure of marriage. Pastor Ojekanmi listed the reasons for divorce as including infidelity, finance and intrusion, explaining that friends cause more problems for couples than the enemy because if you know your enemy, you distance yourself from him.
A marriage counsellor, Dr Mrs Eunice Iheanacho, told the Nigerian Tribune on phone that causes of divorce are numerous and vary from one couple to another. She however listed some of the causes as including immaturity, impatience and pride, lack of understanding and wisdom and inability to take to correction and correct one's mistakes.
Femi Awodele, a commentator @christiancouples.org said the lack of spending time together as a family contributes a lot to marriage failure, even as he added in his online article, 'Divorce rates Africa versus Western countries' that, “With development of technology (among other factors), a second income is needed to keep up with what the society now term as good living on television (which is the greatest influence on culture). Everyone wants the two car garage home with a picket fence and a dog. Now we all want the LCD screen and a home theatre in our basements.”
Who can institute divorce?
In the traditional Yoruba setting, a woman rarely institutes a divorce suit, but in extreme cases when she does, that is when she moves her belongings out of her matrimonial home, she is often sent back to her matrimonial home by her parents or family.
Are Latosa noted the above when he said that marriage from the traditional perspective was very important as spouses were married to their in-laws, that is the family.
The Western and Arabic culture has changed that as women now institute divorce suits like their male counterpart. According to Alfa Delesolu, a Muslim woman can institute a divorce suit against her husband if the husband does not cater for her needs or those of the children, if he fails in his duties as a husband or cannot perform sexually, which could make the woman commit adultery, which is an offence in Islam, known as zinah.
“For the Muslim man, he is superior to his wife and as such is expected to provide her with the needed comfort, should not maltreat her, should regard her as coming next after him before his extended family and should not find any flimsy excuse to divorce her, except of course if she commits adultery. That is why the Quran refers to the Muslim man as “Al-Kowamu alal Nisahi”, Delesolu added.
He, however, noted that divorce in Islam involves a number of steps to be taken by the husband before eventually doing away with his wife. He is expected to tell the woman her offence, adultery; entreat her to stop the act, preach to her and show her love. Perchance she does not stop, the husband, he said, is to stop being cordial with the wife he can stop talking to or playing with her. The next step involves calling a relation of the wife and one of the husband's too to mediate. “If the wife does not stop committing adultery, then her husband can divorce her,” he explained.
Aside a court of law, a Muslim couple can divorce each other in the presence of members of their families, who would serve as witnesses. As soon as they both present their cases and the husband pronounces the union as dissolved, members of the families could still mediate and the man would take his wife back in as much as the husband's pronouncement is made on the first or second occasion, but as soon as the gathering is sitting for the third time and the husband makes the pronouncement, then the divorce is forever, it can no longer be reversed.
Effects of divorce:
Divorce has a lot of effects on the husband, the children, the family members but the effect is more pronounced on the woman that is the wife and mother. The society sees her as incapable of keeping the home, the family together. “That is why the Bible in Proverbs 31 verse says “The wise woman keeps her home but the foolish one .
Ojekanmi explained the effects of divorce on the man thus: “He will be affected psychologically, emotionally and socially, he will be disturbed, even, a study in the USA revealed that most of the unruly behaviour in the US is caused by people who have divorced; a man tends to misbehave when the wife is not with him again.”
Alfa Delesolu said the effects of divorce on the children of such union are enormous, from lack of parental care to lack of love, exposure to bad behaviour and such vices, which tend to turn them into street kids. He noted that the couple would be affected negatively too especially if one of them still loved the other. That could lead to lack of concentration at work to eventual loss of job, illness and lots of other terrible things.
On the effects of divorce on the children, the Falilat Sheik, Alhaj Abdul-Lateef Oyegbade Ogunse, founder, Kaomun Nasirudeen Islamic Foundation, a.k.a. Ijo Ogunse said the children would not be adversely affected if the man remarries and shows a lot of love to the new wife so that she would help him care for the children of the first marriage and not maltreat them.
Solutions to divorce:
Ojekanmi admonished couples to avoid suspicion, find time to confirm any allegation from their spouse, should not allow intrusion in their marriage and run an open-door policy, even as he cited Genesis chapter 5 verse 2 and Matthew chapter 5 verses 31-32.
On how to prevent divorce, Alfa Delesolu noted that orientation for would-be couple is very necessary on the rules guiding courtship, marriage and divorce especially as it affects their religion, even as he added that “would-be couple should always tread God's path and follow laid down rules for choosing life partners.”
In his own opinion, Ogunse enjoined would-be couples to consider religion, family, beauty and behaviour before marrying in order not to end up divorcing.
He said that Allah (SWT) commands men to marry but admonished men to marry beautiful wives but if they are not capable, that is if they are not rich, they should marry out of the slaves so that they would be of the same class.
Are Latosa also noted that most ladies marry because they think age is not on their side and not because they are prepared for marriage.
“In any marriage, perseverance, endurance, patience, humility and good character are needed. A man and a woman should be equal and respect each others' views in marriage. It is when they refuse to respect each other that trouble comes,” added the culture Ambassador of Oyo State, who said in times past, people had up to two, three wives and they all lived together without enmity for close to 50 years in peace and tranquillity.
Civilisation, he noted, “has destroyed our culture. In the olden days, a man could marry his friend's daughter because his friend knows his qualities and knows that his daughter is safe with him. Tribalism has also affected marriage. Pastors are engrossed in preaching to their members but not counselling them; preaching and counselling are very distinct. A pastor wants his members to marry only Christians but socially, a Muslim can marry a Christian, in as much as there is peace and love. Parents are not also helping matters as they choose spouses for their children as if they are the ones getting married. That practice is prevalent in Northern Nigeria.”
A marriage counsellor, Mr Adamu Dantata, however, opined that the woman, as delectable as she is, is very vulnerable and therefore, should think twice before going into marriage. She should be mentally, physically, emotionally, financially prepared and should be matured before going into marriage.
“She should also be prayerful because it is not about what you can do or what you cannot do at times. There are a lot of bridges you cannot cross until you get there as far as marriage is concerned. This is why the girl-child should be wise and be herself in marriage. She should neither compare herself or her home with anyone's as no two marriages are alike,” Dantata noted.
He said it is the woman who gets married; she is the one who gets pregnant; she is the one who labours and gives birth; if the child is good, he is his father's child but if he is bad, he is his mother's carbon copy; if she is divorced, she is the one that is maligned, even if she is the owner of the house the family lives in and the husband has to move out; “I pity the woman,” he added.
Dr Iheanacho advised would-be couples to study themselves during courtship and settle issues then, rather than patch them up as continuous patching up would eventually boomerang and that could spell a doom for the union.
“Study yourselves during courtship; don't engage in sexual activities as that will blind your eyes to your faults.
There will be plenty of time for sexual activities in marriage. Everybody must understand that marriage is ordained by God and it must be done God's way to achieve result. We will really enjoy it if we go by God's standard”, she opined.
Mr Opawusi, T. Olalekan, Director of Crop Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Secretariat, Ibadan, however said that it was necessary for couples to apply wisdom in their union. In case one of the spouses was morally loose and could cause the other to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases or even HIV or one is so violent that he could beat or stab the other to death, then, “I will suggest that they both separate to avoid untimely death.”
Divorce and legal separation:
Wikipedia however notes that unlike divorce, a legal separation does not put an end to the marriage. During a legal separation, you have a court order that outlines the rights and responsibilities of each partner while they are living apart.
Additional reports by Doyin Adeoye, Omolara Ayinla and Sopulu Amaechina.Share