Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guest Post: Marriage and Divorce

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage[i]: (noun) The state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognised by law.[ii]

Marriage brings together not just two people in union, but also two families (in most cases), two communities (in some cases) and also has the potential to unite two countries. It can break down barriers that may have been erected due to family feuds[iii], distances created after arguments among friends and rekindles the ties of kinship with long lost brothers and sisters. It is a contract made to give social recognition and legality to the union and in religious terms, acceptability in the eyes of God. Marriage is probably located near the top if not at the top of many people’s life decisions. After all making a commitment with someone to spend the rest of your lives together is no small thing. So what’s the point?

Marriage is a vast subject on which many people, by far more learned than me, have written a vast number of books. I was asked to discuss whether divorce in particular depreciates the sanctity of marriage. Before I give my thoughts on this, it is important to understand the philosophy behind marriage and why some people choose to describe it as having sanctity.

Sanctity[iv]: (noun) 1. Holiness of life and character. 2. The quality or state of being holy or sacred.

It is in religious lexicon that one finds reference to holy things and it is therefore no surprise that the importance of marriage is highly stressed in all world religions. One of the main reasons is because it acts as a deterrent and stops one from indulging in immoral and sinful practices as it reminds the person of the contract they had made with their wife or husband. It gives restraint and makes people think twice before ‘messing’ with another person who is married or if they are married themselves. In short marriage provides the building blocks of a healthy family, dissuades individuals from indulging in adultery and being promiscuous. It is for this reason, that the contract of marriage is holy. Yes there are some people who despite being married still do commit adultery but that cannot be attributed to marriage. And this contract I believe is the crux of the matter when it comes to the marriage and divorce debate.

Like every other contract between two parties, it is based on the principle of accountability. Each party is held accountable for their actions and thus anything they do or say that may violate the terms and conditions will have consequences. Marriage is no different. The marriage contract is based on care, co-operation, compromise and compassion. When one genuinely cares for another only then will they be able to co-operate in a positive manner to compromise when times are tough and things aren’t the way they wanted. This will lead to compassion for their other, when faced with decisions that could potentially disturb the relationship, allowing loving judgements to prevail. When someone goes against the values of marriages and breaks the vows they made, what should be done?

Government statistics from the UK show that the number of marriage registrations in England and Wales in the year of 2009 was 231,490 which were the lowest since 1885.[v] A gradual decline in the rate of marriages has also been observed and possible causes of this include delaying of marriage or not marrying at all. Increases on the have been noticed in the number of individuals choosing to co-habit.[vi] On the other hand, the rate of divorce has seen a dramatic increase since the late 1920s from a few thousand a year to more than 100,000 in 2009. The highest rates were during the 1990s and 2009 marked the sixth consecutive year of decline, during which there were 113,949 divorces.[vii]

In countries like the Philippines where divorce is not yet legally available, debates on passing the Reproductive Bill have yielded many valid opinions on both sides. There are some who argue that by legalising divorce and approving it would mean the sanctity of marriage is being put aside. Having spent considerable time contemplating the issue I have concluded that divorce actually protects the sanctity of marriage rather than destroys it.

When a student joins a school, they are admitted on account of them understanding what is expected from them in terms of academic achievement, behaviour, dress-code and attendance. If a pupil shows lack of respect for any of these, by distributing drugs, physically or mentally abusing other students and or teachers for example, they are excluded. Now, can it be said that the exclusion of such a child undermines the importance of education? When an employee steals from a business for personal gains or goes against the aims and objectives of that business and is fired, can it be argued this undermines the progress of the company? It is only when a child is allowed to continue to distribute drugs or an employee allowed to steal that the reputation of both the school and the business are impacted. In the same way, I think when a person goes against the values of marriage, divorce protects the other partner by giving them a choice to break the ties. The sanctity of marriage is only dented when a person is committing bad deeds while in wedlock, and allowed to do so without there being any accountability for their actions. However, this brings great responsibility as it means people should not rush into marriage with little thought and then divorce when they realise they made a mistake, as if it were all a game.

- Nas

[i] Definition taken from Merriam-Webster online (here).
[ii] All references to marriage made in this particular post refer to the traditional sense of the word involving a man and a woman, for the sake of highlighting particular points and do not encompass same sex marriages.
[iii] A common theme in Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet
[iv] Definition taken from Merrian-Webster online (here).
[v] ‘Marriage in England and Wales’, Statistical bulletin, page 1 (available here).
[vi] ‘Marriage in England and Wales’, Statistical bulletin, page 3 (available here).
[vii] ‘Divorces in England and Wales’, Statistical bulletin, page 1 (available here).


Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. - Simone Signoret

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. - Barnett R. Brickner 

I do not consider divorce an evil by any means. It is just as much a refuge for women married to brutal men as Canada was to the slaves of brutal masters. - Susan B. Anthony, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony

About the Blogger:

My name is Nas. Short and simple. 'Cause I'm a simple guy. But a very complicated, 21 year old, simple guy. A voracious reader, a not-so-good writer and a helpless romantic (Manchester United = <3). I've tried my hand at cooking and unfortunately I end up cooking my own skin rather than the thing I'm trying to cook. If you have not already realised I have two eyes, with a nose in between and a mouth at the bottom. And there are 2 ears sticking out the side of my head on the top of my hair which I also have and stubble on my cheeks. Oh, give me olives, cookies, or cake and I'll love you forever and beyond. I love you anyway. :)

Blog: Closing Pandora's Box
Twitter username: @nasdotcom


  1. I can really agree with this. I had never thought about how divorce can destroy the sanctity of marriage, but if a couple gets divorced, then they are saving marriage themselves. They are preserving it's sanctity. If a bad pupil is excluded it helps other people to learn, increasing the sanctity of education. I do myself plan to get married at one point, when I find who is definitely the right person. I plan to do it once, and have it last for quite some time.

  2. When one desires marriage, he/she does not expect divorce or separation...

    In the Philippines, divorce is not yet legally accepted. Either legal separation or annulment are ways to break the promise of marriage. Personally, I agree to legality of divorce as this will cater quite a number of couples who live in perils of "unwanted" marriage or some sort of that...


  3. Philippines is so backward.

    HIndi ko maintindihan kung bakit walang walang divorce, E MERON NGANG LEGAL SEPARATION AT ANNULMENT.

    Sino ba ang niloloko ng mga naniniwala na MASAMA ANG DIVORCE para sa filipino family? Edi sarili din nila.

    Lagyan ng distinction between legal rights and spiritual rights.

    Karapatan ng bawat Pilipino maging masaya sa love life nila.

    Ipatupad ang divorce. Hwag natin lokohin ang sarili natin.

  4. This is a great topic! To me, there's no reason to stay in a bad marriage just for the children's sake specially if deep problems exist. Children are greatly affected but if both partners are already unhappy why stay together.You are right that people shouldn't rush into marriage with little thougt. This always happens specially to young people. May kasabihan nga na ang pag aasawa ay di parang kanin na isusubo mo na pag napaso ka ay iluluwa mo.

  5. i still believe in marriage. that's it.

  6. Very well written post. BRAVO!

    I still believe in the sanctity of marriage. It's a thing that you can't rush into deciding and it's something that you can not get rid of like when you chew a bubble gum and throw it away when it's not anymore juicy on your taste buds.

    I just have to share that I have a foreign fiancee. I feel lucky and blessed that being non- Filipino, he has high regard on marriage and it's sanctity.

    I put very little thought on the issue why there are a lot of broken marriages today not until he told me bluntly:

    Many people do not respect marriage. Many young people today indulge in sex taking it as a normal occurrence for them even before they get married. That is why most marriages are doomed."

    With all due respect, I don't mean to nit pick. But reality sucks. The truth will hurt and the bloated egos may feel sore for a moment. But let us give this post some pondering thoughts.

  7. I would like to say outrightly that I am a Catholic, and that my views would be based on my Catholic beliefs...

    God himself is the author of marriage. The Bible affirms that man and woman were created for one another. Jesus Christ himself reveals that marriage signifies an unbreakable union - "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female," And said, "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
    Matt 19:4-6 (KJV)

    Jesus himself has declared that marriage is indissoluble - "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."
    Mark 10:11-12 (KJV)

    The sacrament of marriage is not something that is administered by a priest - the man and woman to be married administer it to each other.

    And so the sanctity of marriage stems primarily from the authorship of God and secondarily by the covenant made by man and woman to each other - the covenant witnessed by the ecclesial community that they will live as one until the very end. The essence of the sanctity of marriage is its indissolubility.

    In this specific point, I disagree with the author. Divorce runs counter to the very heart of the covenant of marriage.

    It is necessary that the consents to the "I do" are given with certainty. As such, marriage carries in itself a public character, because it is an obligation to have witnesses to the union. This public character of the consent protects the covenant and helps the spouses to remain faithful. The success of marriage then is supported by this public character. How? The sponsors should serve as guides to the couple. This is one element that most people tend to forget.

    In societies wherein separated couples who cannot maintain their original covenan resort to new civil unions, let me quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "The Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists."

    What about if living together becomes an impossibility? Again the CCC teaches: "Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble."

    And so with this difficulties and complexities, I agree with the concluding words of the author - marriage brings great responsibility and one does not rush into it unprepared.

  8. Nas you just made so much sense!

  9. I believe in marriage. I believe that before marrying, both the two persons knew that they are going to spend they're lives together. Forever. :)

    I know I'm not yet married and has less capacity to talk about this issue but I honestly support "No to Divorce" advocacy. Legalizing divorce in the country will surely make marriage a mere commodity. It will cheapen marriage. :(

    However, I respect the opinion of the author and other commentators here. Iba-iba lang talaga tayo ng pananaw..

  10. so true, great post! :)
    leah, im working on mine!
    thanks for the comment! glad you enjoyed my 100th post!

  11. agree ako sa divorce... basta lang...agree lang ako...feel ko ok lang naman...wala naman cguro masama kung aalis ka sa unhappy marriage...

  12. hiyee! uu, Ilongga ko. Wala lang, nice meeting you! One year na ko gani la kapuli..huhu

  13. This is really nice. :) Very well written.

  14. On this post I agree in so many things. One of those is that marriage is a serious matter and a person should not take it lightly just because there is a way out if it didn’t work. Marriage is a commitment and any commitment requires sacrifices and great effort.
    I believe that marriage is sacred but I also agree that if marriage is already destroying two people involved in marriage and their families, then they should be given choices for the next best course of action. That’s where annulment, legal separation and divorce come in. Sometimes there are things that are really not meant to be and sadly, usually it takes time to figure that out.

  15. Hello there sweetie! Thanks for the lovely comment over my cooking blog, I really appreciate it!
    Interesting post!

    Hope you're having a great day!

    My cooking blog, support me:

    xoxo Kiki

  16. At talagang my description pa. hehehe. nice post Leah awesome!

  17. This is a very sensitive topic. I respect the views here, and in the end, mas alam ng tao naman ano ang dapat nilang gawin. As to why Philippines doesn't have divorce yet, well... Come to think of it, andami pa ring bagay na sumisira sa marriage. It's alarming. Andaming hindi na nagrerespect sa marriage nila... So minsan napapaisip ako, what's the point of not having divorce when nagkakasiraan na rin despite the absence of it. Sobrang dami na ring families na nasisira ngayon sa Pilipinas... and it saddens me na nawawala na rin ung pag respect sa marriage itself. IN the end talaga, it's up to the people to be responsible enough whether there's divorce or none.

  18. this is a veeeeeerrryy nice post. considering nas is 21yo lang. hehehe. enjoyed reading it...

  19. ate leah minsan lang akoh dumalaw ditoh nosebleed pah... lolz... *churi* di koh gano binasa... i juz really wanted to say hi nd say thank u for droppin' by sa blog koh... dadalaw akoh madalas ditoh.. *hugz* Godbless!

  20. Firstly thank you very very much Leah for giving me the opportunity to post on your blog.

    I'll answer as many comments as I can, only those in English though.

    @ Mai: Thank you very much.

    @ Mark: When you do get married, I hope and pray you have a long lasting lovely marriage :)

    @Xprosaic: I agree with your point. No-one enters a marriage with the intention of divorcing. But at the same time, no-one knows what the future holds.

    @lol, I understood none of your except the first line which I shall not comment on.

    @Anney: Nicely said, couldn't have put it better myself.

    @Bino: Me too.

    @Lainy: You highlighted some very pertinent points! Thank you.

    @collwaterworks: I am not Catholic by faith and so will not comment on your beliefs as I respect them. However, if a person commits 'sin' while under the contract of marriage, then what? Should the partner put up with it? When can a marriage be annulled?

    @ Mr Nasir: Thank you very much!

    @aLgene: Thank you for your comment. I think no-one wants divorce, and many people who have a romanticised notion of marriage say no to divorce. I'm not married either, but I've seen and heard the examples where it has gone wrong, then it totally makes sense.

    @ Juliet: Thank you for reading.

    @ thanks Dr R! :)

    @ hana banana: :)

    @Purple Mist: Thank you very very much P!

  21. @ Umi: Thanks very much for your comment.

    @ Mayen: Nicely put Mayen :)

    @ Tim: :)

    @ Traveliztera: Thanks for the comment, I would reply but unfortunately I do not understand the main points.

    @Ronster: Thanks a lot dude! :D

    @Dhianz: :)

  22. The convenience of divorce is the reason why I'm not voting for it. With all the divorce cases I see and read, I never thought that divorce equates exclusion or punishment. Though I am not in favor of divorce, I also believe that our current laws on annulment and legal separation needs fine-tuning, as well as the penal provisions on adultery and concubinage.