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.
[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