The Oxford Dictionary defines Divorce as “the legal dissolution of a marriage by court or other competent body” Simply put, divorce is the spilt-up of marriage. A married couple officially becomes unmarried to each other after a divorce.
Modern marriages, especially in Western countries, have become synonymous with divorces. In America, for example, divorce statistics have it that divorce rates have reached a staggering50 percent! Divorce is not too sweet an affair especially where there are children in picture. On this, Fred Rogers of “Mister Rodgers Talks to Parents” says “For a couple with young children, divorce seldom comes as a “solution” to stress, only as a way to end one form of pain and accept another.” How parents conduct leading to, during and after divorce is critical to the state of children and requires great care. It helps for children to keep off from the conflicts of their parents. The children and spouses who have divorced require psychological help in terms of guiding and counseling in order to better cope with the new state of affairs. There are l;ots of elements to divorce which cannot be exhausted in any one article. Thus dealing with the history of divorce, its causes, consequences, the place of children and opinions of people will be good enough.
History of Divorce
Accounts on the origin of divorce may not be anywhere to be found but it seems divorce to have been around in very early years. A French writer and historian, Voltaire (1694-1778) said: “Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient.”
Initially, divorce was a decision made by individuals and not by religion or the law. It is reported that long before Christianity, Rome had an informal, private divorce procedure. It was either by mutual agreement or by the sole decision of the husband to hand his wife a divorce through a letter “repudium”. The Church came into control of Divorce matters with the advent of Christianity.
There are several references of divorce in the Holy Bible verses, like Deuteronomy 24:1 (NKJV) which states: “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house.” These points to the element of a written bill that was handed to a woman by her husband annulling their marriage. Ancient Babylon is thought to be introducer of this concept by the Code of Hammurabi. In 449, the emperors Theodosius and Valentine of Rome modified divorce law allowing penalty-free divorces to men and women if their spouses committed acts like homicide, robbery and poisoning.
France legalized divorce in 1792 but later made it illegal in 1816. German states allowed divorce in 1875 with a condition that the couple was previously entitled to a religious “perpetual separation order”. In 1910, Portugal passed laws legalizing divorce which was later done away with by Dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar around 1940. Canada legalized divorce in the 1960s while Brazil did so in 1978. China legalized the no-fault divorce in 1980 where even in the case there is mutual desire for divorce by the spouses, a mediation process by local committees has to reveal that the marriage has reached a point of no return. In February 1997, Ireland passed an amendment ending the country’s constitutional divorce ban. The Chile Congress passed the divorce legislation in March 2004. (History of Divorce –Around The World By Molly Kalafut).
The common causes of Divorce.
The precursors, causes and consequences of divorce vary from one couple to another. However, there are some common reasons that lead to many divorces world over. These factors include economic, religious, personality issues, societal changes and ethnic and community factors. Surveys by lawyers that have dealt divorce suits attribute lack of commitment to the marriage as the main factor that precipitates and finally end up in divorce. When a conflict arises, either one or both of the married partners do not work hard enough to save the marriage.
Conflicts are one of the wrangles in marriage that lead to wounding of the union. This happens when it reaches a point when the couple can no longer read from the same script on anything and stop regarding one another as friends.
Another major reason that causes a divorce between married couples is the aspect of poor communication. In a couple, communication forms the backbone of the marriage In this case, either one of the spouse or both of them have poor communication skills, or does not understand the different communication styles that exist between the male and female genders. Open communication is of great importance in making sure that both spouses are on the same communication ends so as to beaver away if one spouse has a different anticipation of their marriage.
By and large, most modern divorces as hinged on financial problems in the marriage. This is especially likely when a previously well-off marriage runs into financial crisis that seems unlikely to recuperate. For instance, if assets of a wealthy man are frozen by the Government or bank and he cannot maintain the prestigious status-quo they had, the wife is more likely than not to seek disengagement from the man. Likewise, a very poor couple is prone to fights emanating from lack of monies to lead a better life. The end result could be a mutual consent to drift apart legally. The aspect of financial problems could also be addressed from another front where there is great difference between the personal salaries of the partners in marriage. If the woman has a financial upper hand, for example, the man’s ego may be hurt and thus feel insecure in the marriage. Disagreements may emerge and lead to filing of a divorce as a result by either spouse. Still, under this issue of monies, it may a resultant of one of the two spouses being hesitant or resistant in revealing his or her financial status.
Another cause accredited to divorce is the sudden change of priorities in the marriage. During courting and the early years of most marriages, spouses deem each other and their matrimony as the topmost priorities. However, that consideration of each other is often dealt a blow with long periods of being together. Perhaps marriage ending up in annulment is what inspired the coining of the saying “Familiarity breeds contempt.” A change in priorities could also mean a partner deviating from expectations and agreed targets in the market. For example, if with the acquisition of more money a partner neglects the marriage and instead channels the dollars elsewhere (like their side of family, strange investments), the other spouse will be up in arms. If not resolved, it would result in them splitting up – divorce.
Arguably, the core cause of many divorces is infidelity or unfaithfulness. Traditionally, marriage was deemed monogamous in many cultures. That meant that sex was reduced to one married spouse only. The going against the vows of marriage leave the one on the receiving end feeling a great sense of betrayal and remorse. This is especially synonymous with high profile persons like celebrities or stars.
Adults with troubled background when they were children are prone to divorce. Some sources carried out peg that the divorce of spouses would be double to those who had a divorced family in comparison to those whose parents’ family is still intact. Growing up in dysfunctional home limits the capability of one maintaining a relationship. Similarly, lack of an equitable division of responsibilities is dangerous. When one spouse to be doing all in the marriage but the other does not, the marriage becomes unsatisfying.
There are other factors that could result in divorce include: Marrying at early age. The marrying partners are supposed to be responsible adults (only those that have reached the age of eighteen).When marriage partners marry at an early age, presumably in their teens; they are driven by sexual desires-lust-and not life-long commitments. Barrenness is a condition where one or both spouses are unable to bear children. In the society, a marriage without children is deemed as incomplete. Therefore if one of the partners is unable to bear one it contemplates the other to seek other supplementary methods. Even though child adoption can be a good idea, many spouses opts looking for fresh spouses and by doing this, divorce is left in the wake.,. Snoring in bed is unacceptable by some partners (according to the study by the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association). Different religious affiliations and alternating hobbies and tastes can lead to divorce too. Also addiction to substance abuse by a partner, a spouse’s dissatisfaction of sexual needs, high level stress, poor health of a partner of child, generational gap between the spouses, different lifestyles, physical and emotional abuse. Physical pain affliction compels many marriages to be dissolved and the root causes of them are mostly drug abuse. There was an advert on a billboard that can sum all of this, “Alcohol destroys internally, externally and eternally.”In this category, there are other behaviors that can be included such as gambling. Gambling is placing material money or goods on bets. If gambling becomes habitual, it can lead to bankruptcy and since this behavior of gambling can be addictive, if there is no more money to place bets on, material goods, such as household assets are sold for satisfactory. This compels many families to break and eventually separate. Falling out of love is also household factor that cause annulment of a marriage as can also be marriages done in haste due to economic or sentimental reasons often fall apart. Sexual satisfaction can in most cases, salvage a divorce from occurring between two spouses. Once a couple gets tangled and marries, their sex satisfaction after their consummation is remarkable However, after some time the dust settles down and one spouse may have libido differences thereby giving lame claims such as tiredness and to satisfy the sexual desires, the left out spouse will be more than tempted to seek satisfaction from out of the wedlock. If by any means, the other spouse realizes, the ultimate verdict is mostly divorce. Still, mental illness can constituent to divorce. After one spouse becomes mentally ill, the other may feel too much burdened since some mental illnesses would require the other spouse to cater for all needs, even the basic needs such as washing and taking him or her to the toilet. This causes not only a lot of burden but also a lot of embarrassment from the other society especially if they were in a young marriage. There are other many unique reasons such as literacy level, personal and varying career aims. Some spouses can opt to convert to other religions and if one spouse falls out of kilter with the idea it can lead to separation and eventually divorce. If one spouse renders a life of criminal behaviors, the other can feel his or her reputation is being tainted and the only reason to salvage that dignity becomes divorce. Some in-laws tend to obligate themselves being at the helm of their daughters’ or their sons’ marriages and if that gets the disapproval of one spouse, divorce becomes possible. Some other petty unintentional behaviors can also lead to divorce: like snoring whilst sleeping. Others are ethnicity and racism.
Consequences of Divorce
The consequences of divorce are numerous. Separation is the first likely consequence. Both parents have to part ways. Whoever wins the custody of the children has to contend with raising the child or children alone (American Board of Family Medicine, 2001). Though the court may compel the husband or father of the children to support the child or children materially, this is no consolation to the parent who has to raise the off springs from the dissolved union all by her or himself. The parent with the custody of the children may have to talk over the change in the behavior of their child or children with their friends because there is no spouse to talk over these matters with (Nash, 2011).The problem is compounded when the child or children became wayward or rebel against the authority of the parent bringing them up. Such problems are common with teenagers who may point an accusing finger to the parent who is bringing them up as opposed to the one who is far away from them.
After divorce, either of the separated parents may choose to remarry. This results in other families being created. The children from the previous union and the children who will be sired out of the new union all create a new family outfit. Each of this constituent units making up this new unit have their own idiosyncratic personalities. This means that they have to be blended together into one cohesive unit in a manner that transcends their differing backgrounds (American Board of Family Medicine, 2001). This blending may create further psychological isolation particularly to the step –siblings who may feel neglected or not being given quality attention. This failure of total blending may create a disintegration of this new unit.
The contact hours between the parent and the children plummets after a divorce goes through (American Board of Family Medicine, 2001).Although the court may grant the parent who has been denied custody visiting hours, such hours may be irregular and far in between to guarantee qualitative and quantitative parental contact. Coupled to this is the financial strain that the parents may find themselves in the aftermath of the divorce. This may precipitate the quest to hold on to more than one job and this will further limit the parental contact because either parent is trying to earn more money to meet their increasing expenses as opposed to spending time with their off springs. The children end up losing vital contact with both or one of their parents.
Financial consequences also arise in the execution of a divorce (Nash, 2011).The finances are affected as the collective incomes for the two adults in a marriage union have now to be split. The resources that the couple had acquired like the home, cars, real estate and stocks in blue chip companies have to be divided into two between the contending spouses upon divorce. With the splitting of resources, the standards of living have to be adjusted most of the times on a downwards scale. This results in a change of lifestyles for the children and the parents alike to accommodate the change in financial status.
Children are the ones who bear the brunt in the event that their parents decide to part ways in the manner of a divorce. A divorce can be settled upon peacefully or acrimoniously and whatever the mode of settlement it will definitely affect the emotional capacity of the children who may consider themselves the cause of the divorce. This may affect their self esteem and confidence levels. The children may also be torn emotionally between the two parents and they may be unable to settle on one parent as opposed to the other.
As a married couple, the spouses shared some mutual family friends who are a source of social support. Just like the children have to make choices between their parents, the family friends may also choose between the splitting spouses (Nash, 2011).This being a disconcerting choice, most choose to avoid taking sides and thus avoid the warring spouses. Divorce thus causes the loss of family friends and this necessitates the divorced to make new friends all over again.
Salvaging marriage from divorce
The salvation of marriage from dissolution solely lies in the hands of the partners even though the society can play a role in the prevention. Some of the ways that can be done include:
Being faithful tops the list. The chances of preventing divorce in a couple if there is life-long commitment to one partner is higher because it can’t bring marriage distractions and therefore a spouse can’t feel threatened. Nice appearance: a spouse is supposed to look at his or her best during an occasion and should discard what the other spouse hates when worn; it could be a worn-out sweater. Spending time together can prevent that feeling that one spouse is being marginalized; this can be achieved by swimming together, playing games such as cards or golf together among others. Some simple words can soldier on marriages; words like “darling” “I love you” can rekindle a marriage and win the other spouse’s heart over and over again. Seeking counsel can be a wise move by a couple before indulging into the ugly slur of divorce. If a couple is childless, there are far better ways of getting children like adoption even though at times a couple may desire to have a blood-child child than an adopted one. Professional counselors can resolve the petty differences that lead a couple to opt for divorce. Also, the consequences of the divorce can be seared into the minds of the spouses, like: salvaging their marriage for the sake of their children. There is an always said oath by spouses when walking down the aisle,”…for the better or for worse, in sickness and in health…” and “…to love, to hold and to cherish till death does us apart.”
American Board of Family Medicine. (2001). Children of Divorce:Consequences of Divorce. Retrieved May 29, 2011, from Medscape Today News.: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/405852_4
Nash, S. (2011, May 5). eHow. Retrieved May 29, 2011, from Negative Consequences of Divorce.: http://www.ehow.com/list_7644165_negative-consequences-divorce.html
Stewart, C.A. and Brentano, C. (2007). Divorce: Causes and Consequences. Retrieved May 29, 2011
Emery, R. (1999). Marriage, Divorce, and Children’s Adjustment. Carlifornia: SAGE.
Rogers, F. a. (1993). Mister Rogers Talks With Parents. Hil Leonard Corp.
Ronni, G. (2006, November Sunday). What are the most Causes of Divorce? Retrieved May 29, 2011, from divorce reform: http://www.divorcereform.org/cau.html
Kalafut, M. (2008). History of Divorce. Retrieved May 29, 2011, from http://molly.kalafut.org/marriage/divorce.html