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Ndokwa Vanguard

....we are out to educate, inform, sensitize & update


Jul 19, 2023
  By Sajini Peace Efeoghene.

The rate at which hitherto happy marriages end in divorce is becoming alarming. Report has it that in the US, about 50 percent of all marriages will end in divorce or separation ( Divorce Statistics and Facts. https//www.wf-lawyers.com).

In Africa, though our communal lifestyle helps to sustain marriages for longer period through the intervention of family members in settling disputes. That notwithstanding, modernization and adoption of western lifestyle is taking a toll on our African values. The trend with respect to divorce is not too different from what obtains in the US as African couples now head to court for divorce over minor marital dispute.

Divorce is a legal procedure for terminating a legally established marriage union. The concept of divorce has grown extensively to the point that countries that resisted the concept ab initio especially for cultural and religious reasons have now legalized it.

Typical examples of such countries are Chile and Malta  who  legalized divorce recently in 2004 and 2011 respectively. However, some countries still maintain a strong stance against divorce and they do not allow their citizens to divorce for any reason. Countries in that category that do not allow divorce are the Philippines and the Vatican City.

The fact that some countries allow for no fault divorce (This means that a party or  parties can separate and it doesn’t matter what reason is behind the separation hence, one can divorce or separate based on his/her own free will without having to prove the grounds for divorce) increases the rate of divorce and at the same time, reduces the need to promote healthy marriages.

Countries that practice no fault divorce such as France and Czech Republic as well as many states in the US have high divorce rates.

As a matter of fact, there are many causes of divorce, they range from infidelity, financial matters, lack of communication, trust issue, sick offsprings, irreconcilable variances, domestic violence etc.

Amato and previti (2003 ) in their interview with divorced individuals on their reasons for divorce, the most recurrent reasons cited were infidelity (21.6%), incompatibility (19.2%), and drinking or drug use (10.6%) .

The rate of divorce as well as the predominant reason for the divorce rate differs in various places. For instance, infertility and delay in child bearing is the most occurring factor of high rate of divorce in Africa. This is attributable to the value attached to children in Africa.

Likewise, because, procreation is seen as the main reason for marriage, barrenness is often considered a key cause of marriage instability in many African populations. It is also believed that the birth of a child helps to unite couples together at least when they are older.

From the findings in Ethiopia, majority of the women who did not have a child within their first marriage divorced within 20 years. Eighty-five percent of these women divorce within the first 5 years of their first marriage (Tilson and Larsen,2000).
 A 2004 survey found that 93% of divorce cases were petitioned by wives. 53% of divorces were marriages that lasted 10 to 15 years, with 40% ending after 5 to 10 years. The first 5 years of marriage are usually stable and divorce free and if a marriage survives more than 20 years, it is less likely to end in divorce. However , it is not rare to see marriages that collapse and end in divorce despite being together for over 20 years.

In 1998, 37% of marriages in England and Wales that had lasted over twenty years ended in divorce.
Marriage, they say, is for better for worse, but it is rather ironic that financial problems were cited as a major contributor to divorce. For some, it was not the most pertinent reason for their divorce but it was still a cause of friction in their marriage that later led to divorce. In a survey, 56.7% of the participants endorsed financial problems as a major reason for their divorce.
While many may be of the opinion that divorce brings about liberation especially for those in a toxic or abusive relationship. Divorce may be seen as a means of escape for either of the couples or a step back into freedom of single hood. However, research has revealed that divorce has a vast effect on members of the family and the society at large.
A major effect of divorce is the stigma that comes with divorce which the divorcees will have to face. This is especially in Africa, where divorce is rare in the average traditional African setting. Divorcees are sometimes seen to be incapable of keeping their home and thus incapable of handling any leadership position.

Many divorcees are sometimes denied positions which they rightly deserve because of their marital status. This stigma most times even follow the couples when they try resettling with new partners as the tag of being a divorcee is sometimes seen as a turn-off for prospective new partners. So it can be said that a divorce could be an impediment to the career, political ambitions and in some cases the future marital life of the divorcees, this is why some couples refuse to see divorce as an option despite unfavourable conditions they may be facing in marriage.

Financial instability is another major effect of divorce. Research done in developed countries show that there is roughly a thirty percent (30%) decline in the standard of living that divorced women enjoyed while married and the decline rate is even higher in societies where most married women are full time house wives and do not have lucrative jobs to sustain themselves as well as their children (if any).

The higher the level of dependence; the higher the impact of the divorce on the financially dependent. In many cases where the man is the sole provider, the wife passed through difficult times after divorce. Women should be empowered to be self reliant to avoid extreme financial difficulties after divorce.

The impact of divorce on the children is enormous as they are usually the most vulnerable and most affected after divorce. Children who have divorced parents have lower academic performance than those who do not, usually due to mental distractions which children of divorced parents normally face that disrupt their ability to input their best in their academics.

They are also more likely to drop out of their academic pursuit.
More lethal, is the psychological issues faced by the children of divorced parents as well as the divorcees. Separation from one’s partner brings about sadness, depression, disillusionment, anxiety, lower sense of trust as well as a weaker sense of personal control.

Many children of divorced parents lack the feeling of being loved and often recoil into their shell due to conflict, abuse or separation in their parents’ marriage. Sometimes, they have a strong sense of guilt and blame themselves for their parents’ separation . Such sense of guilt usually goes along with low self esteem and children of divorced parents may find it hard socialising or fitting into the normal society. Also, exposure to marital conflict has negative consequences on children as children exposed to this are more likely to experience conflict in their own marriage and very much likely to end up getting divorced too!
Divorce also affects the society negatively as high divorce rates in a society lead to increase in school dropouts, the rate of drug abuse as well as social vices.

Children of divorced parents are usually more likely to find outlets in harmful substances or activities such as drugs, alcohol, self harm and violence in order to escape from reality. They may also join gangs or cult groups while searching for acceptance and a sense of belonging.

In conclusion, whatever the justification for divorce, this write up has clearly shown that the pain is usually more than the gain as the pangs usually extend from the divorcees to their children and to the larger society at the long run. Measures to mitigate the effects of divorce should be stepped up commensurately with increasing rate of divorce.

This will involve  gender empowerment particularly that of the women. Counseling Services also need to increase to tackle the psychological aspects of the negative effects of divorce.

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