FAMILY FUSION: Avoiding divorce
LAST WEEK I gave some insights into emotional divorce. Today I will look into some of the many reasons why people may divorce.
These reasons are worthy of examination because of the tremendous widespread impact divorce may have on the family and the wider society.
Divorce can have a domino effect on a number of people who may be directly or indirectly involved. It can certainly frustrate the separating couple, depress the children, distress relatives, disturb friends, sadden work colleagues, weaken family ties, burden the court system and create other numerous social and related issues.
Many years ago I ran into a friend who told me that he suffered much emotional pain prior to, during and after his divorce. According to him, he felt as though he was about to lose his mind. He mentioned that his immediate relatives were seriously affected and his children were torn apart with the choice of parent they should reside with. He added that some of his friends were not taking it very well and his co-workers tried to give him a brave face.
Over the years I have come face-to-face with couples who expressed sincere regret of going the route of divorce. Some confessed that had they listened to their spouse, they would not have divorced. A few joyfully came back together and remarried after going through the depressing experience of divorce.
A number of divorced individuals said if they had to live their lives over again, they would have worked through some issues before pursuing the route of dissolving their marriage. Can some of these unpleasant encounters be avoided? I think they can.
Here are a few reasons for divorce of which I am aware:
Divorce is not the core issue when it comes to separation. To a large extent, not making good informed decisions prior to marriage is at the heart of the matter. Making choices is a normal part of life and selecting a life partner is no exception. All choices are not 100 per cent foolproof; however, avoiding some obvious “red light” signals should not be ignored when making a lifelong marriage commitment.
People marry for different reasons, which may include:
1. wanting to escape an unpleasant home environment,
2. wanting a child before reaching a certain age,
4. the physical appearance of a partner;
5. Pressure from family, friends and church.
I know of men and women who said they saw some negative behaviours in their prospective spouses but did not speak about them because of fear of losing their impending married partners. Taking time to know as much as you can about your partner-to-be should be a priority matter. This leads me to the second reason for divorce.
2. Lack of proper preparation for marriage
Premarital counselling is not designed to marry people, but to see if they are qualified for this lifelong journey. By premarital counselling I am not talking about one or two sit-down sessions with a marriage officer, but several weeks of insightful sessions that include homework. These sessions should cover subjects like the origin of marriage and its purpose, socialisation, maturity issues, different types of love, finance, sexual intimacy, conflict resolution, parenting, the role of the man and woman, goal-setting and much more.
Recently, I met a husband who had many premarital counselling sessions. With a smile he told me that he tells everyone that those sessions were the best investment he has ever made in his life. Another happy couple publicly said the tools they received during their premarital counselling sessions helped them to ride through some stormy times especially in the early stages of their marriage.
The mistake that many people make is that they mix up preparing for a wedding day, with preparations for marriage. Preparing for marriage involves sound commitment to a “lifelong journey of deep sharing, mutual respect and growing intimacy”.
After carefully assessing some couples contemplating marriage, I have recommended they not get married because if they did, the chances of their marriages standing up against the challenges of life were very slim. Some took the counsel and months later expressed their gratitude. Others ignored the guidance and suffered the consequences. During premarital counselling sessions, key tools are also given on how to keep the union alive.
3. Not nurturing your marriage
Unfortunately, some people think that after pre-marital counselling and the wedding day, the growth of the marriage union can flourish on autopilot. Common sense would suggest that if you do not apply the necessary nutrients to a plant, it would gradually die. Marriage is like a plant. Attend to it and it will develop. Neglect it and it will wither away and eventually die.
Developing a fantastic friendship; spending quality time with your spouse; pleasantly surprising each other; affirming each other; listening to each other; supporting each other; eating together; sleeping together; planning together; relaxing together and praying together are some of the many nutrients that can be applied to the marriage “tree” to keep it green and glorious. Many people get annual physical check-ups; consider a marriage check-up from time to time to find out how your “vitals” are performing.
I recently commended a husband who told me that he and his wife had decided to have a marriage check-up since they were now married for just over five years. Wise man. The real life-giver of marriage is God Himself; without Him at the controls, marriage as He has designed it will fall short of its zenith.
Next time I will share on the distress that divorce can bring.
Reverend Haynesley Griffith is a marriageand family lifeconsultant. Email [email protected]