Marriage is when two individuals decide to share the rest of their lives and live together as a family, share the responsibilities, support each other in every possible manner emotionally, financially, physically. Marriage ceremony is performed to take the consent of the society and Law of the Land which binds the two individuals together legally. The ritual of marriage converts an emotional contract to a socially lawfully binding contract.
Divorce is an opportunity given by the Law to end the contract of marriage in case both the partners agree that they cannot live together anymore, together they cannot make a good family. To be able to lead quality life they need to separate their ways and live the rest of their lives the way they want. Its an emotional trauma to spend entire life with a person whom you donot like. It can affect an individual to such an extent that we have seen many cases where people prefer to end their lives than to live with an undesireable person.
Statistics show that divorce is more common in Europe and North America. However rest of the world is also catching up very fast. Below are the divorce statistics based on a research in 2010.
- Sweden – 54.9%
- United States – 54.8%
- Russia – 43.3%
- United Kingdom – 42.6%
- Germany – 39.4%
- Israel – 14.8%
- Singapore – 17.2%
- Japan – 1.9%
- Srilanka – 1.5%
- India – 1.1%
What happens after a divorce? Most of the cases people become so much carried away by their own desire of leading a tension and responsibility free life that they donot realise the adverse affects of a divorce on their partner, children & families. India is a male dominated society and a divorce affects a man the minimum. He is in most of the cases financially independent and given the social structure here can lead single life without much difficulty. So will not discuss about him.
In India a marriage is not only the union of two individuals but is also a union of two families. Nowhere else in the world the family system is valued so much as in India. A divorce becomes an awkward situation for both the families and mostly either it brings the relations to a dead end or converts into hatred relations. But this is the least adverse affect of a divorce. After some time both the families accept the reality and move on.
Due to poor education or social structure or economic constraints most of the women donot even dare to ask for a divorce in India. They prefer to bear the brutalities and the trauma of living with an uncompatible person than to speak their heart. With very few exceptions it is a painful process for a woman to go through a divorce. However a woman is an adult and a mature person. She knows the meaning of divorce and is aware of the after effects. It was her decision to marry the man and if the decision has gone wrong she has to bear the consequences. We all have to bear the consequences of our decisions and choices we make in life. She has the opportunity to choose another more compatible partner Or she can decide to lead a single life, whatever looks more convenient to her. She is a more mature and experienced person now after divorce.
What about when a divorce happens to couples having small children? The pain, the confusion, the agony small children experience because of a divorce cannot be explained with words. It can only be felt by those who think with their heart. It was not their decision to be born to the couple being divorced, why should they be punished for the wrong choices made by their parents. They donot understand life yet then why should they bear the trauma and confusion of a complex life situation. Our Judges ask a 7 or 10 years old kid With whom do you want to live Mother or Father? It’s a very unreasonable question. If an adult can make a wrong choice of marrying an uncompatible person then how can we expect a 7 year old to take a correct decision. A father cannot compensate for a mother and a mother cannot compensate for a father. Both are equally important and both are very much required for the overall development and happiness of a child. A husband and wife may not be able to bear each others presence but they love their children very much. Whatever good or bad human beings parents may be children always want to live with both of them together.
Child birth is a divine responsibility given to living beings by the God to spread his legacy. Family system is an opportunity to create the world the way we want it to be. So we should be very careful as to how we bring up our children. Kids are like arrows and Parents the archers. Whether the arrow hits the target or not depends upon the capabilities of the archer. Like an archer bends the arrow and applies power required so that the arrow can reach the target without getting affected or deviated by the blowing winds inbetween, the same way we should train and teach our children that they donot get carried away by negative thoughts while they are growing up. The target should be that they become good human beings. It is the responsibility of the parents to guide children at every stage of growing period. Parents should be the guides and friends to their children. Everyone else teachers, friends, relatives can affect a child only partially. Only Parents can help, guide and direct their complete overall growth. What we become in life is dependent more on how we are taken care by our parents than on our personal capabilities except if we are an exceptionally extraordinary. What would happen if an archer becomes handicapped and has only one arm? If he has no other choice he will definitely find ways to hit the arrow but can he ever be as good as he was when he had both the arms? Divorced parents are like a handicapped archer. They will find ways to bring up their children but cannot be as effective as they would have been if they had taken the responsibility of bringing up their children together.
Below are some of the shocking research results that I could find on the internet about adverse effects of divorce on children. These researches were done in America and Europe. I could not find similar research results for India.
- Children that are living with both biological parents are 20 to 35 percent physically healthier than children from broken homes. (Dawson,-Family Structure and Children's Health and Well-being -Journal of Marriage and the Family-)
- Between children of divorced parents there are relatively more cases of injury, asthma, headaches and speech defects than among children whose parents have remained married. (Dawson -Family Structure and Children's Health and Well Being- National Health Interview Survey on Child Health, Journal of Marriage and Family)
- Children of divorce are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than children from normal homes. (Velez-Cohen, - Suicidal Behavior and Ideation in a Community Sample of Children -Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 1988)
- Most molestated childs come from single-parent households or are the children of drug users. (Los Angles Times 16 September 1985 The Garbage Generation
- Seventy percent of long-term prison inmates grew up in broken homes. (Horn, Bush, -Fathers, Marriage and Welfare Reform-)
As per the moral guidelines followed by Law making and judging authorities “A culprit may go free due to lack of evidence but an innocent should never be punished”. Following this principle many times criminals escape punishment. But in case of a divorce whatever Law may decide Children have to suffer inspite of being innocent. Agreed that it is difficult to live with an unwanted person but adults should show more maturity and sacrifice for the sake of their children. Welfare of innocent children is more important than self. How can we minimize the damage of a divorce? What should be done to secure the interest of children before the interest of parents? The need is to find a midway whereby children are not affected much and the adults also get freedom from their relationship.
Divorce should be granted very easy before children are born. But it should not be allowed once children are born till they grow to the age of 18 years.
Another option can be that divroce is granted but parents should be made to stay in the same house with the status of LiveIn partners. They can have the independence they want but with the responsibility of raising their children together. They can find their new love outside but with the condition of not bringing it home to avoid any chances of neglecting the children. They should not be allowed to marry again till the children from first marriage are 18 years old. Let’s stop punishing the innocent children. Let’s change the rules.