Friday, April 07, 2006

Till divorce do us part

Marriage is a life time commitment.

Is this true?

This was true for the old generation. Even there weren’t any love and care binding the couple together, they would not divorce. They would still live under one roof. The commitment between them formed the family believe. The family cell. Parents’ interests subsumed under their children. They honoured the commitment. They fulfilled the commitment. Till death do they part.

Somewhat the thinking changes over time. “Don’t stay together just for the sake of the children”, “if divorce is better for you, it will be better for your kids”, “why stay in a dead marriage”, “if you no longer love your spouse, get out”! Individual happiness becomes the new standard by which a marriage is judged. Individual happiness precedes the children’s needs.

Children need security, safety, dependable and durable family ties. Divorce destroys them. Divorce has long standing impact on children. It is about cause and effect. Researches show that:

-Good parents + failed marriage = children with little confidence in the institution of marriage
-Good parents + low conflict marriage = traumatic effect on children
- The worst symptoms appear in adulthood, with less ability to trust an idea of what a lasting marriage looks like
- Bad marriage + bad divorce = children have confidence in the institution of marriage. This is the only positive outcome. The children think that they could do better and would not repeat the same mistake of their parents.

Globalisation is taking shape. Many breadwinners have to go overseas to make a living for their families. With the breadwinners separate from their spouse and children, it created a new challenge. This is not a divorce, but with non-residential parent, the effect would be similar. The children will still be impacted most.

For boys, they tend to develop overt physical aggression. For girls, they internalise the aggression. But with the absence of warm and positive family relationship, girls tend to affiliate with opposite sex. This partially explains why teenager pregnancy and abortion rates are on the climb.

Would infant and toddlers be affected by a “single parent” family? The answer is “yes”. They are more fretful, crying, clinging. For pre-schoolers, they may feel abandoned, fearful, withdrawn. For pre-teen, social withdrawal, anger and helplessness. For teenagers, shock, anger, sadness, anxiety, disappointment, question concept of marriage, become moralistic or involved in high risk behaviours.

You see how a person is shaped? The experiences in earlier years will shape a person’s future. The dynamic of this is subconscious without the person noticing it.

Divorce process is quite simple in today’s society. Hence the commitment of life time relationship also becomes vulnerable. But before thinking of divorce, think twice. You take a long time on courtship before vowing a marriage (this is the luxurious that the old generation did not have). All of sudden, your spouse becomes ugly, useless and worthless? How could it be?

Think of your children and the agony that they have to go through. They do not have a choice to choose you to be their parents. You created them. Do you want to destroy them as well?

When your children telling you “I am not your messenger”, “don’t ask me take sides. It’s not fair”, “I need both of you”….. Think again. Till divorce do us part? Have you thought through the impacts of divorce on the family?