WHY CAN'T WE LET BROKEN MARRIAGES REST IN PEACE?
Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss and ends with a teardrop. Well, that saying best describes the spate of divorce in recent times. It is no longer new that marriage is proving to be a delicate union as more couples file for divorce.
It is usually a mud-slinging situation that leaves both parties bitter and confused.
What about the children? They are left with no choice than to carry around the scars of their parents' divorce for life. But what happens in a typical African setting when there is a separation or divorce?
After the usual accusation and counter accusations, family and friends tend to be judgmental and take sides.
However, after a while they all realize the broken hearts need to mend and these soul mates have to come together for the sake of the kids.
In some cases, despite the huge differences the once lovey-dovey couples yield to these pressures from both sides and then they decide to come together again. Most times the relationship is already strained and they just live as roommates.
To everyone they have come together, but technically they are struggling hard to keep their heads above water. After a while they separate again, but it is like a never ending cycle of making up and separating.
So, if couples are no longer compatible, why is the society too rigid to let sleeping dogs lie? Or shouldn't the society just let broken marriages rest in peace?
Reflecting on this, Bimpe Dawodu, a banker said that 'one of the reasons this happens is because of the children. Most parents especially care so much about their kids so they keep coming back together because they want to make sure they care for their kids and they do not suffer in any way. You see, when you see kids from broken homes that have behavioural problems you will understand what sacrifice they have to make to patch up things.'
In the same vein, Toyin Akingbesote also believes that most couples would never let their broken marriage rest in peace because of the children and also sometimes, they genuinely realize their mistakes.
'Only a reasonable number of divorced couples know the importance of marriage as partnership and would definitely want to come together again or reunite. When some nagging ladies or wives misbehave and get their fingers burnt, they turn out to be more sober, but the whole thing boils down to maturity, self-control and having real and genuine love. In most cases today, especially in the United States, many divorced couples have been restituted and brought together again after several years; this was possible because, perhaps, either of the partners or both have realized where they erred.
In some homes, the main reason when the children are left with the father and the mother goes away, especially when such children are too young to be taken away from under their mother, they tend to fall sick often and some die as a result of this, making the matter worse. This is why many cannot leave their children alone to suffer under a harsh step-mother or mother-in-law. Another point is that children are the great links that binds marriages in all homes. The Bible says, 'where one's treasure is, the heart is. Many broken marriages do this for the love of their children,' Akingbesote said.
However, Elizabeth Asa, opines that 'the flame of love can be ignited again when both parties recall the beautiful moments and passion they once shared.' Many couples that have divorced cannot allow their broken marriages rest in peace, because after a long period of time, they still remember the good times they had together. Generally, it's very difficult to forget your first love. Moreover, in the African setting, it's a great stigma for a woman to live without a man when she is at a marriageable age and if you are divorced, people tend to read meanings into this, thereby stigmatizing women.
Interestingly, Funmi Joseph believes strongly that love conquers all despite the odds. According to her, separated or divorced couples would definitely not allow their marriages rest in peace, because blood, as it is said, is thicker than water.
'Love is stronger than anything in life. No matter the misunderstanding, as long as there is mutual intimacy, it would be difficult to forget the experience. After all, the Bible says 'your love and feelings shall always be directed on your spouse.'
Another point is that no woman would want her children to suffer in the hands of strange people or wicked ones, so, the best thing is to get back home and take up their responsibility. Besides, as a Christian, the word of God will always remain my standard. The Bible says, 'what God has joined together, let no man, no divorce put asunder' and again the marriage oath says 'till death do us part and not divorce,' Joseph says.
On her part, Shade Phillips (not real name), an event planner, holds a contrary view. She shares an experience of a close friend: 'I used to think that you should always let your marriage work no matter what happens until I almost lost a friend of mine. Shortly after my friend got married to her high school sweetheart, he became a monster and started abusing her physically and emotionally. The Dave we knew was completely different from the one Abike married. Initially, she didn't want to tell anyone and she endured the regular beating.
However, one particular weekend she got a black eye from the husband.
She took her four-year-old daughter to spend the weekend with her mother. The mother asked what happened and she said she had conjunctivitis, although the old woman wasn't convinced, she kept quiet. After she left, grandma and her grandchild were watching wrestling when the little girl called out to her grandma that her dad usually beat her mother the same way the wrestlers were doing to each other. She even said before they left home that morning that her dad punched mummy on her face.
After a while Abike moved out, but Dave kept pleading and his family members also begged and so she came back home. Barely six-month after, the punches began again and one particular evening she ended up at the hospital. She was unconscious for several days. Abike was lucky that she got her life back. So, now I believe that if a marriage is not working, then both parties should just move on and let sleeping dogs lie.'
On this score, Wale Makanjuola agrees with Phillips, adding: 'The African society frowns at divorce, but there are situations of forced marriages, incompatibility among couples and people growing out of love. Does that mean they cannot seek an exit out of the marriage? I believe they can do this as obtains in the Western world. But we all frown at these because separation is not in the African culture, they say, and occasionally force some of these disgruntled couples to come back into a lifetime of misery and anguish.
Incidentally, not all broken marriages are fractured because of infidelity. Rather, over the years a wide gulf gradually develops between the spouses, thus generating certain tendencies which obviously could not be repaired even by their respective families and friends.
Given the growing economic power of women, which is increasingly giving them a higher degree of financial independence, many young people these day believe that a woman does not have to agonize in a marriage that has practically broken down.
Although, Wale strongly believes that love is the most important factor, he still feels that if there are irreconcilable differences between the spouses they should both take a walk.
His words: 'My take is that love is still the most important factor in every marriage. If that is absent, then such marriage has lost its soul.
The partners who have genuinely identified reasons not to stay together should be left to share their pains and joy of leaving what they consider an unholy alliance. Parents, friends and counsellors should learn when to let sleeping dogs lie. Couples who were either forced or voluntarily went into union should also know when to exit voluntarily.'