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God, Divorce, Poverty And Society

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I hate divorce. I'm pretty sure you share the same sentiment with me. Why am I so confident, you may want to know. It is because your Creator didn't mince word in expressing his disdain for divorce. In fact, so categorical was He in expressing this repugnance that it had to be registered in Malachi 2:16 thus: "I hate divorce, says the Lord God of Isreal..." (NIV)

If the Creator who created you in His image after His likeness hates divorce, then you cannot but hate same. Hence, it is safe for us to assume that we all hate divorce. Having established this premise, there is a nagging poser that have refused to go away. It keeps asking: if we all hate divorce, who then are those courting divorce for the flimsiest of reasons?

This question refers to those who separate their fruitful marriage because the woman insulted their landlord or because she couldn't produce the receipt confirming the payment of the child's school fees. Wait a minute, did these have the same impact on you? I bet it did. Myself couldn't resist the shock when I chanced in on headlines essentially announcing those ideas.

I consoled myself that it was just a headline; a deliberate ploy the writer is using to attract attention to the story. But, when I read the story, it dawned on me that what I earlier gathered from the theme was it. I learnt that, indeed, men are now divorcing their wives for insulting their landlord and for failing to show them receipts for payment of school fees for their children.

Coincidentally, both cases took place in Ikole, Ekiti State. But, let that not lead you into the conclusion that it's just restricted to that geographical space. It's nationwide, nay, worldwide. The frequency with which one hears of divorce cases nowadays only shows how much globalization has robbed off on us. For once upon a time, divorce was alien to our clime, but these times, it has overran us.

At some point in this 21st century, it started with the upwardly mobile folks who love to be referred to as society people. The bug also bit the elites with churches that see nothing wrong with divorce aggravating its prevalence. Their preaching didn't just encourage it, their actions did as well. Some examples will suffice: before our very eyes we saw a Lagos-based pastor, Ope Balogun who went to court seeking the divorce of his ninth wife who he described as 'a troublesome wife'.

We also know of Pastor Chris Okotie who for the umpteen time remarried after throwing away his earlier marriage rings courtesy of divorce. There was also this case of the Founder of Communion Church, Lagos, Bishop David Benecoch who sent away his wife after 20years of wedlock claiming that God instructed him to do so. As if the 'god' he is referring to is distinct from the One in Malachi 2:16. It's possible.

We can go on and on with examples of 'men of God' who have gone ahead with this thing that God hates. This explains why it was easy for the vice to penetrate into the lower rung of our society inhabited by the hoi polloi thus dispatching us to where we are at the moment: A situation where a man terribly affected by poverty opts to divorce his wife so as to be freed from extra responsibility.

Even when it isn't for the sheer inability to cater for an accessory burden that makes the poor sue for divorce, the frustrations triggered by their penury is enough to do the job. Did they not say: a hungary man is an angry man? This is very true. A bricklayer who has got no job come his way for weeks will be hungry and when hungary, he will be angry to the extent that a slight provocation from his wife is enough for him to file for divorce.

If only it follows this course... Most times it doesn't! Here is the common route: when consistently hungary, he will get to the stage of being red at even those innocuous acts of the wife. This anger will lead him into wife battery. When this becomes very frequent, the wife wouldn't wait to be told before finding her way to the nearest customary court to file for divorce. Willy-nilly, the man has achieved his aim.

This verily applies to the man (and his ilk) who divorced his wife for insulting his landlord. His is an even clearer case of poverty at work. If not for poverty, there wouldn't have been any landlord, the man would be living in his own home with no landlord to indulge by sacrificing his marriage. So you see, poverty is at the heart of making people not to regard the institution of marriage.

A cursory look at divorce incidents amongst the poor shows men as the aggressor. One would have expected it to be the other way round. For, it is characteristic of women not to regard their husband much if he doesn't live up to financial obligations. A man knows he is poor, but has a hardworking wife that bears with him, should such a man went ahead to exasperate that wife into seeking for divorce or him divorcing such wife on trivial grounds, then he is most idiotic of all men!

The painful part is that these people who court divorce think it's just about them. That is highly delusional, for what they are practising or promoting goes beyond them into affecting the larger society. The family remains the smallest unit of the society as such the society falls apart when the family cannot hold. Cast your mind to what children from such broken families experience and you would have got the crux of my thesis.

These kids must have seen their mummy and daddy exchange blows. They would have heard them trade insults and they must have empathised with their misery in addition to that which the quarrels of their parents caused on them. All these tell on their psychological make-up. It affects their world-view to the extent that they build an affected appreciation of marriage. And it will take a miracle for their own marriage not to go the way of that of their forebear.

Since families that usually experience divorce are relatively younger families whose issues would at most be in their teens, there are great chances for the build-up to the divorce and the divorce itself to affect the academic performance of their children. In other words: it upsets their learning in school. This is because the goings-on at home becomes a distraction to their assimilation of what is being taught.

Lest I forget, another fallout of disunion or persistent quarrelling among couples is that it makes their children unduly aggressive. They grow up with the instinct of bickering. This, they display even when the situation doesn't call for that. And where the situation in the slightest demands that, then would all hell be let loose. The way it is, kids from broken homes anticipates altercations and brawls. If they don't, how else would they have the opportunity to pour their vendetta for what mummy did to dad or vice versa?

And everyone gets affected. You can be the gentleman who would inadvertently attract their ire by an action which any other person wouldn't raise the hackles for. Having to work closely or remotely with such irritable and tetchy persons requires a good dose of maturity and caution, else affray wouldn't be afar. Talking of a life on the edge or a graveyard peace; No thanks to divorce.

Nonetheless, no one should be naïve to believe that those marriages crashed for the mere reasons that one insulted the landlord while the other failed to show receipts affirming payment of the child's school fees. Indeed, there must be more to that. It's just that these were the last straws that broke the camel's back.

The man whose grouse was with school fees receipt also complained of his wife not giving him peace of mind through her insubordination, lack of trust and constant threat to his life. The other man who had married his wife for five years with two kids to show said she insulted his landlord when he was trying to settle a dispute between them, and later moved out of his house because she got annoyed for being corrected.

Indeed, it takes two to tangle. We can't just exculpate the wives of any blame and apportion all on the husbands. Even, if the wives were sanctimonious, their indiscretion in going into a marriage that would go kaput makes them culpable. All those while they courted before marriage (if they did at all), they should have been on the look out for signs that indicate they are both incompatible.

These signs must have shown itself but, I guess, the lovers were carried away by 'love' or the desire to settle down. Hence they overlooked it, only to remain unsettled when they have supposedly settled down. It is high time we all behaved like our Creator by acting out our hatred for divorce. Rather than hating our spouses, let's direct our hatred towards divorce. That will do us and our society a world of good.

Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi
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Articles by Ugochukwu Ugwuanyi