At the Senate hearing this week on three divorce bills, many of the old arguments for and against divorce surfaced.
Those against the law say divorce is evil because it destroys the sanctity of marriage and jeopardizes the psychological well-being of the children.
In this day and age, there remains a certain stigma on so-called broken families, thus the pressure on families to remain intact—even only to keep appearances.
The premium on appearances has caused many couples to stay together for optics’ sake, despite the unhappiness, dissatisfaction and the existence of other partners or families. The hypocritical situation then trumps the so-called evil that staying together supposedly avoids, and is equally if not more damaging to children who must live in these conditions.
While there is an option for legal separation and declaration of nullity, these require a psychological basis for the marital breakdown, some of which are trumped up or exaggerated just to build a strong case. With the prohibitive cost, these legal options are also anti-poor.
That marriage is a sacred unit of society is not disputed. It is indeed heartbreaking to see that such sanctity is violated, not by the availability of divorce as an option, but by dishonesty, lack of respect, apathy, abuse.
In the case of abusive marriages, those who want out of the relationship are deemed selfish for refusing to make sacrifices to keep their family whole. They are blamed for “destroying” the family when it is the abusive partner’s behavior that made a sham of the union in the first place.
Sometimes, too, relationships that begin idyllically simply run their course because the parties have simply grown apart. Must they stay for the sake of staying even when the union has become joyless and uninspiring, and when they each find happiness with someone else?
Opposition to the law is premised on at least two erroneous notions: That people actually like terminating relationships, and that they will rush to avail themselves of this option once it becomes available. Foremost, divorce is and should always be a last resort. It is difficult to imagine brides and grooms contemplating their estrangement at the outset.
Finally, a divorce law will not force anybody to actually get divorced. If some people are genuinely happily married, good for them. May their happiness know no bounds. If some are content with maintaining double lives, appearing whole, and if they feel the inconveniences of the separation would far outweigh the relief and happiness that freedom would bring, nobody forces them to use it.
They should not, however, deny those who want to be true to themselves the opportunity to be free from an oppressive arrangement, and to open themselves to the possibility of discovering that marriage could be actually blissful.
There is a reason that all other countries except the Vatican already provide this option to their citizens. It is not difficult to see why—if we just keep an open mind.