You might need to sit down for this. I know you have your wardrobe full of Aso ebi that you have bought from friends and people in your circle of friends. You have attended weddings every weekend, starting from Thursdays, with the Engagement ceremony. Through these weddings you have attended, you know all the exciting event halls about town.
But do you know that half of those weddings you are went to are headed for divorce? Do you know that although there are more applications for marriage licenses, the viciousness of a divorce proceeding in the law courts can put a sour taste in your mouth for a whole week? The situation is that bad. We see the evidence around but slowly, it is becoming normal.
Divorce cuts across every strata of the society, from the couples with traditional marriages that end up at the customary courts or those married under the marriage Act of Nigeria, who go to the High Court to start their divorce processes.To truly understand the impact of divorce, you need to see couples who had once sworn to love each other, turn on themselves as they squabble over who gets what in the marriage and who gets custody of the children.
So what is the real deal about divorce, why does it seem as if it is the word on every married couple’s mind when issues come up in their relationship? I’m not going to lie and say, I have never thought about it or even said the dreaded “D” word. I have and I do not guarantee that I will not think about it again but I will not let it escape my lips again; knowing the issues that divorce leaves in its trail. So before you take that drastic step, please read below:
The shame factor
We are a people who pride ourselves on marriage and staying married, that when one member of our family goes through divorce, it feels as though they have failed us. We think they have let the family name down and such. This shame is not just felt by the person; it is felt by the family, especially, the lady’s family, because they instinctively think, “who will take this used cargo off our hands.” Sorry, that came off sounding harsh and the lady, a burden but that is the truth; she had become a burden by divorcing her husband, ‘who has been the one covering her with his glory; his name,’ said a mom whose daughter is going through divorce.
I have witnessed a woman, who was being abused by her husband asked to stay put instead of seeking for divorce, when counseling did not work again. She eventually sought divorce. After two years in court, she won custody of the kids. To her family, it was as though what she had gone through did not matter, as long as she did not come out of it with her marriage intact. Not until she re-married some four years later, did her family let up on their moaning.
That woman was someone close to me and till date, my mother uses her example for me. She says “whatever happens in your matrimonial home, manage it and stay there. I don’t want to hear anything else.” Sometimes, I felt like pulling my hair out while explaining that women have died in the hands of their abusive husbands and such other arguments but it usually fell on deaf ears. The ultimatum is, “just don’t come back here.” It is all about the shame that divorce brings.
Divorce is not cheap
Not at all. It comes with a lot of financial implications on both parties. While together they would have been managing to pull the family together with whatever resources was available but all of a sudden that would no longer be the case. Everyone would row their own paddles the way they want to. Even when the court awards monthly stipends to the partner who has custody of the children, it will never be enough to care of the needs of the children and more important, there would be no compulsion. When the partner has, that is when he will bring it, while the partner with the children would be struggling to feed, clothe and educate the kids.
Haven’t you ever wondered about the 10,000 or 3000 Naira children allowance awarded by some courts for the upkeep of children whose expenses are way more than that? But if the other partner says that is all they can afford, the court will likely not award more than he/she (it is mostly a he) can conveniently pay, which is even more important to ensure regularity. Truthfully, it is hilarious the amounts fixed in some cases.
Go to a family court at any the high court close to you and you begin to hear parents argue over where a child should go to school, Nigeria or abroad. Elderly couples sweating it out over properties, even to the extent of involving their grown-up children, as I once saw a grown up son of couple going through divorce in court in the court to testify on a matter in the case. The judge had asked for him to come. He was there between his father and his mother and he was trying to find a middle ground, which never happened. The lawyers had to do their job.
It all happens in the law courts; who bought which car and for what purpose was it bought? For school runs, not for the pleasure of madam who had started gallivanting around town in the said car, forget not that she buys the fuel. It is a different drama in there.
Also, now, you have to make decisions by yourself
Unlike before when you were married, you had someone as your sound board, you could bounce ideas off them but now, you have to do it all on your own. The idea comes, you give it flesh and make it work, there is no longer that extra pair of hand, you can call on to help or just hold on to. Nothing. You suddenly have to become older and wiser than you really want to but it’s your reality, you have to face now.
One more thing, divorce does not really empower a woman; it makes her life worse off, as she now has to contend with issues that two people had been contending with. So empowerment as some school of thoughts had said has nothing to do with it.
It is not all about the not so nice side, there is also the big bonus of freedom, of being able to determine the course of your life, without anyone looking over your shoulder. There is no one to account to. You fail or succeed, you report to yourself. There is no one to tell you, you failed because you were not good enough or any other crap that you might have been feeding on.
And truthfully, you need not be ashamed of being divorced; there are enough people who are feeling the shame on your behalf. And if yours had been a sham of a marriage, then you need a pat on the back for having won a major battle, not for you to be cowering in shame.
The ball is back your court; would you still go ahead with divorce?
Kristine is a straight-talking woman. She has had a three-year stint as an agony aunt with a national daily, dealing with varied relationship issues. She is married with kids and ultimately believes that fear and pride are the Achilles heels of relationships.