Not so happily ever after | Page 2 | Daily News

Not so happily ever after

Few decades ago, divorce was considered as a social stigma. On and off we came across few cases and the main causes were adultery and desertion. In most cases, the couples continued with their shattered marriage for the sake of their children.

However, in the recent years, the scenario has dramatically changed. The divorce has become increasingly popular and much talked about in social forums. It is seen that couples are just walking away from their marriages quoting varied reasons but most of them by mutual consent. The rising trend is experienced not only in the metropolises but also in the urban and smaller cities, including the rural areas.

In Sri Lanka a divorce is given for three reasons – adultery, malicious desertion or incurable impotency. At present there is no room for a no-fault divorce, in which the dissolution of a marriage does not require a fault of either husband or wife to be shown. However, when one party does not contest the divorce, it is similar to a divorce by mutual consent, which happens quite often in our country.

According to a newspaper report, an average of 400 divorces take place in Sri Lanka every day and 54 percent of marriages end in divorce. Elderly people like us are shocked to see these statistics.

Earlier, matrimony in Sri Lanka was a sacred institution not just between two people but between two families. Traditional marriages were held keeping in mind all conservative and social customs and duties. Historically, we were great believers of the ‘arranged marriage’ system. Though this type of arrangement is hard to acknowledge nowadays, but still, such marriages worked wonders for our parents, uncles and aunts.


Surveys have revealed that most of those splitting up are members of Sri Lanka’s urban middle class whose lives have been transformed by the country’s open economy. Their aspirations are radically different to those of their parents and grandparents.

The pressures of the modern workplace also make a big adverse impact on marriages. Personally, I have noticed during my three-decade experience in management, that today’s workers, particularly youth, are concentrating more on their careers and less on their family lives. I also noticed today’s generation lack patience and tolerance. They don't want to put more efforts into a relationship to fix their interpersonal issues, and they feel that escapism is the best solution.


Kamal, for example, was a 24-year old young man and married just for two years. When I met him, he had already made up his mind to proceed with divorce. I asked him what went wrong. His answer was prompt: “I was too young to realise that being in love and being married are two different things. Today young males like me are a very complex entity. We want our wives to be really progressive, modern, in the first place, but at the same time, we still want our wives to cook food for us. We want them to be there when we get back home. It doesn’t work.”

He admitted that often he, too, found it hard to accept that his wife also had her own progressive career.

Nirupa, also had somewhat a same issue. Shefinalised her divorce last December.She too left her husband and took the child to her custody. She says divorce is only possible for women who are financially independent or who have the support of their parents. Nirupa believes that divorce has certainly become more socially acceptable in Sri Lanka, but there are still problems.

“Personally, I don't feel scared to tell people that I am a divorced person but stigmas are still there and it comes out in very odd places,” she said. “For example,” she added, “I've been house-hunting, but found it is very difficult to get a house because people are very sceptical about giving it to a single woman with a child.”


Women now are getting educated and independent. They do not need their husbands to sustain their living anymore. So, like Nirupa, they are able to stand up to slightest mental or physical mistreat and seek divorce, if required.

According to a lawyer known to me, it is mostly the love marriages that end in divorces. She didn’t have the numbers to justify her point, but cited her experiences in dealing with such cases. She added, “Love is blind, and marriage is the eye-opener for reality. Couples rush into marriages without knowing each other well. Very often, within months of their marriage they seek separation.”


After talking with a number of lawyers specialising divorce cases, counsellors of divorcees, I have extracted some pointers as to why divorce rates are increasing (not in order of importance) in Sri Lanka.

(1) Greater societal acceptance of divorces in urban areas and also a gradual acceptance of a divorced daughter by the family. Most parents have started to believe that their daughter can have a better life by either remarrying or, in the last resort, even without a husband. The anonymity of cities, and now even rural areas, helps divorced people avoid the glare of judgmental friends and relatives.

(2) Financial freedom to walk away from an abusive relationship.

(3) The sanctity of marriage has taken a beating. People’s attitudes towards marriage itself are changing and as a result they do not work hard at it as before to be patient and solve issues.

(4) More DINK couples (double income no kids) who are not held back by the fear of how the divorce will impact children.

(5) Today’s working environment has changed drastically. Due to fully open economy, most private organisations are facing intense competition and this leads to tremendous pressure on employees. Working late, 6 days a week, without holidays can create a lot of frustration and tension. This can destroy a marriage, whether it’s just one partner working, or both.

(6) Nuclear families have meant loneliness for the non-working partner, compounded by moving away from familiar environments. This can result in estrangement.

(7) If the wife is working, gender roles change. Conflicts arising from sharing the work load at home adds to the stress faced at work. Tensions often arise if the husband imagines that the woman’s career is temporary or the wife imagines that her husband will lend a hand at home.

(8) In a transforming country like Sri Lanka, men are still not comfortable with the strong independent modern woman. They might feel that they are ready for a working partner, and they can be, but not for a high-powered career woman. It’s some sort of professional rivalry.

(9) In the last few years, incompatibility has been cited in a majority of the divorce cases. This happens particularly for younger couples who mostly complain of attitudinal problems. Such problems with attitude can arise because most men prefer being the bread-winners.

(10) Social Media - According to several research reports, social media proves to do more harm than good for married couples. A survey revealed that almost a quarter of those polled said they had at least one argument a week related to social media use, with 27 percent admitting they fought about it every day.

A marriage counsellor once told me that the foundation of a successful marriage is based on a mutually agreed labour specialization which might go haywire if both partners are in high pressure jobs and ignore the fact. All the more reason why husbands should contribute to parenting and house work and that will also give women a chance to do more ‘important’ work.

Restoring the importance of marriage to society and welfare of the children will require politicians and civic leaders to make it one of their most important tasks. It will also require a modest commitment of resources to pro-marriage programmes. Unfortunately, presently we do not have any such programme.

Refocussing resources and funds to preserve marriage by reducing divorce not only will be good for children and society but, in long run, save money. 



There is 1 Comment

One should know world should move on past will never be reflection for present the future. Everything change learn adapt prepare learn let live not be cruel help one another be patient time will mold you to your life and the surroundings


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