Before death do us part! | Daily News

Before death do us part!


When there are 400 divorces a day it must be declared as an extremely alarming social issue facing Sri Lanka at present. Especially in Asian countries such as Sri Lanka where marriage is considered as a lifelong commitment, the rising divorce rate makes one question how this unusual turn of events came about. A recent survey carried out by the health authorities has revealed that 54 percent of marriages in Sri Lanka end in divorce.

According to Anusha Gokula Fernando, Director, Social Services, Western Provincial Council, most of the divorces occur within a year of marriage and there are about 3,890 mothers who were under 18 years of age among them. It seems the situation is pretty bad.

In the past, entering wedded life was considered as a great responsibility and a firm commitment and also a lifelong pledge. Respect for each other was one of the important highlights embedded in their relationship. They knew beforehand that wedded life was not a bed of roses and lived accordingly mixing happiness and sadness with compromise and sacrifice.

Is it the same at present?

Has it changed into a situation similar to what author Jarod Kintz describes as "A love story in six words. Hello, Good Bye, in between marriage"?

Dreams of happiness forever

A long wedded life mixed with happiness, loss, defeat, anger, joy, tension etc. is very rare to find. A young couple either after an intense and long love affair or a marriage proposal enters wedded life with much expectations and dreams of happiness forever. After the honeymoon, when complicated problems such as economic woes, misunderstandings and outside interferences occur they get disillusioned and slowly but silently endure the unfulfillment and uncertainty of their dreams.

Famous author and playwright Robert Anderson says: "In every marriage more than a week old there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage". Only thing the present day young married couples do not even try is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage".

Hence 400 divorces per day in Sri Lanka!

Why does a marriage fail? Why do two people who were so much in love and affection turn against each other in such a short time?

Responsibilities and sacrifices

Before entering the world of wedded bliss do they have any idea or notion about the developments that would occur after their wedding day? Do they understand what marriage really means and the responsibilities and sacrifices they have to bear? If they had found answers to all these questions I am sure they would never get married or they would never ever think of divorces.

In the past divorce was a cause for embarrassment and humiliation but at present it is a common occurrence and may even be called a trendsetter. As it is, the age old wedding vow of "for better, for worse, for richer and for poorer" may have to be changed by adding "for divorce sans complications".

Anyhow when the divorce rate is increasing and leading our society to a calamitous situation, the authorities-religious as well as laymen, should be concerned and try to find how this happened and what steps should be taken to arrest this phenomenon.

Some of the main reasons for the breakup of marriages especially among the poor people are lack of education, financial constrains and not properly understanding the real situation. Meanwhile the rich have other reasons such as false expectations, extramarital connections etc. to seek divorce.

In every situation, where a break up of a family has occurred due to whatever reasons, the real victims are the innocent children, if any. Husbands and wives can find their own ways and means to live, but what is the fate of the kids when one of most loved personalities in their lives is lost due to the break up and divorce? It clearly affects their emotional life as well as the sense of security resulting in the making of an individual full of anger and revenge and ending up as a defeatist and unhappy individual.

Due to the concern for the future of their progeny many Sri Lankan couples bear up their marital problems and lead unemotional and loveless lives. In countries like Sri Lanka and India where people are influenced and dominated by cultural taboos and social restrictions couples continue to live as strangers under one roof. In most of these situations they tend to seek love, security and solace outside marriage.

Romantic novels and movies

Most of present day young couples, who are afflicted and attracted by the pseudo aura of the opposite party, fall in love head over heels resulting in a slap bang wedding. Most of them live in a dream world which has been generated by romantic novels and movies. It is only after living together for a short time that they really understand the realities of marriage life.

Another aspect existing in today's fast-moving and complicated society is that both the husband and the wife are pressurized to do a job in order to live a comfortable life. The role of the mother, home-maker is no longer linked to the life of the wife. Like the husband she too has to get up early morning, prepare breakfast, lunch for both of them and for the children and rush to work.

In their work places they have to spend the rest of the day with outsiders with all sorts of notions, behaviour and the occurrence of special incidents that might affect the already disillusioned state of mind which is connected to their relationships at home.

Hence due to all these developments marriage is no longer considered a life-long commitment by many couples. The idea that is slowly developing regarding divorce-if both parties agree it is the easiest thing in the world-has enhanced the feeling of leaving the spouse as a very common and simple operation.

In a society governed by financial constraints the values we have been following are fast disappearing and this affects the relationships too. The father may leave the mother for another woman and the mother too may do the same. Respect towards elders is vanishing and aged parents are being locked in elders' homes or even in kennels. Society has gone topsy turvy due to the prominence given to money which is all that matters to many people.

In such situations as seen at present in the Sri Lankan social fabric, can you expect a marriage to survive a life time? Silver, Gold and Platinum wedding anniversaries are very very rare these days and are indeed very newsworthy events.

Realities of life

Historians reveal that homosexuality was one of the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. Similarly divorce may become one of the reasons for the decimation of our culture, heritage and all other valuable elements that had become the basis of our nation. In other words the "trend" of divorcing can be called a social tragedy as the number of divorce cases has outnumbered marriages during the past ten years.

One of the solutions that can be suggested to reverse this trend, is for the elders of the budding couple to advice and instruct them about the realities of life after one or two years after the grand wedding they will be having soon.

They should be told about how they must react to each others' moods and behavioural patterns, how to compromise and sacrifice whether one likes it or not. These are some of the vital aspects that the couple should be made to understand that will help them to lead a happy and secure married life.

As American author Mark Gungor says: "Marriage problems are relationship problems, they are the result of how two people interact with each other. You may abandon a troubled marriage, but you will still bring the way you interact with others along with you". 


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