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Why Do We Still Stigmatise Divorcees?

The nature of divorce is a complex one that needs to be assessed individually –– we cannot use a blanket response for all people.

16/01/2018 09:30 SAST | Updated 16/01/2018 09:30 SAST
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COMMENT

It baffles me how whatever society frowns upon dictates how some people have to live their lives.

According to a LiveScience article, marriage originated from families attempting to form alliances with each other –– which is closely related to arranged marriages today. Yet the article provides other reasons, such as keeping marriage within families, in order for family alliances to be maintained.

Marriage used to be a binding contract in law –– and it still is, but it is a contract that can be dissolved. If we analyse divorce beyond the parameters of the Bible -- as it is not only archaic, but also limiting -- but within the social context we find ourselves in, we come to understand that divorce should not be frowned upon, or viewed as an "evil" thing people do to destroy their partners.

I find that contextualising issues makes them easier for other people to understand. The reason why I find the Bible archaic and limiting is because when the Bible was written, the only valid reason for a divorce was adultery. The Bible also states that a person is allowed to remarry if their partner passes away, but only if the person they remarry "belongs to the Lord".

But time has progressed –– there are several factors that can lead to divorce. Abuse in any form, financial issues, toxicity and incompatibility. We cannot still believe in this utopian view that we can grow to love someone and be happy with them –– if you are no longer happy, why stay in the marriage?

People prefer to stay in toxic marriages for reasons that include finances, duty, children, fear or pride. But to what extent?

That's the issue –– because despite marriage being about two people becoming one, it is still important that both people remain happy and loved within the marriage. Otherwise we need to start redefining what marriage means itself. More so, we need to understand why marriage has been deemed a crucial stage in one's life.

It is important to understand that not everybody is the same, and that people's fighting energy differs.

People sometimes tend to feel shame after their divorce, when it is not necessary –– divorce is not an instantaneous decision; it is a build-up of issues that have accumulated over a period of time.

What scares me even more is that the Catholic Church refuses to give Holy Communion to people who have divorced their partners, without even interrogating the circumstances of their divorce first (not that it is their place to do so, anyway). Even more so, who gives the church the right to deny its congregants God's body and blood?

Some say people divorce because they give up too easily without fighting for their marriage. That can be true, but that cannot be the only reason people divorce each other. It is important to understand that not everybody is the same, and that people's fighting energy differs.

Some people give up more easily than others, but that is not something that society should judge them for. There is already a stigma attached to divorce –– that divorcees have "failed in life" –– yet this requires us to understand what failure means in this context.

Sometimes, people are better apart than they are together –– and sometimes people know themselves and their partner so well, that they know they are not compatible. If anything, I applaud people who get divorced, because they understand the intricacies of marriage and the beauty of not having to force a relationship. I also applaud them because of the courage it takes to get divorced, knowing how society will respond to them.

Perhaps if society did not pressure people into getting married, there would not be so many divorces. Or maybe people are better at co-parenting than they are at parenting their children in one house. This may be a reality we have to face –– sometimes it is important to challenge people's way of thinking and society's way of functioning, as it might not be functional for everyone.

Divorce does not simply exist for fun – it exists because someone needed an "out", essentially.

The civil divorce rate in South Africa increased by 20.4 percent from 2011 to 2015. More in-depth information about divorce and its causes can be found here.

But I believe that the option to divorce people was created because it was needed by someone, and we cannot ignore the value in that. Divorce does not simply exist for fun –– it exists because someone needed an "out", essentially.

We cannot ignore the fact that some people are not suited for marriage –– and that even further than that, some people do not aspire to marry someone.

The nature of divorce is a complex one that needs to be assessed individually –– we cannot use a blanket response for all people.