February is universally considered as the ‘month of love’. At this time lovers (and would be lovers) express their affection in the best way they know how.
One of the most unlikely topics to be discussed is that of divorce or separation, yet, this might be in the most appropriate times (if ever there were) to talk about why one should do whatever they can to fight for love.
In exploring the effects of divorce, perhaps the embers of love may once again be rekindled in that otherwise dull and ‘loveless’ relationship. LILLIAN NAKAYIMA explores further
‘A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will be one flesh’, says the Bible. During the bridal march, the future is often noting but bright. Traditionally in Africa, time would be taken to prepare girls and boys for marriage.
“Youths were taught that divorce is never an option and that they had to tolerate and sacrifice all for their marriages, Esther Umubyeyi a councellor states. Endurance is the best but there are times when divorce is inevitable. Of late divorce has become a common practice.
“People are rather worried about how to survive after the divorce than take the decision,” remark authors Dr Phil and Libby Gill.
In their book entitled “Your family baggage” Dr Phil defines divorce as a ‘major life change that can leave a person reeling because of the challenges that they have to face on their own’.
Dissolving a marriage bond between two people is a legal procedure. The bible recommends divorce in case of marital unfaithfulness. The constitution of Rwanda commands equal sharing of property between husband and wife when they divorce.
According to Umubyeyi, divorce has physical, psychological and emotional effects. Suddenly being on your own to deal with issues such as money, children and career can be challenging.
“For seven months after my divorce, I felt like I had lost everything,” confesses Getrude Umutoni. Umutoni thought she would never make it as a divorced mother.
Overcoming separation is only for the strong hearted since it marks the beginning of a new chapter in life. A chapter where decisions can really affect one’s family especially the children.
Children whose parents are divorced suffer emotional wounds which affect their lives forever. In the journal ‘Between Two Worlds’, Elizabeth Marquardt the author emphasises how growing up in a divorced family is like growing up in a different culture. She asserts that divorce changes the structure of childhood.
Among the children affected by it, divorce has long been linked to higher rates of school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, illegal drug use, poor health, suicide attempts and depression.
“One parent being less active in a child’s life makes them lack various things hence opting for the worst,” Umubyeyi confirms.
Not only the children suffer, parents also suffer loneliness, unfair judgement and less time to interact with their children. Mind Publications, an online journal states that in 90 percent of divorce cases, women get custody of their children.
This somehow pins the men for being the reasons of the break-ups yet they may themselves be the victims. This resentment and bitterness in most cases develops as years go by. Divorce has economic impacts as well.
In Rwanda, even when property is equally shared between the couple, the partner taking responsibility of the children faces a financial crisis especially when they are unemployed, says Jacqueline Tumwebaze a law student at the National University of Rwanda and carrying out a research on ‘The Impact of Divorce in Rwanda’.
She adds that women have gone into unwanted sexual practises only to support their children after their husbands consider divorce the end of all help given to their former spouses.
Divorce may be the only option to a relationship ridden by constant fighting. However before considering it as a final option, all effort must be made to ensure that it was indeed the only option.