by MS Saeed
All over the globe, including in South Africa, the divorce rate among couples of all religious beliefs, creeds, social classes, racial and ethnic groups is increasing daily.
Not long ago the word “divorce” was only in the dictionary or off- limits in many families and cultures. Couples even prolonged their suffering marriages and lived together to avoid divorce and “embarrassment” to the family.
This is not the situation any longer. Our communities have evolved and have changed their understandings of divorce. Divorce is a realism that shakes the foundation of not only a family but the community and society as a whole. It is now a stark and bitter reality eating away at many families and homes.
Speaking to different individuals who deal with divorce or are going through a divorce believe it needs dialogue and exposure in order to reduce the hurt, gossip, stigma and pain attached to it.
Although divorce should be avoided as far as possible, it is not a sin, shame or a crime. It should be the last resort or option when all other avenues to save a marriage, fail.
If they, the couple, have challenges in their marriage they should try to work out their grievances in an agreeable way. Or they should seek help from their qualified and trained religious leaders or scholars, relatives or professional counsellors.
If the grievances are irreconcilable and every reconciliation mechanism fails to keep it a happy and spiritual union, then divorce may be a more rational route. There is no need to remain saddled for life in a totally dysfunctional relationship.
If the couple feels that continuing the marriage will lead to more abuse, resentment and the rift between the husband and wife will deepen, then make the divorce respectful, dignified and amicable. Respect each other’s feelings and space, and refrain from any negative comments, vindictiveness and animosity.
It is unfortunate that most divorces that take place are usually very messy financially, socially and emotionally.
Divorce is an extremely stressful life experience for all those who are involved and unfortunately, society at large does not make it any easier for the divorcing couple.
They tend to perpetuate the couple’s misery by encouraging gossip and mudslinging. If the community and extended family provide comfort and support rather than add fuel to the fire, it will make the whole process of divorce more tenable and life for the divorced couple may go on with minimal hurt and scarring.
Someone once said and I quote: “Separate with kindness are the three little words all people going through a divorce should keep in mind.”