Why defending divorce is tough for presidential candidates
Divorce is one tough issue that presidential candidates have to address during debates. It could have been easier because we’ve always told our children that it’s not good to remain in a relationship when there is no honesty about love and respect. It may not, however, be that easy to defend because Filipino culture puts the family above all else, regardless of whether marital union means living every second of your life in torment in an abusive relationship.
But being in a violent relationship isn’t the only reason why a couple would want to divorce. People part ways to become better, and a relationship that does not support a well-nurtured life is a deterrent to that. Some divorced couples remain friends and find themselves happier outside marriage.
We live as individuals. We cherish our individuality, our uniqueness. People should not be compelled to surrender their individuality in a relationship like marriage, because we are also social beings who interact with one another, be it our spouse, family, community, or society.
While people are pronounced one in marriage, they remain their own persons. Marriage is not a merger where differences cease to exist. Rather, it is a journey of two individuals where they can fully and honestly be themselves. Just like any relationship, marriage is neither “ownership” nor competition. Husband and wife do not own the other, and neither one is superior over the other. It must be a relationship based on an understanding of mutuality and equality.
Throughout history, marriage has existed under different sociological, anthropological, economic, and political contexts. The way we define marriage now may be different from the way people, communities, and societies hundreds or thousands of years ago understand it. Today’s marriage is part of a developmental journey of peoples and societies. Just as it is with divorce.
The fundamentals however remain. We were put together as a community in harmony with nature and each other, with the possibility of growing, nurturing, and celebrating life and grace.
The narrative of Creation illustrates a relationship founded on God’s love and interdependence, of helping one another: “This, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23). Every human being is connected to the other. We are of one flesh, one bone, one heart, one God. What separates us from each other is oppression, exploitation, and domination.
In any relationship, love, justice, and respect are necessary components. We advise our children and youth that once these values waiver, abandonment and fractures in relationships result. Violence against women, which is more common in patriarchal societies, is never justifiable. A healthy relationship—in fact, any good relationship—must be based on love and mutuality.
Religion has always quoted the imperatives of love in our life: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
We are commanded to love one another. And we all deserve relationships where we feel we are respected and truly loved. Sacrifice is unnecessary if that means tolerating violence in a marital relationship. When one walks through the shadow of death as experienced in domestic violence, we should be offering a hand of rescue and liberation. We should work to uproot any remaining cultural fetter that maintains that feelings of debasement and humiliation in a relationship are acceptable. These are not characteristics of a good relationship. Humanity must divorce itself from abuse, exploitation, and oppression.
NORMA P. DOLLAGA, [email protected]
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.