The high rate of divorce in Nigeria is seen as a big threat to the age-long marriage institution
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Apr. 22, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE high rate of divorce in the country has become a source of worry to some Nigerians. A three-year statistics collected by Realnews at some customary courts in Lagos, reveal that divorce is on the increase. Records at the Customary Court Ikeja, Lagos, showed that in 2010, there were 64 applications for divorce. But in 2011, there were 56 applications and in 2012, the court recorded 43 divorce applications. Of these figures, the court has so far granted 40 dissolutions, while 123 other cases were said to be on-going.
Also, at the Customary Court, Ojo, Lagos, there were 67 applications filed for divorce between January and December 2010. In 2011, there were 71 applications, and in 2012, the court received 53. The court has so far granted 62 applications, while 30 applications were withdrawn, leaving 99 cases as on-going.
In all, 354 applications were filed for dissolution of marriages in the two courts for the three years under review. Ninety-three applications succeeded, 30 were withdrawn while 231 cases are still pending in the two courts.
The high rate of divorce cuts across different strata of people in the society and even the clergy is not immuned to it. There was the recent celebrated separation of Chris Okotie, a pastor of the Household of God Ministries, from his wife, Stephanie.
Eunice Iheanacho, a marriage counsellor, attributes the major causes of divorce in the Nigerian society to the immaturity of couples involved. According to her, a lot of couples were always impatient, full of pride, lack an understanding, wisdom and ability to take corrections or correct their partners’ mistakes. “Some years back, marriage was a sacred institution and was respected and preserved. Couples, who took the sacred oath of ‘for better; for worse, till death does us apart’ before ministers of God, observed such oath and remained in marriage till death did them part. But, today, some even divorce within weeks of their weddings,” Iheanacho said.
According to the marriage counsellor, marriage institution is gradually failing because of high rate of divorce. She said the only way to sustain marriage is for the couples to tolerate each other and accept corrections when needed. “Couples need to exhibit some level of tolerance because it would elicit mutual understanding among them,” she said.
Speaking in the same vein, Austine Okechukwu, pastor of the Ambassadors of Christ Ministries, Lagos, said marriage should be based on mutual understanding and tolerance. Okechukwu said some of the factors causing divorce were infidelity, finance and intrusion by a third party. He explained that it was easier for friends to cause problems for couples than their enemies. He argued that if the couple knew their enemies, it would be easy to distance themselves from them than enemies who called themselves friends.
Okechukwu also warned against divorce, saying it is not recognised in the bible. “God expects couples to stand straight and continue the marriage till death did them apart because God does not recognise divorce in marriage,” he said. The pastor said couples going into marriage should undergo marriage courses for at least three months in the church to enable them learn about the challenges ahead.
“Oftentimes, couples go into marriage without understanding the character of the other spouse or their compatibility. Some women, in their desperation to get married, ignore marriage counselling and marriage courses. Most young women feel it is a must to get married at an early age while the older ones cannot stand the stigma of not being married. Therefore, they enter into marriage not minding what it may cost them in future,” he said.
Simon Okechukwu, a social commentator, said divorce could be avoided if couples would spend some time together. He said that the quest for material things hardly gave couples time to stay together and understand themselves better before going into marriage. He identified inability of prospective couples to determine whether they are compatible before marriage as one of the major factors responsible for the alarming rate of divorce.
Divorce itself is not without its social effects, especially on the women and children. While the woman is seen as an irresponsible person who is unable to keep her home, the children lack parental care and are therefore, prone to societal ills. Steven Alumona, a sociologist, said children of broken homes were always exposed to vices and might end up as street kids.
He noted that the couple would be affected negatively too, especially if one of them still loves the other. He said that such a situation could lead to lack of concentration at work, illness and lots of other terrible things. “Most children you find roaming the streets hawking are largely products of broken homes. The society is continuously put at risk if these children are not catered for. Eventually, they may turn out to be a nuisance to the society,” he said.
One of the ways to reduce divorce is for couples to avoid suspicion, find time to confirm any allegation by their spouse and not allow intrusions in their marriage. Some people also believe there are marriage-friendly professions which allow marriages to thrive. But Alumona has dismissed the insinuation that some professions which some women practice are prone to divorce. According to him, every married home is prone to divorce in Nigeria, considering the level of hardship people are passing through. “It is a mere insinuation. Even those who travelled to their villages to marry illiterate and semi-illiterate girls are facing divorce every day, unlike the educated ones that can agree on what they want to move their family forward. To me, marriage is all about understanding of your partner.”