27 Mar Let’s Start the Debate on DIVORCE
It has been reported that 6 out of 10 Filipinos are in favor of divorce. With this survey results, Senator Pia Cayetano, a known activist for women’s rights, sees the need for Congress to at least begin discussions on the matter.
“We consider that a discriminatory practice (against women) because many women are forced to stay in a marriage that is harmful to them, either physically or emotionally,” Cayetano expressed in a report by ABS-CBN. (Read full text here)
While the Philippines is one of the two remaining countries where divorce is not legal, and 60 percent of its population are clamoring for it, is the congress ready to initiate talks on it? Is the Philippines, a predominantly Christian nation, ready for divorce?
No bills have been passed for divorce. No talks have been initiated by anyone. While Senator Pia is waiting for the country to be ready, we would like to begin the discussion here at juan.com.ph
Let me begin this discussion with the pretense: not because I am discussing divorce does it mean that I believe in it 100 percent, that I am espousing the thought that progressive thinking men and women shouldn’t marry unless the law has been passed. NO, on the contrary, I personally believe in the sanctity of marriage, that individuals joined together in marriage are considered as one, in the eyes of men and more so in the eyes of God. HOWEVER, I also believe that though considered as “one,” these two are still two separate individuals with two separate identities.
I am also aware that marriage is not about the wedding, the gown (urgh!), the giveaways, and the ROI you get from the pakimkims of your ninongs and ninangs. It is NOT, contrary to what they show in the media. Marriage is not exactly a walk in the park. As per the advise of those who were there and are still there, it has to be worked on constantly, by the two consenting adults with God as their center. (Surprise, surprise. This is the only relationship where a threesome works.) But for purposes of clarification, let us focus on the following words: two, consenting, adults.
Two. You and your partner. Nobody else. Not your mother in law, not your sister in law, not your mother, not your father, not your BFF, not another human party. Not even your dog. Just two.
Consenting. Merriam-Webster defines it as: to give assent or approval; agree. However, consenting is more that saying YES to a proposal filled with balloons and flowers; and a shiny rock to boot. But it is more saying “I DO” to a life that is totally different from what you are used to. It is cerebral, less emotional. It is a conscious yielding, permission and accepting of what is to come, upon knowing (prior to your saying YES to the shiny rock) who is the person you are saying yes to. And we don’t mean his/her tricks on the bed. Would you say yes to an alcoholic? A drug addict? Or someone who has slapped you once because he says he was too mad? Or someone who throws things at you when she is jealous? Or someone who talks historically in a very hysterical manner? What about catching him cheating for the nth time, would you still marry him? O yung mukhang pera at walang ginawa maghapon kungdi magselfie with a bag, shoes or the food she eats? Eh kung bobo? Eh kung tanga? Eh kung may habit ng false representation?
Here is the point: alam mo ang pinapasok mo. Alam mo dapat kung ano ang mga mali sa kanya. But despite the fact that your partner is imperfect, would you still say yes to him or her? This is clearly NOT just about love. Not everything in a marriage is just about love.
Adults. With the definition we gave about the word “consenting,” clearly marriage is not for children, or those who think like children.
Moreover, I believe in the preservation of families, the preservation of the sanity of all individuals included in the family. But while I believe in the wholeness of the family, I also believe that the laws that govern families must be a strong edifice where people can run to and uphold when there is a threat to the sanity and the lives of the people involved. I believe that laws and the family code should be for the preservation of the basic unit of society for as long as there is still love, respect and trust among its members, especially the two consenting adults who started this “family” in the first place.
And not to mention, separation should never be an option.
With all the preconditions of marriage, why get married at all, when it is more convenient to just live together without papers. Convenient if you are not sure that the one you are living with is already the one you want to spend your life with. Convenient when you are living with options of getting out. So why get together in the first place?
If we go biblical sense, it has been written from the book of Genesis why men and women must get together. The element of what love is has already been defined in 1 Corinthians 13. The roles of the wife and husband were already given in Ephesians 5:22 and 1 Peter 3. If we look at it from a Godly sense, we already have the guidelines to getting married. Difficult? Very. And this is the biggest reason why you are in a threesome with God. Without Him, it is impossible.
If reading the guidelines from the bible makes you feel that it is very difficult for you to adjust to married life, then DON’T GET MARRIED. It is better to have a broken engagement than a broken marriage. It will save you a ton of headache and heartache. Yun lang wala kang kikitain sa pakimkim ng ninong at ninang ninyo.
Then why get married? There will be many answers to this question, some in the practical sense of having a signed paper as security, and others all too lovey-dovey even to discuss. But one thing is clear, and in truth the answer is quite simple. Life is better when you two are together.
But when life is no longer better, when life is more miserable when you are together, what happens then?
There are many reasons to the breakdown of marriages: immaturity, irreconcilable differences, infidelity, homosexuality. But my question is this, didn’t you even spot any manifestations of any of these behaviors when you were just “in a relationship?” If you did, why marry in the beginning? Kasi nabuntis ka? Kasi hilong-hilo ka sa pagiging inlababo? Kasi tanga ka? Truth be told it is easy to get married. It is staying married that poses as a challenge. It is the same old story. Guy declares love. Girl falls in love. Girl gets pregnant. They tie the knot. Walang choice kasi buntis na. Meron. Takot ka lang.
There will be people whom for many years have struggled, tried and made their marriage work. It wasn’t easy, but they’ve managed to make it work somehow. But there are still others, whom on first glance I have already known to be “not meant to be married,” or those who got into the commitment for all the wrong reasons in the world.
Reality is, shit happens. People inside the marriage should know how to deal with it. Mature nga diba?
Divorce — MY TAKE
I once read on Panjee Tapales tweet from 5 years ago: “When divorce becomes an option in the Philippines, more people can finally live lives of integrity.”
Integrity is defined as “what you do when only God is watching you.”
Taboo as it may seem to the Filipino society to talk about what is wrong within one’s marriage, fact is there is something wrong. We are too shamed to talk about it and even admit it. Some live in the fantasy that nothing is wrong, and it will eventually go away. But a wrong is still a wrong, no matter how much we cover it with roses, no matter how much with look at it with pink colored glasses.
Looking at the good things in a marriage is very good. Focusing on the bad things is BAD. BUT, not looking at the problem and threshing it out will not fix it. And no matter how much we pray about it, sometimes you just have to take that one tiny step of facing reality before it hits you right across the face.
We tend to cast a shadow on it. We tend to cover it up with happy couple selfies, posed family pictures, cold embraces. We begin to escape and just see what is otherwise pleasant to the eyes, rather than zeroing in on the problem, thus fixing it, or at least try. Then one thing leads to another. The problem escalates and blows out of proportion. Along with it go love, trust and respect. Life then doesn’t get any better when you are together, it becomes more and more miserable. You forget the very reason why you got married in the first place.
In the advent of a marital problem, I believe in pure honesty of the spouses. Pag nahuli ka na, umamin ka na! Kung nagkamali ka, sabihin mo na agad. And learn to say sorry and actually mean it. (May problema si PNoy dito! Pia W. red sirens for you!) One must admit his/her faults, and both parties must agree to work it out. But in the onslaught of a complete marital breakdown, what does one have to do?
My Personal View
Ginawa mo na ang lahat. Nagdasal ka, pinagdasal mo, iniyakan mo at halos maglumuhod ka umayos lang ang asawa mo, kulang na lang ipapako mo ang sarili mo sa krus tuwing Biyernes Santo. Pano kung tinututukan ka na ng baril? Naga-adik sa harapan mo? Nahuli mo sa kama ng lalaki ang kasama for the 5th time? Magpapaka-tanga ka pa rin ba dahil sa relihiyon mo?
With careful consideration, not just of myself but with the minority of others who were or are still stuck in unacceptable circumstances, I believe that separation becomes an option, BUT not necessarily an inevitable for warring couples. Divorce, should it be passed to law, would be the last course of action for couples who can not and evidently found by the courts, should not work on the marriage anymore. I guess if lives were on the line, if the safety of the children and the innocent would be in question, then there is no other recourse but to separate.
While others may not agree with my view on this matter (oh yes, there will be hypocrites who would want people to stay in a marriage even if it hurts them both emotionally and physically kasi nakakahiya sa kapitbahay) I would like to view it from a practical perspective. But while we debate on passing the divorce law in the Philippines, can we also debate on how to educate the young in sexual relations and marriage? Eh RH Bill nga pahirap na, yun pang educate the young about sex?
While we were taught since we were little that once we enter into marriage, this is forever, or as the vows said, “till death do us part,” how come there are still a vast number of people clamoring for divorce in the Philippines? How come many are still entering marriage with the wrong reasons (buntis ka at nakakahiya talaga sa kapitbahay)? Does it make you an honest woman/man if you marry just because you are pregnant? Why are there still a lot of people entering marriage just for the convenience of it? Yung pinakasalan mo kahit hindi mo mahal kasi kaya kang pakainin nito, kahit pa isang kembot na lang eh patay na ang pinakasalan mo sa sobrang tanda. And you thought that it would work out just fine? Nangangarap ka! And if we all truly know what we are getting into when we get married, why are there still numerous cases of infidelity? Not to mention the unspoken takes of battered wives, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and marital rape? Kasi nga immature tayo. Period.
The divorce law could be a sign of hope for people in oppressive marriages. It could make them realize that it is not too late to turn a new leaf, that they have a life to live outside the abuse. Most of the oppressed do not leave an abusive marriage for fear that they have nowhere to go and no money to get them started. But, if this passes into law, these people would know that they can and that life isn’t about suffering, that the world is kinder, and to stretch it some more, that their personal plights are heard, and that it is okay to admit your mistakes, exhaust all efforts to no avail. That trying is not a sign of failure, but trying can be a means to freedom to a life without fear, a life without abuse, a life that was meant to be lived.
Some people and the church are too afraid to face reality. They are afraid to tackle the problem head on. And that becomes a bigger problem when we only see (or made to see) all the positivity in the world. We become numb to all the negatives and we try to stick it out because of our positive outlook, even if it is killing you: physically, emotionally even spiritually. Panay pasa at latay na ang katawan mo sa bugbog, positivity pa rin? And as bigots would put it there is an issue of “morality,” that we are becoming too “liberated” or “of this world” as the bible describes it.
Here is my stand as a quote a tweet exchange in 2012 by Panjee Tapales and Aurora Pijuan: “People becoming liberated is a moral issue. Divorce or no divorce will not make it worse or better. People are doing what they want anyway, but within the confines of marriage. That’s worse than liberated.”
Pero sandali lang. The talk about divorce pulls in the talk about alimony. In the Philippines where more and more women earn more than men (and more and more women are oppressed because of their ability to earn and have careers because some men are just plain insecure), how do we set the alimony? In the case where separation of assets are in question (be it man or woman), is it fair to say that the other gets half of the conjugal properties when that certain half didn’t contribute to it? Unless scars and bruises are considered a contribution to the marriage. Ano, teka, paano? Ikaw na inagrabyado, ikaw na ginulpi, makikihati pa ang hinayupak na asawang gusto mo ng tadyakan palabas ng pinto ng bahay na ikaw naman talaga ang bumili? How then do we settle the issues on alimony?
Let me be bold with my concluding statement: “Marriage is not for children nor is it for people who think and act like children. Marriage is not an escape from poverty. Marriage shouldn’t be used to elevate one’s standing in the society. Marriage isn’t a safety net. Marriage isn’t forced. Marriage isn’t for the proud. Marriage isn’t the answer to unhappiness, it is a result of being happy and content. Getting married shouldn’t be easy, it involves a lot of thinking. Marriage is sacred. We have to understand that we can’t be too careful in choosing who our spouse would be. Walang masamang gumawa ng checklist. Walang masamang magkaroon ng mataas na standards. At lalong walang masamang maging C-H-O-O-S-Y, kahit 39 years old ka na!
My point boils down to an old adage that said: hindi parang kaning isusubo. Iluluwa mo pag napaso ka.” Pero kung ikakaputol na ng dila mo, hala sige, isuka mo na!
Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering. Which one would you choose?