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Marry me, divorce me

Rhona Canoy .

SO… New Congress, new Senate. The divorce discussion has been reactivated still once more. I must say, I appreciate the persistence. On the other hand, I’m confused by the opposition. Is the fear of religious domination over our political playing field still a perceived reality?

How many times must we get into this ring? As of now, only two–count them, TWO–independent states do NOT recognize divorce. Of course, we are in that elite micro group. Still. But the funniest thing is which the other one is. Vatican City. Well, duhhh. The seat and heart of Roman Catholicism in all the world. So why they don’t recognize divorce isn’t difficult for even the most dim wit to understand. Within its boundary which encompasses 44 hectares, the mention of legalizing divorce is moot and academic. But in all of Italy and Europe and the rest of the world, which engulfs the Vatican, divorce is real, and merrily accepted.

Let’s talk about marriage. For, after all, that must first happen before divorce can even be discussed. In my old age, I’ve come to realize that marriage is a state of mind, not a state of legality. The connection which is felt by two people (let’s not get into the gender issue at this time), and the commitment to the relationship is as real as can be, regardless of the legality of it.

I’ve often wondered… If a couple could get away with celebrating a marriage ceremony without the presence of a marriage contract (which is only legal if duly recognized by the Civil Registry and the Philippine Statistics Office), would it have less meaning? Not including the discussion of conjugal property rights and other material issues.

Everything has a loophole. Children born out of wedlock are no longer classified as illegitimate. So are these magical beings then entitled to carry the paternal last name, if pater chooses to sign the birth certificate, thus giving them public recognition? If a couple chooses to acquire property together, without the benefit of wedlock, isn’t that property then belonging to both of them? In a way, conjugal? The same question applies to a joint business venture, joint ownership of a vehicle, or joint bank accounts. And if a will were to be drawn up specifying the distribution of assets, wouldn’t that then circumvent the legal issue of inheritance? Actually, more paperwork but certainly getting around the headaches of documentation, which also accompanies marital connections, which must stand up in court.

The question must be asked–why all the fireworks surrounding the issue of divorce? Believe me, any reason which will be used to file for divorce (assuming the best case scenario that the bill becomes law) has nothing or little to do with legal conflicts. At the top of my list would be serial or recidivist infidelity and, by association, polygamy (which is not illegal under Muslim law). A close second will always be abuse in any form. But that should be criminal as well.

The sad thing is that those who are victims of abuse may leave bed and board, but will stay within the legal confines of the marriage because all material negotiations would be to her (yes, majority of abuse victims are female spouses) disadvantage. And psychologically, many women who are victims of abuse are not independent-minded enough to break free of bondage.

So what, really, is so evil about divorce? I don’t think that there would be a deluge of divorce cases which would clog up our judicial system, if it were made legal. Besides, wouldn’t the logical thing be to set up courts which are dedicated to handle marital issues? Rather than to throw them into the pinakbet mix of court cases which are already too far delayed as it is? Maybe our national budget would be well served if it allocated more to the DOJ than some other departments. The wheels of justice may turn just a teeny bit faster.

I still stand by my original contention that a solid marriage isn’t made solid because of the impossibility of divorce. Wouldn’t any long-lasting marriage be made even more admirable because it lasts in spite of divorce? So the discussion cum debate continues. And the Catholic church will continue to argue against it. To the detriment of unhappy partnerships and suffering families. And the proliferation of common-law partnerships which can’t be legalized because of pre-existing marital conditions.

Maybe it we should consider removing the legal stipulations of marriage instead. Just make it be recognized by whatever church or religious faith one espouses. Leave our laws out of it. After all, subjecting marriage to legal constraints doesn’t really do much, if you were to think about it. Married as a civil status is so outdated. So, there.


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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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