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Divorce a nightmare to the family unit

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A few weeks ago, walking along the streets of Kingstown, I stumbled upon one of the ugliest public scenes I have encountered to date. A couple, who had just concluded a divorce at the Court House, took the streets to publicize the reasons for their divorce in the most unseemly fashion. Issues touching and concerning what should have been considered private matters of the union of marriage were spilled in the public, whilst passersby listened on. This sort of commotion was very much entirely new to me, and the conspiracy theorists who had gathered would give the issue absolutely no rest.{{more}}

However, besides the excitement of the new gossip, it dawned on me that probably I should take a look at the divorce statistics of my country. I will not unveil the raw data as it pertains to our nation’s divorce statistics in this article, however it must be noted clearly, that the report is so alarming that it poses a serious threat to the fundamental role and function of the family unit in our society.

Talcott Parsons in his work “The Family, its Function and Destiny” was clear in explaining what he considers to be the ‘basic and irreducible’ functions of the family. These two functions he considers are firstly, the ‘primary socialization of children’ and secondly, the ‘stabilization of the adult personalities of the population of the society’. Parsons explains that primary socialization refers to socialization during the early or formative years of childhood which takes place mainly within the family. In defining the all-encompassing role of the family, Parsons also explains, that the family unit is akin to a factory “producing human personalities”, this function being almost irreplaceable by any other social institution.

In explaining the second function of the family, which he refers to as the “stabilization of adult personalities”, Parsons explains that the focus here is on the marriage relationship and the emotional security which the couple provides for each other. This is expected to assist in relieving the stress and strains of everyday life which tend to make the personality unstable. This shows that there is indeed an inextricable link between the institution of marriage and the roles and functions which the family unit is expected to fulfill.

If there is any merit in Parson’s findings, then an increase in the divorce rate, is a direct attack on the role of the family in fulfilling its primary functions.

The question can then be asked of our society today, “Is the institution of marriage under threat?” It is arguable that marriage is not becoming less popular in St. Vincent and the Grenadines since we remain a Christian society holding the sanctity which resides in the fact of getting married in extremely high regard. The dark side, however, is the limited extent to which we depend on those same Christian beliefs to maintain the institution of marriage. This is reflected in the increase in marital breakdowns reflected in our rising divorce rate.

It must always be considered that divorce is only one form of marital breakdown. If one is to research other forms of martial breakdowns for example, physical separations, where persons though still legally married no longer share the same dwelling, or “empty-shell marriages”, where the spouses live together, but their marriages exist only in name such a report may cause alarm. Both physical separations and empty shell marriages cannot be reflected in any divorce statistics.

However the impact on the family unit is just as devastating.

Restoring the importance of marriage to our society and to our nation’s children will require the efforts of all our civic leaders. If the family is such an important building block of our society, then marriage, which is the foundation of the family, must be preserved. We sit and stare as the foundation of the nuclear family grows weaker, with more and more of our responsible adults leaving it in divorce, and more and more adults eschew it altogether for single parenthood or various unconventional forms of cohabitation.

We must therefore, as a people, advocate through our nation’s institutions, that marriage is the best environment in which to raise healthy, happy children who can achieve their fullest potential. And that the family is the most important institution for social well-being. Today, we must set about the task of rebuilding a culture of family life based on marriage. It should be no surprise to find that divorce is having such profound effects on our society. The reasons for divorce are wide and ranging, varying from factors such as differences in ages of spouses, occupation, marital status of parents, income and class and even the ease with which a divorce can be done. At this stage my analysis of the entire ordeal of what leads to a divorce, is based solely on research and not experience, hence one must always be reminded of the dreadfully deep valley which resides between reality and perception. Notwithstanding such, what holds true, however, is that divorce is having a severe impact on the family institution and this matter must be addressed with a greater sense of urgency by all who have embarked, or will embark on tying the knot, be it you now, or me in the distant future.

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