Saturday, September 03, 2005

Down the slippery slope


Of late, some have written to the local press about marriage and the marriage bond. A woman wrote of how she eventually divorced her husband due to his infidelity, to which another woman wrote of how you should look at yourself, if you have been 'there' for the husband in the first place, suggesting that when a husband strays, it may not be all his fault.

This naturally provoked a wave of response from the public, with one suggesting that since it is natural for man to 'stray' anyway, why not replace marriage with a contractual agreement for two people to 'live' together. This way, they will not be shackled by the requirements of a marriage bond. Someone pointed out that marriage itself is a contractual bond, and if people cannot keep to the terms of this bond, then what is the difference with a non-marriage contract, except that it takes away a lot of the 'safeguards', especially for women, that a marriage bond, developed over many years, comes with?

To which other writers pointed out the 'benefits' of marriage can be skewed heavily in favour of the women, should it go wrong. For example, in the separation of matrimonial assets, child custody and support as well as in the maintenance of wife and child, the ex-husband bears the bulk of these 'costs' - no matter if the infidelity is wife's.

Next, a writer suggested that since the 'natural' urge of man is for multiple sexual relationships, then why not legalise polygamy as this will effectively address the main issue of 'straying' man. The point was also made that woman tend not to stray, for certain psychological reasons (although this was disputed). This writer was quite serious and mapped out the conditions under which polygamy should be practised. Under the ideal circumstances espoused, it was claimed that polygamy will address the issues and present a viable solution - an ideal that, in my opinion, will never work, not least of which this position is based on several questionable assumptions.

One can see how the suggestions to address the issue of marriage and divorce through a story about infidelity is sliding down the slippery slope of morality from non-marriage to multiple-marriages. This descent is alarming, to say the least, but perhaps not surprising. Decadence in the modern society is already visible, if you look honestly.

I always caution against marital breakups, if only because the children end up suffering the most. I teach, and I have come across students, who are otherwise bright, suffer a drastic fall in their grades. And this fall is often (upon enquiry) symptomatic of the psychological hurt and confusion that a child faces when parents divorce, more so when the divorce is an ugly one. I believe that children of non-marital contracts and polygamous marriages will suffer like challenges.

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