Couples facing a marriage break-up will have to cope with:
- Feeling of isolation
- Low self-esteem
- Disappointment / frustration
Among estranged partners in marriage, these feelings are unavoidable before, during and after the process of divorce. The couples concerned are not the only people affected; others close to them may be affected too.
In any marriage break-up, it is the children who are most likely to be affected psychologically. They are the unfortunate victims of the bickerings between parents. Faced with their own problems, parents tend to disregard their children's feelings, thus making the children feel that they are unwanted. If the situation is not handled properly, they may develop a negative attitude towards parents and marriage, as a result of what they see happening in the home.
It is usual for couples with marital problems to think more of their own feelings than of their children. They may have the interest of their children at heart, but the children are not to know this. All the children know is that something is terribly wrong, but they have no idea what it is nor can they find the words to describe it.
The following are some of the effects that parents' matrimonial problems have on children:
- Sense of being deprived of parental love
- Separation from siblings
- Sense of guilt, embarrassment, insecurity and loss of self-confidence
- Loss of concentration in studies
- Tendency towards negative attitude and behaviour.
Left unchecked, these effects may dwell permanently in the minds of children right through adulthood. Therefore it is imperative that couples contemplating separation should think of the consequence that their divorce would bring upon their children. They must not lose sight of the following:
- A divorce does not sever the tie between children and parents.
- Children need parental assistance and support to cope with the changed situation following the parents' divorce.
- Children are sensitive. When they lose something, they will be anxious and angry. They will need a lot of attention and support to cope with this feeling of insecurity.
- Children need their parents' love. The sense of hatred towards each other that parents develop following their estrangement should never be allowed to penetrate the children's mind.
The social stigma that is usually attached to a divorce is inevitable. For example:
- It is not unusual for divorcees to be derided by the community.
- Friends and relatives will ask awkward questions.
- The estranged couple will lose each other's relatives and friends.
- The help of relatives to look after the children may have to be sought.
- The sense of loss will be all the greater if the partners have been very much dependent on each other in daily life.
- The help of welfare and other organisations may have to be sought.
These are only some of the difficulties that couples are likely to face upon divorce. While it is true that in many cases a partner in marriage comes to this painful decision because of the irresponsible behaviour of the other partner, it is also true that a divorce may not be the best solution to the problem.
Divorce will bring about changes in the status of a person, from the legal point of view. Among the issues that may pose a problem are:
- more restrictions in owning a HDB flat imposed on a divorced person;
- higher personal income taxes;
- more responsibilities as a single parent;
- legal costs for the divorce proceedings;
- losses may be incurred when parties are forced to sell their flat or to surrender it to HDB;
- further conflict may occur in Court if one party fails to comply with the Order of Court.
The above are some examples of what may be experienced by couples who decide to go through divorce proceedings. There are, however, some parties who have to make the painful decision to end their marriage as a result of an irresponsible spouse. It has to be emphasised that divorce is not the solution to the problems faced by the parties concerned.