Ease of getting married may be the problem

As a child of divorced parents, I enjoyed reading the views in the letters on the subject (Cohabitation, relaxing divorce laws contradict S'pore family values, May 21; and Making divorce easier is not the answer, May 24).

Both writers expressed noble sentiments, but I believe they are mistaken in their approach. Their assumption is based on the premise that biological links automatically come with emotional attachments.

Nobody disputes that a stable, loving family provides the best breeding ground for socially well-adjusted children. Nobody disputes the fact that couples do not enter marriages with the intention of gettingdivorced.

However, these points do not apply in every situation.

Human nature is an unpredictable thing. While one can enter a marriage feeling a particular way about one's partner, the stress of living together has a way of changing things.

For example, I am sure the Family Courts are filled with cases of women who were once attracted to "bad boys" who stayed bad after marriage.

Divorce is not pretty. It is hard, especially for children. However, children are intuitive and there is no evidence to suggest that children of parents who cannot stand the sight of each other but stay together for the young ones fare any better than children of divorced parents.

I do not think I am in any way worse off than most people. In fact, I was lucky to get a "bonus" dad with my stepfather.

I believe the problem is not so much the ease of divorce but the ease of entering a marriage.

In Singapore, couples need only to be over 21 years old, and have two witnesses to get married. There is no legal challenge to enter what should be a lifelong contract.

It is accepted that people value things they have to work for; so shouldn't that rule also apply to marriage?

If we are really serious about defending the sanctity of marriage, we should get people to value it more by getting them to work harder to enter marriage, rather than punishing people by putting obstacles in their way as they try to make a clean break with partners who might be the cause of unhappiness or even abuse.

Tang Li

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2018, with the headline 'Ease of getting married may be the problem'. Print Edition | Subscribe