Making divorce easier is not the answer

A recent article claimed that making divorce easier may raise the marriage rate in Singapore (Marriage, families under stress as norms change; May 17).

As a local marriage educator and solemniser for many years now, I have never met a couple who got married with the intention of getting a divorce.

In fact, most couples vie for the article's "ideal structure of family" that encompasses lifelong love towards each other.

Wedding vows of major religions pledge a permanent commitment or union "for eternity". Even the recent royal wedding included vows that promised "till death do us part".

Promoting divorce disregards religious practices that have endured time and cultural changes, and undermines the very meaning of marriage.

Among the research findings on divorce are that it:

• Increases one's chances of divorce in subsequent marriages.

• Creates emotional and financial stress, leading to lower levels of personal well-being.

• Has a significant impact on children, affecting their well-being and relationships.

• Increases a child's tendency to engage in anti-social and criminal behaviour.

• Children of divorced couples are likely to get divorced themselves in adulthood.

On the other hand, with few exceptions, children living with their married, biological parents consistently fare better than children from other family structures, in terms of physical and psychological well-being, conduct, self-esteem and social competence.

Thus the conclusion by the writers of the article is baffling.

It challenges what the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the social service sector have spent much money and effort doing - supporting vulnerable marriages, "fixing" broken marriages and mediating the fallout.

The evidence shows that relaxing divorce laws will merely leave the back door open for a couple to make an easy exit instead of staying committed and working out their marital problems.

Joanna Koh-Hoe (Mrs)

Chief Executive Officer

Focus on the Family Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2018, with the headline 'Making divorce easier is not the answer'. Print Edition | Subscribe