"For I hate divorce, says the LORD the God of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless." ― Malachi 2:16 [RSV]
Divorce wrecks homes. It tears a family into pieces. Brokenness is its product. Both parents and children are left shattered. No one is spared. Parents become enemies of each other and children are torn between parents. When a home is drowning in divorce, everything falls apart. A once loving home becomes a place of unparalleled hatred.
God hates divorce because it deprives children of the love and comfort they need to become responsible adults. He hates it because of the immeasurable effects it has on these children, sometimes thrusting them into delinquency, drug abuse and what have you. A broken home is like a lawless country. No one is in control because everyone is in control!
Back in the day when I used to teach in senior high school, I noticed a sad trend in the academic performance of my students. Majority of those who performed poorly were from broken homes or homes that were on the verge of getting broken. The trauma they endured was unbearable. This pointed to the uncomfortable fact that when parents decide to part away, so many things part away, too.
No sane person walks down the aisle with the intention of divorcing someday. The smiles and laughter at the altar is a summary of the expectations of couples when they decide to enter into marriage. The journey of every couple begins on a sweet note. They call each other by beautiful love names. However, before they both know, one person has begun taking their vows for granted. They begin to abuse it. And then… life happens.
The abuse begins as little slaps. That is how the other spouse communicates their disapproval. At the least confrontation, they throw tantrums and knock everything out of their way. The wife somewhat becomes the slave and her husband, the master. He flogs her at will and treats her like an expired commodity he bought from across the street.
All of a sudden, the pair who could barely do without each other prefer to be left alone by the other. The victim is engulfed with fear. The formerly sweet union now becomes a bitter one. At the mention of the name of a spouse, every stroke of their happiness bows and their heart is filled with anger and resentment. The day they met them is marked as the worst day of their lives. Divorce may look like the easiest way out but like everyone says, God hates it.
God hates divorce but not when a spouse’s life is at stake. The same God that hates divorce hates murder, too. When we hide behind ‘God hates divorce’ to coerce women (and some men) to stay in abusive relationships, we ought to remember that the longer that victim stays in such a relationship, the earlier they get to their graves.
‘God hates divorce’ is sometimes the chorus of the abuser. They know it works in their favor, hence, take advantage of it to treat another human being like trash. Their matrimonial home becomes a boxing ring where they pummel their spouses into silence at the least opportunity. Their victim has nowhere to run to. After all, God hates divorce!
An abusive relationship is a threat to the life of the victim. They constantly live in fear of their abuser. Their ego is bruised and they find no sweetness in this life. Like hostages, they know their abuser will one day take away their lives but they don’t know exactly when. Until that day comes, they have to keep enduring.
It is often difficult for people to walk away from an abusive relationship, especially when they are dependent on the abuser or have some strong emotional attachment to them. We, however, need to remind ourselves that we deserve better in this life. No one buys an expensive car, for instance, and maintains it badly because of the value they place on it. Similarly, when people value us, how they treat us shows.
The effect of divorce is bad. The effect, however, of staying in a relationship where one is regarded as nothing but a punching bag is worse. Separation may deny children the bond they share with both parents. They, however, can’t stand the torture of living under the same roof with an abuser of a parent.
The life of every mother who endures physical abuse is in danger. Even though she may mean well for her children, leaving that relationship may be the best option available. She may want to give her children the best of motherhood but under constant abuse, she is deprived of anything worthy of motherhood. No one can give what they don’t have.
In the event of domestic abuse, you may put your life on the line for your children. You may want to give your beater one more chance to change because of your children. It may be your fervent desire to have your children enjoy the privilege of living with both parents. Unfortunately, the longer you stay, the more likely you won’t survive to cater for these children.
Constant abuse puts your life at risk. If you say you will leave tomorrow, you may not be alive when tomorrow comes. Walk away while you have breath. Walk out of an abusive relationship while you have legs. Walk out before your corpse is carried out. Don’t wait to rest in peace when you could have left in peace.
When we soak in abuse and stay in a relationship that holds our lives at ransom just because we want to cater for our children, we have to remember we will soon be no more to cater for them. And… all those who threatened us with ‘God hates divorce’ will be at our funeral… encouraging our killer to move on and get a replacement of us. It is better to be alive and divorced than dead and married.
Kobina Ansah is a Ghanaian playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications ( www.scribecommltd.com ), an Accra-based writing firm. Connect with him on all social media platforms.