Divorce Up 700%
- By Barrington H. Brennen, December
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Between the years 1975 and 2005 divorce in The Bahamas skyrocketed 700%. In
my recent article entitled “Is Marriage on the Decline?” I shared the
figures that may have startled you. To recap a little, in 1975 there were
99 divorces in The Bahamas and in 2005 that figure jumped to 689 divorces.
Keep in mind that our population during that same period did not increase
700%. In fact the population on increased about 65%. What is also shocking
is that according to the figures less and less Bahamians are getting married
each year. The year with the highest number of marriages was in 2000 when
there were 2366 marriages. In 2006 that figure dropped to 1731. That means
that 635 less couples got marriage in 2006 as compared to 2000.
More tourists are getting married in the Bahamas each year than locals.
Isn’t it ironical that many people from around the world are attracted to
the beauty and magic of the Bahamian sunshine, its beaches and the friendly
people but this magic potent isn’t working for us.
- WHY SO MANY
- Adultery ranks
high as a reason for many divorces in The Bahamas. However, a greater
number are getting divorced simply because they cannot get along. In
North American that is called irreconcilable differences. However, in
The Bahamas irreconcilable differences is not a legal ground for
divorce. Hence, couples are separating and waiting for 2 years to file
on the ground of desertion. Many others are divorcing or the grounds
of cruelty. Since they want a quicker divorce they would construe that
the mental anguish was to unbearable and seek to end the marriage.
Often times the problem was repairable but they just want to end the
marriage as quickly as they can. That brings me to the next point.
It is my observation that the real reason for divorce is the lack of
humility. Lack of humility has become, in my professional opinion, the
number one reason for divorce in The Bahamas and around the world. It is
then appropriate to say the humility is the number one ingredient in making
a marriage long-lasting and happy. To be humble is to admit that you are
wrong, to have a willingness to listen and respect your spouse’s opinions,
to have a willingness to adjust or change one’s attitude or behavior that
might be crippling to the marriage. During my training many years ago I did
find the word “humility” in professional literature relating to marriage or
divorce. However, in recent years more and more professional are
discovering and writing about the most valuable ingredient.
Unfortunately, lack of humility is a great problem among Bahamian males. We
know all things. We do not listen to our spouses. We have difficultly
changing our behaviors or attitudes. A few years ago I pointed out that the
real reasons for divorces and why the numbers are increasing so fast is
pride, selfishness, egotism, and traditionalism.
Oftentimes one spouse would be complaining to another spouse for years about
a behavior or suspicion about a behavior. But because of pride (lack of
humility) the other partner refuses to listen and change. After lot’s of
pleading the faithful partner gets exhausted and frustrated and seeks to end
It is not
surprising that a major complaint among spouses is that they are not
spending enough time together or not enough romance in the
relationship. Oftentimes when these complaints are ignored one partner
seeks to end the marriage because one or more of his or her basic needs
are not being met. If find it amazing in counseling sessions that so
many spouses do not take the time to stay at home with their partners.
The truth is that it is in most cases not the job itself nor too many
hours at work. It is what happens after work. One partner does not
come home on time and spends long hours recreating with friends or
relatives. The marriage is placed daily on the “back burner” of life.
When the spouse complains the about coming home late it ends in
explosive arguments and over time changes never takes place. One
partner, often the woman, is left alone to nurture and care for the
children and all their needs.
Believe it or
not in The Bahamas we have other ingredients in this recipe for disaster
of marriages. 1) We keep out finances apart. Too many Bahamian
married couples cannot attain to true “oneness” in marriage because of
refusal to work together financially. They do not have a couple
harmonious financial plan. The lack of this plan often eats away at the
romance in the marriage leading to a premature death of the
relationship. Or it prevents an intense, unselfish, passionate bonding
that can only come with today self disclosure. Oneness in marriage
encompasses the blending of the emotional, intellectual, spiritual,
physical and financial assets of both individuals. Sadly, too many
Bahamian married couples leave out the last one—the financial. 2)
We do not know each other’s needs and how to meet them. This is really
a hot one in marriage. I’ve discovered that knowing each other’s needs
is as important as communicating effectively. Too many partners refuse
to take the time to understand their spouses. Sometimes one partner is
not aware of his or her own needs are is unable to articulate them to
his or her spouse. This causes pain which often leads to an avoidable
divorce. 3) Another reason there are so many divorces in The Bahamas
is because too many couples are moving too fast into marriage without
the proper preparation for marriage and knowledge about each other.
They become sexually involved too soon and often feel that there is no
turning back. Women in particular are having sex for the first time
with whom they believe would be their married partner and discovered too
late that the sexual experience blinded them from making an objective
decision about their choice as a mate. Then they become devastated,
depressed or confused. When they get married they quickly discover that
things are not changing and the marriage become a nightmare.
We must slow
down the rush to the divorce courts in The Bahamas. We must insist the
couples take the time to develop wholesome relationships before marriage
and see proper pre-marriage counseling at least six months before the
wedding day. I encourage individuals not to give themselves sexually
to someone you cannot ensure he or she will be yours. Wait until
marriage. Become friends.
Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send you
questions to P.O. Box N-896, Nassau, The Bahamas. Or call 242-323-8772 or