Ask Doug: How to help your toddler survive divorce – Part 1

Doug Berry
Doug Berry.

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Surviving divorce

DIVORCE is unpleasant, emotional and can be a downright hurtful experience. The problem is that we sometimes forget that we are not the only ones experiencing this pain. 


Often our children suffer an unnecessary degree of hurt as a result of our incompatibility with our chosen partner.
Why do divorce rates increase? There are several reasons that have been put forward as to why there could be an increase in the number of divorces being seen. Here are just a few.

Time of year


THERE is a commonly recognised trend that causes a spike in divorce numbers around January and February. 
The assumption here is that partners who are already discontent often reach a decisive point after having to spend prolonged holidays and close-quarter contact with their partners over the festive season. This seems to galvanize many into initiating divorce proceedings in the new year.

Empowerment


WITH the increase in awareness of rights according to the constitution of South Africa, more women have become more empowered and are less likely to remain in abusive or undesirable relationships. In the past, many women would remain in unhappy relationships as they felt that they did not have another option, but in current times, a better degree of knowledge and understanding of women’s’ rights could be contributing to the rise of divorce.


No-fault divorce

SOUTH African law provides for no-fault divorce based on the “irretrievable breakdown” of the marital relationship. Couples no longer needed to prove that one person was at fault. They can simply say that the marriage relationship has broken down. In the past, it was necessary to have evidence of adultery, abuse, or abandonment. In essence, it
has become much easier to secure a divorce on clear and available legal grounds, with less procedure than in the past.

Traditional roles


IN the past, traditional roles in marriage played a strong part in maintaining the marital unit. Partners did not question their lot in the marriage as openly and as a result, there was less open conflict. This is not to say that there was more happiness, merely less interpersonal disagreement. 
With the blurring of the definition of these roles, there is a rise in open disagreement, ending too often in divorce. 

Greater social acceptance

IN certain cultural groups in South Africa, divorce has long held an extremely shameful cloud over the divorcee, especially for the former wife. 
This has resulted in shunning and community abandonment, which served to discourage others from initiating proceedings. The more accepting the societies become of the concept; the more individuals are willing to pursue it as a route out of an undesirable marriage.


Less guilt 

IT is not uncommon these days for couples to wait 10 years before having children. As a result, many do not feel the same degree of guilt over “breaking up” the family unit, or over causing children distress. 
The disclaimer ‘at least there are not kids involved’ can be heard echoing through the divorce courts.

To read previous Ask Doug articles, click here.

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