"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Re-examining the impact of no-fault divorce

Re-examining the impact of no fault divorce

"The original intention of relaxing the divorce laws was to allow individuals trapped in bad marriages to exit easily. However, as noble as this objective may have been, demographers' surveys have shown that the number of unhappy marriages has not dwindled; to the contrary, there are far fewer happy marriages. As Maggie Gallagher, the author of "The Abolition of Marriage: How We Destroy Lasting Love," recently reported in The New York Times, recent studies have linked no-fault divorce with the steep rise in the rate of divorce over the last 25 years. Even the effort to make divorce less bitter failed; Judith Wallerstein's studies indicate that five years after the divorce, 50 percent of all couples were still engaged in conflict.

I think there are several reasons for raising the barriers to divorce. First, a society uses its legal system not only to punish but to convey its values, both to itself and to the next generation. By allowing marriage to be dissolved easily and unilaterally, we essentially state what sort of commitment we deem marriage to be.

Second, when divorce is relatively easy, it is naturally seen as an option in dealing with marital problems when they surface. All relationships, even happy marriages, undergo rough times. But marriage is not just about passion; it's about commitment, concern and mutual respect, all of which take time to foster and develop. The hard work in a marriage is after the wedding, not before. An easy exit allows for people to run away from their problems, rather than face them or deal with them. This does not mean every difficulty in a marriage is soluble; but nor does it mean that every source of tension is grounds for divorce. We deprive our children of a basic life skill when we say that the solution to every problem -- or even just to boredom -- is to walk away from it. (Does our disposable society inculcate values as well?)

An extension of this last point is the impact of divorce on children. The entire family certainly suffers when the parents are unhappy or are constantly in conflict; but it should not be that the parent's respective happiness should be the sole basis for the decision to dissolve the union, particularly when that decision affects a wider circle of people. Many children would benefit from a system that both encourages and supports those who strive for family stability, even in the face of tough times.

Third, in our common experience, we tend to invest in ways that minimize downside risk. Whether with our money, our time or our energy, we all routinely jump into situations where we have little to lose, while we are extremely cautious about getting involved in matters that could have adverse consequences for us. As it stands now, marriage is often hastily contracted because there are few negative effects; if it doesn't work out, either one can just walk out the door (witness many Hollywood unions). Tougher divorce laws may incline people to avoid such rash commitments to marriage."
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