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wilfrido david
wilfrido davidTHE PROPOSED Divorce Bill will have a hard time passing, like a bad case of constipation. Once again, the Catholic Church is preparing to do battle. Its flock will be invoking the popular phrase, "What God has put together no man shall put asunder." And the bishops are ready to open their Bible and start quoting passages that, they are convinced, will justify their view opposing the bill.

They will be making veiled threats against politicians who tend to support it, just like what they did when the RH Bill was about to be passed, completely ignoring the peoples' will. As caretakers of the Catholic Church they certainly are entitled to express disgust over the proposal, but not to the extent of imposing their will on the populace or going even as far as saying that the souls of those who go along with the bill are doomed. The further we go, the more it looks like a huge cathecism class on the innocents. Let us wake up to the reality of the moment and try to sustain our argument that divorce may not be the be-all and end-all of all unhappy marriages, but rather that it provides a way out of an untenable situation.

If the center of Catholisim, which is the Vatican in Rome, Italy, allows divorce, as well as do other religions, it's hard to believe that the Catholic Church sees the Philippines as unique in that sense. At any rate, this bill will prove to be the proverbial Gordian knot, much to the consternation of liberal, free-thinking, individuals who live in a modern society.

First, what is a marriage? It is a contract between two parties, a man and a woman. So we can safely call both contractors. Do contractors always fulfill what they have sworn (?) or promised (?) to do as what they signed up for? Well, not necessarily. In fact, when either party reneges on the contract, for whatever reason, either one can sue.

Marriage is synonymous with wedding, which in turn is relative to "welding," which means joining two parts together. For the most part, marriages are pursued. Depending on the circumstances, they could be arranged by tradition or forced or faked. There are Christian marriages and there are ones that are Muslim, Buddhist, or whatever other faith. They are, undeniably, ceremonial. Marriage is a means to an end (of courtship) and the beginning of a new life, a venture into the unknown. No one can tell how it will fare—will it be happy, or merely coast along, or forever be on a survival mode, or will it be pure hell? Only two individuals are involved (counting out in-laws) and they are the only ones who can decide what's best for them. Not even their Christian (or whatever) faith can sustain it. The only way out is a dissolution of the contract; ergo, divorce is the only option, whoever, whether both or either, initiates it, it is a path towards a better existence.

The following are common, if not the worst, scenarios:

The husband is a dyed-in-the-wool philanderer and the poor stay-at-home wife is aware of it but is helpless. She chooses to keep the marriage intact, for the sake of the children. A philanderer, by definition, is one who has another family or has many love affairs. The whole community knows about it, accepts it. And the poor wife has to bear it in utter humiliation; sometimes she is blamed, or she even blames herself, for her husband's wayward ways.

The dedicated wife patiently waits for her husband to come home. With the dinner table ready, she thinks her husband will be pleased if they eat together. After all, he works overtime almost every night to have food on the table. More often than not, she falls asleep waiting. And yet, she doesn't confront him because she is so deathly afraid of him. He takes advantage of the situation and gloats on the fact he's never had it so good. He couldn't ask for anything more.

The neighbors call the police regarding the disturbance next door. The couple are fighting again, and the wife ends up black and blue, even as the husband justifies her being beat up. The barangay captain manages to fix the problem, the couple agree to forgive and forget and once again profess their love for one another. Not too long afterwards, the wife (or perhaps the husband) becomes a crime statistic.

The meek office employee husband learns that his wife is having an affair. They have four children in school, and they can hardly make boths end meet. He confronts her, she vehemently denies everything. The husband can't afford to sue, so he instead chooses to leave her, taking the children with him. The wife lives in with her boyfriend, and the two ultimately have kids of their own. Now there are two families preserving the status quo, emanating from an otherwise legal marriage.

A seemingly happy couple is popular in the community. Both have good jobs, raise wonderful kids, but both know that they are cheating on each other. They agree to have an "open" marriage where neither one butts into the other's business. Well and good, no problem, but what about the children? Will they grow up being normal, ignoring their parents' idea of a happy marriage? What about their contract, is it just a meaningless piece of paper?

The husband is such a hoodlum. He beats up his wife and the kids on a regular basis. He considers it his daily exercise. The wife keeps quiet about this. But for the children it is such a traumatic experience. They wonder why their mother tolerates it. They want to run away, but their mother talks them out of it. This predicament is like a telenovela. It has become routine for the husband, but hell for the rest of the family. Is there a way out of that?

The married couple are always at each other's throat. Bickering has become a force of habit. The wife nags endlessly and the husband responds by going out with the boys and keeps late night-outs as if he was single. Sometimes, when neither of them is in a fight mood, they give each other the silent treatment. The situation deteriorates to a point where they prefer to engage in "oral" sex in the absence of the real thing. They shout the "F" word to each other, the children steal glances amongst themselves and they take it with some degree of understanding and tolerance. Is this an ideal setup?

Actually, most of us can relate to all of the above. We all have seen it happen, and perhaps even had experienced it and, at one time or another, threatened separation. The most we can hope for is a legal separation, which, by the mere word "legal", means it's unaffordable by the average couple. The other viable option is an annulment of the marriage, which takes years to be approved, either by law, or approval by the Vatican, and that is if they are willing to wait that long. Meanwhile, both find new lovers, settle down and possibly live an even happier life, notwithstanding a contract.

You can conjure allegations or imagine situations where your own marriage is involved. There are absolutely happy marriages and there are also hellish ones. We can even categorize them as Hell, where only murder is the logical way out (because there is no divorce in the Philippines), Purgatory (this is the time when you feel you are at the end of your rope and decide to do something about it), and Heaven (where you only feel the bliss of married life). For as long as the the proposed Divorce Bill is left hanging, marriages in the Philippines are a farce. Couples feel trapped because there is no legal way out, unless you want to hang yourself to end it all. (That is probably the easiest way out, but I don't recommend it.) Better wait until the Divorce Bill is passed. Funeral costs nowadays are outrageous!

Aside from their God-given, Bible-guided tasks on this earth, how can the clergy and their higher-ups relate to married life? If one has not experienced or lived it, all they can do is be sanctimoniously aloof, disregarding or ignoring the human aspect of such a contract, where it is said, "What god has put together no man shall put asunder." That is, indeed, debatable! Otherwise, it will become a mere conundrum. What a pity! By the way, are you on speaking terms with your spouse?

[About the author. Wilfrido David is a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1985. He is an avid news consumer, habitually tuned to global TV via satellite. In turn, he occasionally comes up with spiced up essays and anecdotes liberally sprinkled with his wry humor, at times irreverent, oftentimes as corny as corn-on-the-cob, but nontheless thought provoking. He thinks of himself as a "junior senior," a mature gentleman with very active brain cells but a waning testosterone count. He is an American citizen by necessity, not by choice, as he so aptly put it. He is as Kapampangan as sisig, no more, no less.]

-Posted: 11:11 AM 2/17/13 | More of this author on eK!