I have observed from the volume of divorce proceedings in our courts that there will be continuous increase in divorce cases due to the following reasons:
- SOCIAL MEDIA CULTURE: Thousands of young people, especially ladies live under intense pressure to get married, due to the pre-wedding photos, filtered wedding pictures and baby shower pictures of their friends and family on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms.
- RELATIONSHIP COACHES/ENTREPRENEURS: I submit that courtship and relationship matters have been further complicated by relationship coaches, who speak as spiritual authorities. This can be likened to the legibility of a Doctor’s prescription of drugs. The patient may never comprehend it, until he/she consults a Pharmacist for interpretation and clarity. The fact that these coaches speak under some sort of spiritual authority makes it impossible for their followers to think or question some of the errors in their ‘expert opinion’. This creates a cycle of confusion in the lives of young people. Families and religious institutions can no longer pay attention to the special needs of intending couples. Counselling sessions are becoming increasingly shallow because of rigid procedures that lack the needed dynamism of addressing bespoke and diverse soft issues of intending-couples.
- NEGLECT OF THE BOY-CHILD: While there is a global attention on improving the life of the girl-child, boys on the other hand have been neglected. “it is a man’s world” they say.
Most of us are completely oblivious of a silent revolution taking place in our society. The conversation on sexual assault seems to exclude the boy child while we focus on his female counterpart. The society finds it difficult to believe that boys can be sexually abused. People believe the story of the woman more than that of her male counterpart in any relationship conflict.
- THE RISE OF THE AMERICAN BRAND OF FEMINISM: Young impressionable girls are finding a new meaning to their lives by adopting every thinking pattern (whether correct or wrong) from anyone who proclaims to be a feminist. Most of these leading feminists are disciples of an American brand of feminism. Presently, there are no independent women who can think for themselves on the concept of feminism as it relates to Africa. The Nigerian feminists adopt everything from the USA and the rest of the west. It could take a long time before we witness the rise of African women; who are independent thinkers and able to develop a brand of feminism that works for the development of the African society. It is clear that women are becoming stronger and taking their future into their hands. Corporate organizations trust women more for senior management roles, due to the corruption of some over ambitious men. There are now private companies in Nigeria with only women at the top of their executive management.
The percentage of females graduating at the top of their class with academic laurels is dwarfing that of their male counterparts. These strong women will be left with the choice of hooking up with an army of men without self-leadership; an army of irresponsible men hooked on internet fraud, alcohol, hip-hop life and general hedonism.
- HIP-HOP CULTURE: The lyrics coming out of our airwaves are also contributing to the shift in this social structure. The glorification of “wealth-without-work”, “sex-without-commitment”, and “drugs-without-control” will further increase the divorce rate in Nigeria.
OBSERVATIONS DURING DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS
a. My team and I have observed that about four (4) out of five (5) women who approach us for dissolution of marriage, are not emotionally prepared for the process. Further apologies from the husband and family members can terminate our instructions within weeks.
b. In furtherance of the above, we hold a session to explore the positive things in the marriage, so as to explore possible revival of the love and eventual settlement that may be documented (especially when there is physical abuse). The success rate of this approach is about 2 out of 5- and it is helpful to most women who are not financially prepared to prosecute the matter to the end or bear the burden of training the children alone.
c. We also observed that about 3 out of 5 men who opt for dissolution of marriage do so because of another partner. It appears that the emotional detachment had lingered for a long time before the final decision to dissolve the marriage was arrived at. In view of this seeming preparedness, male clients are usually ready to pay premium for lawyers to focus on the legal aspect of the dissolution of marriage, while lawyers on the side of most women play the dual role of an emotional supporter and a legal counsel in those trying times. During these times a lawyer to the female party should be prepared to offer legal advice via telephone conversations at any time of the day and to provide legal advisory on matters that impact on client’s emotional stability. For example, the issue of custody.
- Every intending couple should know that FRIENDSHIP IS STRONGER THAN ROMANCE. This point can not be over emphasised.
- If you are thinking of getting married. You need to realize that, it is so easy to enter into a legal marriage. However, the process of opting out is not as seamless as it is during entry.
- When it comes to marriage counselling, the messenger is more important than the message. There are too many broken people in need of therapy on social media, who give relationship advice on their private and isolated experience.
- The last point is an advice for the following classes of people:
Mature couples (between 40 -55 years)
Marriages that were consummated after a very short courtship. (Six month – One year)
Our considered advice is for this set of people to consider the option of traditional wedding as against marriage under the Act (registry marriage). While we understand the need for the security in a legally binding marriage, it is expedient to state, that there is no law enacted by man that can cause love to grow in a marriage. This would help you avoid the cumbersome process of dissolution of the marriage under the Act if/when you start feeling unsafe in the marriage. It also helps you to move on without the process of attending court proceedings which could last for at least, a year.
Conclusion- Women can also write their own Will/Testament
It is the author’s considered view that everybody, especially women, should endeavour to author their own Will/Testament by bequeathing their properties to their loved ones if/when they die. There have been cases of hardworking women, who die, leaving their houses, cars and bank accounts to their widowers. These widowers jump into the next marriage without taking care of the children in the marriage. It is a painful situation to watch, but we can all avert this situation by exercising a little bit of caution and wisdom.
Kayode Adeniji is the Senior Partner at Lawracles LP.