In this interview, a Charted Conciliator and Mediator, and Founder of a nonprofit making organization, Women for Peace and Unity Growth Initiative, WPUGI, Yemisi George, bares her mind on the worrisome trend of divorce and how it could be tackled.
By Gabriel Ewepu
It has become worrisome concerning the trend of divorce rate in Nigeria, especially among young couples. What do you think are the causes?
There are many causes. The first and most important is that people marry for the wrong reasons. They confuse wedding ceremony, which is just an event lasting a few hours with marriage which is for the Long haul and indeed a life time. Many young people in a state of ecstasy see a beautiful woman or handsome man and equate the attraction for him or her with love. That is infatuation, a fleeting feeling that does not have any deep based.
Some also marry for money, influence, societal status, and others. The inner person is what matters. Young people should not succumb to parental and or societal pressure. Parent should stop determining when who or how their children should marry. Courtship is important so that the two parties know each other well enough before venturing into marriage. The potential bride and groom should seek the face of the Supreme Being they believe in before taking such an important step.
Don’t you think women are the partners who call for divorce as the last resort to solve their marital challenges than the men?
Divorce can come from either party – man or woman. It depends on the threshold of tolerance of each party. But there are traditional methods of conflict transformation in the African society. The major one is mediation by elders and indeed trusted (contemporaries) all this methods of resolving marital conflicts should be explored before contemplating divorce.
As an experienced chartered conciliator, what do you think are the implications of divorce and the impact to families and the society?
The family is the smallest unit in the society, and divorce destabilizes the smallest unit. The reverberation of the instability at this level is felt in the society when the children are not properly catered for, they could become deliquesce (drug addicts, teenage mothers, members of robbery gangs, prostitute, etc) the negative effects of divorce on the society are innumerable.
Don’t you think the courts are not really proffering solutions to cases of divorce rather with their judgment encourage people to go on with divorce?
When you go to court it is difficult to remain friends because there is a looser and a clear winner. That is the nature of litigation. But with mediation, you can have a win-win situation because the mediator is only a facilitator who allows the conflicting parties to come up with their own solution. Therefore ‘collaborative divorce’ via mediation is preferable to outright divorce via litigation.
How do you think the issue of divorce can be avoided as a professional?
Communication is key in any marriage. Effective communication entails active listening, not listening in other to give a response. When both parties practice active listening, they are able to empathize with each other and see each other’s point of view. That way they don’t need a third party as an interloper in their marriage, and so effective communication protects the sanctity of their marriage in such a way that they continue one day at a time improving on their marriage in other to make it sustainable.
With the increasing rate of divorce in the country, does it mean Chartered Conciliators are not doing their job?
Chartered Conciliators needs to be approached by the conflicting parties. Mediators and Conciliators are not permitted to advertise their services, therefore it may be necessary for institute that train mediators to make their existence better known to the general public.
What can the Government and Civil Society Organisations including faith based organisations do to tackle it?
Advocacy against it is important. Faith based organizations can use the relevant references from the Holy Books to dissuade parties from divorce.
What is your advice to people who are into relationship that would lead to marriage so they won’t fall into same pit of divorce?
They should try to have a decent period of courtship during which they try to understand each other as much as possible. They should not succumb to pressure from family, friends, associate and the society in general. They should seek the face of the Supreme Being they believe in before getting married.
How many cases of divorce have you settled as chartered conciliator?
I have just been inducted this year as a Chartered Mediator and Conciliator. But even before my induction I have successfully mediated a number of marital disputes that could have ended up in divorce. I am happy to tell you that all those couples are still living together peacefully under the same roof as husband and wife.
Do you think cases of divorce can be reduced in Nigeria?
Of course yes. The rate of divorce can be reduced. If couples marry for the right reasons, societal pressure is ignored and the parties seek the face of the Supreme Being they believe in.