Our very own Chelet Tanjuatco is one of the speakers, as ALFI representative, speaking on Divorce.

To view more sessions and topics, check out this link: https://catholicsocialmediasummit.com/



Thank you so much for inviting me to share and talk to you today about one of the hottest topics in current events, as it is being passed to be a law here in the Philippines – Divorce. I find it very timely that this summit’s theme is #influencer – relating to the power of people’s posts and reactions and pull in social media. You see, nowadays, different ideologies are being propagated in the internet, a number of which are against our values as Christians, or as Catholics, and most if not all, are so convincing and appealing.

There are two cultural themes that pervade social media: BEING WOKE and the CANCEL CULTURE. Being woke is defined as being aware of injustices in society while CANCEL CULTURE is when people are called out for doing something that’s unacceptable or being called for what people believe to be an injustice to some groups. While the original intent of these two themes were in a way good – the mob mentality that happens in social media PLUS misinformation result to (CLICK SLIDE): divisiveness and a victim mindset.

I do want to spend a bit of time just talking about this first before I dive deep into the main topic of Divorce. You see, I think that a big part of the reason why everything has gotten muddled up when it comes to the morality of and views for or against a lot of things, including Divorce- is that, as a people we have become confused with how we define what is good and what is right. It has become relative and subjective that, people find it hard to find a common ground each group thinks of them as victims of oppression by other groups in society. Posts on social media encourage us to see ourselves as victims when things do not go our way resulting to rage and anger towards each other.

Our mindset has been reduced to “if I struggle or if I have problems, it must be because other people are against me or that my cause is not being advocated. So if I am unhappy with my marriage, if my kids are suffering because of my endless fights with my spouse, it’s because the govt has not allowed me to break free from my marriage or it’s because other people are not as progressive or accepting as I hope they would be.

Based on commentaries and conversations with people who push for this law, that’s how they see themselves in the context of divorce still not being legalized in the Philippines they see themselves as trapped in a marriage that’s void of happiness and as victims of a country that has refused to move forward and embrace the Divorce law – while those trying to stop the bill from getting passed – get “cancelled out” as they are seen to be going against the right to Divorce and break free from a marriage. I started my talk with that, because we need to get ourselves out of the victim mindset for us to appreciate the fight against the legalization of Divorce. We have to realize that while there are opposing views, there are certainly shared values and shared dreams among people who are for divorce and those against it. The shared dream of a happy and thriving society. And so we if we are to try to get our point across about the implications of the legalization of Divorce and the promotion of family and marriage we need to resist divisiveness, listen to each other, understand where each side is coming from and proclaim the truth. So what are these shared dreams that will allow us to see what is good for society?

  • We all want a happy family – we would like for each and every member of the family to be happy and at peace
  • We want a society that is not broken – we want to minimize emotional and psychological issues of the members of society
  • We wish that the emotional, physical, and psychological pain affecting the well- being of the children and the parties involved in a dysfunctional marriage would be addressed or would end.

Whether you are pro- divorce or anti – divorce, I think these are things that we all wish for each other. No one wishes for anyone to be miserable.

The question is then, IS DIVORCE the answer or solution to these shared dreams? will divorce give happiness? Will divorce heal society? Will divorce bring about mental and emotional health? Will it heal wounds? Before I answer this question, I would like to remind everyone that we are all starting from the common ground of shared dreams among couples who set out to get married – Generally speaking – couples believed in these three things when they were at the altar getting married – we assume that when people do decide to get married they had these three things as their anchor and north star. and to check whether Divorce IS the answer to these questions, let us look at research done in the U.S. a country where divorce has long been legalized and see what their results say: U.S. Research says – NO. DIVORCE IS NOT THE ANSWER.

Let’s tackle each aspiration or shared dream, one by one –

HAPPY FAMILY: People who are pushing for the divorce bill to be signed believe that Divorce in the Philippines will ultimately be better for the happiness of each and every member of the family. Now, social science has produced a vast body of literature which shows that divorce, or marital dissolution, seriously harms children and society, and provides no real benefit to spouses. While it may seemingly provide a respite of sorts, the long term effects have been proven to be harder to manage. Studies have shown certain harmful effects of divorce, particularly on children, as children who experience the divorce of their parents are likely to suffer adverse effects on their academic performance, physical and mental health, with an increased possibility to be exposed to drug, alcohol, and even sexual abuse. Lastly, children of divorce are also likely to resort to divorce, perpetuating a cycle of failed marriages. There is something about the finality of the tone of divorce that puts more stress on the children.

Does it mean that children from broken marriages are doomed? No. They are at a higher risk for the problems I just cited but they are not doomed. There is always the aspect of hope and human freedom and ability to rise above these challenges. so of course they are not doomed! But are they under more stress than a child from solid marriages? Highly likely! Yes! Life as it is already presents a fair amount of problems and challenges and I think that even couples who have gone through divorce in other countries can affirm that Divorce is indeed a huge addition to life’s stressors. Is it really helping the couples and their children be happier individuals? Is divorce the best or the absolute answer, to truly move on and get on to a happier life? These studies suggest, well, not really – divorce may not be the best answer.

A SOCIETY THAT’S NOT BROKEN: Who would not want to live in a society that’s thriving and whole? It is an accepted fact that, the family is the basic unit of society. If families are healthy and thriving then the society they belong to will be healthy and thriving. Our country should learn from the experience of other countries who have introduced divorce. Research reveal the impact of divorce to society and these things greatly impact the health and well-being of society:

  • More crimes. Children raised in single-parent families are more likely to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior.
  • More suicides. People who are divorced/ separated have an 83 percent higher risk of suicide than those who are married. The risk of suicide increases among children whose parents divorce.
  • More child abuse. Divorce is correlated with a greater risk of abuse and neglect of children. A child who is not living with his or her own two married parents is at greater risk for child abuse.
  • More premature deaths among children. The child of divorced parents has a higher risk of premature death.
  • More health problems. Those who experience parental divorce or separation are more likely to have health problems.
  • More depression. Divorce is related to increased depression and anxiety for both boys and girls of all ages.
  • More poverty. Divorced mothers are 2.83 times more likely to be in poverty than those who remain married.
  • More problems in family relationships. Divorce creates distance between parents and children, even compared to children living in married but unhappy families.
  • More divorce and unwed parents. Growing up outside an intact marriage increases the likelihood that children will themselves divorce or become unwed parents.

All the above entails additional cost for the government. US research has shown that if the American government pledged to reduce family breakdown by just one percent, taxpayers would save around $1.1 billion dollars each year.[1]

Now you may ask, well how come the Philippines experiences these problems even without the divorce law? Is divorce the culprit? Divorce per se may not be the culprit here in the Philippines just yet but dysfunctional dynamics and unhealthy family relations are the culprits AND BY allowing divorce to be a law, it paves the way for the trivialization of marriage which leads to these dysfunctional families and unhealthy family relations.

The end to emotional, physical, psychological pain of the parties involved especially the children.

People think that Divorce, though painful at the start, will be the one to give them their second chance at happiness – While Most people want divorce in order to have a “2nd chance at happiness in marriage”, US divorce statistics prove that it may not be the case as 42-45% of 1st marriages end in divorce. This rises to 60% for 2nd marriages and 73% for 3rd marriages.

And most importantly, the study found: two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later. The energy then should be first and foremost focused on keeping the family together and the couples to work towards getting along and reliving the vows they made on the wedding day. in good times and in bad (bad includes – infidelity, moodiness, fights that result to hurtful words) for richer or for poorer (poorer includes the lack in drive to earn more for the family, the unfortunate situation of losing a job and momentarily losing ones dignity too, the inability to provide enough) in sickness and in health (this includes mental health, emotional health, etc) – and honor these vows ‘til death do you part. With this attitude, divorce will not even be an option at all. The permanence of marriage gives the society an assurance of commitment and a promise of responsibility and love.

Furthermore when, I checked for blogs of those who have gone through rocky marriages and some even have gone through divorce- they all said that what helped them truly have their second chance in happiness are the ff:

And reading them we can say that all these can be done WITHOUT DIVORCE.

With the learnings from the research the obvious answer to Marital problems or feeling trapped is not DIVORCE. In order for us to fulfill these shared dreams we need to in fact all the more, UPHOLD THE DIGNITY and VALUE OF MARRIAGE. Resorting to divorce bares a greater effect on the overall definition of Marriage: how it is regarded, respected.

Legalizing divorce severely damages the institution of marriage, it redefines Marriage. It will affect the majority of others who value the security of its indissolubility. It will affect future generation of couples who want to raise children who will feel the security of a family that is indissolubly united.

Now you may ask – but isn’t this an unrealistic view or an overly romanticized view of marriage? Are we not humans who make mistakes and this includes, perhaps making a mistake in the choice of our spouse? Can we not correct that mistake through Divorce? To answer that – knowing that the audience we have are believers, Catholics, allow me to be a bit more spiritual about this. Because while all of the facts and research learnings apply without bringing religion in the picture, our faith, can answer this in a richer and more meaningful way for us who believe. When we got married we did not just choose our spouse, we chose to love our spouse. And choosing to love is never a mistake. Love in marriage is about self-giving – not about what one can get but what can give to the other. It is a love that mirrors God’s love – unconditional. Marriage is not just an ordinary union it is a covenant with God. that is why DESPITE the inevitable problems, challenges, hurt and pain that go with two imperfect people getting together in marriage, God’s presence in the marriage TRANSFORMS the couple’s human weaknesses into moments of love and sacrifice; into moments of holiness. A marriage that dies unto self for the sake of the other, for the sake of love. This transformative nature of the Sacrament of Matrimony is what’s missed when divorce ever so casually enters the picture and presents itself as a solution.

With regard to marital violence and other abuses, divorce can provide no real benefit that is not available through what is allowed by law now like legal separation and annulment.4Which are reserved for the very special cases like abuse, violence, mental / psychological incapacity during the time of marriage. Even the Catholic Church recognizes very special cases and processes these according to the teachings of our faith. So for those special cases – the 1/3 of rocky marriages – current laws already address them.

And so Let us use our social media and our #influence among our followers and friends to build a society that protects and not CANCELS values, that are woke to not just the injustices but the love and hope that also fill the world. We don’t have to be inauthentic or toxic when we promote positivity and optimism. We just need to be compassionate, choosing love over hate.

When we post and advocate for keeping families and couples together, let us go back to the shared dreams of happiness, a society that’s whole, an end to emotional and psychological brokenness, let us hold on to what unites us. Let us show how these dreams and values are precisely what we are protecting and safe guarding when we advocate against the passing of the divorce law. If we want to help our brothers and sisters in faith, appreciate the Church’s stand against divorce, let us use the points I cited earlier and ALWAYS start from a point of Building and not breaking, understanding and not judging. This is not an easy path, but with compassion and firm conviction for love, we can make a difference and it will be all worth it.