The Jakarta Post
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Changing views spur divorce rate
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
It is undeniable that divorce rates in Indonesia are rising, believed to be caused by changing views on holy matrimony. It seems marriage is now merely regarded as one of the many avenues people can take in life.
"I estimate there will be a 3.6 percent increase in divorce rates each year," National Commission for Child Protection secretary general, Arist Merdeka Sirait, said here Friday.
Sarlito Wirawan Sarwono, chairman of the Asian Psychologists' Association (APA), said, "There is indeed an increasing trend of divorce (in Indonesia). However, I don't have the percentage on that.
"Nowadays, there are various options for both men and women, like polygamous marriage, cyber sex, one night stands and contraception," he said, adding that the frequency of extramarital relations was also likely to increase.
A psychologist from the University of Indonesia, Winarini Wilman, said divorce often occurred when spouses felt dissatisfied with the inequalities associated with give-and-take aspects of a relationship.
"The availability of opportunities and a person's moral values about what is good and bad also play significant roles here," she said.
"Most husbands who betray their spouses do so for sexual adventure, while most wives seek more intimate emotional relationships and to upgrade their self-esteem.
"The culture is more tolerant toward infidelity among men. For example, cases in which the wife fails to become pregnant and the man seeks another sexual partner," said Winarini.
According to child protection commission data, from January 2006 to March 2007 a total of 327 divorce cases were reported to the commission, of which nine resulted from infidelity.
Despite Winarini's view that infidelity was a trait exhibited predominantly by husbands, the commission's report showed that seven out of nine cases reported had been triggered by wives' infidelity.
"The reports do not speak (about divorce) in general because the cases that come to the commission are specific," Sarlito said.
Sixty-two percent of divorce cases reported to the commission were the result of the family's economic condition.
"A wife might also see divorce as a way out of being trapped as the cash cow in a marriage," Winarini said.
Arist said that in 2006, some 15,000 divorce cases went through Jakarta's five district courts. Of these, 32 percent were triggered by infidelity.
Winarini said divorce between parents could damage children of any age. Adolescents are most vulnerable because they are in the process of developing the faculties of logic and thought. However, the negative impacts associated with divorce can also be felt by children under the age of five.
"Preventive action should start from within one's self. A person must be able to activate a pattern of thinking that is realistic, proportional and positive," she said.
Winarini pointed out that in a marriage, it is necessary to keep learning about one's spouse. "Learning about each other is a lifetime process."
She said the keys to marriage success were tolerance and the understanding that people change.
Consolidating the purpose of marriage is also important, because entrance into marriage also means happiness for the sake of all stakeholders in the family -- the wife, the husband and the children.
The increasing rates of divorce, in my view, is inevitably also caused by the more financially independence in women. More women pour out to the job field outside the house, make themselves financially independent. More women realize that they are equal with their husbands, moreover with the amount of money they get from their job and they use to support the household needs. However, I am of opinion that the number of men who realize that their wives are equal with them is not as many as the number of women who think that way. The reason is of course, men still think conventionally that they must be the boss in the family, must be the king respected by their wife, while at the same time they forget that women must be respected too. when this kind of relationship happens between a conventional man and a progressive woman, divorce inevitably is likely to happen. The woman thinks that she can survive without her husband now that she has her own paycheck.
Besides, I also agree with Winarini stating that consolidating the purpose of marriage is also important. In the reality many people get married only to follow the consensus that people were born to get married, to be considered as “normal” creature. They still believe that marriage is the only gate to be happy in this life. When they get stuck in their marriage and the marriage in fact shows the contradictory thing—let’s say that marriage does not only tell us about happiness just like what is usually narrated in the fairy tales—and when the women get high confidence to “oppose” the consensus that to be happy is to get married, this will absolutely increase the number of divorce.
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