Quitting Marriage, But Not Quite Yet.

Addressing the conservatives: First of all, I adhere to the principle that marriage is a sacred union that must be given the high regard it deserves. Nevertheless, just as the Catholic Church herself under its Canon Law, recognizes that there are justifiable causes for the dissolution of marriage, our civil law likewise acknowledges the same.

I have met women seeking advice on how to proceed in dissolving the bond of a marriage gone sour. Some decide to pursue it, while others, after some considerable time, decide otherwise.

Common reason? The “what ifs” –the seduction of believing that somehow things will change and the marriage can still be saved.

More often than not, a woman contemplating dissolving her marriage has already satisfied the logical requirements in making the decision. In fact, at one point, or at so many points during the marriage, she already uttered the words, “That’s it! I can’t stay in this marriage anymore.”

Now, what usually keeps her from finally deciding? From my experience, the answers may be categorized into three aspects. Not necessarily according to the order of importance, these are: 1) emotional struggle; 2) social expectations; and 3) financial dependence.

Emotional struggle. These maybe sometimes worded as: “I still love him”; “I believe he still loves me and he is going to change for the better”; “I will have no one to care for me”; to concerns such as “I will no longer feel his kiss, his embrace, see his smile…” Then there are mundane subjects like: “Who is going to pick me up from the office when my car breaks down or accompany me to parties whenever there is one” or even the matter of “who is going to lift the bottle of water into the water dispenser…or the pipe! The water pipe! What if there’s a leak and he’s no longer around to fix it for me”…and so on and so forth. Of course, there are other things that you will miss about him that could be surprisingly distressful. This is the emotional struggle of longing for the “damsel-in-distress-is-saved-by-her-knight-in-shining-armour” experience.

Social expectations. Troubling questions such as “What will my family say?”, “What will my friends think? How about my neighbours?”, “How will the children react?” or worse “What will they say to my children?” The list is endless. You can even concern yourself with improbable scenarios like “What if suddenly I meet our common friends in College, what will they say?” Yes, the pressure of social convention – meeting the approval of everyone else.

Financial dependence. Now this is really the hitch IF the wife is totally dependent on the husband for support. Sad to say, this is oftentimes the deciding factor for the wife to stay in the marriage. BUT (and I think I hear my college professor saying “Don’t start a sentence with a ‘but’.”) only a few people know that the law actually provides the spouse a remedy in this aspect. This is called “SPOUSAL SUPPORT.” This may be enforced by the court at its own instance or at the request of the concerned spouse. The order saying so may be enforced immediately. Oh yes, Aha!

What the law says with regards to spousal support.

Under Philippine law, the concerned spouse may be granted support out of the community property of the marriage. The standard of living during the marriage may be made basis for the amount of support that may be awarded. Also, if your spouse is employed, the court may even direct the deduction of the provisional support from the salary of the spouse.

There it is, in black & white: you are not actually at the mercy of your spouse in terms of financial support.

Other provisional remedies pending dissolution of marriage are also available. These include child support, child custody, visitation rights, protection order, and hmmm even a “hold departure order” for the spouse who intends to abscond from his obligation. Wow woman! This is power in your own hands.

So, to those contemplating the dissolution of their marriage, are you quitting marriage, or not quite yet?

Sincerely yours,

Divorcee (“Been there, done that”)