01 January 2009

Best of Random Answers

Long-term users of my website will recall the surprisingly popular feature "Random Answers to Random Search Terms" which disappeared during the website's recent renovations. Random Answers had it origins in the odd, and sometimes downright bizarre, search terms which somehow managed to find my website and raised questions that I sometimes decided to answer. Here are a selection of some of my personal favourites.

>> how to get caught marrying during divorce waiting period
>> how soon after the divorce can you remarry
>> is divorce morally wrong

These seemed related, so I thought I'd answer them all at once.

Canadian divorce orders take effect thirty days after the date they are pronounced. (The delay is to allow the period in which the order can be appealed to expire.) Once the order takes effect, you can remarry.

If you want to get caught remarrying inside the appeal period - which seems like a bad idea to me — tell the judge who made the divorce order. Otherwise the odds are very good you won't get caught.

Neither the courts nor the Vital Statistics Agency polices divorce orders to make sure no one remarries within the appeal period. In fact, the Vital Statistics Agency won't even check to make sure you're not already married to someone else when they issue you your marriage licence.

To be blunt, the only person who might care that you've remarried within the appeal period is your new spouse, since your marriage to him or her is technically void.

Is divorce immoral? The Pope and I take differing views on this, and he's stopped returning my calls. Most religions, even the orthodox variety, condone divorce. Divorce is discussed with approval in the Koran, Jews can get a divorce through a special rabbinical tribunal, and most Christian faiths are all over separation and divorce, except for the focus-on-the-family evangelical types and hardcore Catholics, and I respect their views on the matter as well.

At the end of the day, regardless of your religious persuasion, comes the blistering truth: is it moral to remain trapped in a loveless relationship until the day you die, forsaking any chance of finding happiness and self-actualization, all for the sake of antiquated notions about the sanctity of marriage that were developed at a time when most people died before their 35th birthday?

>> scool problm in children in divorce family

Frankly, I'm not surprised.

Seriously, though, separation is often as traumatic for children as it is for their parents. Younger children generally do not understand what is happening, and their anxiety at home often shows up at school and reflects in their homework.

Children react particularly poorly when they are exposed to the conflict between the parents, when the parents use them as pawns in their own battles, and where the parents openly fight in front of the children. Children will feel especially anxious when no one bothers to explain to them what's going on, and will sometimes make up their own stories about why the parents no longer live together, including the belief that the break up is their fault. As you can imagine, stories like these are not particularly healthy and can seriously damage a child's self-esteem.

What can you do about this? Here are some ideas:

  • The children must be told, by both parents, that each parent still loves the children and will always love the children.
  • The children must not be made to feel bad for loving or missing the other parent and saying so.
  • The children should be told that the separation is not their fault, and perhaps that the separation is a problem between the parents and isn't about the children.
  • Each parent must maintain a positive a nurturing home for the children, and make their time with the children as "normal" as possible. That includes doing homework and talking about the children's days at school, and everything else the parents used to do with the children when they were together.
  • The children must not be used to carry messages between the parents' homes, unless the messages are written down.
  • The children should not be grilled about what they've done with the other parent. "Did you have a nice time?" should do it.
  • The parents must not blame the other parent to the children. Each parent should make a point of speaking positively about the other parent to the children.

I suppose there's really no guaranteed solution or a solution that's particularly easy. Parenting after separation is hard work, but everything that can be done to make the children feel safe, stable and loved should be done and must be done. Even if it means choking on your pride.

>> what are the pros and cons of arranged marriages

Wow, where to begin.

Arranged marriages are fairly common in certain Asian, East Asian and African traditional cultures. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but the same cultures generally see women as inherently inferior to men and wives are usually subjugated to their husbands' wishes and authority.

One would expect these charmingly antique but very sexist values to attach to contemporary arranged marriages, perhaps not between the couple themselves but definitely to the extended families' expectations of the marriage and the wife's role in the marriage.

Arranged marriages also recall a lot of old western attitudes to marriage. Prior to, say, the 20th century, marriage was a financial endeavour. Wives sacrificed their property and their ability to conduct business independent of their husbands in exchange for a legal entitlement to be supported by their husbands. Husbands, on the other hand, took their wives' property and earnings, and received the benefits of a full-time nanny, cook, housekeeper and womb, in exchange for an obligation to provide their wives with often paltry "necessities of life."

Returning to the search term, then, I suppose that the biggest "cons" have to do with the notion of choice and the ability to marry for love rather than for a social or cultural obligation.

It really all depends on how you see marriage. If you don't see marriage as that sort of social obligation, but see it as freely choosing to enter into a life-long partnership with someone you love and respect, then an arranged marriage probably isn't the right plan. Hoping to "learn to love" an obligatory spouse is really rather optimistic, and the marriage comes with no guarantees at all.

To summarize the "cons" of arranged marriages, then:

  • new spouse may be unbearable and have disgusting personal habits that you don't know about
  • spouse's extended family may be similarly loathsome
  • spouse's family will have traditional expectations of your role in the marriage
  • being stuck with the new spouse, and his or her family members, forever (theoretically at least)
  • spouse's commitment to the marriage will likely be based on traditional values rather than on love and respect
  • increased likelihood of disrespect, and therefore increased likelihood of emotional, verbal and physical abuse
  • absence of choice in selecting new spouse

I'll post more favourites from the past and new Random Answers at irregular and unpredictable intervals.