It was with great relief that I listened and looked on as the judge of a Customary Court in Ibadan granted the divorce that dissolved my marriage of 30years (actually 29, would have been 30 if we had stayed for another 2months) that Monday morning and my captivity under Aliu my ex-husband was broken over religious differences.
I heaved a sigh of relief amidst whispers and voices in the courtroom. My name is Rashidat, a 51-year-old divorcee who resides in Ibadan.
I recall being so scared about the outcome of proceedings as days dragged into months. I was particularly scared that I was going to lose custody of my children along with my marriage.
The Arbitrator, however, awarded custody of the older two of our four kids to Aliu, my husband, because they were grownups. While the two young ones were to stay with me.
My ex-husband, actually filed for the divorce saying he wanted the court to put an end to the union between us on grounds that I was not ready to practice the Islamic religion with him.
He told the court that he had exhausted his patience with me.
We got married in 1990 when I had just completed my training in catering and event management. I was born into an Islamic background but wasn’t fully into it until I married Aliu who is a staunch Muslim and comes from a household of Clerics. I married him because he was the one my parents approved for me.
I played the obedient wife for a very long time but as the years rolled past, things changed and I no longer felt like I belonged to the religion my husband practised. More so I never had peace and joy all my years in marriage until I found my new belief.
I was constantly fighting one spiritual battle or another. I constantly battled strange illnesses and it began to affect my restaurant until a friend took me for prayers at a church.
My husband also mentioned that there were significant changes in my life and health when I started going to church for prayers and I thought he wouldn’t mind me switching beliefs, as we both saw the practical manifestation of prayers in my life.
It came as a surprise to me when out of nowhere my husband began to disapprove of my going to church, even locking me out on several occasions when he learnt I had gone to pray. All these didn’t deter me as I continued going to church and practising my Christianity.
My husband wouldn’t hear of it. He began to give me a hard time in our home. Accused me of burning candles, and doing sinister things. All I did was pray for deliverance. By this time, I had completely stopped practising Islam.
My husband insinuated that I was turning our four children against him by poisoning their minds and telling them he was a bad man. That wasn’t the truth as the children themselves could see their father’s behaviour towards me.
At some point, I was forced to stay away from home because Aliu had threatened me with death or beating. Eventually, I rented a 2 bedroom apartment and my kids decided to stay there with me against their fathers wish.
Aliu would sometimes threaten the kids to leave my place for his, but they always ended up coming back to tell me the vile things he said to them about me. He would also threaten to cut their support if they came to my place.
My own family didn’t help matters as they took sides with my ex-husband calling me a disgrace and disobedient daughter who had been blindfolded and lost to the world.
In court, he accused me of absconding with the children, despite knowing that they willfully followed me. I, in turn, pleaded with the court not to award Aliu custody of the children because he was too busy, and I knew they would suffer if they were left with him.
That’s pretty much my divorce story, my regret is that I wasted my youth and prime on a marriage that shouldn’t be. All I have from the union are my promising children. My restaurant keeps booming by the day, leaving me no free moment to feel my loss.
Many people don’t realise the impact interfaith marriages have on marital health. When the two parties are casual participants in their faith, there usually is no problem but when one of the parties start to take their faith more seriously, cracks start to show.
A study of 2,450 americans with interfaith marriages showed that participants tend to experience a higher percentage of the following than those in single faith marriages:
unhappiness in the marriage
lower rates of marital satisfaction
higher rates of divorce.
A keynote of the study, as well as others in this vein, shows that the tensions increase once the couple starts to have children. With children, issues of properly raising the children, what religion should they follow, what constitutes good behaviour and a whole host of child-raising issues es raise their head.
It is as such not a problem that Rashidat and her husband would experience the issues they started to have, leading to the eventual marriage breakdown and divorce. It is easy to plead for religious tolerance or to even claim that education had a hand in it, that is why I used the American study as my example to show it isn’t so.
Religion is irrational because it is based on faith and believes that are not subject to scientific calculations or logic. You can’t argue with Rashidat on the new found peace she claims to be experiencing, neither can you fault her husband for what he sees as an affront on his faith. This is one of those divorce cases that one just doesn’t have an answer to.
Well, that is my opinion. I would love to know what yours is. Please join the conversation by dropping your comment. Your comment expands the argument and helps broaden our mind. We study these cases to improve our marriages and see how we can be better wives and husbands so your comments sure do help.
If you have a divorce story to share or you would like some counselling, please send me a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your full confidentiality and anonymity are assured. We change names and very revealing aspects of the stories so that your identity remains hidden.