Despite declaring marriage vows which include “till death do us apart”, despite hopes and dreams at the beginning of a marriage, sometimes couples find it hard to continue living together.
According to section 61 of the new Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act passed in February this year, the court may grant a verdict of divorce to dissolve a marriage if that marriage has “irretrievably” broken down.
Among other reasons, the act permits courts to dissolve any marriage where one partner has committed adultery and the other partner finds it intolerable to live with him or her.
Emily Nkhoma, a marriage counsellor from Lilongwe believes that marriage is a commitment between God and the couple.
“It is even written in the Bible and other religious books that a man shall leave his father and mother for his wife and the two shall be one flesh. These people made a commitment to God to stay together. Thus, even if they decide to live apart, it does not release them from their commitment to God unless a just cause frees them from this obligation.
“Adultery is the worst of all. If one of the two marriage partners commits adultery, it is reason enough for the other partner to live apart, unless the partner forgives,” she explained.
While stressing that there are no biblical grounds for divorce, Pastor McLoyd Bwanali of the Churches of Christ in Lilongwe agreed that a person can be granted divorce based on adultery.
“However, it should be noted that divorce is a very serious issue in marriage. Biblically, even religious leaders do not have authority to dissolve people’s marriages. Marriages should only end with death of the other partner.
“However marriage is about trust, love and commitment. By committing adultery, one destroys those foundations of marriage. That is why we allow divorce if the other partner admits of being unfaithful,” said Bwanali.
He quoted Mathew 19:9 where Jesus talks about the plight of committing adultery.