Sunday, 30 October 2016

A doomed marriage.

Some marriages bloom while others are doomed.

In a recent judgment, HC Judge Choo made this candid observation: "With perfect lens of hindsight it is obvious that this marriage was doomed 16 years ago."

This marriage is the unfortunate union of a doctor and his clinic assistant wife. The facts are quite depressing.

ROM in March 1990. Three children born out of this union with the eldest now 23 yrs old. Everything spiraled down south in 2001, just 11 yrs after ROM.

Here is what's doomed about it. The wife filed for three divorces in 2001 (dismissed in 2005 after a full trial), in 2010 (dismissed subsequently when contested) and in 2015 (which went for another full trial), and came before Judge Choo in an appeal.

Legal technicalities aside, the union was a harvest of woes since 2001. And Judge Choo even waxed lyrical in his judgment comparing it to a parallel event in history: "Three wars were fought the day after Carthage and Rome realized that they could not live together side by side. The Punic Wars as they are known lasted more than a century from 261 BCE."

Here is what the husband alleged transpired between them in a marital Wars of the Roses.

Since 2001, the husband was charged in court on three separate occasions because his wife complained to the CPF that he did not pay her CPF contributions (while working as his nurse), that he sold medicine illegally, and that he bribed two patient to testify for him. However, the husband was also acquitted on all three occasions! Long story short, his wife's complaint did not hold water in court.

But that's not all. The wife also complained to MOH and HSA about some illegally imported medicine from Malaysia. When MOH and HSA raided the clinic, they found nothing. The wife also complained to MOE on various occasions about her husband's bubble tea business and he had to close his bubble tea shop.

She further lodged a police report about her husband forging her signature to cash a cheque, but no action was taken against the husband (as it turned out, it was in fact her own signature). In 2003, the wife also applied for an injunction to freeze his bank account, applied for enforcement of her maintenance, and garnished his bank for failing to pay her costs for a maintenance appeal.

If you think that's the end of the so called Punic Wars between them, think again. Here are further allegations by the husband.

His wife reported to the police about child abuse committed by the husband. But the investigation found no cause. In Jan 2006, the wife "had beaten one of the children so badly the child had to be treated in a hospital, but the husband pleaded with the police not to prosecute the wife."

And in July 2015, she returned home to find the gate locked. Her attempts to force open the gate agitated the family's two Rottweiler dogs "and when one of their children (then aged 7) ran out on hearing the wife's shouting, the dogs attacked the child so severely that the child's ear was bitten off."

Of course, the wife had her side of her story, but the appeal Judge noted that "in brief, the underlying facts were not denied." In fact, the wife appeared to be in denial when she said that the children are not against her. The trial judge however noted that "one of the children was found by the school counselor to be "suicidal and murderous"".

It further reports that "the husband explained that the child in question wanted to return home to kill the mother (the wife)." It is therefore not surprising that all three children testified in favor of their father against their mother.

Yet after all that, the husband asserts that they still slept together, "had dinners and walks together, and had activities with the children together."

In the end, the husband got his divorce, but on the revised ground of the wife's desertion of the family and not on his allegation of her unreasonable behavior (mainly because those alleged events happened decades ago and he, strange as it might be, still attempted reconciliation with her).

Lesson? Make no mistakes, your greatest fortune or misfortune is your spouse. He or she can make a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven. And if hell has no fury like a woman scorned, then heaven has no place in a marriage torn.

While the marriage vows reminded us that it is for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part, in reality, at least for some reality, emotional death as manifested in endless bitterness, recriminations and revenge comes early for some hapless couple.

Alas, a marriage can only take so much before the emotional bough breaks and the cradle of marital bliss falls.

Frankly, I have no illusions about marriage. A match may be stitched in heaven during the wedding night, but it can turn into a nightmare after the froth in the champagne glass settles.

Who are we kidding? The divorce rates are rising and some modern marriages are like a canary in the coal mine. All it takes is a whiff of one or two disappointments, expectation falling short or a better alternative looming around to knock the poor songbird off the perch.

Honestly, I do not know of the secret to a long marriage. But I am quite sure about the cause of a short one, and it is in a heart that has no room for anyone else except oneself.

When we see everything only through the prism of self, our world gets smaller, our understanding narrows and our heart waxes cold. Somehow, nothing else matters except how we feel about it. Soon, the measure of all happiness depends on what makes us happy. We become self-referential, self-absorbed.

With the obsession of self comes the destruction of everything else - including a union that is supposedly destined to merge two imperfect lives into one unified whole.

Let me end here. Judge Choo wrote that even the Punic wars ended after the third war. I wish the couple in the above case well. I hope for them peace henceforth. God knows they and their children have gone through a lot. It is indeed time for healing for a union that has sadly gone their separate ways long before this court case. Cheerz.

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