|Psychologist Battles Puerto Rico’s High Divorce Rate
SAN JUAN – At least half of the marriages in Puerto Rico end in divorce due to mistakes in choosing the right partner, psychologist Silma Quiñones says in her latest book, “GPS del Amor” (GPS of Love).Quiñones, famous for being on the television program “Battle of the Sexes,” said Monday in an interview with Efe that as many as three out of every four married couples on the island might be getting divorced because the right technique is so seldom used in selecting a spouse.
The psychologist said that Puerto Ricans choose a husband or wife based on physical attractions, the person’s intelligence, or his or her income – in that order – while in her opinion what they should value is maturity and the other person’s willingness to make a commitment.
“Most of these relationships don’t work out because the wrong criteria are used, rather than considering honesty and the ability to take responsibility,” she said, after noting that “GPS del Amor” is meant to be a teaching manual on how to choose a spouse.
She said that the vast number of separations has given Puerto Ricans low expectations about their intimate relationships, something she linked to the tendency on the island to grab anybody for a girlfriend or boyfriend without thinking seriously about it.
Quiñones said that the consequences of a great many failed love affairs is the tendency of Puerto Ricans to live alone – often with their children – and have sporadic relationships without expecting anything to come of them.
She also mentioned the tendency on the island to cut engagements short before deciding to start a life together or get married.
“The period of getting to know each other ought to last at least six months,” she said, though she added that no precise time exists for analyzing the future couple in depth.
“They should evaluate and observe, because often there are differences between what a person says and what he or she does afterwards,” said the psychologist, a university professor and author of “Alerta Roja” (Red Alert), a manual for preventing dangerous relationships and identifying potential abusers.
Quiñones said that in the case of Puerto Rico, the situation is more complicated than in other places because of the limited geographic space that offers less “supply” than other places.
With regard to differences by sex, she said that a woman has more trouble finding the right spouse given the traditional passive role assigned to her, which means she waits for the man to make the first move.
“A woman ought to change this kind of behavior and be more active, using approaches in which she takes the initiative,” she said, adding that people nowadays make very hurried emotional and economic commitments before really finding out who it is they are attracting.
Quiñones, with 25 years of professional experience, encourages Puerto Ricans in her book to find someone to marry, since “it is better than being alone” and the benefits more than repay the effort involved.
Quiñones says that Puerto Ricans living as a couple have sexual relations more frequently and even enjoy better health than singles.
She also says in her book that to find the right spouse, first a person has to be happy with being single, because, she says, “being without a spouse is neither a tragedy nor a defect, it’s just a status.” EFE