Marriage is a social contract between two human beings of the opposite gender. The people concerned are not only physiologically mature but also traditionally recognized by their immediate neighbourhood as being qualified for the holy matrimony (OKoro, 1981). This is perhaps based on the fact that marriage is for people that have attended a certain age bracket with high degree of maturity. Marriage as a social contract is permanent and requires endurance and tolerance from both parties.
In some areas, the above concept of marriage has been neglected, thus exposing teenagers to early marriage. Early marriage is synonymous to child or adolescent marriage. A child is not really mature for any appreciable responsibility until he becomes an adult. On that note, early marriage is obviously defined as a union of either or two persons of the opposite sex as husband and wife without attaining physiological and psychological development (Eleonu, 1984).
Education is regarded as all of man’s activities which enable him realize himself and live fully as a human being or a process of influencing the young and inexperienced so that they may become worthy human beings and citizens (Onwuka, 1975). Basically, education is a process of harmonizing the individual within a given environment in such a manner as to enable him to develop his physical, mental, emotional and volitional capacities for the happiness and welfare of all. Based on the definition, education is a means to marital happiness.
The zeal to be educated empowers girls to stay in school, delay pregnancy and marry latter, these are essential interventions that can substantially improve their chances of becoming well informed, productive citizens.
Early marriage has robbed millions of women a whole opportunity for educational development and self-realization in all sphere of human endeavour. Many of them with little or no vocation in all sphere of human endeavour. Many of them with little or no vocational training cannot help but to engage in low-income employment if there is need for them to supplement the family income. Worst still, offspring of such mothers end up marrying early like their mothers and with low level of education. Also, many of these early married mothers and their children usually look wasted, emaciated and older than their age because of the trauma experienced in coping with their marital problems due to lack of education. Many of their children are malnourished and succumb easily to diseases.
Marriage as a union of a man and a woman is not meant for adolescent or children. It is an institution that would last as long as the world continues to exist; it should not be tackled in a haste. According to Obiageli (1989), it requires a thorough examination and re-examination. However, marriage is therefore God’s first human institution with direct responsibility of replenishing the world. It involves joint responsibility of mature opposite gender which are supposed to be ascribed with loving and caring for each other. But because of the rampant nature of teenage marriage, some families and marriage today are facing and experiencing the worst trying period; tension, anxieties, quarrels, fears, fighting, uneasiness and chaos have become the order of the day, thus, creating high blood pressure and premature death. This situation of marriage can be associated with low level of education, orphanage factors, many female children, accidental or unplanned pregnancy and the desire to enjoy the honour associated with matrimony, as well as cultural heritage accorded to married people.
However, motherhood at a very young age entails a risk of maternal death that is much greater than average, and the children of young mothers have higher levels of morbidity and mortality. Early child bearing continues to be an impediment to improvements in the educational, economic and social status of women in all parts of the world. Overall for young women, early marriage and early motherhood can severely curtail educational and employment opportunities and are likely to have a long term adverse effect on the quality of life of young women and their children. Against all odds, it takes mental and physical maturity to make a successful marriage. Anatomically, it is known that bones continue to grow and stops between 18-20 years. By international conventions, 18 years has been established as the legal age of consent to marriage. Before this age, mental and physical maturity are inadequate. Hence, a youth who gets married before this age definitely does not have the where without to make a successful marriage.
Inspite of the desire of most teenagers in many culture these days to make great progress in their chosen fields and to lead a life of self reliance, the priority with many of them is marriage and a settled home with a living partner and children. But because of the problems accruing from early marriage and low level of education, these dreams have in most cases become a mirage. Perhaps, since the beginning of the world, the belief has been that a woman is created for nothing else but for marriage and rearing of children hence neglecting education. Thus, most culture however, have come to resolve that the earlier a girl takes up this role for the reason of her existence, the better.
Early marriage and low level of education lead to beginning sex quite early and this could cause some havoc on a girl’s physiological and emotional health. Based on that, it has become an absolute necessity to enact laws to safeguard the lives and health of our young girls to make sure that something that can be prevented is avoided. However, for the health and well been of the mother and child, it would be desirable to postponed marriage and face education till above the age of 20 years when the woman is mature enough both emotionally and physically. This in turn would reduce maternal and infant mortality rate, slow population growth and thus contribute to the improvement of the quality of the family generally.
Statement of the Problem
In view of the peculiar nature of women, physiologically and psychological, as well as their cultural and familial roles, their status fluctuate. Their mental health are more at risk, resulting sometimes in certain gender specific disorders like pauperial psychosis and menopausal complications due to hormonal imbalances. Based on the fluctuating mental health of women, the researcher wonders if some variables related to women have any link in their mental health. Such variables inherent in the women’s world are their personality, age at marriage, level of education, locality, socio-economic status etc.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the present study is to investigate if there is a relationship between early marriage and educational level of women on their levels of anxiety.
Specifically, the researcher assessed if there is a link between:
- Age of marriage and level of anxiety of women
- Educational level of women and their level of anxiety
Definition of Terms
Early Marriage: Marriage in which the female is below the age of 18 years which has been established as the legal age of consent to marriage.
Educational Level: The extent and quality of training acquired by an individual. Here low educational level is having little or no educational training as below SSCE while high educational level is having acquired enough educational training of B.Sc. or HND & above.
Anxiety: Feeling of dread, apprehension or fear that is often accompanied by increased heart rate, perspiration, muscle tension and rapid breathing as measured here with the State Trait Anxiety Inventory.
Women: Adult females of the human race or wife’s. Those used for the present study were selected from those that had early and late marriage.