Culture is generally, described and accepted as people’s way of life, which among other things includes their material lives. The inspiration of every matured man or woman is to have a stable and happy marital life, be compatible in love, values, academic, economic and of course be socially alright. This in line with the postulation of Onyema (1994), that marriage is a social institution for the union of body and soul.
However, stability in marriage may at times be influenced by certain socio-cultural variables. The influence of the variables may be negative resulting to insecurity and unhappiness in marriage or may be positive resulting to a stable and happy union. These variables range from cultural diversity (in case of interethnic marriage), to educational, social, economic and even religious background.
Even age difference is inclusive in these variables. For instance, a lady once confessed that she can never marry an illiterate no matter how rich no matter how rich he may be, because, one day, he might ignorantly use his certificate as a toilet tissue. The implication of this open confession is incompatibility and social inequality in education which are factors that may influence marital stability. The current instability in some marriages in our society today tend to be the resultant influence of social, economic and cultural changes in people’s pattern of living. These changes, according to Amaonye, (1996), have occurred and has continued to occur so rapidly that they are not yet absorbed into our ways of living.
Furthermore, compatibility in social lives of couples a strong factor for marital stability and survival. When the social lives of couples are at variance, it may likely portend great threat to marital stability, because it takes time to come to terms with why some social outings and involvement are necessary. However, the realization of the salient influence of these socio cultural variables on marriage may likely be positive moment towards marriage stability in our society today.
1.2 Theories of Marriage
Osarenren (2005), postulated that marriage is one of the roles expected by every society for its members during adulthood. The implication of this postulation is that marriage is not only regarded by the society as a normal pattern of social behaviour, it is also a legal necessity. Marriage, therefore, constitutes an essential means of human propagation and an avenue for children’s upbringing for a better and disciplined society.
According to Almond (2000), it is believed that in marriage, the assurance for security, love, and companionship is provided. In upholding this view, Adman (1998) theorized that nature did not construct human being to be alone. He further emphasized that those who have never known the deep intimacy and intense companionship of happy mutual love have missed the best thing life has to give.
Marriage is an aspect of social life affecting both immediate members (couples) and other members of the community. A man and a woman are attracted to each other in marriage because each hopes that the relationship will satisfy a variety of their needs which include love, values, financial support, social protection and long-life companionship. However, inevitable difficulties and challenges do accompany marriage.
Indeed, many a gap seem to exist between an individual’s relational ideal and eventual relational reality. As much of the scholarship suggests, problematic communication patterns can contribute to relational demise, (Hottman, 2004). Much of the popular literature suggests men and women are different and that these differences manifest themselves through the sexes’ different communication and relationship needs. Some of the scholarly research however, suggest that men and women are not very different in their communication or relationship needs (Gray, 1997), although some differences do exist, so do some similarities.
When considering couple communication in close marital relationship, as variety of things are relevant and of interest. First, what gender differences (if any) are recognizable in couple communication patterns? Second, how do couple-type identification and gender-role adherence play a part in how individuals communicate with partners in marriage? Finally, how do aspects of gender-role adherence and coupe-type identification relate to (dis) satisfactory couples communication? It should be noted that most of the relevant research has been done in western cultures, with most of it conducted in the United States.
As Kathleen (1998) theorizes, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage began a song popular in the 1950s. According to Kathleen, love and freedom of choice are important in western society. individuals choose their own marriage partners generally by falling in love. There are however, other ways of contracting marriage when those considerations are not regarded as important by a particular group or society which may emphasize economic or political requirements instead. In no society is marriage simply a contract between two individuals. It is a part of the arrangement that a society makes to perpetuate and organize itself. It is about protecting, organising and replacing its individual members and socio-political alliances between families and between society. Depending on the society, and the emphasis it places on personal freedom, the individuals themselves will be more or less involved in decisions about whom and when they will marry.
In western society, Allen (2000) claims that a couple in love before marrying, the individuals themselves play a major role in choosing their partner. Although we believe that individuals have a great deal of choice as to whom they will marry, the choice is in practice often limited by some variables line, age, religion, social class, and educational or occupational status and most especially, cultural background of individuals who want to go into marriage union. In many other societies, marriage is regarded as far too important to be left to the individuals concerned and made on the basis of romantic considerations. If marriage is part of an alliance between families or groups, the elders of the family play a major role in arranging the marriage. This method also protects young and inexperienced people from the responsibility of such a big decision.
Basically, the laws and customs of wedding and marriages reflect the predominant values of the society which establishes them. different societies and different individuals regard some elements as more important than others. There is no absolute or correct form of marriage (Admson, 1997).
1.2.1 Theories on Marital Stability
Without marital stability, the ideals of material life cannot be realized. Anyanwu (2000) theory on marital stability laid emphasis on the conflict between the couples quests for city jobs and their traditional roles and the subsequent insecurity of this to marriage.
According to the theory, adults leave the security of their traditional homes and seek employment opportunities in cities and towns. And beside getting the hoped for economic satisfaction, many couples are often confronted with many problems that may effect their marriage stability. Hence there is the probability of being exposed to foreign patterns of living which are totally different and in conflict with there own culture.
It is in line with this theory that Amanoye (1996) theorised that the current instability in some marriages tends to be the result of educational, social, economic changes which have occurred and continued to occur so rapidly that they are not yet fully absorbed into our way of living. In essence the continued migration of people from the rural to urban centres, the entry of women to industry, workforce and business, coupled with the changing economic roles of husbands tend to constitute marriage instability.
At times if the foundation is poor, it may also constitute a problem in later marital life. For instance, these days youngsters and youths are often far away from their parents and relatives who can put them through on how to adjust to future marital life. Achuzie (1999) theorised that more than before, the youths cry out for the services of guidance and counsellors to assist them in their problems of living especially, in the struggle to maintain a stable marriage.
Thus, the emphasis on the significance of advance preparation and equipment to foster future marital stability.
1.2.2 Theories of Socio-Cultural Variables on Marital Stability
Are there any factors that predict marital success? A great deal of research has been devoted to this question. This research has been plagued by one obvious problem. How do you measure “marital success”? Some researchers have simply compared divorced and intact couples in regard to premarital characteristics. Other researchers have used elaborate questionnaires to measure couples marital satisfaction. However, these instruments appear to measure complacency and lack of conflict more than satisfaction. Although the measures of marital stability or success are rather crude, some predictors of marital success have been found. These relations are all statistically weak, but they are intriguing nonetheless (Mann, 1998).
According to Almon (2001), the marital adjustment of parents is correlated with the marital satisfaction of their children. People whose parents were unhappily married are more likely than others to have an unsatisfactory marriage. For a number of reasons, marital instability appears to run in the families.
As Poconko et al (2003) put it, there are many important variables that can make or marr marriages. According to them, apart from family background, the variable to be considered to help marriage of a couple is age. The ages of couples or bride and bridegroom are also related to the likelihood of success. Couples who marry young have higher divorce rates (London and Wilson, 1994). Surprisingly, couples who marry late also have a higher propensity to divorce. Because they are selected from a smaller pool of potential mates, older newly weds are more likely to differ in age, religion, social status, and education. Such differences make marriage more challenging, regardless of age.
Other variables that can affect marriage are length of courtship and socio-economic class. Longer periods of courtship are associated with greater probability of marital success (Grover and Russell, 2000). It is probably not the duration of courtship itself that is critical. Rather, this correlation may occur because people who are cautious about marriage have attitudes and values that promote marital stability. The frequency of divorce is higher in the working and lower class than in the upper and middle class. There are probably many reasons, but a key one appears to be the greater financial stress in lower socio-economic strata.
According to Schumm (1993), another variable that can affect marital success is personality. Personality he theorizes is generally, partners traits are not predictive of marital stability. However, the presence of serious psychological and emotional disorder in one or both partners is associated with marital problems among couples. Other variables that can affect marital success include: tolerance, marital altitudes, mutual trust, children, couple communication, similarity between couples etc.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
Marital instability is one of the painful experiences of life. The wish of every married man and woman is to spend their life time together and joyfully till death part them. However, this is not usually the case all the time because at a particular period in their lives, frictions do arise which leads to a near or total collapse of the marriage. And this is one of the inevitable challenges that accompany marriages.
Socio-cultural factors such as religious, age, socio-economic status, social class, educational background, personality, traditional values etc influence the marital stability of marriage among couples are very important variables in marital stability but the relevance of these factors are not recognized by many couples, no wonder there are breakages in many homes as a result of no love, lack of understanding, lack of compatibility, disparity in age, in education, religion and social classes.
Many for instance, have failed to realize that when couples are of diverse culture (inter-ethnic marriage), there is need to respect each other’s culture since this translates to respecting the person you married and subsequent marital stability. These days marriages fail due to lack of tolerance, lack of mutual trust, lack of patience, non-child bearing, no effective communication, lack of good marital altitudes, similarities between couples, lack of maturity and poor socio-economic status.
Finally, when couples are not from same socio-cultural background, and do not have the value system and norms, they tend to vary in understanding of themselves and lack of understanding no doubt, creates conflict, and instability in marital union.
1.4 Purpose of the Study
The major purpose of this study is to determine the influence of socio-cultural variables on marital stability among couples in Lagos State.
Other objectives of this study include to:
2. Examine whether there is difference between religion and marital stability among couples.
3. Find out whether there is difference between ethnicity and marital success among couples.
4. To determine whether there is influence of communication on marital stability.
5. To investigate whether socio-economic status has an impact on couples’ marital success.
1.5 Research Questions
The following research questions will assist the conduct of this study:
1. Will there be a significant influence of socio-cultural variables on marital stability among couples?
2. Will there be a significant difference between ethnicity and marital stability?
3. Will religious backgrounds of couples influence their marital stability?
4. Is there any significant influence of socio-economic states of couples on their marital stability?
5. Will lack of communications affect the marital stability of couples?
1.6 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses were formulated for testing in this study:
1. There is no significant influence of socio-cultural variable on couples’ marital stability.
2. There is no significant influence of ethnicity on couples’ marital stability.
3. There is no significant influence of religion on couples’ marital stability.
4. There is no significant influence of communication on couples’ marital stability.
1.7 Significance of the Study
Marriage should be contracted through a careful planning and accidental marriage (that is marriages that are not planned but are forced on couples to save the family or families from embarrassment) should be avoided like a plague. Before a man weds his wife, both of them should reach the age of maturity. They should mature socially, economically, temperamentally, financially etc.
For a happy marriage, they should maintain a feeling of love and affection. The wife must experience a feeling of being wanted and a sense of belonging, care and security. The husband too needs love and affection to ensure him of a stable marriage. Marriage partners should avoid cognitive error that is, they should not expect the other person to see it. Therefore, if the husband wants the wife to behave in a certain way, he should inform her about his wishes, the same is true of the wife to her husband.
Sexual compatibility tends to foster marital stability, marital oneness to large extent depends on sex. Infact, sex is a form of communication and probably, the most legitimate in which two persons (husband and wife) express oneness of mind and feeling. Therefore, partners in marriage should be socially compatible. Child-bearing is a factor that foster marriage may not be her fault. The main may be very low to effect pregnancy. To avoid unnecessary doubts, both husband and wife should go for a medical checkup to rectify or correct the problem of childessness.
For marriage to work out well, couples should not entertain the interference of in-laws or the third party syndrome. They should avoid washing their dirty lining in the public. They should be of one religious sect, joint account, mind the same thing, maintain peace in the home and allow love and affection to rule their world.
The delimitation of this study is the influence of socio-cultural variables on marital stability among couples in the Lagos metropolis.
The research will cover mainland local government area of Lagos State since the research is making use of only mainland local government area, the generalizability of the findings is limited to the local government area.
However, this study cannot present all the marital problems exhibited by all the couples in Lagos State considering the scope the generalizability of the findings can only be applicable to the other couples in similar conditions.