The Consequences Of Divorce In Benin Kingdom

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The Consequences Of Divorce In Benin Kingdom


Marriage is a sacred institution that must be well prepared for. Failure to plan before entering the union is planning to fail after entering the union. Every wedlock is bound to fail depending on the attitudes and inputs of the spouses involved. Divorce is a common feature in the Nigerian society and worldwide. Using Benin Kingdom, as the central focus, Copies of questionnaire were used to elicit data from a sample comprising 60 married respondents in the kingdom for the purpose of assessing the consequences of divorce in Benin kingdom. From the research some factors associated with Divorce are infidelity, witchcraft, unfriendliness, keeping secrets, poverty and in-laws’ intrusion, repeated quarrellings, unemployment, barrenness, spouse beating, religious ethnic differences and sickness. The manner in which partners in a union handle these critical issue signals matrimonial success or failure on the interim of eventually. The way forward cannot be detached from the role of the stakeholders; parents, in-laws, the government for a better counselling arrangement and most importantly the married partners themselves who must put up necessary adjustment to prevent divorce and to cure matrimonial failure if it has already occurred in wedlock.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The family that emerges from a marriage has some basic functions which make it unique. Bilton, Bonnett, Jones, Sheard, Stanworth and Webster (2001) observed that in all societies the family must perform some basic functions involving conception and birth, regular intercourse, socialization and maintenance functions of providing economic support and physical protection for the children as they mature. In fact, each spouse is a source of emotional support and companionship for the other (Filani, 2005). In Nigeria today, the influence of industrialization and urbanization has affected the social system of the country, a part of which is the marriage system. As new cultural patterns, new aspirations and behavioural norms have emerged and as the traditional social ties undergo changes, social control becomes weakened. The family is a sensitive institution and it monitors all these changes and reacts to them by experiencing disorganization. Since the traditional family structure has been so seriously Littered, the functions have equally been affected, and many of it important roles are now known to be associated with many forms of instability.

Marital instability according to Filani 2005), is a breakdown in communication among couples resulting in constant arguments, verbal and physical aggression psychological ill health, emotional and physical separation and sometimes divorce. Filani further noted that marital instability can result from death of spouse, desertion of the spouses, mutual separation of spouses and legal separation of spouses. Of all these factors of marital instability, divorce seems to be the most popular and most copiously documented. Divorce, according to Bohanna (2003), is a complex phenomenon n human relationship and that it takes place in six stages, these are emotional divorce stage, economic divorce stage, legal divorce stage, co-parental divorce stage, Kingdom and psycho, divorce stages. Thus, Lands (2005) explained that divorce becomes a climax to a long story of unhappiness and it provides a legal way out of a situation which one or both parties have considered intolerable. Literature review on marriage shows a number of factors causing divorce in marriage. For instance, Thornton (2001) indicated age and age at marriage as the two most powerful predictors of divorce; Otite and Ogionwo (2001) argued that childlessness in a marriage can lead to divorce in Nigeria; Olayinka (2007) stressed the importance f communication in marital stability; extramarital sex and discrepancy in mate traits have been stressed by Ezenkwu (2008) and Decker (2007) respectively. Olusanya (1970) and Yagoob (1984) identified lack of children, economic factors, communication problems, interference of in-laws and education of spouses as the causes of divorce.

The prevalence of divorce cases in the world today cannot be overemphasized. Weikel and Wilson (2006) stated that divorce in U.S. by 79% between 1970 to 1977 and that one third or more of the marriages f people aged 25 to 35 years will end in divorce. Grebe (2006) also stated that in 1976, a National Centre for Health Statistics study projected that by early 1980s, 49% of all marriages would end in divorce and in fact in the U.S. during 1983, there were 10.5 marriages per ,000 people and 5.0 divorces per 1,000 people (National Centre for Health statistics Personal Communication (2004). Statistical records of marital instability are not compiled in Nigeria as yet. But Newspaper often report cases of marital disruption m weekly basis in Lagos and its environs. For example Solana (1990) reported the case of kids (aged 12 to 16 years) who were of broken homes in the Weekend Concord of September 22nd 1990. These kids according to him have become a nuisance at the Lagos City Hall during parties as they parade and fan invitees in bids to earn a living. In Kwara State, the Mi

1.2 Problem Statement

In accordance with Vanguard newspaper (2012), statistics reveal that 50% of new marriages end up after a short period of one year compared to traditional marriages that would last for 37 years and more but today, they last as low as 37 weeks. In Great Britain, just after the World War 2, in every three marriages, one would end up in divorce. Therefore, in accordance to the country’s statistics, from that period, more than 70% of the children in families would grow up with their biological parents, but with time, the percentage has reduced to nearly 45% (Consumer Insight, 2012).

According to statistics, the divorce rate has been escalating annually (Madam Magazine, 2010). Also, divorce tendencies are on the rise in Nigeria. In Milimani Law Courts, in the year 2001, more than a hundred cases were filed. The number increased to more than 100 and 200 cases in the year 2002 and 2003, respectively. The following years 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008 recorded 296, 295, 357 and 369 cases respectively. Between 2010 and 2015, a total of 1,246 cases have been filed at the Milimani Courts. In the year 2015 alone, 123 cases had been filed at Milimani law courts (Madam Magazine, 2015). According to Gikonyo and Hart (2010), Fida Nigeria handled 142 cases in 2008,149 in 2009 and 69 cases between January and March2010. Despite the high legal cost involved in divorce cases, the number of divorce cases is still high. Nevertheless, a number of couples seek to resolve and settle their marital disputes outside the court (Makeni, 2010).

Infotrak survey in 2010 revealed that only 40 percent of Nigerians are happily married, the rest are either unhappy or uncertain on how to describe their unions. 29 percent of married Nigerians admit that their marriages are crumbling, while 31 percent say they are not convinced whether they are in a happy or unhappy union. About 45 percent say that they are holding on because of the money and property. In the recent twist, financial status and meddling in-laws have overtaken infidelity as the leading cause of broken marriages. Half of all married people who took part in the survey agreed with the statement above. Where the conflict ended in divorce and separation, 64 percent of the respondents said they walked out because of money problems, compared to 56 percent who dissolved marriage because of infidelity. The traditional bond, which is love, that lead couples to the altar has taken a backseat in many Nigerian marriages and its place seized by money and children (Infotrak, 2010).

We as a society need to look at the reasons behind the failing marriages. There is a lot more pressure on marriages and relationships in general than before and the same strategies used in the past are becoming irrelevant. A series of serious conversations must be held if the institution of marriage is to survive, and burying our heads in the sand is not going to cut it anymore (Ngao, 2013). If the reports are anything to go by, the divorce rate in Nigeria is rising as there are cases in courts every day. The number of people getting married in the recent study shows that it is low compared to the people divorcing each other (Consumer Insight, 2012).

Muthoni and Makana (2015) writing in the Standard Newspaper have suggested that marriages are falling apart partly because of cheating about money or finances leading to lose of trust. Other reasons adduced are infidelity whether it’s a one night stand or a lengthy affair, cruelty and polygamy. Two major reasons for separation are cheating partners and the issues related to financial management. Therefore, this study aimed at filling the gap by bringing on board qualitative data on causes of divorce, consequences and possible solutions to divorce in Benin kingdom.

1.3 Research Questions:

  1. What are the causes of divorce in Benin kingdom?
  2. What are the consequences of divorce?
  3. What are the effects of divorce on children’s development?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

  1. To establish the causes of divorce in Benin kingdom.
  2. To examine the consequences of divorce in Benin kingdom.
  3. To examine the effects of divorce on children’s development.

1.5 Significance of the Study

Given the high rates of divorce globally and the fact that it is on the increase in Nigeria, there is need for a comprehensive understanding of the underlying factors that perpetuate the increase.

The findings from this study would help marital counselors in interventions in the divorce education classes for parents. Mediation through this intervention program is presumed to lead to a number of interactions between the parents and also the children. Further, this would enable them maintain connection, and therefore, avoid the issue of divorce between them.

The study also sought to identify factors that cause divorce; it was hoped that once they are brought to the fore, the findings would be used by interventionists to come up with relevant advocacy initiatives based on people’s perceptions, but with the potential to help stabilize marriages in society to safeguard the future generation and that of the institution of the family and marriage.

A growing body of literature has been accrued over the years in Africa; the explanation is greatly expounded in the research papers. This is indicated by a number of family cases that have ended up in divorce (Takyi, 2001). An understanding and a solution from the perspective of the stakeholders has the potential of coming up with practical solutions to advise advocates and family therapists in their important efforts towards creating a working solution to the problem of family instability. Once families are stable, children grow up in a backyard of love and appreciation and they, in turn, are likely to take the values from which they grow up.

1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study

The study focused on the consequences of divorce and marital instability in Benin kingdom. The study population was chosen because of the increasing rate of divorce and marital instability in Nigeria, regionally and globally. Some of the data needed in this study was sensitive and likely to be reserved by respondents. Consent and assurance of confidentiality was used to ensure maximum cooperation during the data collection.

Results and responses could contain inherent biases among individuals for what they perceived as contributing factor in their divorce or separation. Honesty was regarded as the key factor that assisted in teasing out the issues in couples. Among many other disadvantages in this study, some couples refused to be part of the informants for fear of being judged, some men were not so receptive of the idea of the questionnaire, while some respondents had to be approached severally before they accepted to be interviewed. In as much as the respondents were available, it was not easy to get those that were willing to talk about themselves. In a number of cases, possible respondents asked to be sent the questionnaire but later went mute and refused to even respond to calls. In addition to the limitations, the sample in this study is small and may not provide adequate information for generalization across all marriages.
However, any gap in potential sample bias was mitigated through the triangulation method more so, the key informants who had interacted with many divorcing families in the past.

1.7 Definition of Key Terms


Is termination of marriage under the rule of law of a particular country or state

Marital Instability:

According to this study is marriage is at the brink of breaking or collapsing.

Extra Marital Sexual Affairs:

These are illicit romantic and sexual relationships that occur outside marriage. This is also known as infidelity.

1.8 Organization of the Research Report

The research report is arranged in five chapters. The first chapter gives the historical setting of the study, statement of the problem, research goals, study questions, significance of the research, scope of the research and organization of the study. Chapter two provided theoretical definitions of key terms, conjectural and experiential literature review.

It also added the research gap and abstract framework. Chapter three handles research methodology, research design, study area, population as well as the size of the sample and its techniques, types of data, techniques of data collection, data processing and analysis, variables to be measured, and ethical issues. Chapter four dealt with discussion of the result findings. Lastly, chapter five is summary of the findings and their policy implications on government of Benin and Nigeria as a whole, conclusion, recommendations, limitation of the study and suggested areas for further studies and chapter summary.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.0 Summary of the Findings

Divorce was mainly an outcome of issues associated with education, employment, extra marital affairs, young immature individuals getting married, external interference, conflicting opinions, financial instability, cultural issues, domestic violence, sexual abuse, infertility and barrenness, and irresponsibility associated with alcoholism. Couples with varied academic qualifications were likely to divorce due to coherent misunderstanding and as a result of feeling undermined in the marriage. Education and employment among women was associated with their independence and highly contributed to lack of submission to their husbands; and created insecurity among the husbands which resulted in divorce.

Highly demanding jobs reduced family time, created distrust and exposed couples to extra marital affairs that contributed to divorce. Extra marital affairs, reduced and poor communication led to the growth of distrust and mistrust that eventually contributed to divorce. Young immature individuals getting married, as a result of cultural demands, unexpected pregnancy and peer pressure brought together persons who were likely to poorly manage marital issues and eventually divorce. Divorce was also caused by misunderstanding and pursuit of available opportunities including education.

Biased and continued interference from in-laws and existence of family members that depend on one of the couples often resulted in divorce. Varied and conflicting opinions often worsened the relationship between couples and led to irreconcilable differences. Financial instability that affected the provision of basic needs and worsened lifestyle led to quarrels that eventually led to divorce. Culture that supported polygamy, early childhood marriages, male chauvinism and domestic violence highly contributed to the breakdown in marriages in most cases.

Sexual abuse and rape led to disagreements that were associated with divorce. This results from the assumptions that men have exclusive rights over their wives’ sexuality and there is no room for negotiation or consenting all the times.

Barrenness, infertility and inability to bear male children led to divorce even in situations where women were blamed without medical evidence. Further, alcoholism and drug abuse resulted in neglected responsibilities. This also brought with it some degree of selfish interests to share and control the available family resources at the expense of the family welfare.

The major consequences of divorce included poverty and psychological problems. Divorce led to sharing of available family resources, expenses including changing school for children and employing care takers, and hard working conditions to sustain the family. As an outcome of divorce, children and especially the women were exposed to extra work, disconnect with family members, loneliness, stress and poverty that led to psychological suffering.

Timely communication and the mediation by spiritual leaders, friends or family members would help solve disagreements that could result in divorce. Counseling before marriage and in the event of misunderstanding would be a possible solution to divorce. Religion was considered to play a central role in solving marital issues that were likely to develop into divorce. Raising concerns on the well-being of children after divorce was key to slow down the chances of divorce. Bonding events created opportunities for couples to discuss out sources of conflict and mitigate the risk of divorce.

5.1 Conclusions

Marriage and subsequent divorce has become commonplace in Africa. Traditionally, Africa was known as the continent of the family and marriages were mostly based on go-betweens who arranged for a couple to meet and to know each other before marriage. With the advent of education and urbanization, young people today get married based on what they call ‘romantic love’ without getting to know each other deeply. This means that two people who have completely limited idea of each other get to discover their incompatibility while already in marriage.

In addition, today men are challenged and most of them are unable to cope with a woman who is educated, has her own resources and is able to make independent decisions. Today’s woman is not confined to the private and domestic sphere but is also a player in the public sphere. This has led to some level of ‘challenged masculinity’ in which some men are unable to cope.

Society has led the campaign to empower the girl child but has not enabled the boy child to live in harmony with the empowered girl. This in essence creates pressure in most young marriages.

Solutions to the current misunderstanding lie at the heart of renewed socialization in which the boy child also becomes a major player. He must be taught on how to deal with his challenged masculine identity and be able to understand and appreciate the changing circumstances. Unless certain drastic measures are taken, the marriage institution and by extension the family as we know it today is threatened.

5.2 Recommendations

Through the study findings, it was affirmed that divorce is caused by a number of reasons. However, this can only be reduced if a number of factors are considered. These are:

  1. At times whether or not a marriage is facing its ups and downs, it is advisable to see a counselor this will help you to adjust what you might have overlooked at one point and know each other better. Through this, one can be able to learn their partner’s strength and build on it; and their weaknesses to help them become better in those areas. Attending marriage seminars and workshops once in a while can provide solutions to the marriages as people come from different walks of life with different ideas and get to share with each other. Consulting people who have been in marriage for a long time or the elders can be of help as they are more experienced than the young couples. They should also device their own ways of solving their conflict.
  2. Honesty is of essence in a marriage, be honest with your partner on how you truly feel about each other and consider your happiness. Couples should be open minded when discussing issues with their partners because this brings trust and respect among them. Learn to forgive and forget your partner’s shortcomings when they wrong you as marriage is first built on the foundation of love.
  3. Resocialization of the boy child to be able to understand and appreciate the changing circumstances in life. They should be educated to cope with educated and ambitious woman as times are changing and women are being empowered by the day.
  4. Whenever you make promises to your partner keep them, if you are unable to keep them then explain to them and make them understand why you were unable to keep your promises. Marriage is about commitment and sacrifice to God, partner and children, and keep communication channels open as this helps to solve a lot of issues in a relationship. Faithfulness and trust are a requirement for a lasting marriage.
  5. Marriage is not a bed of roses, so it is not always a smooth road as tough times are to be encountered along the way. The most important question to ask yourself is whether you are up to the task to cross the river when the time comes. Couples should try as much as possible to strive and stabilize their economic resources for sustainability by saving up, however little it is they should put some effort. Supporting each other in a marriage brings growth to the family.This should be in all aspects of life academically, socially, economically and physically. Spend your leisure time together, and remember the important dates in your partner’s lives.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does divorce affect the family?

Grief hits every part of a family during a divorce. 2. Trauma Divorce marks a pivotal moment in a person’s life, especially for children; life as they know it changes forever and they become different versions of themselves, adapting to new routines and new versions of their parents (who have also changed).

What are the chances of divorce after a third marriage?

The Chance of Another Divorce 60 percent of divorcees who remarry will divorce again; third marriages dissolve 93 percent of the time. Why? Perhaps people don’t work on their issues; perhaps they’re too busy trying to survive.

What are the most common problems you face after divorce?

You are familiar with emotional distance, insecurity, fear, depression, anger, and perhaps betrayal. Life has become so difficult that divorce seems like the only path toward peace and happiness. In an attempt to keep you from being blindsided, please be aware of some new struggles that are headed your way after divorce.

What happens to your life after a divorce?

Realistically, most people carry their issues into the next marriage (along with the new baggage from their last divorce). Very often, people are also attracted to the same type of person as they were before. 7. Losing Friends Most divorced people, while they remain single, eventually find new single friends.

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