The Influence Of Communication On Marital Stability Among Couples

Project and Seminar Material for Guidance and Counselling

The Influence Of Communication On Marital Stability Among Couples


The study examined the influence of communication on marital stability among couples in Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos Metropolis. In this study, some relevant and extensive literatures were review under relevant sub-headings. The descriptive research survey was used to assess the respondents; opinions using the questionnaire and the sampling technique. In this study, 100 (one hundred) respondents were selected and used as samples to represent the population of the study.

A total of three (3) null hypotheses were formulated and tested in this study. Also, t-test and ANOVA statistical tools were used to test and analyses the null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the exercise, the following results were obtained: There is a significant influence of communication on marital stability. There is a significant influence of contemporary issues on marital stability and finally, the third hypothesis revealed that there is no major significant influence of marital duration on marital stability. In conclusion, this means that communication among couples significantly influences marital stability. The study also recommends that couples should open lines of communication in their marriage over matters, including seemingly trivial ones.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Communication can be said to be the glue that holds the world, continents, countries, states, societies, communities, people, the list is endless, together. Take the example of a group of tourists viewing a picturesque landscape. Although the entire group beholds the same scene, each person sees it differently. Why? Each individual has a different vantage point. No two persons are standing at the same location. Furthermore, not everyone focuses on the same portion of the scene. Each person finds a different aspect to be particularly intriguing (Watchtower August, 1993).

The same can be said of relationships. Even when they exist among the very best of friends, no two people share precisely the same look on matters; siblings, friends, relations and so on. Not even husbands and wives, the subject of this research study, have the same view on matters. The dissimilar perspectives can become a source of bitter contention. In fact, among factors cited to have contributed to divorce include personality incompatibility, lack of open communication and negotiation between married couples (Carter & McGoldrick, 1998; Gottman, 1994; Kaslow, 1996; Rutter, 1998; Treadway, 1989; Kabali, 2006). Even the book, the Bible supports that view, as evidence of this is found at 1Corinthians 7:28, where it states frankly, “Those who marry will have pain and grief” (The New English Bible).

Marriage has been defined by Monroe (2003), as a relihious duty and is consequently a moral safeguard as well as a social necessity. In fact when people make choices to marry, they want to live happily ever after. They want a loving, happy, successful marriage. After they have been married for a while, and the novelty has worn off, they tend to discover that marriage does not maintain itself (Esere, Yusuf & Omotosho, 2010). Marriage takes work from both spouses to stay. Marriage is the most difficult maze to ever get lost in (Angel, 2008) if marriage mates do not work their differences. Marriage can be like heaven on earth, just as it could be described as a living hell. It all depends on what one makes of it. A successful marriage is like food. It depends on many key ingredients to be successful. These ingredients include such attributes as trust, love, time, friendship, understanding, honesty, loyalty, sincerity and, above all, effective communication.

Marital stability can be defined as the endurance of a marriage due to the cooperation of both husband and wife. In fact, marital stability is viewed as a function of the comparison between one’s best available marital alternative and one’s marital outcome (Lenthal, 2009). A marriage without effective communication is very likely to crumble.

Communication is a life wire of marriage relationship or any other meaningful relationship (Esere, 2002, 2006). It is the elixir for ailing marital relationships (Olagunju & Eweniyi, 2002). With so many marriages ending tragically in divorce (Adegoke & Esere, 1998), it is more important now to work on the communication between husband and wife. The way couples deal with their inevitable conflicts, as a result of cohabitation, seems to be a powerful predictor of couples’ adjustment and stability in their marital relationships (Lazarides, Belanger & Sabourin, 2010).

Marital instability has been linked with more negativity and less positivity usually as conflicts; negative reciprocity and difficulty getting out of the negative reciprocity cycle and more importantly, for the purpose of this study, non-verbal communication and verbal communication have been observed in unstable marriages. Unhappy couples display, among others, more criticism, dominance and withdrawal, and less support and problem-solving behaviours, and the demand-withdraw pattern of communication has been linked repeatedly to marital dissatisfaction and satisfaction (Lazarides, Belanger & Sabourin, 2010). These same set of people usually are unable to function well in their work places as they carry their marital problems to their work places, constituting a nuisance to their employers. These and many more problems escalate when there is no communication, and many problems are resolved when there is effective communication in a marriage. It is on this premise that it was thought important by, any successive researchers to investigate the relationship between communication and marital stability, as well as the influence of communication on marital stability.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Millions of people today have trouble making friends and even family bonds. This is because we live in a world where family members come home only to sleep and eat, and then dash out. Seldom do they actually sit around a table to enjoy a meal together. The sense of family, belonging is missing. There is a gross lack of communication as a result of no significant conversation. It often gets worse between husbands and wives.

As a result of societal, economic and governmental changes, problems in marriage have surfaced on a grander scale. There has been notable increase in the divorce, separation of couples, remarriages of divorce parents and children living in stepfamilies as a divorce (Carter & McGoldrick, 1998; Lofas & Sova, 1995). The element responsible could be improper communication (Eniba, 1999). Some couples lack the way with which to express themselves through communication, leading to misunderstandings between each other.

Lack of communication in marriages is a cause for serious concern on the part of the couple(s) involved other members of the family, the immediate society and the world in general. This is because, the home is the nucleus of the society and marriage is the major avenue whereby the society is populated by the number of children that are born in such marriages, thus marital instability, due to lack of communication, produces negative multiplier effect on the society (Esere, Yusuf & Omotosho, 2010).

A lot of individuals consider divorce to be the solution to such marital problems so they opt for divorce. As such, there are a lot of divorced individuals in society (Kabali, 2006). It comes as no surprise, then, that Rutter (1998) called the last three decades a transition period into the “the divorce revolution”. Marital distress, conflict, family uncertainty among couples could threaten societal values, an embarrassment to themselves, children and their society at large (Undiyaundeye, 2006).

Marital instability affects the society, going by the rate of divorce and the direct impact on the children, who, in most cases, grow to be social misfits and a nuisance. The tragedy of the matter is that this situation this occurs on a nationwide scale (Agim, 1997; Obe, 1997; Carew, 1995). Marital instability contributes to the spread of single-parent families, which in turn leads to social problems such as poverty, crime, substance abuse (by both parents and children and declining academic standards) (Blankenhorn, 1995; Glenn, 1996; Popenpoe, 1996; Amato, 2000). Psychological effects of marital instability include decline in happiness and more conflict. In fact, they seem to experience experience sadness, be upset (Harkonen, 2013). Marital instability and divorce can have important economic consequences, especially for women. In the case of divorce, economic dependency in the former marriage tends to lead to larger economic losses during and after divorce, whereas, the sole provider may even gain more economically (DiPrete and McManus & DiPrete, 2001; Uunk, 2004; Harkonen, 2013).

The end result of any case of marital instability is a breakdown of the union or divorce, home desertion, juvenile delinquency, truancy, school drop outs, lukewarm attitude to study, indiscipline, etc (Igbo, 1997, Nwobi 1997; Igbo, 2000). Lack of proper communication could lead to problems that if not handled succinctly and cooperatively by couples may degenerate to crisis levels, resulting in emotional distance between the couple, low self esteem, poor nutrition, children’s lack of respect for authority, loss of discipline or parental control, low standard of living, withholding of sex from spouse, remarriage, divorce, spouse battering, sexual abuse, incest, rape power tussle and many more. Clearly, then, the need for the study for the need for effective communication in marriage cannot be overemphasized.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

This study is designed to investigate the influence of communication on marital stability among couples in the Lagos Metropolis. It also examines the following:

  1. To find out causes of marital instability
  2. To find out to what extent communication affects marital stability
  3. To find out to what extent marital duration affects marital stability
  4. To investigate contemporary issues on marital stability.

1.4 Significance of the Study

This study will be especially beneficial to the following:

Social Workers:

It will provide insight on trouble-prone areas of marital conflict in homes of members of the community and help them identify the right counselling tool with which to address their problems.

Marriage Counsellor:

The findings of this work would also be of great assistance to both marriage counsellors in conflict resolution and management and marital health and stability. It is also hoped that the findings would be used as tools by marriage and family counsellors in assisting married spouses in their area of weakness and strength. It is therefore envisaged that counsellors will find the outcome of this work essential, for a healthy family is a prelude to a healthy and peaceful nation.

Educational Administrators:

Educational administrators can also benefit from this study by the insight they will gain on the attitudes, signs and ways of addressing marital conflicts. Information obtained can impact on curriculum development and upgrade teaching and learning, especially since the subjects in this study are literate persons. As such, educational administrators in post-primary schools and other institutions of higher learning will be awakened to their responsibility based on the revelations likely to be made by the study.

Youths And Married Couples:

Married persons and those intending to marry would find the findings useful, as they can mirror their marriages and intentions from the findings of this study, and most definitely reduce marital instability for those who have serious marital problems.

Other Researchers:

One other potential beneficiary is the researcher in the discipline who, hopefully, will be motivated and challenged to develop further interest in the study of marital and family therapy. This research study may be of help to the researcher who needs material on marital therapy.

1.5 Research Questions

The following questions will guide this study:

  1. What is the influence of communication on marital stability?
  2. What are the causes of marital instability?
  3. To what extent does communication affect marital stability?
  4. To what extent does marital duration increase marital stability?
  5. What contemporary issues affect marital stability?

1.6 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses will be tested in this research study:

  1. There is no significant influence of communication on marital stability
  2. There is no significant influence of contemporary issues on marital stability
  3. There is no significant effect of marital duration on marital stability

1.7 Limitation of the Study

This study attempts to investigate the influence of communication on marital stability among couples in Lagos Metropolis. A limitation of this study is that participants are sampled from only Lagos Metropolis. Therefore the findings cannot be generalised to married couples all over Nigeria. The researcher chose the Lagos Metropolis because of familiarity, size, diversity of couples and cost effectiveness.

1.8 Delimitation of the Study

The study limits itself to the influence of communication on marital stability among couples in Lagos Metropolis. Analysis will be on couples in the Lagos Metropolis.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Emotional Distance:

Emotionally distant behaviour refers to behaviour that is “cool, aloof, unresponsive, uncommunicative, and unwilling to be vulnerable” that occurs between people that are supposed to be emotionally intimate, in this case, a married couple.

Marital Breakdown:

This refers to the common process whereby a marriage interpersonal relationship between man and woman erodes, such that they cannot ordinarily restore their relationship.

Spouse Battering:

Spouse battering is a kind of domestic violence. In using violence or the threat of violence, physical or psychological harm is inflicted with the effect of establishing control by one individual over another. It covers incidents of physical attack, when it may take the form of physical and sexual violations, such as slapping, pushing, pinching, spitting, kicking, hitting, punching, choking, burning, clubbing, stabbing, throwing boiling water or acid and setting on fire as well as spouse being forced to be involved in sex or undesirable sexual acts. It also includes psychological abuse, which can consist of repeated verbal abuse, harassment, confinement and deprivation of physical, financial, personal resources and social activities, etc.

Sexual Abuse:

This is the forcing of undesired sexual behaviour by one person upon another. It could also be defined as unwanted sexual activity forced by a person on another person, either by coercion or threats.

Parental Control:

This refers to the ability of a parent to exercise authoritative or dominating influence over; direct the affairs of his or her child(ren).


Incest is sexual intercourse between family members and close relatives. The term may apply to sexual intercourse between people in a blood relationship. Incest could also refer to people who are related by adoption, stepfamilies.

Power Tussle:

This refers to a tough struggle between married partners to show who has the most power or effect over the other. It could be in form of fierce competition between the couple to show that one cannot do without the stronger one, to show power.

Economic Dependence:

This refers to the ability of someone, a group or an organisation to be self-sufficient, rely only on oneself economically. In this case, it refers to the ability of one mate to be self-sufficient, not relying on the other for economic gain or protection.

Substance Abuse:

Substance abuse can simply be defined as a pattern of harmful use of any substance for mood-altering purposes. Medline’s medical encyclopaedia defines drug abuse as “the use of illicit drugs or the abuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are indicated or in a manner or in quantities other than directed (by a physician).

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

In this research titled “influences of communication strategies on marital stability” in Lagos State sampled 370 married respondents. The study was presented in five chapters. Chapter one presented the introduction, background of the study including statement of the problem as well as objectives of the study. The major objective was to examine the influences of communication strategies on marital stability in Lagos State. The specific objectives were to determine communication strategies used in the husband/wife subsystem of the families, identify communication strategies used in the parent/children subsystem of the families and determine communication strategies used in the children/children subsystem of the families. The research questions, null hypotheses, significance of the study, assumptions of the study as well as scope of the study were also stated here. The three null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 (.000) level of significance, and the Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC) was used.

Findings drawn from responses to research questions revealed that the most common communication strategies used in Lagos State are: talking down on each other by spouses because of the familiarity they have for one another, frowning at each other when they are communicating inability of spouses to use polite words. The findings also revealed that the parents are not used to hugging their children when they are communicating, and the parents do not spend quality time to discuss with their children. It was further revealed that the older children tease the younger ones, and the children are fund of fighting each other. The findings finally revealed that there exists a significant correlation between communication strategies used in the family and familyrelationships.

5.2 Conclusion

Considering the findings in this study, it can be concluded that couples in Lagos State face some challenges in their relationships. These challenges are further compounded by the use of ineffective communication strategies usedby couples. This can explain the reason for rapid increase in breaking of marriages and high rates in divorce, indulging in indiscipline activities by children because of failure of parents to spend quality time with their children educating them on the dangers of such negative activities. It can be concluded that strong intimate family relationship depends on family members employing positive communication strategies such as the children learning to share, and give and take at an early stage of life. This they can do with the help of the parents communicating by educating the children, and the husband and wife on their part should care for one another by respecting and paying special attention to each other.

5.3 Recommendations

The following recommendations are made based on the findings of the study.

  1. Husbands and wives should use polite and appreciative words in their conversation.
  2. Husband and wife should give special treats to each other like giving gifts on special occasions and going for special outings.
  3. Setting up of marital counselling clinics in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.
  4. Also, courses in marriage communication and sex should be made compulsory for counsellors in training.
  5. Couples should communicate effectively and try as much as possible to know the likes and dislikes of each other.
  6. Finally, the researchers recommend the provision of marital counselling to couples before and after marriage. Marriage seminars and symposia should be constantly mounted.

5.4 Implications for Conducive Home Environment

The findings of this study revealed that there was an apparent awareness that lack of effective communication is a road that leads to marital instability and problems in marriage. It was also discovered that most of all the problems in marriage are due to lack of communication between couples. As couples go into marriage and even during marriage, there is need to understand each other very well, understanding each other means knowing the verbal and non verbal cues of each other as well as creating time for each other so as to know each otherwell.

This implies that counsellors in their various capacities should assume more active role in encouraging marital communication. They should try to provide guidance that can facilitate cordial relationship especially in the area of communication. They should enlighten couples on the consequences of not communicating effectively which could lead to divorce. With its attendant negative multiplier effect on thesociety.

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