Relationship experts internationally and locally discuss some of the problems plaguing marriages today.
It may not necessarily cut across but it has been argued that there seems to be an increasing rate of divorce in many climes around the world.
A visit to any of the (functioning) customary courts around the country, especially within the Lagos metropolis, would suggest an increase in the rate of divorce, as both old and young couples visit the courts to seek the dissolution of their marriages. And the reasons could range from shocking to ridiculous.
Regardless, with about 50 per cent of marriages ending in divorce in the United States and no fairer situation in many other places the world over, it has become imperative to identify certain mistakes couples make in marriage that could lead to a divorce.
Some marriage counsellors have argued that a perfect marriage is hard to come by because couples tend to disagree on issues from time to time, but they note that the success or otherwise of marriages, depend largely on how couples handle their differences.
Usually, when talking about divorce, one of the factors that readily come to mind is infidelity, which simply means being unfaithful to a spouse. But beyond that, there are other things that lead to divorce, such as spousal abuse, bad manners, peer influence, unrealistic expectations, lack of quality time with one’s spouse, inadequate communication, deceit and unsatisfactory sex life.
According to a seasoned marriage counsellor in the United Kingdom, Elly Prior, common relationship problems that often lead to divorce include cheating (be it one-night stands, internet relationships and long- and short-term affairs), excessive reliance on social media, sexual problems, significant differences in core values and beliefs, traumatic or life changing events, response to (work-related) prolonged stress, infertility, boredom, jealousy, family issues and domestic abuse.
Other reasons she identified include incompatibility, lack of responsibility towards children and finances, unrealistic expectations, addiction to certain unpleasant substances, lack of support in times of need, for instance during pregnancy and child-bearing period, poor communication and poor division of house chores.
Some previous studies, as discussed on this page, had pointed out that couples tend to have an exciting marriage experience if husband and wife share house chores mutually. One of the studies stressed that the marriage tend to last longer if the husband do more house chores, as the woman would want to reward such gesture by giving her best to make the relationship work.
Other reasons identified by Prior include perceived loss of care or concern, significant personal disappointments, mental health issues and significant differences on how to discipline or deal with the children.
According to Prior, issues like the ones identified above often lead to divorce if the affected couple do not handle it with care and maturity. She, however, noted that such issues could be resolved if only the couples could consult marriage counsellors who could help them resolve their differences.
In another twist, some psychologists from Western Sydney University, Australia, in their study of 5,500 people aged between 21 and 76 identified the factors that could lead to a divorce to include bad sex, laziness, dirty appearance, being too needy or demanding, lack of sense of humour or too boring to be with, distance, lack of self confidence, too much interest in television or video games and low sex drive.
Other factors identified are stubbornness, having talkative trait, excessive quietness, having a partner that is too blunt, one that does not want children, one that has kids already, someone that is too athletic and one that is not athletic.
Interestingly, unlike infidelity or cheating that is capable of dragging a marriage to an abrupt end, some other factors provide a subtle premise, which a displeased partner could capitalise on and initiate the divorce process.
The study, posted on Mail Online, showed that many couples are disgruntled with their sex lives because men value quantity over quality unlike women who desire quality. It pointed out that about 50 per cent of the women were dissatisfied with their sexual experience and wouldn’t mind making it a subject of divorce.
The study noted further that many women are also displeased with their partner’s laziness when it comes to house chores, as well as unclean appearance and being boring.
For men, however, they were found to be irritated to the extent of filing for divorce if their partner had a dirty appearance, followed by distance between them, which could deprive them of intimacy and good sex life.
The researchers wrote in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, “Women are likely to be more selective about their relationship partners to avoid costly mistake in their marriage and to avoid being pregnant for low-quality mates. Thus, they must choose a suitable mate who will help them to successfully raise their children.
“Also, men would more likely be turned off by a woman who talks too much and has a low sex drive while women, on the other hand, were more likely to discontent with men who lack self-confidence and engage too often in TV/playing video games. This is consistent with prior work showing that women desire mates who are dominant, ambitious and status-driven.”
Also worthy of mentioning is a study by some Swedish scientists that a variation of oxytocin, A-allele, makes it difficult for some women to bond with others and be committed in a relationship. Hence, if they eventually get married, they are “50 per cent or more” likely to be faced with marital crisis or divorce.
Meanwhile, another 26-year study conducted by the University of Michigan, United States, found that people’s relationship with their in-laws could influence the stability or otherwise of their relationships.
It found that when a man has a close relationship with his wife’s parents, the couple’s risk of facing divorce decreases by 20 per cent, while if a woman has a close relationship with her husband’s parents, their risk of divorce increases by 20 per cent.
As prevalent as divorce is, the negative effects of broken home cannot be overemphasised. Previous studies have shown that children raised in broken homes have been found to be nine times more likely to commit crimes than those brought up in stable families. This could be partly because, in some instances, children born into such homes are left hanging between the straying father and mother, often deprived of parental care and attention.
Responding to the study, a psychologist, Prof. Oni Fagboungbe, said apart from infidelity, poor communication, poverty, among other factors, the influence of in-laws in this part of the world could not be overemphasised. He averred that the closer the husband or the wife gets to the in-law, the safer their marriage would be, saying the intervention of in-laws in moments of need could save the situation.
“However, in-laws tend to work against the person if they find out that he or she is depriving them of certain benefits that should accrue to them or is not showing them enough respect,” he said.
Speaking further, he said, “Other factors include, poverty, the inability of a spouse to meet the needs of the other person and absence of effective communication. When some people have issues in their marriage, instead of talking to the spouse about it, they keep it in mind and start looking for avenues to pour it out. In the process, they get different kinds of advice from people and there is a possibility of taking a wrong one that can crash the marriage.”
While advising couples on ways to avoid such issues that could earn them a divorce, Fagboungbe said there was need to take courtship more seriously and that the willingness of the parties to make it work goes a long way to determine the success or otherwise of the relationship.
He said, “What we call courtship is fizzling out. It’s no longer there, yet people need to understand themselves. They need to agree whether to make the marriage work or not, and that is the essence of communication. The agreement tend to shapen their mentality and with that, there is tolerance, acceptance, support and other variables that will make the marriage work. If there is an issue and it gets to a turbulent stage, this is where the in-laws will come in, and that is what we call participative management in industrial psychology.”