Guidance Counseling Project Topics

Causes and Consequences of Divorce on Newly Married Couples

Causes and Consequences of Divorce on Newly Married Couples

Causes and Consequences of Divorce on Newly Married Couples

Chapter One

Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to examine the CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF DIVORCE ON NEWLY MARRIED COUPLES. Specifically this study aims:

  1. To examine the level of perceived causes of divorce in South South geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
  2. To evaluate the effects of divorce in South South geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
  3. To examine if there is a difference between the opinion of male and female students on perceived causes of divorce in South South geopolitical zone.
  4. To examine if there is difference between the opinion of male and female students on the effects of divorce in South South geopolitical zone.
  5. To determine strategies for effective control of divorce in South South zone of Nigeria.



According to the Oxford Advanced Learner‟s Dictionary (2010:428), divorce is “the legal ending of marriage. While divorcee is a person whose marriage has been legally ended especially a woman”. Thus, any reflection on divorce originates from the concept of marriage (Mekonnen, et al., 2019). Therefore, we cannot engage in any far-reaching and grounded discussion of divorce without first explaining the concept of marriage.

The Concept of Marriage

Marriage is “a legal relationship between a husband and wife” (Oxford Advanced Learner‟s Dictionary, 2010:910). Today, marriage is regularly viewed as social convention that can be entered into and severed by the marital partners at will. As long as a given marriage relationship meets the needs of both individuals involved and is considered advantageous by both sides, the marriage is worth sustaining. Marriage is a covenant and a „sacred bond‟ between a man and woman instituted by and publicly entered into before God and normally consummated by sexual intercourse. Genesis 1:27-28: “so God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth”. In Genesis 2:22-24: And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made him a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife (hold fast to his wife), and they shall become one flesh”. And Mark 10:9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”. Marriage therefore, is a unique relationship different from all others. An essential characteristic of marriage is the biological fact that a man and woman can join together as male and female in a union that is oriented to the generation of new life. The union of marriage provides for the continuation of the human race and the development of human society.

Marriage is therefore a personal association between a man and a woman and a biological relationship for mating and reproduction. As a social, legal and religious institution, marriage has undergone many modifications and changes; nevertheless, its basic realities remain the same. The permanent, indissoluble, sacramental union of the orthodox differs strikingly from the free, easily served, and often not even officially registered marriages, let us say, of a modern Russian, and yet both of these marriages have certain underlying elements in common. In both instances, the couple seeks to make their union stable. They assume the freedom and privilege of a sexual relationship, and normally have as their ultimate aim the establishment of a family. Biologically, the “objective of marriage is not only to legalize a sexual union, but rather to ensure the survival of the species and of the race” (Stone, 1939 cited in Wimalasena 2016:166). From this point of view, marriage is not merely a sexual relationship, but a parental association. It is the union of a male and a female for production and care of offspring and reproduction is, therefore, another fundamental objective or purpose of marriage.

The major function of marriage is to provide a forum for the affection and emotional security from one generation to another. In the marriage union, man and woman develop the full sense of togetherness, belonging, responsibility and interdependence (Olayinka, 1987). In addition, Makinde (2004) holds that the function of marriage is to provide happiness, security, cultural growth and development of a sense of responsibility for enhancing continuity and societal perpetuation. Marriage is seen as “a permanent union of a man and woman done freely, founded on love and designed for companionship, procreation and proper upbringing of the children. It can only be lawfully dissolved by death (Ahiaoma, 2013:163). Besides death, marriage can also be dissolved by reasons of sexual immorality on the part of one‟s spouse, domestic abuse, chronic hardness of heart and abandonment.

As the Holy Bible realistically acknowledges that those who marry are likely to have pains and grief (1 Corinthians 7:28), no couple or marriage is immune to such inherent problems. What starts out as a relationship of great joy and promise can become the most frustrating and painful endeavor in a person‟s life time. Eventually, all couples experience a significant crisis that can threaten their emotional safety and at times even the future of their marriage (Amadi & Amadi, 2014). In the view of Scobie (2009), the union between man and woman is a reflection of the image of God in us and can only be sustained through lifelong devotion. That is to say that any libertine behavior is against the covenant itself.

However, marriage can be legally dissolved through divorce. Divorce laws vary considerably around the world, but in most countries, it requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process. The legal process of divorce may also involve issues of alimony (spousal support), child or children custody and support, distribution of property and division of debt (Mattoo & Ashai, 2012). As Askalemariam and Minwagaw, 2013 cited in Mekonnenet al. (2019) acknowledged, that there is high rate of divorce in Dejen and Aneded Woredas resulting from lack of conflict management skills, interference from parents of spouses and communication problems. Likewise, the possible consequences of divorce are anti-social behavior, school dropout, escalation of social vices and crimes such as drug abuse, prostitution, kidnapping and other forms of violent crimes, poor mental, emotional and physical health of couples and their children, the physical threat to the life of couples. Divorce also exposed children to social, economic and psychological issues. According to Ahiaoma (2013:165), the devastating consequences of divorce include “changes in the life style and tradition of the family, changes in the economic and financial status of the family, and the children‟s psychology, social and education development is affected adversely and the couple faces so many challenges varying from insecurity, depression, emotional and psychological trauma among others”.

The increases in marital separation “have been among the most visible features of the recent decades of family change. Some have viewed this as a sign of social and moral disruption with a potential to shatter the family institution and the foundations of society itself. Others have celebrated these trends as signaling increased individual liberty and the loosening of suffocating social mores. Divorce is one of the most often mentioned major life events and can cause major stress and upheaval for many, and a sense of relief and opportunity for personal growth for others” (Harkonen, 2013:3). Despite the conflicts surrounding divorce, many seemingly functional marriages break up (Amato, 2010) and on the other hand, not all troubled marriages end in divorce. This underlines the heterogeneity of divorces and the importance of factors that act as barriers to divorce or the possible options beyond it, and of the need for looking beyond marital quality and satisfaction as determinants. Divorce, in other words, is a multifaceted event (Gahler, 1998).Kurdek (1991) affirms that divorce mostly occur within the first four years of marriage.

Because of the importance of marriage, legal rules have always been put in place in every society to protect the legal union between spouses and the spouses themselves. The principal enactment in this respect in Nigeria is the marriage Act and the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1970. The Matrimonial Causes Act (MCA) guarantees some safeguards in the manner of judicial separation, restitution of conjugal rights, maintenance, and custody and as a last resort dissolution of marriage and settlement of properties. Though through the law, spouses can avail themselves of several types of relief in Nigeria, a number of these have proven inadequate overtime. The law on matrimonial causes in Nigeria has remained without appreciable improvement since the promulgation of the Matrimonial Causes Degree in 1970. In Nigeria, the law relating to alimony and settlement of matrimonial properties upon divorce, for instance, does not match reality and expectations of the society.

Historical Background of Divorce

This part deals with literature review of the study and tried to provide theoretical explanation of causes of divorce and its effects on parental divorced children’s wellbeing. The explanations include from other countries’ experience and few local studies are relevant to the issues understudy. Research works and materials review are contributing to build a foundation for the current study and help to identify gaps.

As the story of divorce indicated by many writers most of the western hemisphere and some countries in the eastern hemisphere allow divorce under certain circumstance (Kalafut, 2008). Balestrino, et al. (2008) stated that western societies in the last forty years have favored both the introduction of divorce and the reduction of marriages. While in the past the family was the sole provider of many services like basic education, health-care, insurance, old-age support. When the states transfer from traditional to industrial, gradually both the state and the market offer important alternatives of public and private services. Therefore, the values of marriage becomes decline as means of social protection substituted by welfare state, while divorce had made possible, first by making it socially acceptable, and then legally permissible.

Tilson and Larson (2000, pp. 355) result indicates divorce had been practiced early in Ethiopia; “divorce has been a common and largely accepted practice in Ethiopia for centuries. As early as the 16thcentury divorce was referred as to custom of the country”. This implies that Ethiopia has started exercising divorce similar to as that of western countries.






In this chapter, we would describe how the study was carried out.

Population/Sample of the study

A study population is a group of elements or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex or specific interest. The emphasis on study population is that it constitute of individuals or elements that are homogeneous in description (Udoyen, 2019). Six hundred (600) participants were drawn from universities in South South selected by means of stratified random sampling technique to ensure a balanced representation of age and gender. A visit to each university enabled the identification of class times and venues where the study might be introduced to the students. All participants were guaranteed anonymity, confidentiality and the freedom to withdraw from the study at any stage. In addition, participants were given the opportunity to complete questionnaire in English language at their respective schools. The administration of the questionnaire took place within a period of five weeks. Permission to involve undergraduate students in the study was obtained from the respective university Dean of Student Affairs



This chapter presents the analysis of data derived through the questionnaire and key informant interview administered on the respondents in the study area. The analysis and interpretation were derived from the findings of the study. The data analysis depicts the simple frequency and percentage of the respondents as well as interpretation of the information gathered



In this study, attempts have been made to underscore the various factors that are responsible for divorce or marital separation in the Nigerian context. The effects of divorce and strategies for effective control of divorce were also examined. The study revealed, through its perceived findings, that divorce has negative effects on the couples, their children and the society at large. The study also revealed that couples who experienced divorce develop the feelings of rejection, sense of failure, guilty, depression and self-disapproval. In addition, the reality of today for single parents and children is that divorce often means a change in school, neighborhood and peer groups. Physical dislocation may ultimately have an influence on many aspects of the children‟s life, including academic performance, peer relations, psychological well-being and physical health. It is clear that any treatment of the issues surrounding divorce, custody and access is incomplete without an understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence. Failure to take these cases into consideration can only increase the emotional trauma of those involved or worse, increase their physical danger. A marital relationship can be strengthened through keeping certain standards such as love, establishing open communication channels and maintaining a close enjoyable physical contact. Other factors include sharing views on work and raising children as well as traits such as flexibility and realism that can help couples avoid divorce. Therefore, a healthy family enjoys a clear balance between cohesion and adaptability. Olson, 1989 cited in Al-Gharaibeh (2018) highlights eight characteristics of a cohesive family. These are:

  1. Attraction;
  2. Personal differences and distinction;
  3. Support and encouragement;
  1. Attachments;
  2. A sense of psychological security;
  3. Family bonding and connectedness;

vii. Care for physical hygiene and appearance;

viii. Positive affective involvement.

In conclusion, this study has contributed to the literature on perceived causes and effects of divorce in Nigeria. From the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made:

  1. Support systems can help mitigate some of the negative effects associate with divorce. The support can be provided by parents, extended family members, peers and school management. E.g. school management should identify and provide children of divorced with curriculum changes and additional facilities to help them cope with divorce.
  1. Government and non-governmental organizations together should intensify efforts to ensure that all unhappily married spouses have access to pre and post marital counseling that is affordable across the length and breadth of the country. This will help prevent or ameliorate the negative consequences of marital separation.

iii. Women are urged to strive to be economically independent. This will help women alleviate the negative economic consequences of divorce.

  1. Young men are urged to have a source of livelihood before going into marriage.
  2. Couples going through a marriage crisis are urged to seek help and counseling from social and family specialists, rather than from only relatives and friends, to resolve marital issues.
  3. State and local government authorities should establish counseling centers as a form of social support to help women build effective coping skills and provide a supportive context which may reduce the sense of loneliness and isolation experienced by many divorced adults.

vii. University management across the country should introduce and offer the course „Family and Marriage Counseling‟ that will help youth to acquire requisite skills and habit culture for successful marital life. Healthy living and negative effects of divorce should be emphasized in the curriculum.

viii. The Nigerian movie industry should intensify efforts by directing various drama series and programmers to present the concept of marriage realistically in terms of the challenges facing the family and how to deal with them.

  1. There is urgent need in teaching multiple topics on family, marriage and disadvantages of divorce both at secondary and post-secondary schools in order to encourage people to establish effective relationships.
  2. In the marital relationship the groom and the bride should learn to forgive each other, been patient enough and approached each other more gently and lovingly when reconciliation is required.
  3. The Legislature or the Nigerian Law Review Commission should, as a matter of urgency, set legal machinery in motion for a review of the Matrimonial Causes Act with the objective of improving some of the relief initiated to meet with societal expectations and reality.
  4. Further study is recommended for other researchers to establish the relationship between female education and marital stability.
  5. Research on female employment and marital instability is also recommended.


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  • Al-Gharaibeh, F.M. (2018). Causes of early divorce as perceived by young people in Sharjah: A field study. European Journal of Social Sciences, 56(1), 49 – 64.
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  • Amato, P.R. (2010). Research on divorce: Continuing development and new trends. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72 (3), 650 – 666.
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  • Boertien, D. (2012). Jackpot? Gender difference in the effects of lottery wins on separation. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74 (5), 1038 – 1053.
  • Booth, A. & Amato, P.R. (2004). Parental pre divorce relations and offspring post-divorce well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63 (1), 197 – 212.



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