Even though Nigeria is not among the top 10 countries with the highest divorce rates in the world, according to the Guinness World Records – with Maldives, Russia, Aruba, Belarus and the United States leading the chart respectively – it is worthy of note that marriages in Nigeria also run into troubled waters and at a rather disturbing rate. Records from customary courts across the country highlight this.
Just three days ago, a Badagry Magistrate’s Court in Lagos State dissolved a 25-year-old marriage between a woman and her husband because of the man’s alleged stealing habit. While the wife insisted that her husband was fond of stealing from her, in addition to his alleged refusal to perform his conjugal roles and being a womaniser, the man, on the other hand, denied the allegations, urging the court not to dissolve the marriage.
But, in granting the request of the wife that the marriage be dissolved, the President of the Court, Mr. Sakirudeen Adekola, said all efforts to reconcile the parties had failed. It was yet another failed marriage, even after 25 years.
In matters related to romantic relationships, it would seem that there would never be an end to surprises, whether pleasant or otherwise. Granted that being in love, especially when it is reciprocated, could make living attractively worthwhile, there are times love stories turn sour and people who were once in love become sworn enemies and sometimes wish they had never met. And, notably, not all marital crises result in divorce; sometimes, the love they once shared only wane severely.
It is common to read about married couples going their separate ways due to ‘irreconcilable differences’, but findings have shown that those differences didn’t just come from nowhere; they are issues that could have been managed before spiralling out of control.
Thus, it would seem helpful to highlight the top factors that cause divorce in this part of the world, so that couples could avoid such things:
Infidelity: This is no doubt one of the leading causes of divorce and troubles in marriage and both sexes are guilty of it. Ranging from alienation of affection to actual sexual involvement with someone else outside marriage, this factor and even mere suspicion of it, have led to the collapse of many marriages. A consultant psychologist, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, said couples need to avoid traces of infidelity and avoid temptations so as not to lose their marriages, given the impact it could have on their union.
He said, “This is a major cause of marital problem and it can be biological or social. There are some people whose personality make-up predisposes them to having very high libido. It could be a product of excessive hormone secretion, and if they have a partner who cannot cope with their sexual demands, they tend to resort to cheating. Also, there is the social factor, which could be as a result of peer influence. Therefore, couples need to avoid it.”
Incompatibility: After physical attraction, one major factor that people are encouraged to pay attention to before deciding whether to go into a relationship or not is compatibility; to know if they could cope with the person’s lifestyle and character or not. But findings have shown that marriages become problematic when couples make certain discoveries about their partners after living together for some time.
Elegbeleye said, “Several people take the issue of compatibility lightly, but it is a serious factor that people should pay attention to. There are a number of discoveries people make after marriage that would not be in consonance with their expectations from that person or what they are used to from that person.
“For example, differing preferences or it could be that the man or woman snores. As simple as it may sound, not everybody can put up with snoring. Over time, being faced with such a situation could lead to irritation and even hatred and that could be the beginning of their trouble. Or it could be that one of them is naturally dirty but the partner didn’t notice this until they got married. When couples make such discoveries and they find that they can’t cope with it, it might lead to a crack in the marriage.”
Financial challenge: Issues that relate to finances is a major cause of stress in many homes and it is one other factor that has led to the collapse of many marriages. Sometimes, this happens when a man is unable to meet the financial needs of the home, or he lies about his income or is not doing enough to fulfil that obligation, especially when the wife is doing her best.
“This is a strong factor that couples should pay attention to because to an extent, it’s at the heart of the survival or otherwise of the marriage,” Elegbeleye said.
Strange habits: There have been instances when people come up with habits their partners never knew them to have, such as smoking, binge drinking, among other behavioural patterns. Experts say it could be helpful if people discuss their tendencies.
According to Elegbeleye, the inability of the person’s partner to cope with such habits could lead to the end of the marriage.
“There are instancses where a man could have previously talked down on drinking or alcohol consumption, but all of a sudden, he could start drinking and doing things he was never known to do. That could be the end of that marriage because the woman may not be the type to put up with such,” he said.
Sexual dissatisfaction: This could happen to both men and women, but for different reasons. Men are known to reach sexual satisfaction faster than women and so sexual dissatisfaction for men, most times, could be the woman’s non-cooperation during the act or when they have higher sex libido than the woman. Thus, they might not be getting enough from their wives.
But for women, dissatisfaction usually stems from the man’s inability to satisfy them during the act, which is the commonest reason and this is mainly because the nerves that should drive them to orgasm are located in the clitoris, which is at the upper part of the vagina, may not always be stimulated during penile intercourse.
On both sides, for such a man or woman who do not want to engage in extramarital affairs, the dissatisfaction could result in frustration, anger, nagging and lack of faith in the union.
“This is a serious issue that could lead to other things like nagging or lack of respect, due to frustration and helplessness. It’s usually a weapon to fight back,” Elegbeleye said.
Poor communication: According to psychologists and marriage counsellors, the level of success of a marriage is dependent on the level of communication between the couple. They explain that communication helps couples to bond, resolve their differences, state their dissatisfaction, dwell in an atmosphere devoid of malice and even resolve issues emanating from in-laws. Communication has also been found to help in eliminating a couple’s insecurities about each other, as they both feel free to discuss anything with their partner. This, no doubt, helps to avoid wrong assumptions. In effect, when communication breaks down, the marriage is said to be heading for a collapse, partly because they could start talking to different persons, while the distance between them continues to widen.
“People expect their partners to live up to certain standards, like being articulate during conversations, exhibiting certain caution in the presence of visitors and family members, but even if the partner defaults in meeting up with that expectation, they can discuss it to avoid a recurrence,” Elegbeleye added.