THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS ON MARITAL STABILITY
The study examined the influence of socio-economic status on marital stability among couples in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State. Some relevant and related literature was reviewed in this study. The descriptive survey research design was employed in this study for the assessment of the respondents’ opinion with the application of the questionnaire and the sampling technique. The questionnaire was used to collect data from the respondents, while the sampling technique was used to select the sample size of the study. In this study, 150 (one hundred and fifty) couples were involved. They were selected through the stratified sampling technique. Also, four (4) null hypotheses were formulated and tested in this study, using the One-way Anova and independent t-test statistical tools at 0.05 test, the following results emerged: Hypothesis one found that there is a significant influence of socio-economic status of couples on marital stability. Hypothesis two indicated that there is a significant difference between the attitude of couples from high socio-economic status and those from low socio-economic status. Hypothesis three showed that there is a significant difference between the attitude of children from high socio-economic status and those from low socio-economic status homes. Finally, hypothesis four revealed that there is no significant difference between the academic performance of children who come from poor socio-economic backgrounds and those from wealthy families.
1.0 Background to the Study
Marriage is the legally, sexually, socially sanctioned union of two intimate adults. Traditionally, the marital relationship includes economic independence, common residence, sexual fidelity and shared responsibility for children. Although, the institution of marriage remains popular, it sometimes seems to be under assault from shifting social trends. This assault has promoted some experts, for example, Chartin (1981) and Gleen and Wearer (1988) to ask whether the institution of marriage is in trouble. It in any case, appears that marriage will whither the storm. But it is worth looking at some of the social trends that are shaking one traditional and modern model of marriages.
According to Jones (1994) a great variety of motivational factors propel people into marriage. The most among them is the desire to participate in a socially sanctioned, mutually rewarding, intimate relationship. Among the key factors is the social pressure exorted on people to marry and the socio-economic independence which make marriage to work well. Getting marriage is still the norm in our society. Our parents, relatives and friends expect their loved ones to marry eventually, and they often make this abundantly clear with their comments and inquires. (Anorne 1994).
As Onyeji (1999) puts it, the popular view in the Nigerian culture is that people marry because they have fallen in love. Although, partially accurate, this view, is terribly oversimplified. A multitude of motivational factors are involved in the decision to marry and stay married. They key factors in marital stability are: increased acceptance of cohabitation, good family background, adequate communication, absence of inlaws’ interruption, having the same religion, maintaining the same account, fidelity or sincerity, integrity, lack of suspicion and above all, high socio-economic status. Neither financial stability nor wealth can ensure marital stability or satisfaction (Komarorsky 1997).
Komarorsky went on to postulate that without money, families live in constant dread of financial drains such as illness layoffs, or broken appliances. Husbands tend to view themselves as poor providers, and their self-esteem may crumble as a result. This problem is sometimes aggravated by disappointed wives, who criticize their husbands for their inability to provide for the family.
According to Amaonye (1998), spontaneity in communication may be impaired by an understandable reluctance to talk about financial concerns. Thus, it is clear that poverty produces significant stress for married couples. Given this reality, it is important that prospective partners be realistic about their ability to finance a viable future. Moreover, when financial resources are plentiful, money can be a source of marital strain (Adeleke, 1991).
According to Adeleke (1991), quarrels about how to spend money are common and potentially damaging at all income levels. Pattman and Llyod (1998), for instance, found that perceived financial stress, regardless of a family’s actual income was associated with decreased marital satisfaction. Furthermore, another study carried out by Martins and Martins (1996), examined how happily couples handled their money in comparison to couples that eventually divorced. In comparison to the divorced couples, the happy couples engaged in more joint decision making on finances. Thus, the best way to avoid trouble and some battles over money is probably to engage in extensive planning of expenditure together (Buss, 1986).
Again, Ochemba (1999) opines that money is very important for the stability of many families. According to him, without money, there may not be marital bliss and love which are the core ingredients couples need to stay together as one indivisible entity. In a research carried out by Ochefu (1992), it was found that in the high socio-economic status families, there tend to be happiness, love and affection than in the low or poor socio-economic homes. Eraser (1983) asserts that in the high socio-economic status homes, parents stay together in love, children are provided with their needs and there tend to be high level of mutual understanding. Whereas, in the poor homes, parents constantly fight each other because the husband could not provide for the family or the children’s school fee’s cannot be paid as at when due. Also, Anyanwu (1980) is of the opinion that in a family where there is poverty and lack, there tends to be unfaithfulness, disrespect, fighting, quarrelling and these can lead couples to break up their marriages or they may live like cat and mouse in the same house. The problem of socio-economic status of couples and its effects on their marital stability is what prompted this researcher to embark on this work.
Issues of mutual concerns have to be talked about freely and without any inhibition. Efforts should be made to talk over difficulties and work out acceptable-solutions. Expressions of feelings and readiness to tell the marriage partner what you expect him or her to do are necessary before behaviours can be modified to suit a given situation (Ayodele, 1990). If the parent is emotionally involved in a matter to the extent of being furious or enraged! the other partner should watch the time when the situation is less tense before replying. For example! if the husband loses his temper (which he should try not to lose) and says that the wife was stupid the way she acted. Though the wife is hurt by her husband's utterance! she should not call her husband. She should wait till an appropriate time when the husband is sufficiently calm before she calls her husband's attention to his rude remarks about her action! and how she was really hurt by his utterance. She could even tell her husband that she should be treated with courtesy and respect because she holds the husband in high esteem. A reasonable husband is likely to apologise and beg his wife to forget and forgive. If the wife also loses her temper (which she should try not to lose) the husband can call her to order when the charged atmosphere is over.
The attitudes of the husband and wife to sex may be influenced by their religious upbringing and early experiences. A partner may regard sex as something pleasurable to be enjoyed while the other sees it as being unpleasant and should not be indulged in except for procreation. The ability of the couple to establish adequate sexual relationship and satisfaction matters very much in marriage stability. Husband and wife need to adjust to sexual behaviour of each other. Normally! a man experiences sexual urges more than his wife. The man should be considerable enough regarding the frequency of the sexual intercourse he demands from his wife. His request for sex should not be detrimental to his wife’s comfort. The wife also should corporate with her husband about his need for sex. Sexual intercourse is best enjoyed enjoyed by a couple if both of them react positively and cooperatively. A frigid wife with her cold attitude to sex will deprive her husband of the full enjoyment of sexual interaction with her. To deprive a man of his right to have sexual intercourse with his wife without a legitimate reason is detrimental to marriage stability. All the mutual sexual satisfaction requires is adjustment to each other's demands.-
Biologically! a woman does not reach organism as quickly as her husband and the man may need to delay sexual intercourse until his wife is ready to enjoy it. The husband can wait form his wife by engaging her in pre-sex plays such as touching and kissing the erogenous zones to quicken her desire for sex. Understanding each other's level of sexual arousal! the sensitivity to gentle touches to genital organ and the length of orgasms are factors that lead up to and follow intercourse. Husband and wife need not regard sex as a dirty game or feel guilty after sexual intercourse. They should regard sex as something good in itself to further cement the love and affection between them (Durojaiye, 1996).
1.1 Statement of the Problem
Socio-economic status of a family may determine the level of peace in a given home. For instance, when a family is in abject poverty, no money to send the children to school, no good nutrition for the children, the woman is not maintained and taken care of by the husband, there may be conflict in the home. In a poor home background, there are many untoward things that happen. For instance, there is likely to be infidelity, there is choas and there will be no love and affection in the home. And in any home where there is no love, no affection, no trust, no fidelity, the foundation of the marriage will collapse and crumble like a pack of cards.
In many homes today, lack of money and other material things have caused couples to seek divorce in law courts. For example, a situation where a husband does not win bread any more, the family upkeep will be lacking. Situations where there is no money to maintain the wife, the children’s school fees are not paid as at when due; where house rents have piled up and the landlord has served a quit notice. In this particular case, there might not be money to pay up or seek for another cheaper accommodation somewhere else. There might even be cases of some creditors constantly visiting the home to seek for pay back. These stressful condition may cause loss of love and affection especially on the side of the woman. She may eventually resort to a divorce in a law court. This will definitely put the family and children in a bad condition.
Furthermore, children from poor and low socio-economic homes tend to be malnurished and lack adequate health maintenance. A family that is poor, may not be happy due to the fact that it cannot meet up with certain obligation on the family. This may lead to separation, divorce or husband and wife living under a roof without mutual love and good relationship. Merely living a cat and mouse situation or kind of relationship will eventually jeopardize the marriage and children would eventually suffer for it. The above reasons gave rise to the examination of this study.
1.2 Purpose of the study
The main purpose of the study is to find out the influence of socio-economic status on marital stability among selected couples in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State. Specific objectives of the study include:
1. To ascertain whether socio-economic status of couples influence their marital stability.
2. To assess whether difference exists between the academic performance of students whose parents are living together and those whose parents are living separately.
3. To find out whether a significant difference exists between the attitudes of couples who live together and those who do not.
4. To observe whether significant relationship exists between stable homes and unstable homes.
1.3 Research Questions
These research questions were be asked in this study:
i. Is there any significant influence of the socio-economic status on couples marital stability?
ii. Is there any significant difference between the academic performance of children whose parents are living together and those whose parents are separated?
iii. Will there be any significant differences between the attitude of couples who live together and those who live separately?
iv. Will there be any relationship between the attitude of children in stable and unstable homes?
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses were formulated for testing in this study:
1. There will be no significant influence of the socio-economic status of couples on marital stability.
2. There will be no significant difference between the attitude of couples who come from high socio-economic homes and those who come from the low socio-economic homes.
3. There will be no significant difference between the attitude of children who come from high socio-economic homes and those who come from low socio-economic homes.
4. There will be no significant difference between the academic performance of children who come from poor socio-economic background and those from wealthy families.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study will be beneficial in the following ways or areas:
Couples: The findings and recommendation of this study will be of great benefit for couples; both the already married ones and those intending to marry. This is because they will learn the factors that contribute to marital happiness or harmony in marriage.
Adolescents: They will learn from the study, especially those who are of marriageable ages. This is because they will get to understand that there are some factors that can help marriages to grow and develop instead of dying down. They would have an insight of the role money or wealth play in sustaining marriages.
The Society: The society will learn through this study how finance can make marriage to work well. This is because, without enough financial powers, marriages tend to be conflict-stricken. Finally, with this study, the society will be informed on the role of finance towards the sustenance of marriage among couples.
Children: Children would benefit from this study, as parents would learn through this, how to bring up their children, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds in the family. This study will help many children to learn about their parents’ level of income in the family.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study covered selected couples in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Some terms used in this study were defined thus:
Socio-Economic Status (SES): This refers to the combined influence of income, occupation, reduction, cultural tastes or values and prestige on social ranking. It is classified into three: High, middle and low socio-economic status (Bidwell and Vendor, 1999).
Social Status: Mey (1998) defined social status as groups of individual who are accorded similar levels of prestige within the community and who share similar cultural taste, interest, patterns of consumptions and life styles.
Social Class: This is the position in the stratification based on income.
Stability: This refers to something that is fixed, not likely to move or change its position. In simple terms, the quality of being stable.
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