THE EFFECT OF DIVORCE ON THE FAMILY: IMPLICATIONS FOR COUNSELLING

THE EFFECT OF DIVORCE ON THE FAMILY: IMPLICATIONS FOR COUNSELLING

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ABSTRACT

 The institution of marriage commands high social recognition and, importance in our society. Marriage is a social institution that is designed among other things by God to be enjoyed by humans and not to be endured. Since it involves two adults that comes together to live as one, conflicts will arise which will shake the union to its very foundation. Causes of the conflicts are numerous; some of them could be avoided with pre marital counselling, marriage counselling proper and post marital counselling to produce a stable family life.  

Divorce is a total brake down of the marriage union without remedy. Some causes are lack of communication, lack of love for one another, lack of tolerance between the couple, barrenness in the typical African system, conflicts of individual roles and a host of others.

The effects of divorce goes beyond just the couples, even beyond the immediate family members, also extends to the children’s future life because it affects their whole total life.  This research work considered the effect of divorce on the immediate family members in the area of the pupil’s attitude to examination, the moral performance of pupils from divorced parents, the academic performances and the pupil’s attitude to drugs and alcohol.

From these effects, five hypotheses were developed and administered to four different schools in Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos State. One hundred males and one hundred females were selected from Aquinas Private College, Penny International College, Sanya Senior Secondary School and Aguda Grammar School.

The importance and relevance of guidance and counselling before marriage, during marriage and even after divorce cannot be overemphasized. To assist and help the adolescent make valid decisions and the decision taken to be realistic, so that the person can be responsible for his or her actions.   


CHAPTER ONE

 INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF THE SYUDY

Marriage is a social institution that is designed among other things to ensure the happiness and fulfillment of men and women. Marriage according to Olusanya (1982) is a sacred and permanent contract between a man and a woman who have consented to live a life of fidelity and caring for each other for the purpose of promoting their mutual growth and welfare throughout their lives.

A family is the bedrock of any society. A healthy family produces a healthy and crime free individuals in a society, while an unhealthy and unstable family produces an unstable and criminal congested society or community. A man from a troubled home cannot be productive likewise a woman from an unstable home cannot be termed a “virtuous woman” which produces a healthy and uncultured off springs.

Marriage… made in heaven! Marriage vows… taken to be together forever! The magical starting days of married life are full of dreams and pleasure. But as the time passes, many couples may begin to realize that they are not perfect for each other. They come to know about the huge differences between them; and feel that they are not compatible with each other. Small arguments may turn to big conflicts. Sometimes these conflicts cross the tolerance limit and make it difficult for the couple to live together and the couple starts thinking about breaking the relationship and getting separated. Yes, they wish to get a divorce!

Divorce is a legal termination of marriage between a husband and wife. But why do marriages fail? It may be due to certain marital problems such as aggressiveness of one of the partners, physical or emotional abuse, alcohol or drug addiction, family stress and strain or infidelity of a partner. Whatever might be the reason, but divorce and separation is definitely painful for both the partners. And it’s not all only about the couple; it also affects the entire family, especially the children.

The institution of marriage commands high social recognition importance in Nigeria. Traditional marriage grounds itself in an arrangement between families and not essentially a union of two individuals. It is also regarded as a union between a man and a woman for the duration of their lives and also as a forum for wider association between two families or two sets of families (Obi, 1966: 155). Expectations are that “marriage is for life” or “should be for life”. This can be explained by the religious and socio-cultural beliefs that the matrimonial home is sacred and the utmost fulfillment was in marriage.

While marriage is supposed to be a beautiful special relationship for the life and calls for harmonious integration of husband and wife to “become one flesh”, many other factors (psycho-social, cultural, education, economic and environmental show the tendency for people inside marriage to deviate significantly). They pursue autonomy and harmony simultaneously and these two are diametrically conflicting goals (Adelson, 1970). This as Kalis (1970) has noted, the particular nature of conflict in human relations may be perceived rightly as the most abundant source of psycho-social problems which threatens marriages and many other institutions.

Conflicts are bound to emanate from the marriage relationship since it involves human beings who have come from various cultural backgrounds and have different individual and social values. The sum of the couple’s reactions to their marital problems will ultimately determine the survival of their marriage or its failure. Counsellors involved in resolving marital conflict must necessarily understand the nature of such conflicts if they must succeed in their enterprise. The study is an attempt to understand the nature of marital conflicts as well as help counsellors acquired skill in resolving conflicts general and marital conflict specifically.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Spouses usually work had toward handling these differences and difficulties but

some are not able to resolve the differences and difficulties. Their marriage fails. When marriages fail, divorce is the resultant effect. There are some basic and fundamental needs for a stable and peaceful marriage which cannot be overemphasized. Some major causes of divorce include financial problems, sexual incompatibility, problems from in-laws, religious incompatibility, financial problems, cultural differences, lack of parental skills, poor communication, childlessness (mostly in the African system and even the issue of a male child),  among other issues.

Marriage counselling is not yet as effective as is psychotherapy or counselling directed at non-marital problems. In one study, for example, about 66 percent of the subjects who received marriage counselling reported the result “helpful”. In contrast, 88 percent of the subjects who sought help for personal non-marital problem reported the result as “helpful” (Guin et al 1960).

In Nigeria the issue is not how effective marriage counselling is, it is its total absence even in “official quarters”. This means that the divorce rate is high (Weigh 1994) and even for marriages that seem to be together, the couples are unhappy and only “bear their marriage as a big cross” (Mbazue: 1995).

The absence of pre-marital and marital counselling may be the reason why Kumuyi (1990) reports that homes are breaking at an alarming rate today. Unhappy marriages and marital break down in Nigeria has serious implications for the society. Amongst most Nigeria a community, a marriage is not an individual affair. It involves the entire family and even the village or community (Bulus, 1986). Marital breakdown therefore affects the health of the society. If the family therefore is an index of measuring the success or failure of the society, it means that marital failure translates into the failure of the society.

There is therefore need to understand and solve marital conflicts because of the implications they have for development.  In Nigeria we are faced with such problems like youth delinquency, robbery, drug abuse, sexual immorality, prostitution and several others.

Several studies have investigated the family background of such children involved, and the result have shown that most of these problems mentioned above are as a result of parental separation. As a result, the attention of the government, individuals charitable organizations, parents, teachers, guidance and counsellors are needed to consider this alarming problem.                   

Counselling like education is a lifelong process. This means that every human being needs guidance and counselling as they grow from cradle to crane. The importance of guidance counsellor to adolescents and children in their multifarious problem of adjustment to living cannot be overemphasized. In their daily interaction with peers, teachers and parents, adolescents encounter educational, vocational and personal social problems which they cannot resolve themselves. Fears, anxiety, conflicts, suspicious of adult values and occasional rebellious acts sometimes show the type of stress and strain which typical adolescents experience as they grow from childhood to adulthood.  

Perhaps more than adolescents, parents also need guidance and counselling for their daily living roles as parents especially in training their children to be good citizens of the nation and also to have and keep a peaceful and successful home.  Counsellors have been trained to listen effectively and help individuals make use of their wealth of resources to resolve their personal concerns. Major reason for the Federal Government of Nigeria to issue a policy statement as contained in the National Policy on Education (2004) and observed as follows:

“In view of the apparent ignorance of young people about career prospect, and in view of personality maladjustment among school children, career officers and Counsellors will be appointed in post primary institutions. Since qualified personnel in this category are        scarce, government will continue to make provision for the training of interested teachers in Guidance and Counselling. Guidance and Counselling will also feature in Teacher education programmes.”

Consequent upon the above, frantic efforts were made by the three tiers of government to train Counsellors for all levels of educational system study and generous scholarships were granted teachers to undertake courses in Guidance and counselling. It is in this vein that the curriculum of counsellor trainees especially at the undergraduate level has been focused on training them to meet the demands of adolescents not only at the secondary school level but also beyond. Counselling assumes that for us as people it is quite easy to relate with and disclose to other people who take time to listen to us and our problems and try to help us understand them.

Before guidance and counselling was introduced into the 3rd world like Nigeria, some group of individual were responsible for advising and counselling individuals in the traditional society in the resolution of social, personal, educational and vocational problems according to Odebunmi (1982) consisting of traditional religious priests, fortune tellers, elders and heads of families within the extended family system, teachers and principals within the educational systems, priests and religious leaders of churches and Imams and Alhaji’s within the Moslem religion, friends and acquaintances within the peer group.


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