Marriage institution which hitherto is considered sacred and respected in the ages past and across all religion is fast becoming less valuable and disrespectful. Some people now go into marriage with the mind of “if it doesn’t work out fine, I will opt out”.

We now have unprecedented cases of single parenthood and alarming divorce rate/cases in our courts. Things can therefore not be said to be moving fine with marriage institution or, mildly put, stability in marriage.

It even baffles one to know that two people of different background, sometimes from different tribe, religion and socio-economic status come together, based on love, and decide to tie the knot, to live together forever in marriage only to start having cracks/problems in marriage as early as one to two years into it.

The set of people with tales of woes and regrets about marriage make eligible bachelors and spinsters dread going into marriage. The irony of it all is that there are more marriage counselors now than we ever had; yet, stability in marriage seem to be on the decline.

The aim of this study on “Determinants of marital stability” is to examine the general consensus among selected married men and women about some factors they believed are key and germane to having marital stability.

Fasinu (1989) affirms that since all societies recognize marriage in some form, the institution is therefore seen as having come a long way to confer respectability on the union of husband and wife and that whereas various cultures and people may ordain it differently, the appeal is certainly universal. Nothing should therefore be done to rubbish the stability of this important human institution hence the need to critically examine factors that determines marital stability.


This study on “Determinants of Marital Stability” is designed to reappraise some of factors that tend to foster stability in marriage, as advanced by prominent scholars. Frantic efforts will be made to specifically analyze vital value/expectations from spouses and their relevance or otherwise in contributing to marital stability. The study will also suggest ways that can be of immense value and benefits to unmarried matured adults, who are contemplating marriage, to make best choice of partners that will ensure peace and stability in their marriages.

The problem of divorce or separation in recent time has become so rampart that one begin to wonder whether there is any joy in being married. The much tales of woes and pains we hear daily is not helping matter either as many people have been made to grow “thick skin” towards marital issue. There are people who now dread marriage and will even prefer staying single than living unhappily married; hence the increase in incidence of single parenthood.

For those who belief strongly that there are still some benefits and attractions in being married, they attribute such stability to some factors. It is therefore the aim of this study to know the extent to which some married postgraduates students of Lagos State University (LASU) agree with, or differ in opinion with such acclaimed determinants of marital stability”.

I intend to use more married women than men as marriage traditionally have a lot of implications and hence they seem the more serious of partners in most marriage arrangements.

Some basic factors like maturity, finance, genuine, love and affections, communication, sexual compatibility, child bearing and religious differences of partner are to be examined to see how they typically affect marital stability.


For the purpose of conducting this research work, effort will be made to address the following questions:

  1. What is marriage?
  2. What is marital stability?
  3. What are the factors that account for material stability in our society?
  4. Why is it important to advocate marital stability in our society?


Though marriage is sometimes considered to be a very personal thing, it is generally accepted as the foundation upon which family life is built, the same way, perhaps, that the family is the basic unit of a community. In fact, the state of the society is seen as a true reflection of individual family and it is generally believed that whatever happen in the individual family often rub off on the society.

All societies recognise marriage in some form, a practice which has confer respectability on the union of husband and wife. However such respect seems to be fading away gradually with disintegration of marital stability. Marriages which are meant to last a lifetime have become short-lived with the number of divorce cases rising with each passing day. The alarming rate is unfortunate, uncalled for, and condemnable. I therefore consider the study necessary and appropriate so that much can be learnt about factors that account for marital stability, from the viewpoint of some married men and women.


It has been realised that the state of the society is a true reflection of the individual family. How happy the society is therefore is assumed to have root in the happiness of the individual family. A nation is made of thousands or millions of families in its territory. It is therefore pertinent, as observed by Omo-Ife (1989) that the new emerging couples walking side by side perhaps completes the band that will uplift the country. No amount of efforts made to make our marriages a very exciting and permanent experience can be too much. It only them can success of the family coincide with the prosperity of the nation.

Kephart (1961) clearly affirm that the success or failure of marital relationship is judged in terms of the adjustment of two personalities – a completely, individualistic and societal yardstick. So great is this reciprocal effect of the individual family on society that every effort must be made to check the excess and disintegration of our marriage system. It is in this light that this study is to be carried out to know what contribution it can make towards producing many happy and stable homes which invariably means having a happier society. Factual and unbiased on-the-spot assessment of the factors that ensures stability in marriage will make people have realistic view of matrimony. It will make them appreciate that there are still some valuable attraction in the marriage institution, thereby discarding all the myth and unrealistic expectations they bring into marriage.

The result of the study is expected to be of immense benefit to bachelors and spinsters who have hitherto heard enough tales to make them dread marriage just as it will also assist those already married to make necessary adjustment and enjoy a happier and more stable marriage.

Hardings (1971) observed that there is a great tendency to take the whole subject of matrimony very lightly in these days of easy marriages and easy divorce. This situation is not good enough for the society in which the individual family forms the significant parts. This called for a critical appraisal of the factors that ensure marital stability – from the viewpoint of those already married. The essence is to attempt an exposition of problem areas and proffer possible solution.

Landis and Landis (1973) rightly affirm that a good marriage becomes a force having an impact on the lives of other people encountered by either member of the pair in daily living and its reaches into the lives of future generation hence the need for this study.


This study is designed to focus on factors that determines marital stability. Some married postgraduate students of Lagos State University (LASU) are the target group.

In the process of the study, questionnaire will be administered and supplementary interview will be used (where possible).

An extensive study of this topic will surely need a lot of time than is being allowed for an MSW project. This fact suggest the population and sample selected for the study.

Besides, any discussion on marriage is often seen as touching on privacy of people. There is likehood of unco-operative attitude of some students, who will show carefree attitude, even when they are assured that any information given will be kept confidential. Not to include column for names in the questionnaire is not enough assurance for some respondents who will simply tell you ‘I am not interested.’

Above all, there is the tendency for people to want to give the impression that all is well with their marriage even though they may be suffering in silence. Conscious effort was however made to construct the questionnaire in a way that it will be difficult to fake feelings. Inferences are therefore to be made without direct intervention on the feelings expressed.


For the purpose of this study, some terms that will be used may not necessarily have relevance with the everyday use of the word(s). It is therefore necessary that the meaning intended for some of the terms be spelt out. Such terms includes:

Determinants: A thing that decides whether or how something happen, simply put, it means factors that make something happen in a particular way or be of a particular type (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary).

Marital: This has to do with marriage or with the relationship between a husband and wife.

Marriage: This is an instance of a legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.

Joys: These are the pleasurable privileges of being married to a partner.

Stability: The quality or state of being steady and not changing or being disturbed in any way (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Pains: This revolve round that which causes displeasure, regret or sorrow in the individual marriage. Those that automatically accrue to one as a result of being married to a particular partner are basically intended.

Students: This border on any married postgraduate student of any faculty of Lagos State University (LASU). The student can be on a full time or past-time study.

Being Married: This is an art of being legally or formally united in marriage. For the study, it includes those that have been united in marriage but are living apart (if any). It however excludes the unmarried ‘couples’ who co-habit.

Courtship: It is a period of trying to win the affection of someone with a view to marriage. This period of serious preparation is characterised by incessant dating.

Religion: Any of the various systems of faith and worship practiced by my intended sample e.g. Islam, Christianity, or the traditional worship is basically intended.

Instability: Broon and Selznick (1981) described instability as being characterized by separation, unhappy union, desertion and or divorce. Instability is therefore a quality or state of being changed or disturbed in any way.

Tribe: Described as racial group especially one united by language and customs. For the purpose of this study, the different cultural and ethnic groups in Nigeria and elsewhere is intended.

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