Marital infidelity is one of the factors militating against marriage and family
which are two institutions that work towards the population and growth of
the society. This research study is undertaken to make a little contribution
towards creating awareness of the ills of marital infidelity in Idemili North
L.G.A.; and to search for the most likely causes and solutions to the
problem. The research adopted the systematic sampling approach for the
study with a sampling size of 530 respondents. The respondents were drawn
from various communities within the Local Government Area, covering the
market women and men, civil servants, independent workers and police men
and women working within the Local Government Area. The research study
was able to make some findings, some of which are, that marital infidelity is
very rampant the Area of study; and that it is most rampant among the
married couples of age bracket of 25-35 and 36-45. The research made a
number of recommendations on the problem of marital infidelity. Some of
these recommendations are, that churches and Christian organizations of
married men and women should establish marriage counseling centres in the
Local Government Area; and that victims of marital infidelity should be
encouraged not to resort to divorce and separation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page i
Approval Page ii
Dedication Page iii
Table of Contents vii-ix
List of Tables x
1.1 Background of the Study 1-6
1.2 Statement of the Problem 6-8
1.3 Research Questions 8-9
1.4 Objective of the Study 9-10
1.5 Significance of the Study 10-11
1.6 Definition of Terms 11-13
Review of Literature.
2.1 Review of Theories 14-25
2.2 Review of Empirical Literatures 25-43
2.3 Theoretical Frame Work 44-45
3.1 Area of Study 46-47
3.2 Population of the Study 47
3.3 Scope of the Study 48
3.4 Sample Size 48
3.5 Sampling Technique 49
3.6 Instrument of Data Collection 50
3.7 Administration of Instruments 50
3.8 Methods of Data Collection 50-51
Presentation and Analysis
4.1 Personal Data of Respondents 52-56
4.2 Analysis of Research Questions 56-64
4.3 Discussion of Findings 64-67
Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Summary of Findings 68-70
5.2 Conclusion 70-72
5.3 Recommendations 72-75
List of Tables
Table i: Personal Data of the Respondents 52
Table ii: Age of the Respondents 53
Table iii: Educational Qualification 54
Table iv: Occupational Status 55
Table v: Christian Denomination 55
Table vi: The Prevalence of Marital Infidelity 56
Table vii: Age Range couples most involved in Marital Infidelity 57
Table viii: Most involved gender Couples in Marital Infidelity 58
Table ix: Most likely causes of Marital Infidelity 59
Table x: Marital Infidelity and cases of Divorce 61
Table xi: Most likely Solutions for Marital Infidelity 62
Table xii: Public Reaction on Cases of Marital Infidelity 63
Table xiii: Public Penalty to Culprits of Marital Infidelity 64
1.1 Background to the Study.
Marriage and family are two unique institutions that form the bedrock of
a society. Without marriage and family, society cannot be said to exist.
This is why, any phenomenon that does harm to either marriage or
family, inevitably does a great harm and damage to the society at large.
Marital infidelity as presented by Igbo (2003) is one of the probable
causes of marital instability. It is a phenomenon that adversely
destabilizes the uniqueness of marriage and family institutions. It brings
about the moral degradation and bastardization of marriage and family as
cultural and social institutions.
Marriage is understood as institution in which the parties concerned have
exclusive sexual right to each other. Macionis and Gerber (2005),
identified marriage as a legally sanctioned relationship usually involving
economic cooperation as well as normative sexual activity and child
bearing, that people expect to be enduring. Marriage is an institution in
which inter personal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are
acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or
subculture in which it is found.
Ifih and Ezeah (2004) specifically identified marriage as a durable union
between one or more men and one or more women sanctioned by the
society. Giddens (2008) looks at marriage as a socially acknowledged
and approved sexual union between two adult individuals. Marriage is a
legitimate sexual union, completely exclusive to the partners. It is
therefore a sacred institution involving legal union of a man and a woman
as husband and wife. This union permits the partners every sexual right
limited to each other and excluding any third party except in cases of
polygamous marriages as observed by Ifih and Ezeah.
The family on the other hand is founded on marriage. Marriage gives
credence to a family as an institution. Without marriage, a family lacks
every merit, that is, why every family that originates from legal marital
union is recognized as a microcosm of society.
The family has often been regarded as the corner stone of the society. In
both pre-modern and modern societies, family has been seen as the most
basic unit of social organization and which carries out vital tasks such as
bearing, harnessing and socializing of children. Family is usually the first
social group in which man learns aspects of his culture.
Murdock, quoted by Haralambos and Holborn (2004) examined the
institution of family in a wide range of societies and came up with the
definition of family as a social group characterized by common
residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of
both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual
relationship, and one or more children, owned or adopted, of the sexually
Marriage and family are two mutually corresponding institutions that
necessarily guarantee the existence and continued survival of a society.
The two collaborating institutions play very vital roles to the corporate
existence of a society and ensure its progress.
In both marriage and family, we realize that exclusive sexual relationship
between the marriage partners is emphasized as a matter of necessity.
This is because only in exclusive sexual relationship, is the essence of
marriage which gives credence to the family is realized. Any harm done
to this sexual union between husband and wife is a harm done to
marriage and by virtue of extension, it is also a damage done to the
family and the larger society. Peschke (1992), remarks that exclusive
sexual union is suited to give expression to the mutual love and esteem of
husband and wife; and to deepen their intimate unity. Nature, by means
of recurrent longing for sexual union between husband and wife, urges
and compels the partners to cohabit together in lasting bond.
Today however, the observable situation in the society seems to indicate
that the sacredness and sanctity of marriage and family with reference to
exclusive sexual union between husband and wife has been dashed to the
mud. Marital infidelity seems to be the order of the day with no
equanimity of conscience. In Idemili North Local Government Area of
Anambra State, traces of cases of marital infidelity seems to replete every
where. From day to day, stories of illegitimate sexual relationships are
related here and there within the Local government Area. These
illegitimate sexual relationships keep affecting the smooth and peaceful
existence of a number of marriages and families. Years backwards, such
situation was not common among the people of the area. But today
however, stories of it abound every where.
Consequences of marital infidelity are always too bitter to tolerate. Many
couples who some years backwards had lived in peace and mutual accord
because they regarded and respected each other and held their marriages
sacrosanct, are today experiencing a lot of crisis due to either suspicion
of marital infidelity among themselves or out-rightly due to confirmed
marital infidelity either on the part of the husbands or on that of the
wives, or worse still of the two partners. This situation has disintegrated a
good number of marital unions that were once very happy in the Local
Obviously, it is a very difficult issue for any marriage to continue to exist
smoothly or for any family to continue to thrive peacefully in the face of
a case of marital infidelity involving any member of the marriage or
family. The exclusive character of the sexual union between husband and
wife within a marriage and family setting makes such a setting a happy
and peaceful one; and once anything happens to such an exclusive right
and union, it jeopardizes the corporate existence of the institution. The
mutual union of the partners in any marriage is essentially broken once
the exclusive sexual right between husband and wife is put to question.
1.2 Statement of the Problem.
From oral discussions with a number of married people in Idemili North
Local Government Area, it was found out by the researcher, that marital
infidelity is a problem devastating a number of marriages and families
within the Local Government Area. Marital infidelity perforates the
sacredness and sanctity of marriage institution as well as family in the
Local Government Area. It has rendered a number of them meaningless.
By destroying the institutions of marriage and family, marital infidelity
does a great disfavour and harm to the larger society within the Area.
Marital infidelity erodes the exclusive right which husband and wife
share together and destroys the mutual trust they had in each other. It
equally destroys the love a family shares among its members. By
destroying the stability of marriage and family, marital infidelity renders
null and void the peace and harmony a couple and family members
previously shared and enjoyed. Marital infidelity, Peschke (1992)
maintains, violates the fidelity promised by the marriage partners to each
other and the pledges made in the marriage.
The New Encyclopedia Britannica establishes that almost all cultures that
recognize marriage also recognize marital infidelity as a violation of the
terms of marriage. It is a complete aberration and a negative phenomenon
that is meant to disrupt the fact of marriage and its authenticity. Why this
phenomenon is obtainable within the society is a problem begging for an
answer. Almost on daily basis, people hear talks and remarks in the
churches, in the market places, on the streets, in government ministries
and commissions, in school institutions and even in the public buses, on
the issue of marital infidelity and the havoc it is causing in the society.
In almost every wedding ceremony either in the church or in the hall for
reception; and in most gatherings of people for worship, married couples
are always requested to respect the sacredness and sanctity of marriage.
Yet all these not withstanding, marital infidelity is still very much
prevalent within the Local Government Area. People have even
witnessed wives abandon their husbands, and husbands drive their wives
away because of the same reason.
Marital infidelity is therefore a social conflict militating against the
values of marriage and family. It has done harm and mischief to erstwhile
happy marriages and resulted in separation and in most cases divorce. A
number of factors are responsible for this ugly situation; and certainly
there must be a way out of it. This research study is therefore meant to
address the problems which marital infidelity generates in the hope of
finding possible solution within the area of study.
1.3 Research Questions.
The researcher has proposed the following research questions to help him
out in undertaking the study:
i. How prevalent is marital infidelity in Idemili North L. G. A. of
ii. What age range of married couples is most involved in marital
infidelity in Idemili North L. G. A.?
iii. What gender of married couples is most involved in marital
infidelity in the Local Government Area?
iv. What are the most pronounced causes of marital infidelity in
Idemili North L. G. A?
v. How has marital infidelity contributed in cases of divorce and
separation within Idemili North L. G. A?
vi. What could be done to reduce the rate of marital infidelity in
Idemili North L. G. A?
vii. How do the people of Idemili North L. G. A. view marital
1.4 Objective of the Study.
Every study one undertakes has objective which is the motive or purpose
of the study. Generally, the objective of this study is to examine the
public perceptions of marital infidelity in Idemili North L. G. A.
Specifically also, the study is aimed at:
i. To find out the prevalence and rate of marital infidelity in
Idemili North L. G. A.
ii. To determine the age range of married couples that are most
involved in marital infidelity.
iii. To find out which gender of married couples is most involved
in marital infidelity in Idemili North L. G. A.
iv. To identify the most likely causes of marital infidelity in
Idemili North L. G. A.
v. To find out the extent marital infidelity has contributed to cases
of divorce and separation in Idemili North L. G. A.
vi. To find out the likely solutions to marital infidelity in the Area.
1.5 Significance of the Study.
Every study undertaken has corresponding significance motivating the
study. Theoretically speaking, the significance of this study is to enhance
the sociological understanding of the phenomenon of marital infidelity as
a social evil and socio-cultural aberration militating against the progress
of marriage and family institutions in the society in Idemili North L. G.
The practical significance on the other hand will expose the reality of this
vice to the people of Idemili North L. G. A. of Anambra State and to the
larger society. This study will create awareness to married couples of the
harm and dangers of marital infidelity to marriage and family institutions.
If the married couples are fully aware of the ills and social negative
effects of marital infidelity; and then know how to handle it for the sake
of their happy union as well as for the sake of their family values, it will
restore confidence and mutual trust in the minds of married couples.
The study indeed will be of great benefit to the wider society. It will help
the society to rebuild the essential values of marriage and family. It will
be of great benefit to young married couples and hopeful, prospective
suitors to begin early enough to guard against the causes of marital
infidelity. Finally, it will help the hopeful suitors who have become cold
footed because of the harm marital infidelity has done to so many
marriages, to appreciate once more the values and essential benefits of
marriage institution, and to be adequately prepared to enter it without any
1.6. Definition of Terms.
It is necessary the key expressions of this study be properly understood.
The researcher has therefore endeavoured to draw up the following
working definition for the study.
i. Divorce: The term divorce means dissolution of a legally
contracted marriage while both partners are still alive, who are
then free to remarry.
ii. Family: A family is a social group characterized by common
residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes
adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially
approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, owned
or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults.
iii. Family Instability: The expression family instability is
understood to mean absence of mutual peace, accord and unity
within a family. It is absence of stability in a family. This can
result from a number of factors which may militate against a
iv. Marital Infidelity: This is also known as adultery, extramarital
sex, cheating in marriage or philandery. It is an illicit
sexual or emotional relationship between a married person and
someone who is not the legitimate spouse which has an impact
on the level of intimacy, emotional distance and overall
dynamic balance in the marriage. The role of an extra-marital
affair is to create emotional distance in a marriage.
v. Marriage: Marriage is a socially acknowledged and approved
sexual union between two adult individuals.
vi. Public Perception: This is the selection, organization and
interpretation by the public of specific stimuli in a situation,
according to prior learning activities, interests, experiences etc.
Public perception is a process and a pattern of public response
to a situation affecting the public either favourably or
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