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THE IMPACT OF INFIDELITY AMONG MARRIED COUPLES

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THE IMPACT OF INFIDELITY AMONG MARRIED COUPLES

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study 

One of the most ancient institutions linked to human society is matrimony. It is a principle that has been consistently underscored in all societies and serves as the benchmark for assessing accountability within families. As defined by Ofoegbu (2022), marriage is a social structure arrangement that establishes a legal, customary, or religious bond between a husband and wife in order to ensure the continuation of the family lineage through procreation and the exchange of a variety of other acceptable relationship norms. Marriage is a prevalent institution observed in virtually all societies. With the passage of time, however, marriage has evolved into an assortment of structures. The perception of marriage exhibits significant variation across cultures. Some consider the institution to be endogamous, wherein men were obligated to wed within their social group, family, clan, or tribe; exogamous, which prohibited matrimonial unions; or polygamous, which permitted individuals (both men and women) to enter into unions with multiple partners.According to Yahaya, Esere, Ogunsanmi, and Onye (2018), Denga (2020) defines marriage as an inviolable partnership contract due to the fact that it signifies a lifelong commitment in which the couple must endure indefinitely a variety of challenging circumstances, including financial constraints, illness, and so forth. Every instance in human history can be attributed to the formation of a family following the successful consummation of matrimony. The smallest social element and most significant primary group in any given society is the family. Because human society exists or has existed with some form of family organisation, the family setting is universal. According to Akubue and Okolo (2018), the term "family" encompasses any collective of individuals who engage in communication and interaction, including spouses, children, and spouses in organisational contexts. In the Nigerian context, the extended family system defines the family as consisting of married individuals, their progeny, immediate relatives, and other dependents (Onwuasonya, 2020).Traditions that have been present in every society since its inception, such as having sexual relations exclusively with one's partner and expressing affection for one's spouse, are emphasised during matrimonial ceremonies. These practices are intended to enhance the partners' image and self-esteem. Certain partners exhibit a departure from these standards that extends beyond the confines of their marital residences. This has caused marital discord and contributed to the instability of many couples. The adverse consequences of this frequently have psychological and social repercussions on the children (Fernando, 2019). There are conjugal issues plaguing modern society that deviate from the norms, values, and standards of traditional society.

It has been established that marital fidelity not only preserves the unity of a family but also produces a generation of individuals who value the sanctity of matrimony. Although individuals enter into matrimony with the intention of maintaining fidelity, it has been established that infidelity impacts nearly 80% of matrimonial unions globally. Matrimonial infidelity is a contentious social issue that is disapproved of across all age groups, religions, and societies; consequently, stringent regulations are in place to prevent it. Certain societies imposed the death penalty as a penalty. Nevertheless, infidelity persists, leaving individuals to ponder the reason why it has become a tradition that is transmitted across generations. As stated by Ejaifo (2021).Over time, marital infidelity is progressively becoming the norm. The current trend is female infidelity due to the fact that extramarital sex by men is not only accepted but, in some cases, even encouraged by society. Extensive documentation exists regarding the prevalence of extramarital sexual activity among married men in Nigeria (Karanja, 2019; Lawoyin & Larsen, 2022). According to a report from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, women are cheating at a rate virtually equivalent to that of men for the first time in modern history. An additional study, which was included in the 2013 General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Centre, discovered that although the proportion of men who have admitted to infidelity has remained unchanged for the past twenty years, the proportion of spouses who have disclosed having affairs has increased by nearly forty percent. 

Prior to the emergence of civilization, married women remained chaste and faithful to their oaths, regardless of the circumstances in which they found themselves. The current phenomenon among Nigerian women is infidelity; this is an abstract trend that is markedly different from the prevailing norms of faithfulness, tolerance, and patience that characterised women twenty years ago (Ejaifo, 2021).Against this background, this study is aimed at investigating the impact of infidelity among married couples.

1.2 Statement of the Problem  

The occurrence of marital infidelity among women, which was previously uncommon, has seemingly become widespread in contemporary Nigerian society. In 2012, Durex, a contraceptive manufacturing company, published a report which ranked Nigerian women as the most unfaithful in the world at 62 percent. 

The functionality and stability of a relationship are significantly impacted by infidelity (Drigotas, Annette, & Gontlia, 2018; Whisman, Dixon & Johnson, 2021). 

According to sociologist John Kester of the University of Lagos, infidelity negatively affects not only the relationship but also family life, especially when children are involved. Children react differently when their mother is having an affair. This is because the mother is still frequently regarded as the centre of attention within the family, and when the child discovers the affair, he or she risks putting faith in the ineffectiveness of marriage and family. 

Marital infidelity is associated with various negative outcomes, including marital discord that culminates in divorce, domestic violence against the spouse, the prostitution of children born to different fathers, and the transmission of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) (National Aids Control Council (NACC), 2007). An increased risk of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, has been linked to marital infidelity (Cano & O'Leary, 2020). 

The negative impact of marital infidelity on development in any given area is attributable to its effect on the individuals involved. Allocating funds intended for family development towards the treatment of HIV/AIDS and extramarital affairs is a diversion of resources (Kenya Forum, 2015). Additionally, sexual infidelity among women may facilitate the transmission of numerous sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, and syphilis. The reproductive health of women is frequently compromised, leading to maternal mortality and the subsequent orphanage or juvenile delinquency of their children, who may also drop out of school and become prostitution or delinquents. 

The continued engagement of married women in extramarital affairs raises concerns regarding the well-being of their families and the broader society, as it contributes to the problem. What could account for this increase? It is possible that married women have unfulfilled fundamental requirements within the family unit that they attempt to fulfil externally. It is with these concerns in mind that  this study is being carried out to find out the impact of infidelity among married couples.   

1.3 Objectives Of The Study

The overall aim of this study is to critically assess the impact of infidelity among married couples. Hence, the study will be channeled to the following specific objectives;

Ascertain the prevalence of infidelity among married couples in Nigeria.

Find out the causes of infidelity among married couples in Nigeria.

Determine the effect of infidelity among married couples in Nigeria.

To proffer plausible solutions/strategies that will help curtail infidelity among married couples in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Question

This study will be guided by the following questions;

What is the prevalence of infidelity among married couples in Nigeria?

What are the causes of infidelity among married couples in Nigeria?

What is the effect of infidelity among married  couples in Nigeria?

What are the plausible solutions/strategies that will help curtail infidelity among married couples in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

Ho: The prevalence of infidelity among married couples in Nigeria is low.

Ha: The prevalence of infidelity among married couples in Nigeria is high.

1.6 Significance Of The Study

This study has both practical and theoretical significance.

Practically, the study will help to resuscitate marriage and improve marriage relationship by helping married people to keep to their marital vows and have healthy spousal relationships. It will help to create societal awareness on the damages and harm of infidelity, if not properly curbed.

Theoretically, the findings will give first-hand information to religious leaders, marriage counselors, women organizations on the prevalence and causes of marital infidelity among women, with a view to give proper counseling to spouses either before or during the marriage sessions. With the knowledge, the curriculum planners would include issues that bother on family and procreation into subjects like, Sociology, Civic Education, Sexuality Education and Social Studies. Findings of the study will also add to existing knowledge and literature that have addressed the issue of marital infidelity among married couples.

1.7 Scope Of The Study

The scope of this study boarders on the impact of infidelity among married couples. Geographically the study will be delimited to Enugu North Local Government Area, Enugu State and Nigeria at large.

1.8 Limitation Of The Study

Finance for the general research work will be a challenge during the course of study. Correspondents also might not be able to complete or willing to submit the questionnaires given to them.

However, it is believed that these constraints will be worked on by making the best use of the available materials and spending more than the necessary time in the research work. Therefore, it is strongly believed that despite these constraint, its effect on this research report will be minimal, thus, making the objective and significance of the study achievable.

1.9 Definition Of Terms

Marriage: In the context of this study, marriage can be seen as the legalizing of a special relationship between a man and a woman to which the society gives its approval. It places each partner under legal and social obligations to the other and to the society.

Couple: This refers to two people who are married, are living together or having an intimate relationship, as socially approved.  

Infidelity: It is referred to as cheating or adultery when married. It is a violation of a couple’s assumed or stated contract regarding emotional and or sexual exclusivity.


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