1.1 Background of the Study
There are lots of institutions that make up the social system, but one that seems outstanding is the family, because of some vital functions, which it performs in the society.
The family can be described as the basic unit of the society, since it embraces all forms of interaction between individuals. Apart from the importance of the family to the members of the society, it serves as a semi-originator or controller of the existing institution in the social system, because without people who make up the society, there will be no existing social institution. The family provides the individual with an identity, with a social status and with economic wellbeing. The other institutions have only slowly emerged from the family and have for a long time been dependent on the family.
The family is universally regarded as the most sacred of the institutions and it is held so in the society. Similarly, Murdock (1949), postulate that such an institution is universally and functionally necessary because it performs those primary functions fundamental to human and social life without the sexual and reproductive functions of the family, society cannot continue to exist, and without the economic function, it will not be sustained and the lack of education will hinder the transfer of culture. As family relate together, they conflict on certain family and non-family issues, some of which may emanate from within or without. This implies that there is no family without problems.
Marital instability has become a thing associated with the contemporary family institution. This however, is not to say that it had never once occurred in family situation of the past but that the rate at which it occurs in our present society is quite alarming. Little (1973), posits that the rate of divorce in town depends on economic situation. He noted that in Ibadan, rich traders entice people’s wives with their money. This is common in our contemporary family institution than before.
The problems of marital instability can be traced to the rapid growth rate of urbanization in Nigeria. The economy is growing and it requires a lot of man power (both skilled and unskilled). This has aroused every member of the family to become one way or the other involved in the economic growth of the nation. The involvement of women in wage carrying is a threat in the family solidarity; couples hardly fine time to stay together for interaction purposes. Child care which should be the responsibility of the parents is now shifted to the school and house helps.
There are also some social factors that bring instability in the family. The idea of managing more than one wife might lead to an end of the family or a broken home. The habits that either the wife or the husband is involved in extra marital affairs which are perpetuated by some men and some women might lead to an end of the family. The habits that either the wife or the husband is addicted to smoking or drinking also lead to marriage dissolution. Lack of trust in many families amongst the couples is wrecking marriages today.
Peer influence also threatens the family solidarity if care is not taken by couples. As a result of outside influences, irrational decisions are made to the detriment of one’s wish and this might lead to marital crisis. Other factors such as education, illegitimate children, religion, infertility of either the man or the woman, presence or lack of children, male child preference also initiate instability in the family.
Children of separated parents often bear the consequences of marital instability. They always serve as the “escape goat” to the vices of either the mother or the father. The tension and hostility of unsolved conflict between parents often gets back to the child. There are so many boys and girls and even adults roaming about the streets, many are delinquents, vandals and touts while some are mutually disturbed because of family instability.
Though a lot of people are still contracting marriages in Oron but there exist a lot of single parents which is a product of marital instability is compounding due to lack of support from Local Government Authorities for both marriages and children from dissolved homes.
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