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 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.   




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.


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.

The American Personnel and Guidance Association (1967) defined Guidance as an organized effort of a school to help the individual child develop to his maximum potential. Bernard and Fullmer (1977) on their part consider Guidance as the formal and informal effort to guide youths into the future. For Ipaye (1983) sees Guidance as a generic label, an umbrella term that covers all the means whereby an institution identifies and responds to the needs of pupils or students no matter the nature of the need and no matter its source thereby helping the child to develop to his maximum potential.

Arbuckle (1966) has attempted to distinguish the usage of the term ‘guidance’ as a concept, as an educational construct and as a service. To him, it is used as a concept to denote the utilization of a point of view to help an individual. From the educational point, it refers to the provision of experiences that assist pupils to understand and accept themselves and function effectively in their environment. Also as a service, it denotes procedures and processes organized to achieve a helping relationship Olusakin (2010).

The American Guidance Service Inc. defines Counselling as the process in which an experienced and trained person assists a second person to understand himself and his opportunities, make appropriate adjustment and decisions in the light of his understanding, accept the responsibility for the choice and to follow a course of action in harmony with his choice.

Shertzer and Stone (1976) defined Counselling as a learning process in which individuals learn about themselves, their interpersonal relationships and behaviours that advance their personal development. Thompson and Poppen (1972) define Counselling as a person-to-person relationship in which one person helps another to resolve an area of conflict that has not been hitherto resolved, Olusakin (2010).

 Smith (1955) defines it as a process in which the counsellor assists the Counsellee to make interpretations of facts relating to a choice, plan or adjustments which he needs to make. It involves a one-to-one relationship and must be done by well trained personnel.

Marital counselling has been described as the organized application of techniques or interventions which is designed to modify for the better, maladjustment or maladaptive nature of human relationship of marital partners. In the opinion of Akinade (1997), marital counselling is concerned with assisting couples to understand where they are so that they may decide for themselves which way to go. It could be divided into two broad phases i.e.; the pre marital counselling phase and the marital (after marriage) phase.

While the first is concerned with assistance given to prospective spouses before they enter into marriage, the second is meant to address marital issues/problems likely to be faced or is being faced by married couples during the wedding ceremony and later in their inter relationship as husband and wife. It involves the use of counselling theories and techniques as well as biological (genetic) screening of the individuals about to go into marriage, Adeyemi (2004). The Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) believes that a good family life is important because it is the condition, not only for health and happiness, but also for responsible citizenship, community life and prosperity, Adeyemi (2004).

Due to consistent quarrels and fighting in troubled families, there is the need to help couples and their children through counselling. This is the rationale behind this study. The issue of broken and divorced parents is a serious one that affects the life of many young ones especially in Nigeria due to so many reasons which will be considered in the course of this project. Conflicts in the family always prevent the home from performing its duties or responsibilities towards the rearing of the young ones and the growing youths. Love is a word that covers a broad spectrum of attraction, liking, respect and positive interpersonal relations (Makinde: 2001). The importance and relevance of Love in the home cannot be overemphasized.


The purpose of this study is to examine the place of Guidance and Counselling in the causes and the effects of divorce on the immediate family members in Nigeria. It is aimed at considering the major alarming causes of divorce and the end result of these causes on the immediate family members i.e. the father, the mother and the children in the typical Nigerian system. The major implication of guidance and counselling before the divorce and after the divorce proper. To create awareness on the nature and types of conflicts generally, specifically marital conflicts. To create the need to raise structures and institutionalize pre-marital counselling in Nigeria. To make for harmony and integration of the family unit.


In view of the problems caused by parental separation and total divorce in the Nigerian society, this study will be of great help to couples, teachers, adolescents, guidance counsellors and the general society at large.

By knowing and identifying the causes and effects of divorce with their different implications, the study will highlight the importance of mutual understanding among couples for the sake and welfare of the children and the family. It will also enable parents to know the right path in which to train and develop their children. It will help parents know that the social vices associated with their separation sadden and weakens the society in general.

The study will help children to live a normal life under the right atmosphere; it will also enable children to seek the help of a guidance counsellor who would help in identifying their problems and finding a lasting solution to them. It has been shown (Asher and White 1978) that children from disrupted families tend to have lowered socio-economic and educational attainments and higher rates of instability in their marriages.

Like Oguntoye (1987) noted, children may undergo a great level of personal pains when their parents’ marriage end, they feel hurt, confused, angry, violent, abandoned, insecure, inferior and other social problems in relation to their mates in the society. This study will help teachers know how to help children from divorced homes and understand what they are going through. To show them love and care, listen to their problems and be able help them academically to achieve their goal in life. From this study, couples would learn to live a respectable, peaceful and exemplary married life.


This study is limited to Nigeria alone due to the alarming rate at which we are experiencing divorce in our society presently. It is experienced in all areas of our society including the Western culture, but due to time, facts and space, this study will focus on the Nigerian experiences only.

Under the Matrimonial Causes Act, the only ground upon which the court can grant a decree of dissolution of marriage is where the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The facts upon which the court will hold these are as follows:

*the respondent has willfully and persistently refused to consummate the marriage;

*that since the marriage, the respondent has committed adultery thus the respondent finds it Intolerable to live with the respondent;

*the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with him;

*desertion of at least one year;

*that the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of at least     two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent does not object to a decree being granted;

*that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a period of at least three years immediately preceding the presentation.

All these and many more will limit the scope to just the Nigerian system because of the religion, the system and the total Nigerian family system. Although divorce is experienced in all societies and cultures, but the study will be limited to the Nigerian system, in Lagos State and in Surulere local government area in particular for practical illustration and complete understanding.  

In order to understand the study, there is the need to carry out a full study on the causes of divorce, the effects on the children, the effects on the adolescents, the couples involved and the general society. The period of this research was short, which did not give room for travelling far and wide to compare the availability and utilization of the research materials in other schools outside the Lagos metropolis.

Some selected private and public schools were utilized for the research study in order to carry out a full and comprehensive study on the major causes of divorce in our immediate society, the effects of divorce on the children and the whole family, the academic and psychological effects on the couple and the children, the guidance and counselling effects and the contributions of counsellors to avoid the present adolescents from experiencing these ugly monster called “Divorce”  

The questionnaire would measure type of family relationship of both parents, divorced or not. Does it affect the students’ behaviour? The relationship of the pupil to his father’s wives, if polygamous. Occupation of parents, total number of children, which of the parent is the pupil living with? The problem in the family and how all the above variables do affect the pupil’s life in general and the academic performance in particular. Also a performance test on English language and Mathematics were constructed to test the performances of the pupils with duration of 45 minutes under a strict conducive examinations condition.


Having review relevant literature on this study, the focus still remains on the guidance and counselling implications on the causes and effects of divorce on the immediate family members in our Nigerian society. To achieve the state objective of the study, the following research questions were developed to guide the study.

1.   Would there be any significant difference in attitude to  examination between students from divorced parents and those from intact homes?

2.  Would there be any significant difference in attitude to drugs and alcohol between pupils from divorced parents and those from intact homes?

3. Would there be any significant difference in the academic performance of students from divorced parents and those from intact homes?

4. Would there be any significant difference in the in the moral behaviour of pupils from divorced parents and those from intact homes?

5. Would there be any significant difference in the school attendance between students from divorced parents and those from intact homes?


The following hypotheses will be tested in the course of the research; 

1.  There would be no significant difference in the attitude to examination between students from divorced parents and those from intact homes.

2.  There would be no significant difference in attitude to drugs and alcohol between pupils from divorced parents and those from intact homes.

3. There would be no significant difference in the academic

    performance of students from divorced parents and those from

    intact homes.

4.  There would be no significant difference in the moral behaviour of pupils from divorced parents and those from intact homes.

5.  There would be no significant difference in the school attendance of students from divorced parents and those from intact homes. 


In the course of this research, some terms will be defined for better understanding of the study.

GUIDANCE– African communities had always had guidance and that this had always been carried out by traditional helpers who assisted people when they had personal concerns and problems they that could not solve all by themselves. Guidance is a total programme of highly, specialized activities implemented by all staff members to help individuals make wise intelligent choices and decisions.  

COUNSELLING– is a one to one , person to person or face to face encounter between the counsellor and the counsellee. It is a helping relationship based on

trust. It is also a process by which an individual is assisted to evaluate him or

herself and his or her opportunities, i.e. to make feasible choices in the light of his or her unique characteristics and opportunities, to accept responsibility for his or her choices and initiate a course of action that is in consonance with any given choice.

MARRIAGE– is a sacred and permanent contract which is assumed to be enacted when two people (usually a man and a woman) decide of their own accord and in the presence of at least two witnesses to exchange the formal consent to live a life of vocation of love and sharing for each other for the purpose of promoting their mutual growth and welfare as partners in their journey together through life.

FAMILY– is the bedrock of any society. A family is a bio-social group, a network of person’s intimately held together by a bond of social, kinship or blood relationships.

DIVORCE– or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse. Black’s law dictionary* defines Divorce as the imports of a dissolution of the marriage relation between husband and wife, i.e. a complete severance of the tie by which the parties were united.

MARITAL COUNSELLING– is concerned with assisting couples to understand where they are so that they may decide on their own volition which way to go.

RESPONSIBILITIES– these is the taking care of the political, social, physical, mental and economic challenges that occurs in the home to bring about peace and stability.

ACEDEMIC ACHIVEMENT– it is the sum total of all the child’s academic activities and performances in the school. This could be obtained through test grades. Academic achievements are the display of knowledge in subjects which are measured through tests by teachers.

ATTENDANCE– it is the action or time of being present. It includes punctuality, lateness, absenteeism and truancy.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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