Nigeria is not excluded where annulment of marriages is concerned, and, in most cases, divorce is determined by a court of law after a series of proceedings to determine how valid is the couple’s intention to separate. In a bid to protect the whole institution of marriage, religion in Nigeria has played a critical role in preserving the marriage institution. This is because of several consultations that are made before couples call it off. For instance, Christians consult their pastors to hear what God says about separation. Muslims, instead of separating with their first wives, they prefer to marry a second wife and retain both. This is acceptable by the Islamic religion.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the rate of divorce in Nigeria is very low. Going with the figures in the year 2017, only 0.2% of men and 0.3% of women have gone through a legal divorce. A rate of less than 1% in a country is generally low. However, as time passes by, issues are still coming up which render marriages broken. Most of the annulments have been experienced in the Northern part of Nigeria, in the city of Lagos.
The divorce rates have been arrived at as a result of several factors which include;
- Changes in lifestyles– In the recent past, cases of divorce were unheard of in Nigeria. However, due to differences in lifestyle, people are exposed to westernized cultures, which they have adopted with time. Spousal irresponsibility has become a daily issue, such that the other party feels that he cannot thrive in such conditions.
- Ideology in Women and Careers– Therebefore, women in Africa, were perceived to stay at home waiting for the men to go out and look for daily bread. However, this ideology has changed over time, and women have turned out to be career people. They go out for official duties for a specified length of time, which has not turned out well for the men. Men feel degraded and abused being left at home to take care of the households. This has lended to a change in the traditional perception of a marriage institution and has led to marriage breakups.
- Early Marriages– There have been increased early marriages in Nigeria such that unions are not formed because of love but by infatuation, from the youngsters who are exploring the world. The minute they realize that they married the wrong partner, it becomes excessively challenging to cope up with their partners and find that marriages continue to break. In traditional times, it was hard to end the alliance since it was strictly formed on religious grounds. As such, marriage was meant for mature people who have gone through counseling and were made to understand the issues about the union thoroughly.
In as much as the religious aspect is still recognized, it becomes a task for the couples who are well exposed to remain in marriage after they realize that they married the wrong partner, hence an increased rate in divorce.
- Sexual related issues– If there is anything that cuts short a union, it is a lack of trust between the partners. When adultery sets in, marriages break. Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa where adultery is most common. When one partner finds out that the other party is cheating on their union, it becomes difficult for them to continue, and this has been one of the causes that Nigeria’s rate of divorce is slowly going up.
- Living apart for more than two years– According to Online Divorce, an online company that helps people to prepare divorce documents, this has been one of the critical factors that have led to separation in Nigeria. It’s estimated that the highest percentage of separation is a result of living apart.
While there is always a way out to minimize the risks of ending marriages, some of them can be prescribed naturally. For instance, living healthy lifestyles by accepting the transition from the traditional way of thinking to the current technology. Maintaining friendship through constant communication and openness to one another would also minimize the increasing rate of breakups.
There is also a need to go for professional counseling in case there are issues in dispute in any marriage. It is a vital solution to solving marital problems which could otherwise have brought a break up for no significant reason.
Finally, Nigeria being a staunch country in terms of religion, there is a need to be patient with one another, providing forgiveness and trust. This would yield a better marriage than considering untying the knot that has been in place for a considerable period.