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Title Page                                                                                                                                i

Certification                                                                                                                            ii

Dedication                                                                                                                              iii

Acknowledgement                                                                                                                  iv

Table of Contents                                                                                                                   v

List of Tables                                                                                                                          vii

List of Appendices                                                                                                                 viii

Abstract                                                                                                                                  ix



INTRODUCTION                                                                                                                1

Statement of Problem                                                                                                             12

Purpose of Study                                                                                                                    12

Operational Definition of Terms                                                                                             13



LITERATURE REVIEW                                                                                                   15

Theoretical Review                                                                                                               15

Family Systems Theory                                                                                                           15

Family Development Theory                                                                                                  19

Self-Determination Theory                                                                                                     20

Cognitive Evaluation Theory                                                                                                  23

Social Exchange Theory                                                                                                         26

Gender Roles, Equity Theory                                                                                                 30

Theories of Social Construction of Gender                                                                            34

Attachment Theory and Psychology of Religion                                                                   38


Empirical Review                                                                                                                  42

Gender Role Orientation and Marital Satisfaction                                                                 42

Religiosity and Marital Satisfaction                                                                                       47

Self- Determination and Marital Satisfaction                                                                         51

Summary of Literature Review                                                                                              53

Hypotheses                                                                                                                             55



 METHOD                                                                                                                              56

 Participants                                                                                                                             56

Instruments                                                                                                                             56

Procedure                                                                                                                                59

Design and Statistics                                                                                                              60



RESULTS                                                                                                                             61

Summary of Findings                                                                                                             64




 Implication of the Study                                                                                                         70

Limitations of the Study                                                                                                         71

Suggestions for Further Research                                                                                           72

Summary and Conclusion                                                                                                       73





List of Tables

Table 1            Table of Correlations for the study variables.

Table 2            Table of Regression coefficients for marital satisfaction from gender role                             orientation, religiosity, and self-determination.



List of Appendices

Appendix A:  Bem Sex role Inventory Short Form- (BSRI-SF)

Appendix B:  Basic Need Satisfaction in General Scale (BNSGS)

Appendix C:   Index of Marital Satisfaction IMS (IMS)

Appendix D:Religious Commitment Inventory-10 (RCI)

Appendix E:    Computer printouts showing SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social                                  Sciences) analysis result



This study investigated gender role orientation, religiosity, and self-determination as predictors of marital satisfaction among married couples. Participants were one hundred and eighty seven (187) married couples, drawn from three religions namely Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion. Their ages ranged from 21 years to 50 years, and were categorized.Cross Sectional design was adopted.Four instruments were used for data collection; Bem Sex role Inventory Short Form, Basic Need Satisfaction in General Scale,Index of Marital Satisfaction and Religious Commitment Inventory-10.Three hypotheses were tested. Hierarchical multiple regression was the main statistic used for data analysis. Results of the regression analysis indicated that gender role orientation (p< .001), religiosity (p<.05), intra personal (p<.05), self-determination (p<.001),autonomy (p<.01), as well as competence (p<.001) all were shown to be significant predictors of marital satisfaction among couples. Interpersonal dimension of religiosity and relatedness dimension of self-determination were not significant predictors of marital satisfaction among couples. One nascent implication of thisfinding is that couples seeing themselves as one other than strictly emphasizing on gender role will increase rate of marital satisfaction in our society. Other implications were also stated, limitations and suggestions for further studies were made.




People get married with the expectation of happiness ever after, but it doesn’t always work out that way. There may be too many fights, too few good times and the sense that one and his/her spouse are growing farther apart rather than closer together.However, despite how good or sad marital life may look; understanding what professionals have discovered about marital satisfaction may help couples focus on how to improve their relationship.

Many people believe that, after the initial joy of getting married, the spark inevitably goes out of love and boredom sets in. Interestingly, researchers found that sometimes stresses originating outside the marriage can seriously affect the relationship, especially when spouses are less adept at problem-solving. However, unhappiness isn’t necessarily a result of boredom with each other or a sign that one’s relationship is doomed, but rather may be in reaction to challenges outside the relationship that can be dealt with and addressed.

Human development entails transition and accomplishment of developmental tasks at different stages. For example, the transition from adolescence to adulthood has been noted to be of high importance (Arnett, 2004; Montgomery & Cote, 2003). For this, Arnett (2000, 2004) conceptualized the transition from adolescence to adulthood as ‘emerging adulthood’. Similarly, Arnett (2004) postulates that the age range for attaining adulthood is approximately 18 to 25 years of age. Hence, section 29 (4) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) Constitution provides that legal age at which individual attains maturity and accountability is 18 years. At this point, social activities such as marriage, parenthood, occupational advancement, and child rearing are some of the significant markers that buttress maturity and adulthood. In Erikson’s sixth developmental stage intimacy versus isolation, individuals are faced with the task of forming intimate relationship with others. This relationship most times tends to be consummated into marriage. When healthy friendship takes place, an intimate relationship with another individual is formed, and intimacy will be achieved but if not the result is isolation. In this case, the marital relationship is threatened.

In view of the purpose that propel people into marriage;Relationship Indicators Survey conducted byRelationships Australia and Catholic University of American (2008)showed the following as reasons why people marry: “…For love, companionship, procreation, security for children, make public commitment to each other, legal status or for financial security, religious beliefs, response to family pressures, desire for a special occasion” For our Nigerian society, one adage that confirms her position on marital life opines that “a man without a wife is like a vase without flowers”; while “a woman without a husband is like a house without a roof”. May be this is probably why some men and women rush into marriage as to be counted or seen as being responsible. But some interesting questions that need to be answered include; are all marriages a bed of roses? To what extent are the couples happy and satisfied?In reference to these questions, Haidari, Zarei, and Sadeglifard (2013) maintained that one important aspect of the family system is the satisfaction that couples experience.Therefore, Ellis (1992)defined marital satisfaction as contentment, satisfaction and pleasure experienced by couples and believes that ignoring the other side’s interests and mind- set causes disappointment and frustration in the marital relationship.

As a prove of its essential nature, marital satisfaction has been linked to psychosocial benefits such as decrease in mortality rates, risk –taking behaviours, increase in health monitoring, sexual satisfaction, and compliance with medical regimen, financial saving and employment wages (Roger 1995; Waite & Gallagher, 2000).Contrary to the positive effects of marriage, separation and divorce have been linked with decrease in psychological well-being, increase in health problems, risk of mortality, social isolation, financial strain, negative life events (Amato, 2000; Cherlin& Furstenberg, 1994; Cowan & Cowan, 1992). Marital dissatisfaction is also associated with depression, mental illness, and substance use disorders and the disturbance of neurotransmitters such as the catechol amines, poor immunological functioning of the adaptive immune system (Kiecolt-Glaser and Newton, 2001). Other correlates include domestic violence or high risk of male aggression and female victimization (Bookwala, Frieze, & Grote, 1994; Edalati, & Redzuan, 2010). According to Hummel (2002), children in a family where couples are dissatisfied are often being maltreated and child maltreatment impinges on later relationship outcomes such as low interpersonal relationship in adulthood and relationship dissolution because of increasedanxiety among dissatisfied couples (parents). Marital dissatisfaction and/or marital conflict is also associated with important family outcomes such as poor parenting, poor adjustment of children, increased likelihood of parent-child conflict, conflict between siblings, adolescent psychological well-being and infidelity of the couple (Mahmood & Najeeb, 2013). For Mahmood and Najeeb(2013), as marital satisfaction decreases the likelihood of infidelity increases. Research by Marie (2012) showed that infidelity was attributed to marital problems by couples. However, Previti and Amato (2004) noted that infidelity could be both a cause and a consequence of marital dissatisfaction.

Statistics from the United States Bureau of Census (1992) reported that 52% of marriages ended in divorce. Data in 2010 from the Director General of Islamic Guidance Ministry of Religious Affairs states that two million (2,000,000) people are married and two hundred and eighty-five thousand, one hundred and eighty-four (285,184) marriages ended in divorce (Kompasiana, 2011). According to Almanac Book of Facts (1977), there were 12,000 cases of divorce reported every year in Nigeria since 1975. Issues of divorce come across different classes of people and religion in Nigeria such are high rated clergy, business magnates, and celebrities, politicians, etc. This suggests that marital dissatisfaction is widespread, affecting all cultures, race, religion and social class.

According to Esquer, Burnett,Baucom, and Norman (1997) and as pointed earlier, most people who enter into marital relationship have the expectation of a blissful and satisfying relationship. Marital satisfaction reflects the dream, wish or desire of individuals who are engaged or want to get married or are married. In other words, before any marriage is contracted each party involved usually has a picture of how his/her marital experience would look like in most cases a blissful one. For every marriage that are not moving smoothly, the parties involved continue to hope that the satisfaction or pleasant experience they were dreaming of before coming together will soon materialise.This dream sometimes materializesalthough sometimesit does not.

Because of the uniqueness of individuals, expectations, family upbringing, tradition and culture, religion, gender role and even one’s determination before getting married and focus/motive on its actualization when the marital vow was exchanged; marital satisfaction can mean several things to several individuals.For these reasons listed, it is possible that in marital relationship the two individuals can be satisfied; it is also possible that one of the marriage partners can be satisfied. It is equally possible that none of the parties are satisfied in the marital relationship. On the other hand, there are occasions where ‘forced’ if not ‘false’ satisfaction exists or can be experienced. This agrees with the rule of learned helplessness (Seligman, 1977) where satisfaction may not be real rather enforced adaptation to dissatisfaction or unpleasant experiences which normally could not give one satisfaction. For instance, a woman may claim to be satisfied in marriage because of her children and may not like to quit the marriage even when she is maltreated by her husband while a man who is experiencing ‘forced’ satisfaction may not quit because of his religious involvement or status in his religion claiming that all is well. Seligman, Fazio, and Zanna (1980) and Rempel, Holmes, &Zanna, (1985) in their studies on close relationships indicated that couples with intrinsic motivation report greater feelings of love and faith in their relationship while extrinsically motivated were less likely to expect to marry their partner when a desired outcome is not seen. Thus, internal process and personality variables are implied in choosing a partner and therefore likely to influence satisfaction in marriage.

Researcher Winch (2000) maintained that marital satisfaction is matching the current state and the desired state of marital relations. According to Winch’s definition (2000), when a person’s expectation of what his/her marriage would be is accomplished, marital satisfaction is said to have occurred. In the course of this study, the researchersampled the opinion of five(5) women who reflected the following issues to portray satisfaction in marriage: a wealthy and caring husband, having children and taking care of them; cooking delicacies for the entire family; harmony between their spouses; be cherished and receiving affection from their husbands; honesty, trust and fidelity; mutual share and/or division of responsibility and interests. It tend to be in line with this finding that DeGenova and Rice (2002) outlined four criteria for evaluating successful marriage as follows; marriages that have lasted for lifetime; but practically, staying together is not an indicator of satisfied marital relationship or happy marriage. Secondly, approximation of ideals in terms of extent of fulfilment of marital roles, expectation and ideals as perceived by the couples. Thirdly, fulfilment of psychological, social, sexual and material needs of each other. Lastly, the satisfaction from the conditions each spouse experience.

For men, their satisfaction may hover around business accomplishments; fat bank accounts irrespective of family expenditures; business investments; eating delicacies prepared by their wife; hanging out with friends; sometimes having a beautiful wife, having a submissive and caring wife, who they can confide in, and surrounded with lovely children. On a general note, the above could be seen as the pivot upon which marital satisfaction is hinged. But for Roach, Franzier, and Bowden (1981) satisfaction is attitudes, which like any perception, is subject to change overtime in relation to significant life experiences.

Although the parameters of marital satisfaction differed from one historical era to another;factors such as culture, religion, the law and education help to shape married people’s ideas of what a satisfying marital or affective relationship is (Lucas, Parkhill, Wendorf, Imamoglu, Weisfeld, Weisfeld, & Shen, 2008). Thus, marital satisfaction depends on the expectations of individuals as imposed by culture and social factors. Marital satisfaction is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon, implying that other external factors imbedded in the cultural milieu may influence how satisfied an individual may be.

In the traditional African setting which is the main focus of this study; where emphasis is placed on children with its sense of collectivisms, satisfaction relate to the way spouse is accommodated in her husband’s house, how her husband’s relatives accepted her and how her relatives is being treated. Cultural norms and popular perception of getting in to marriage early may mean that people marry out of social expectations and pressure thus leaving less time to study and understand the demands, interests, and characteristics of their prospective partners or learning social skills to navigate the marriage union. In our Nigerian culturefor example, some men and women enter into marriage early in order to avoid promiscuity or flirting, (kaachibaukwun’ulo, in Igbo language). Similarly, some marry at young age to derive their sexual desire within marital relationship. But surprisingly, many exchange marital vows as the case may be without the understanding of what they are going into; what it entails with respect to responsibility, adjustment, modification of character and lifestyle, commitment and desire or motive to make the marriage work. At this point, from the researcher’s point of view one can say that nobody has pre-experience of marital challenges before entering it; rather individuals take time to study existing ones, asking relevant questions, to avoid entering into it inadvisably.

One other important issue about marital satisfaction concerns when two persons with entirely different purposes, expectations, beliefs, values, attitude, mind-set, perception, come together in marriage.As always noticed clash of ideas, opinions, and values are inevitable. It may also result in friction, disappointment and loss of motivation for continuity of their marital relationship and even divorce. Generally, marital satisfaction a woman gets is different from marital satisfaction a man gets in marriage. But for these two persons, who are involved in marriage to have “corporate” marital satisfaction, there is need for compromise, otherwise there would not be or one may be enjoying satisfaction at the expense of the other. Another issue is that objectivity is side-lined in marital satisfaction. The assessment of whether one is satisfied in his/her marriage is dependent on the individual’s response to the questions that border on his/her opinions, expectations and experiences in the marriage.

One predictor that may have particular importance to marital satisfaction is gender role. As stated by Taylor, Peplau, and Sears, (1997) marital satisfaction enhances the subjective evaluation of couples engaged in marital relationship. Hence, an ideal marital satisfaction implies that both partners can enjoy life from the companionship characterized by lack of stress (distress) and unhappiness. A clear examination of the concept of gender role ideology seems to portray thatthe concept has been ignored in the exploration of marriage overtime despite evidence in the extant literature that points to differences in marital satisfaction for men and women (Johnson &Lebow, 2000; Walker 1999). Gender roles are the social and behavioural norms that are generally appropriate by a particular society for either a man or a woman in a social or interpersonal relationship. In African cultural milieu – the major focus of the studyand inIgbo culture for instance; males who perform ‘female’ duties are considered as not being man enough, (nwoke – nwanyi, in Igbo language), bewitched by their wives, or incapable of controlling their homes. On the other hand, females who perform male roles in the family are considered insubordinate to their husbands (dim ejenakamjee, nnaga-alu or nwanyikanwoke, in Igbo language). But the question is; what aspect of the division of household/family do men perceive to be either fair or unfair? However in Africa largely, traditional gender-roles have been identified as a major source of satisfaction, especially for females. Stevens, Kiger, and Riley (2001) identified that satisfaction with the division of household labour is a useful predictor of marital satisfaction particularly for women due to apparent increasing dissatisfaction with coming home after work and completing a ‘second shift’ of household and child care.



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