Why Divorce Is Rising In Nigeria

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In time past, divorce is a topic that was rarely discussed in Nigeria. Infact, most religions and culture in these climes forbid the talk of divorce, let alone its practice. However, rarely would you go a day without hearing news about divorce or a faulty marriage. The situation with the number of divorce cases in Nigeria has significantly changed for the worse over the past few years. In as much as the rate of divorce is increasing in the country, it is still nowhere compared to those of Western Nations.

Reports claim that marriages below 5 years suffer mostly from Divorce in this generation, and the number is on an increase. Last year February, an Abuja based lawyer posted on Twitter that she received over 4000 divorce applications; though many still find it hard to believe.

Also, in a report titled, “Deciphering the high rate of divorce in Nigeria,” which was written by Umar Yakubu in 2019, Kano state alone had over one million registered divorcees. In a report published in 2018, a total of 3, 000 divorce cases were recorded in Badagry, a Lagos community.

Divorce is a severe family disorganization and a common topic of gossip in our society. This is due to the fact that divorcees are regarded by the society as the worst people in morals, deviants and insatiable elements. A divorced woman is largely stigmatized because culturally, she is regarded as being of such bad character that a man cannot think of remarrying her within a short space of time in the same community.

A research carried out by CNN revealed that “Divorce causes more than bitterness and broken hearts, the trauma of a split can leave long-lasting effects on mental and physical health that remarriage might not repair”.

Causes of Divorce in Nigeria


This is the most common reason for divorce in Nigeria. The rate of infidelity in Nigeria is high. A recent thread on Twitter showed how married people constantly cheat on their partners. When a partner finally catches his/her partner in such activities, it becomes very difficult to trust, this affects communication and it becomes difficult to live together.

Extra-marital affairs don’t seem to slow down and at that rate, affected partners won’t have any reason other than to call off the marriage. The truth is no one wants to be cheated on. Many people have murdered their partners because of infidelity.

Many people say their spouses are the reasons they cheat – some complain that their partner’s poor character, don’t appeal to them again and won’t try to look better. For others, they didn’t love their spouses in the first place but were compelled to marry him or them.

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Financial Problems

This is another leading cause of divorce in Nigeria. We often hear stories of Wives who leave their broke husbands because they couldn’t perform their financial role as the provider of the house.

When one spouse or the other loses a job or significant unexpected financial setbacks take place (job loss, health crises, loss in business, etc.), it can cause a big squeeze on family finances that may last for months or even years. This causes stress. Stress chokes off communication. A lack of communication leads to a breakdown in trust, and the result is often divorce.

Financial problems are tough, but the best way to resolve them is to create a budget and long-term goals and stick to them. Make a concerted effort to keep the lines of communication open regarding financial interests, especially during challenging times.

Family & Third-Party Involvement

The Nigerian culture is one which permits interference of family in their child’s marriage. In some cultures in Nigeria, the sibling(s) of one of the spouses come to live with the couple. Many times friction can exist between the partner and his/her in-laws, which then spreads like wide fire affecting the whole marriage. This could lead to divorce when one of the partners would rather support their family than their spouses.

Another way divorce occurs through this factor is when one or both of the couples begin to report their partners to a third-party who could be a friend, mentor or parents. If an ill-gotten advice is given, this can pollute the mind of the spouse, create tension leading to lack of trust and invariably a divorce.

Lack of Communication and Intimacy

Black Couple not communicating
Over time, marriages become less about physical attraction and physical contact as one’s partner becomes less attractive and sexually appealing to a person. At this point, many couples don’t enjoy stating together as the relationship has become boring; many even stop having sex which is meant to be a bond. These couples fail to realize that marriage / relationship is more about a transition to a deeper and more spiritual kind of love. That’s normal. Sex is still an essential part of every marriage at every step of the way, but intimacy is also much more than just sex.

When communication is now removed because of lack of intimacy, the marriage becomes a dead ground and in a bid from one partner to safe his/her mental health, they seek separation. Some even meet other people who they bond with, hence would opt for divorcing their marriage partners.

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Intimacy involves paying attention to your spouse. It’s the sign of a healthy marriage to ask about the type of day they’ve had, if they’re worried about something, if they’re hiding little nagging aches and pains, or if they want someone to listen to their problems attentively after a long, hard day.

Domestic Violence

One major cause of divorce especially from the wife is the case of domestic violence. The Nigerian culture has relegated the girl child over the years as they are seen as weaker vessels and second fiddle in the marriage. Women’s voices have been shut over time because of this as these women see themselves as inferior

Many men capitalized on this and would physically assault and brutalize their wives. Over the years, these women suffered in silence; however, in recent years, Woman Rights Advocates, NGOs, etc. have given women voices. This has led to women speaking up about this violence and legally seeking a way out.

Furthermore, the more empowered & financially dependent women are becoming, the more they stay away from abusive relationships and marriages.

Many divorced women in Nigeria have suffered from Gender-based violence.

Early Marriage

Pre-Wedding Photos Of A Nigerian Teenage Couple
Marrying Early has its advantage which makes it sweet; however, it is also a leading cause of divorce. Couples in their 20s are often the victims of highest rate of Divorce and almost half of all divorces take place within the first ten years of marriage. One big reason couples give for getting a divorce is not being fully prepared for what marriage is all about. A saying says “When the purpose of a thing isn’t known, abuse is inevitable”

Couples who get married at an early age are more likely to face more money issues because their careers are not established yet. In some cases, they have not matured and do not understand how to communicate effectively. Without experience to guide them, a lack of maturity will often overtake a calmer approach to marital problems.

The overwhelming responsibilities that come with parenting can also affect young couples who aren’t fully prepared for it. This causes lots of stress which invariably could lead to one partner pulling out of the marital union.

Wrong Reasons for Getting Married

Lastly, many marriages fail because the partners are in it for wrong reasons. In Nigeria, many ladies see marriage as an avenue for leaving their parents’ house; some see it as an opportunity to stepping out of poverty. To some, they are getting old and desperately need to marry, else they would be stigmatized.

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When the challenges of marriage comes, reality dawns on many of them and in no time lots of issues arise which would lead to the eventual separation of the partners.

Type of Generation
The reason divorce was seen as a taboo in time past is relative to the kind of generation bred. The Boomer generation was taught to stay glued to their marriage, irrespective of what happened. The women in that generation were silenced because they weren’t empowered.

However, as people got enlightened especially women, who began to stay financially-independent, they began to see no reason in staying in a marriage ‘that isn’t working’. Younger millennial and early GenZ generations are example of people in this category. Many aren’t willing to commit and stay accountable to their partners. A little hitch or problem will results in marital separation.

Overcoming Divorce

The first step is to overcoming divorce is deciding whether your marriage is really worth saving. That means you’ll need to do some soul searching and look critically at pertinent issues affecting you and your partner.

Another thing you need to do is to remember why you chose to marry your partner in the first place. You should always remember your marital vows and days you were both happy together, how you promised each other that you’ll travel the World together.

Always seek counsels, mentorship and advice from trusted marriage counselors when the issues in your marriage can’t be resolved by you two.

Conclusively, Starting to see incompatibility issues, giving up on arguing due to indifference, when you don’t look forward to coming home etc., are red flags you must pay attention to if you care about your relationship.

Being aware and spotting the signs of an unhappy marriage put you back in control, giving you valuable time to address your issues.

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