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Chapter 1-5 | DOC FORMAT: MS WORD/PDF | PRICE: ₦3,000


This had been an attempt to investigate the attitude of mother-in-law towards daughter-in-law as a determinant factor in marital stability, in carrying out this study,Questionnaire on the Attitude of Mother-in-law towards Daughters-in-law as a Determinant of Marital Stability (QAMDDMS) was developed and percentage, mean and chi-square at 0.05 level of significant were used to test the hypotheses. The results of the study show that the communication patterns of daughter-in-law from different cultural backgrounds; communication and attitude of daughter-in-law with different educational background and also socioeconomic background all have significant influence on the attitude of daughters-in-law towards mother-in-law. The implication for policy and practice respectively drawn from the study are that: spouse family should be aware of individual differences before marriage or else the marriage could be heading to disaster. The study highlighted the needs for further study on teachers’ gender; effectiveness and teaching styles on students’ performance.



1.1 Background to the Study

Marriage is the legal relationship between a husband and a wife (Hornby 2007). It is a process where a man and a woman agree to have a life contract between each other mostly with the aim of procreation and self development. Marriage is also an agreement between two families to join their children together as husband and wife just as an African saying that you don’t marry a person, you marry a family. The institutions of marriage and family are inevitably intertwined. When two people choose to get married, they are also choosing the integration of two families (Lau, 2005).

Sociologically, what marriage is all about is the integration of two families. After marriage, her family and his family will likely come to be considered jointly as “our folks”. That is the intended meaning of marriage. In practical terms, a brother-in-law is treated as a brother, a sister-in-law is treated as a sister, and a mother-in-law is treated as one’s own mother (Byng-Hall, 2008).

The US Bureau of the Census (2006) defines the term family as “a group of two persons or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption, and residing together.  This is because the social relationships called family is such an important part of the society. In fact no society has existed without some sort of social arrangements Family relationships are never fixed; they change as the self and the significance of other family members grow older, and as the changing society influences their respective lives (Riley, 2008). Family experts report that in reality the most difficult relationship is the one between the mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law. Conflicts between wives and their mothers-in-law do not just happen. They need an arena, just as germs and viruses need an environment to breed (Lau, 2005). There must first be a common area in which both the wife and her mother-in-law are in constant contact. If the wife and her mother-in-law do not meet each other at all and each of them just lives her own life, there would, in theory, be no problem at all between them, because there is no contact. No contact, no conflict. It’s as simple as that. It is like saying if there were no marriages, there would be no divorces (Philips, 2005).

“When you play badminton or tennis, there is hardly any chance of you crashing into your opponent unless you are playing like a chimpanzee. This is because each of you has your own court. When you play a game like squash, however, you have to be very careful not to crash into your opponent, or smash his head with your racquet” Lau, 2005.  The interaction between the wife and her mother-in-law is like the game of squash, where there are lots of opportunities for both players to be in contact with and crash into each other (Silverstein, 2012).

When intergenerational conflicts occur, it typically involves the wife and her mother-in-law. In fact, in-law trouble has been characterized as a “female problem”, perhaps because women have traditionally shouldered the responsibility for maintaining kinship ties (Marotz-Baden & Cowan, 2007). Fischer (2008) found that wives tend to turn to their own mothers for help after giving birth. Yet they may regard their mother-in-law’s concern over her new grandchild as “interference”.

The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law impasse has never given birth to any good, dividing women who have much in common and who could benefit from one another’s friendship. It causes great unhappiness to mother-in-law, who feels her overtures of friendship are rebuffed, and who fear their connection with their son and grandchildren may be threatened by the daughter’s-in-law hostility. It causes distress to the daughter-in-law, who feels judged and pressured, particularly on matters involving her role as a woman in the family (Apter, 2011).

Interpersonal communication is an integral part of human experience. Moreover, interpersonal skills are highly relevant to adjustment, because they can be critical to ones happiness and success in life. There is a need to be aware that communication is very important between mother and daughter in law and it can be effective or ineffective depending on what transpires between the speaker and the hearer and care should be taken not be an ineffective communication (Byng-Hall, 2008).

Simmel (1955) made another important point by stressing that both conflict and cooperation are ways human beings relate to each other. When there is conflict between the wife and the mother-in-law, this should not create a rift if there is effective communication between the two. If information is shared between the two women at all times as necessary, there will be an understanding of self which will create a positive attitude by the wife towards the mother-in-law.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Strained  relationship is often noticed in many extended families, to the extent that daughter –in-laws often pray that they do not have mothers-in-law, or they don’t want those ones that will live with them. This is often as a result of the treat that mothers-in-law pose to regular running of the family. According to Ilumoye (2011), a lot of homes have been broken as a result of family (mother in law) interference into marriage.

A question to be raised is why daughters-in-law are so sensitive to what they perceive as lapses in a mother’s-in-law recognition of them. The answer may lie in the high demands they put on the response of a mother figure. Indeed, the touchiness or sensitivity often displayed by daughters-in-law to a mother’s-in-law behaviour is close to that of an adolescent’s to her mother (Apter, 2010). Many tensions, too, take place in the broader context of the work/family dilemma that is etched into so many of these women’s lives.

The modern couple sees marriage solely as an integration of two individuals-just the husband and the wife. That seems to be the modern perception of a marriage. When the modern couple gets married, they often forget that it is not just a relationship between the two of them that has begun, but the relationship between the husband’s family, no matter how large, and the wife’s family, no matter how large. Problems somehow arise from this modern but much distorted perception of a marriage, because based on it; in-laws do not play important roles. Thus, brothers-in-law are not treated as brothers, sisters-in-law are not treated as sisters and mother-in-law is not treated as mother. When this happens, the relationship has begun on a wrong footing (Duval, 2004).

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the attitude of mothers-in-law towards daughters-in-law as a determinant of marital stability in selected families in Lagos metropolis. But specifically, the study will among other things seek to:

i.       Determine the role of effective communication on the attitude of mothers-in-law towards their daughters-in-law

ii.     Discuss the consequences of ineffective communication between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws in marital stability,

iii.   To recommend ways to improve marital stability.

1.4 Research Questions

In order to provide direction for this study, the following questions are asked:

i.       To what extent does communication style influence the attitude of daughter-in-laws towards their mother-in-laws?

ii.     Is there any difference in attitude and communication of daughter-in-laws from different cultural background towards their mother-in-laws?

iii.   Do married women with different educational background differ in their communication and attitude towards their mother-in-laws?

iv.         Is there any difference of socioeconomic background in attitude of daughters-in-law towards mother-in-law?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study.

1.  The communication styles of daughters-in-law will not significantly influence her attitude towards the mother-in-laws.

2.  The communication patterns of daughter in law from different cultural backgrounds will not significantly influence their attitude towards their mother-in-law.

3.  There will be no significant difference in the communication and attitude of daughter in law with different educational background towards their mother-in-laws.

4.  There is no significant effect of socioeconomic background in attitude of daughters-in-law towards mother-in-law.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study is significant because many people will find it useful. Such as:

Married women who are having problems with their mother-in-laws will benefit from this study as it will expose them to other peoples experiences and give them insight into solving their own problems.

Married men who have to continually mediate between their mother and wife will benefit from this study as it will help to find a way round the problems.

Mother-in-laws who have been having a continual conflict with their daughter-in-laws will be able to use this study to resolve their differences.

Marriage counsellors, psychologists and clergymen will also find this work beneficial in their respective fields since they provide both pre-marital and post-marital counselling to couples to be and couples.

The society at large will also benefit from this study in the sense that their level of understanding of the conflict that could arise between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is raised and the resolution is provided.

It will further be useful for future researchers in related discipline.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This study will be carried out among married women in Lagos State. It will study the attitude of mother-in-laws towards daughter-in-laws as a determinant factor in marital stability. The limitation of the study is that it will not include single ladies and men in Lagos State.

1.9 Definition of Terms

The following terms are defined as used in the study:

Attitude: it is an opinion or general feeling about something. It is a physical posture, either conscious or unconscious especially when interacting with others. It could also be referred to as an arrogant or assertive manner assumed as a challenge or for effect.

Mother-in-law: she is the mother of one’s spouse.



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