Long-Term Marriages Among Nigerian Immigrants: A Qualitative Inquiry
Nwachukwu, Thomas Kizito
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There has been a rash of divorce among Nigerian Igbo immigrants. This was unheard of several years ago in a community whose culture frowned upon divorce. While some have examined factors affecting divorce, this study investigates those couples who remained married in the whirlwind of the divorce around them. This phenomenological study reports the lived experience of nine Nigerian Igbo immigrant couples who live in the Houston area metropolis and who have been married for 20 years or more. Data from two clergymen who also live in the Houston metropolitan area and who have ministerial duties for the Nigerian Igbo community were utilized. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Giorgi’s psychological phenomenological method (1985) was used to analyze data. The analysis of the data from participating couples yielded the following 15 essential structures: successful navigation of problems related to extended family, understanding that every marriage is unique with no comparison, mutual trust and understanding, appreciation of the marriage experience, communication, living within ones means, ability to be flexible and dynamic, team work, eliminating interference from others, infidelity, involvement in spiritual and religious activities, seeing marriage as a learning process, finances, raising of children , and acculturation issues. Participating clergy identified these six structures: ability to forgive and to tolerate, preference to go to the priest or religious leader, awareness of unacceptability of divorce, effective management of issues surrounding sex, being constantly aware of the love element in marriage, and managing the over inflated image of a cozy life in the US. This study’s finding did not differ greatly from other studies on long-term marriages. The results support the conclusion that there may be cross cultural similarity in structural factors fostering marriage longevity. The results did, however, indicate some uniqueness germane to the acculturation of this immigrant population in the areas of extended family, upbringing of children, gender roles, and male patriarchal hegemony. This underscores the need for counselors to consider cultural context when looking at marriage longevity. The Nigerian couples in this study also acknowledged that the above listed structures may have either a positive or negative impact on marriage stability.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR of PHILOSOPHY in COUNSELOR EDUCATION from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.