For Better, for Worse: Social Dimensions of Marital Conflict in Ghana: The Case of Cape Coast

  • Henrietta Abane


This paper presents the findings of a study into marital conflict in Ghana using Cape Coast as a case study. Data from FIDA (Ghana) and the Department of Social Welfare as well as some media reports suggest that marital conflict is on the increase. Primary data for the study were collected through interviewing and a focus group discussion and this was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Marital conflict in the study area was perceived to be related to a wide array of factors which were grouped into five interrelated categories. These are: personal attribute of spouse, domestic family life factors, sociocultural factors, socioeconomic factors and factors of structural inequality. Out of these groups the most important factors identified by respondents included the following: irritating behaviour of spouses such as drinking, gambling and pilfering; maltreatment of children, step children and other relatives; insufficient housekeeping money; interference from in-laws and other kin; and disagreement over roles and responsibilities of spouses. The data indicated that psychological battering was common and employed by both spouses. About a third of females indicated they had been victims of physical abuse yet kept their abusive relationship because they were constrained by a network of social, cultural and economic barriers. Respondents' perception of gender relations in society informed their relationship to the opposite sex and this they carried over into marriage to influence the marital conflict behaviour of spouses.

(Gender & Behaviour: 2003 1: 34-54)

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eISSN: 1596-9231