The purpose of this study is to investigate on the characteristic of good future partners as perceived by students in tertiary institutions in Oyo town. The variables of interest were gender, age, family background, institution and religion.

Two hundred respondents were sampled for the study. Five hypotheses were formulated and tested. Frequency counts and simple percentages were used to analyse the demographic data of respondents. While t-test statistic and analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistical procedures were used to test the null hypotheses generated. 

The result of the study revealed that the major characteristics of a good future partner is that a good future partner must be morally upright and God fearing, this characteristics ranked first in the ranking table. Next to this are “a good future partner must be a very caring person and someone I really love. These two characteristics are strong and important characteristics needed in choosing a good future partner. 

Base on the findings of this study it was recommended that effort should be made by professional counsellors to organize seminars to enlighten youths on the need to be conscious of their choice on characteristics of good future partner. And that the curriculum planners should design curriculum in such a way that marriage education will be given the proper place in Nigerian tertiary institutions, to ensure that the right values are inculcated into the youths. 


Title Pagei

Approval Page ii

Dedication iii

Acknowledgement iv

Abstract vi

Table of Contents vii

List of Tablesxi


Background to the Study 1

Statement of the Problem 10

Research Questions 15

Research Hypotheses 16

Purpose of the Study 17

Significance of the Study 17

Operational Definition of Terms 19

Scope of the Study 20


Introduction 21

Concept and meaning of Marriage 22

Importance of Marriage 27

Types of Marriage 32

The Spouse Selection Theories 37

Qualities of a Good Future Partner 44

Characteristics Considered in Selecting a Good 

Future Partner 47

General Limitations on Selection 57

Summary of the Review of Related Literature 63


Introduction 66

Research Design 66

Sample and Sampling Procedure 67

Instrumentation 89

Psychometric Properties of the Instrument 69

Validity 69

Reliability 70

Procedure for Data Collection and Administration           71

Method of Data Analysis 71


Introduction 72

Demographic Data 72

Hypotheses Testing 80

Summary of Findings 85



Introduction 87

Discussion 88

Conclusion 91

Implication for Counselling 92

Recommendations 93

Suggestions for Further Studies 94

References 95

Appendix 98


Table 1: Distribution of Respondents on the basis 

of Gender 73

Table 2: Distribution of Respondents on the basis 

of Age 74

Table 3: Distribution of Respondents on the basis of 

family background 75

Table 4: Distribution of Respondents on the basis 

of Institution 76

Table 5: Distribution of Respondents on the basis 

of Religion 77

Table 6: Rank order of items on the characteristic of 

good future partners 78

Table 7: Means, standard deviation and t-value 

of respondents on the basis of Gender 80

Table 8: Mean, standard deviation and t-value 

of respondents on the basis of age 81

Table 9: Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) result 

comparing the mean scores of responses 

on the characteristics of good future 

partner as perceived by respondents on 

the basis of family background 82

Table 10: Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) result on 

the characteristic of good future partner 

as perceived by respondents on the basis 

of institution 83

Table 11: Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) result on 

the characteristic of good future partner 

as perceived by respondents on the basis 

of religion 84



Background to the Study 

Selection of a mate is an integral part of life, it is a step needed in building a good marriage. Many human needs for happiness can be satisfied in the family circle between partners, and a warm family relationship can fill human’s normal longing to be loved, to be appreciated to feel needed in a wonderful way. History have it that marriage remains the most respected institution in the world and man has been known to seek for a partner with whom to spend his life time, because it’s a life time commitment (Kumuyi, 2005). It is a natural trait that humans want to have mates or companions with whom they share the various aspects of their lives: in order to satisfy sexual, social and other psychological desires. 

Human behaviour is because of stimuli from environment acting upon instincts and emotions (Sundharm and Vaish, 1978). Hence, at a certain stage in a person’s life, due to such societal stimuli, he or she becomes more concerned with the idea of having a family. Family arrangement or as an institution is a societal recognized means through which a man and a woman become husband and wife. Culturally until the twentieth century, it was relevantly rare for adults to go through life without marrying (Sundharm and Vaish, 1978). Basically, marriage is publicly recognized as a conjugal unit, or more or less as a permanent alliance between a man and a woman. In most societies, the families of the partners have a role in establishing the relationship. Often choosing the mate, and at the least manifesting their approval of the choice. Most often, they participate in rite of passage, which constitutes formal marriage. 

The characteristics that one looks for while choosing a good mate vary from one individual to another, one family to another and even culture to culture. Some young individuals have had a say or at least a veto in their choice of their marriage partner, while others were dependent on family backing. Individuals who want to make independent choices can pay their own way and get marry even when their family strongly disapproves it. Most people however, seek family consent for their choice of life partner. Although the choice of spouse may give rise to interpersonal conflict, most young people still consult their parents about it. 

It is a firmly established societal view that the issue of selecting a mate and marriage itself goes beyond the couple alone. The immediate families of the two and even extended families often influence the life of the couple and dynamic of the marriage. Willingness on the part of the couple in co-operating with such external influence is often due to their dependence on the relative for financial and moral supports have a special reason for seeking parental or family approval in selecting her mate. She is more likely to receive sympathy and attention should there be a marital break up if the folks approved the alliance initially. 

To summarise the above points some characteristics that an individual looks for in selecting his or her marriage partner can be referred to as yardsticks by which an individual measure. Oloko (1994) observes the following as characteristic of selecting a good spouse; physical beauty, discipline, social aptness, love, proper grooming and wealth. Other yardsticks mentioned in the reference cited above include religious affiliation, modesty, and humility. Odofin (2005) also stated that if a wise choice of ones life partner is to be made, the following attributes have to be considered: 

(1) Such a life partner must be a responsible person. 

(2) He or she must be submissive, obedient and reliable. 

(3) He or she must be sexually appealing. 

(4) He or she must not be loose

(5) He or she must not worship money. 

(6) He or she must be humble and mannered. 

(7) He or she must be neat and presentable 

(8) He or she must be a person to be proud of at any given time. 

All these characteristics are reflection of the person’s educational religious and cultural background as well as his or her general social orientation. An individual’s perception of what he would like to become and his prospective future circumstances are also strong determinant. This is simply due to the fact that one’s mate can go along way actively or other wise influencing one’s personality and future prospects. Although these criteria are a measure that shows what type of person an individual is. It is therefore vital that one selects a mate that will serve to complement him or her. 

From the Islamic perspective marriage is sacred and must be under taken by believes. The Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W) said “marriage is lawful relationship, whoever defiles it, is not of me”. Hadith. Allah in the Glorious Quran stated that: “And of this signs is this: He created for you helpmate from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy lo, here indeed are portent for folk who reflect” (Quran chapter 30 Vs 21). The general purpose of marriage in Islam is that the sexes can provide company to one another, love to one another, procreate children and live in peace and tranquility to the commandments of Allah. And there is no place for celibacy in Islam. Also in Islam, marriage is seen as “mithag” a solemn convent (agreement). It should be entered into with total commitment and full knowledge of what it involves, it is not a matter which can be taken lightly. Marriage is also a form of “Ibadah” (worship) because it is a means of obeying Allah and His messenger, that is marriage is seen as the only possible way for the sexes to unite. One could choose to live in sin, however, by choosing marriage one is displaying obedience to Allah. (Tannah, 2005). 

In the Holy Scriptures, the Bible emphasizes the importance of choosing or having a good spouse. On selecting a good mate: I Corinthians 7:39 says “….. she is free to be married to whom she wants only in the Lord.” This statement assumes that a good spouse can be found only within the Lord, that is in the Christian congregation. Also Genesis chapter 2 Vs 18 reads as follows: “And the Lord God said, it is not good for the man to continue by himself, I am going to make helper for him as a complement of him”. The word “helper” and complement are used to signify that it is a good wife that can really complement the good qualities in a man. The book of Proverbs chapter 18 Vs 22 says: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord”.

In the work of Dominion (1968), Mbiti (1962) and Blood (1972) all of whom agreed that the selection of a mate is either made by the Traditional African Society or by the family and relatives. Mbiti (1969) reported that at times, the choice of spouse or marriage partner was made even before the child was born. Lucy (1969) reported that until recent times, it was common in Nigeria for both boys and girls to be betrothed before puberty. Blood (1972) writing on the same issue, stated that in the past ageing parents whose children were still not married would struggle valiantly against illness and old age. They could not afford to die until they had discharge their obligation to their ancestors by successfully completing the marriage arrangements for their children. 

In the Traditional African setting therefore, the selection of a spouse was mainly that of the family or relative with or without the knowledge and consent of the would be couple. According to Ibidun (1977) marriage, and family life form an integral aspect of the extended traditional Nigeria, marriages is a family based affair for parents made the selection or choice of partners for their sons or daughters.

In contrary to the above practice Ojo (1988) stated that, in making a choice of marriage partner, youths and other educated elites believe that it is the responsibility of intending couples to make their choice. While parents should only serve as counsellors where and when necessary. Later the couples will then introduce themselves to their parents while they continue until they ask for their parental acceptance from the two homes. Selection of spouses or good spouses entails a lot of investigations by the two parties involved so as to assure the quality they want in their spouses. Such as love, beauty, grooming, discipline, education, etc. 

It is interesting to note that in Nigeria, there are different types of marriage with full legal implications. Among these types of marriage enumerated by Adeoye (1975) are: church marriage, court marriage, and traditional marriage. According to Fadeiye (1995), there is Muslim marriage which allows for polygamous family. Those not receiving parental or family approval often settle for court marriage or ordinance” performance of traditional or customary marriage is clear indication that the couple sought and receive family approvals. 

This study is aimed at finding out the characteristics of good future partners, using the students in tertiary institutions in Oyo town as case study. This is intended to assist youth in mate selection exercise, since they are the leaders of tomorrow. 

Statement of the Problem 

Selection of spouse is a crucial process that would – be couples go through. Many marriages have gone sourer in the recent times because of the wrong choice of spouse., divorce is becoming increasingly common, according to reports, Britain has the highest divorce rate in Europe, Government figures shows that Britain records 2 – 7 divorces per 1000 of the population. United Kingdom is having 2.8 divorce rate per 1000 of the population, while the legal marriage is 5.1 per 1000 of the population, the Census Bureau indicated that the divorce rate in U.S.A had quadrupled from 4.3 million in 1970 to 8.3 million in 1996. Also 2003 survey in the United State of American showed that there were about 8 new marriages per 1000 people and 4 divorces per 1000 people which indicates a fifty percent divorce rate. The normal life style of American young adults now is to live together for a period of time in a type of informal trial marriage, these relationship frequently do not endure, growing percentage of committed couples have decided to live in a common – law relationship rather than to get married. 

Japanese Health Ministry Statistics indicate that one in three marriages now ends in divorce, while total divorce figures have more than doubled from just over 95,000 in 1970 to 206, 955 in 1996. 2008 report gave 5.8 marriage rate per 1000 people and 2.2 divorce rate per 1000 people in Japan. Dr. Craig Peter Baldacci of long Grove community church in Illinois, USA, carried out an independent study during his visit to Nigeria in July 2002. He found that the divorce rate in Nigeria is about 50%. Especially disheartening is the fact that one – third of these divorce occurs within the first four years of marriage. The issue of liberation of women in Nigeria to compete with men in all ramification of life has given room to divorce and most of these celebrities now prefer to live as single parents. Growing numbers prefer to live together without the responsibilities of marriage. 

Comparable trends are seen world wide. These show the reason why one needs to select a good spouse, so that there would not be divorce, separation, and unstable marriage in the family circle.          

In this modern society, parents are not likely to arrange marriage for their children, although they can influence such choice directly. Adam (1979) states that, the burden of choice rests with the young people themselves and each generation of youths, has elaborated a set of norms and behaviour dating rituals to help them select a spouse. This pattern of choice of partner can be described as relatively “free” but there are some factors that are put into consideration before choosing a partner for marriage. These factors according to James (1997) include age, family background, educational background, ethnicity, religion, physical appearance, occupation and love. Though theoretically a person could choose anyone of hundreds of millions of persons of opposite sex, he or she is limited to a subset, due to factors such as age, family background, education, genotype, etc.  

Moreover, the freedom coupled with acquisition of western education has yielded a positive result. A well educated young person has a fairly clear notion as to his or her wishes and need in the marriage situation. Further still, in the olden days, the two families usually conduct investigation into each others’ history and satisfy themselves that there was nothing against the union of the intended couples. Particularly, attention is usually paid to family members involvement in murder, contagious diseases such as leprosy and any other factor which bring disgrace to the family. However, in the present day all these are not always considered. 

This research work therefore investigates the characteristics of good future partners as perceived by students in tertiary institutions in Oyo town, the research would also findout whether age, ethnicity, religion, school and family background have influence on the characteristics of good future partner as perceive by students in tertiary institutions in Oyo town. 

Research Questions

The following research questions are asked to guide the conduct of the study: 

(1) What are the characteristics of good future partner as perceived by students in tertiary institutions in Oyo town? 

(2) Will religion of the respondents have any difference in their perception of the characteristics of good future partner? 

(3) Will the age of respondents have any difference in their perception of characteristics of good future partner? 

(4) Will gender of respondents have any difference on their perception of the characteristics of good future partner?  

(5) Will family background of respondents have any difference on their perception of the characteristics of good future partner? 

(6) Will institution of respondents have any difference on their perception of the characteristics of good future partners?  

Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses are generated for testing in this study. 

(1) There is no significant difference in the characteristics of good future partner as perceived by male and female respondents. 

(2) There is no significant difference in the characteristics of good future partner as perceived by respondents on the basis of religion. 

(3) There is no significant difference in the characteristics of good future partner as perceived by respondents on the basis of family background 

(4) There is no significant difference in the characteristics of good future partner as perceived by respondents on the basis of age.

(5) There is no significant difference in the characteristics of good future partner as perceived by respondents on the basis of institution.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to findout the characteristic of good future partner as perceived by students in tertiary institutions in Oyo town. It also aimed at finding out if variables age, gender, religion, family background and institution of respondents will have any difference on their perception of the characteristics of good future partners. 

Significance of the Study 

This study investigates the characteristics of good future partner as perceived by students in tertiary institution in Oyo town. The study could help students in tertiary institutions and the reader of research work to understand the characteristics to be considered in selecting a good future partner. It could help students to select the right future partner, which is essential to establish marital stability. This study would assist parents in the provision of marital counselling to their children and also enable marriage counsellors to offer realistic counselling to students and young people who come to them for marital counselling or guidance as to how to choose a prospective spouse. This study could also help to promote further research in the area of characteristics to be considered in choosing a good future partner in area of marital counselling. This would save the marriage institution from its present condition of a fast increase divorce. 

Finally, the study could help create awareness in youths on the characteristics to be considered in spouse selection and ways by which a right selection could ensure stable marriage. 

Operational Definition of Terms

For the purpose of clarity in this study, the following terms are operationally defined thus, as they will appear throughout the study. 

Characteristics: According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English characteristic is a quality or feature of something or someone that is typical of them and easy to recognize. 

Future Partner: - Someone who will be your wife or husband. 

Perceived: Written to understand or think of something or someone in a particular way or become aware of especially though the eye or the mind. 

Tertiary Institution: Formal education at a college or university. 

Scope of the Study 

The scope of the study is limited to students in tertiary institutions in Oyo town that are unmarried or single. The investigated variables in this study are: Age, Religion, Gender, Family background and Institution. The study is limited to five tertiary institutions in Oyo town. Federal College of Education (Special) Oyo, University of Ado-Ekiti (Erelu Campus Oyo), Ajayi Crowther University Oyo, Emmanuel Alaynade College of Education Oyo and Federal School of Survey, Oyo. 




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