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1.1      Background of the study

Family is the basic social unit of the society. It is made up of a group of people that reside together and are related by blood or adoption. According to Anyakoha and Eluwa (2010), family is a group of persons united by ties of marriage or blood (ancestry) and having one or more children of their own or adopted and often times characterized by common residence and economic cooperation. The universality of the family is not in a uniform pattern because it varies in types. Ibia (2006), categorized family into monogamous and polygamous family. According to the author, monogamous family is a family pattern that is made up of a husband, a wife and their children while polygamous family consists of one man and more than one wife. The man may or may not live under the same roof with the wives and exercises control over them and the entire household. There is also the extended family which consists of the couple, their children, grand parents, siblings, uncles, aunties, nieces, nephews, etc (Groiler, 2006). Irrespective of the type, families constitute the corner stone of the society and key institution that provides customs, strategies, relationships and behavioural patterns in societies (McGregor, 2009). The family according to McGregor performs multifaceted roles in the society. These include: Emotional care and physical maintenance of group members and relative, addition of new members through procreation or adoption as well as fostering, socialization and education of children into adult roles and responsibilities, social control of members by setting boundaries, disciplining, mentoring and protection of family members against all forms of violence, production, consumption, exchange and distribution of goods and services and maintenance of family morale and motivation to ensure task performance both within the family and in other groups (McGregor, 2009). The roles played by the family in societal development is championed by the spouses who constitute the heads of families. Spouses are two adults male and female 1 xi 14 that are legally married and maintain a socially approved sexual relationship (Ikulayo, 1999). They are husband and wife who are joined together religiously or by law and tradition. Husband and wife (spouse) normally work together to meet the needs of the family and carry out various functions to continuously meet the needs of the members. In their efforts to meet these needs, spouses are often confronted with various forms of challenges that make enormous demands on them. In the process of responding to the demands, spouses experience various forms of pressures, frustrations, tensions and anxieties which give rise to stress. Reality therapy (RT) is an approach to  psychotherapy and counseling  Developed by William Glasser in the 1960s, RT differs from conventional  psychiatry, psychoanalysis and medical model schools of psychotherapy in that it focuses on what Glasser calls psychiatry’s three Rs: realism, responsibility, and right-and-wrong, rather than symptoms of mental disorders.

Reality therapy maintains that the individual is suffering from a socially universal human condition rather than a mental illness. It is in the unsuccessful attainment of basic needs that a person’s behavior moves away from the norm which may be caused by stress. Since fulfilling essential needs is part of a  person’s present life, reality therapy does not concern itself with a client’s past.

Stress, according to Ezeilo (2005) could lead to family disintegration, separation or divorce, breakdown in productivity, sub-standard school performance of children, tense emotional atmosphere, mistrust, doubt, fear, sense of isolation, less feeling of closeness, sharing, intimacy, affection and impaired communication. These situations threaten family cohesion and children’s delinquent behaviour (temper tantrum, stubbornness). Stress can cause a significant state of disequilibrium and disorganization which can lead to a discontinuity in the family’s trajectory of functions. According to Nayak (2008), stress occurs when the challenges of the spouses exceed their adjustive capacity or resources. Stimuli or situations that cause stress are called stressors. Stressors are life events impacting on spouses which produce or has the potential of producing change, events or conditions in the environment which in turn challenge or threaten the family (Dennis, 2004). There are three major causes or sources of stress which are the environment, individual, and the family climate (Nayak, 2008). Environmental causes of stress according to the author relate to the factors and conditions in the environment such as societal or technological changes, political and economic uncertainties, financial condition, community conditions, noise, weather, heavy traffic, among others. In affirmation, Obi and Obi (2007) stated that a high level background noise can severely impair spouses’ ability to concentrate, cause irritability, tension and headaches and consequently result to environmental-induced stress.

The effects of unmanaged stress situations according to Koshiba and Helgerson (1999) include high blood pressure, aches and pains, internal heat, palpitation, poor memory, sleeplessness (insomania), poor appetite, lack of concentration, depression, fear, anxiety, anger, hostility and bad dreams. Sharing similar views, Azubuike (2005) and Maisamari (2002), submitted that the consequences of stress could be manifested in unhealthy physiological, psychological and behavioural change. Psychological or mental stress may be accompanied by anger, anxiety, depression, nervousness, 16 irritability, tension and boredom. Maisamari stated further that physical stress can be accompanied by high blood pressure, digestive problem, ulcers and indigestion, palpitation, chest pain, skin disorder, muscle tension, headache, loss of appetite, restlessness, shutdown of menstrual cycle, impairment of fertility among male spouses and depletion of vitamins C, B and D in the body. In extreme cases, Groiler, (2006) added that unmanaged spousal stress could result to illness such as high blood pressure leading to stroke and death. The detrimental and dangerous effects of stress on spouse has necessitated the need for the adoption of healthy stress management. Stress management are appropriate coping actions, behaviours or attitudes which spouses exhibit when faced with certain psychological, physiological and social demands that tax their adaptive resources (Oboegbulem, 2010). It comprises various measures taken to cope with stress, so that a state of psychological and physiological equilibrium is re-established and subsequently maintained. Cooper (1995) stated that the measures for coping with or managing stress could imply either altering the situation or altering one’s perception of or adaptation to the situation.


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