Can marriage blossom in the midst of childlessness?

Would you stay in a childless marriage? That is the one question that most people find challenging but what we do not realise is that this challenge is becoming a reality that most people face in the communities we live in; now more than ever.

Last week, a lady at a church that I attend told the congregation about her agony of spending nine solid years without bearing a child. While most women would have been depressed, this lady told the stunned audience that her faith and hope that one day she would be a mother kept her going.

She and her husband kept praying and trusting God for a miracle. The good news is that just last month, the couple became parents for the first time.

To most people, marriage means living happily ever after, surrounded by children.  Unfortunately, the world doesn’t necessarily work that way. In the circumstance where a couple cannot have children, can marriage still make sense?

Bridgette Isaro, a resident of Kacyiru Sector she says that from the beginning of their courtship five years ago, she and her husband had decided that children would only come into the picture at least one year after the marriage.

However, as strong Catholics, the couple was against the use of family planning methods and in three months, they were ‘accidentally’ pregnant. Unfortunately, she had a miscarriage and since then she has had difficulties conceiving again.

While her husband is supportive, Isaro says that the pressure from society and family is challenging.

“People ask all sorts of questions. They sometimes make it sound like a choice and I feel like breaking down many times. The only strength that I have comes from prayer and my supportive husband,” she says.

Not all have been thorny though. Isaro points out that being childless has taught them a lot as a couple and has brought them closer.

“We have developed a stronger bond that has enabled us to fix our weak points.  We have grown stronger in faith, we have developed financial discipline and are most trusting and, most importantly, we are really having fun,” she said.

While she has all the support that she needs, Isaro says that being childless can cause trauma and depression if the victim doesn’t have a strong support system.

Edwin Shema is a bachelor who hopes to one day have a family of his own. He says that having children or not is just a part of the many decisions that the couple can make together.

“Having children should be a choice that needs to be made by both partners, and in situations where a couple can’t have children, they can adopt. Either way, with or without children, marriage can still be successful. What the couple needs is the love and commitment required,” he said.

He adds that couples who don’t have children can still make their marriage work if they prioritize each other by putting their spouses before their friends, jobs and everything, apart from God. 

Church leader weighs in

According to Tom Gakumba, a Pastor at Healing Center Church Remera, marriage can be very successful without children. This, he says is because children are not the core pillars of marriage but rather, gifts from God that come with the union. 

He explains that marriage is a union of two people who vow to be together for the rest of their lives and pledge for better and for worse and being childless shouldn’t be a reason to break up.

“The success of marriage hinges on love, trust, commitment and faithfulness. When all these are absent, children cannot mend it. Therefore, children don’t define the success of marriage, but they are good gifts,” he said.

Infertility data

According to Dr Kenneth Ruzindana, a consultant at Kigali University Teaching Hospital (CHUK), failure to have children could be due to a number of reasons including infertility.

He explains that the ability of a couple to become pregnant depends on normal fertility in both the male and female partners.

Among all cases of infertility, about eight percent can be traced to male problems, 37 percent can be traced to female problems, and 35 percent can be traced to problems in both the male and female partners. 

In about five percent of couples, the cause of infertility cannot be drawn to specific problems in either partner.

Research shows that infertility affects an estimated 15 percent of couples globally, amounting to 48.5 million couples.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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