When you got married it was all peaches and cream. You envisaged the blissful years ahead in your marriage especially a happy home with children.
But years down the road, relatives started asking you the dreaded question, “When are you giving us a baby?”
It then hit you that five years in marriage, there’s still no child in sight. And the pressure from your relatives does not help the situation.
After vows of till death do us apart, how can a childless couple glide through life?
After 15 years in marriage, Justine Mukamwezi tried to get children but failed-an issue that has made her marriage rocky.
“Our home was like an empty shell, my husband sometimes plunged in deep thought and this affected us both.
Our intimacy waned with each day. Not talking about the matter made things worse, though as time went by, we found other ways to cope with our situation.We are happier now,” Mukamwezi says.
She advises couples in such situations to open up.
According to Mary Kamanzi, the head of Marriage for Family Ministry at Christian Life Assembly, happiness in a marriage should be the core. Couples should find joy from one another with or without children.
“I know it can be a challenge for couples when it takes too long to get kids but that should be considered as any other challenge people face in marriage. God gives us children in many ways, if one fails to get their biological children, they can adopt,” Kamanzi says.
She says a couple should develop intimacy first - be connected on different levels - a strong bond will take them through thick and thin in marriage.
Pastor Eugene Nshogozabahizi of Anglican Church, Kacyiru, says that couples should not wallow in misery because of lack of children.
He says couples are joined in matrimony to build a home based on love. Love endures all, meaning that if a couple doesn’t have children, they should be patient.
“The Bible tells us in Genesis 2:24 that a man will leave his mother and father’s home to go and live with his wife forever and they will become one body. With the blessings that God has prepared for them, there is having children, but this comes after the main principle has been fulfilled, which is loving each other. We believe that God does what is best for us,” Nshogozabahizi says.
“When we join couples in matrimony, we tell them about the most important thing which is living together forever in both good and bad times,” the pastor adds.
What people say
Henry Malumba, a supervisor at Archus and Associates, says that when he gets married, it will be because he loves his partner irrespective of the challenges that will come their way.
“Children are a blessing from God but when they don’t happen, I don’t think it’s a reason to separate. People should understand that God’s ways are limitless and He does things for a reason. He may not bless you in that way but He surely will some other way,” Malumba says.
He says that a childless marriage cannot be easy at the start but praying together and having faith can help in a lot of ways. A couple needs to focus on the other blessings that God has given them.
However, Olivia Mbabazi, a married woman and mother, says that a marriage without kids creates a big gap that cannot be filled with intimacy, wealth or any materialistic thing.
“It’s natural, when people get married they yearn to start their own families, such plans obviously include children. When kids are absent in a home, the couple lacks the glue that binds them,” Mbabazi says.
If a couple isn’t strong enough, it can end in separation, which is what happens in some cases. However, they can always explore other options like adoption, Mbabazi adds.
For Vestine Uwamahoro, an auditor, being childless when a couple desperately needs a child is a painful experience that can damage a marriage if not handled well.
“Yearning for a child yet you are not able to have one can take its toll on a couple. It’s really frustrating because children are almost like the seal of a marriage. Without them, that special bond between couples is missing,” Uwamahoro adds.
Despite the hardships that come with a childless marriage, couples should not lose hope of holding a baby in their hands because there are other options.
Dr. Teckle G.Egiziabher, a gynecologist at Rwanda Military Hospital Kanombe, says when partners fail to conceive at least after one year of trying, the reason could be infertility.
He says that such a situation can be really stressful for the couple but such couples can walk through them if they are offered counseling.
“Infertility shouldn’t be a cause for stress because there are now many ways of having one’s own biological children thanks to new technology.Even a woman without a uterus can have a child of her own through surrogacy,” he adds.
Dr. Rachna Pande, a specialist in internal medicine in Ruhengeri Hospital, explains that infertility can be a problem with either of the partners, though women tend to face the scorn from society more and fall into depression.
“Counseling is therefore needed for both partners; there are also various treatment options like artificial insemination from a donor. There are advanced techniques like surrogate mothers and test tube babies,” Dr. Pande advises.
Children complete the family
Carol Mugabo, secretary
I can’t imagine a marriage without kids. Children are the source of happiness, memories and most importantly, they are the glue that holds a couple together.
Kids enforce responsibility
Frediane Gisa, account receivable manager
I believe children make a couple responsible. Children make one aware that there is another person in their life and that person needs care, attention, love, shelter and food. I call this service beyond self; this is a responsibility that is worth having and it is the foundation of selflessness.
Children ensure continuity
Claudine Uwimana, entrepreneur
Refusing to have kids when you actually have the ability to is not only selfish but immature. It’s selfish because the rest of your family won’t get the chance to have a new relative that they can shower with love and affection. When we leave this world we live through our children.
You can wait
Devota Uwimana, businesswoman
It’s not a must that you have to have kids the second you get married; you can take time as long as at some point you consider the need. It is fine for a couple to enjoy their youth in marriage without kids but remember to give it a shot when the right time comes.
Compiled by Dennis Agaba
How to be happy without children
•Be willing to let go of how your life “should” be. Do you associate not having children with feelings of failure, being a “loser”, or feeling less worthy or fulfilled than the mom next door? The first step to accepting a childfree life is express your feelings of pain and loss.
•You have to be open to your life as it is. Instead of hating your body or wrestling with the fact that you can’t have kids, try opening your heart and mind to a life without children. You don’t have to love or be cheerful about your childfree life, but being open to your life as it is will help you accept the hand you’ve been dealt.
•Remember that everyone deals with something.Everybody has problems; they just look different. Someone’s 19-year-old was killed in a car crash, another has ulcerative colitis; a co-worker recently had a stroke, and can’t think clearly enough to write anymore. If you want to be happy without having children, remember that infertility is a condition that you’re unfortunate to have…but everyone has stuff. Knowing that ‘I’m not alone in the pain that life brings’ helps accept a childfree life.
•Surround yourself with childfree couples. Spend some time with friends who have kids – but you’ll feel better around friends who don’t, or who have grown children! You might like friends who have chosen never to have children. If it hurts you to spend time with pregnant friends or big families, then reduce those visits.
•Consider joining a group for women who aren’t parents.
•Accept that you may experience sadness or disappointment every day. Getting and staying emotionally healthy is a daily choice. Accepting your childfree life and being happy without having children is something you have to decide to do — perhaps every hour! Being okay with your life doesn’t happen overnight. And, feelings of acceptance don’t last forever. To be happy without having children, you have to remember that happiness is a daily choice.