“My boyfriend wants to make sure I can have children before marrying me”

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 (PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)
(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)


My 40-year-old boyfriend wants us to have a child before he can marry me but there is a slight problem. We are struggling to fall pregnant.

His family is blaming me but I know that the problem is not with me because I fell pregnant in my previous relationship even though the child was stillborn. My boyfriend says that he can’t marry me if he is not sure that I can bare children for him. The problem is that he refuses to go to the doctor with me to also be checked. His family is putting pressure on us. I recently had a fight with his drunk cousin who told me that my boyfriend would never marry me because I am an inyumba (I can’t bare children).

I love my boyfriend and I don’t want to lose him. What should I do?

Expert Advice

Women have always unfairly borne the brunt of a countless number of social ills, especially in the home-front. “It’s her fault”, has always been the justification even to arguments like, why he cheated, why he’s wearing a shirt that’s not ironed, why is the house unclean and so on. While women themselves have been part of reinforcing this culture, it’s a deeply embedded system of structural patriarchy across most parts of the world.

That system, we believe, is the reason why you still have no clue as to why there is no biological child between the two of you as a couple. It’s also why his cousin, whom we can safely assume is male, is so adamant that uyinyumba and feels entitled to tell you in your face that you could never be umakoti. Such abuse!

IT’S A WOMAN’S FAULT

And by the way, that you feel the need to tell us he was drunk, is in itself a concern to us because it’s really neither here nor there. In fact, no one in his family is “forgetting”, as you’ve stated, that it could be the fault of your 40-year-old boyfriend. They are wired to believe that it’s your fault as a woman.

LACK OF BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN

A few months ago, we saw another couple in a similar situation. The woman was deeply hurt by the fact that she was being blamed for the lack of biological children in her marriage. Firstly, the doctor initially referred them to a gynaecologist, a medical practitioner that specialises in women’s problems. She read this to mean that she’s the one with the problem. On her insistence, they didn’t go to any gynaecologist. They went to an obstetrician and urologist. However, she was furthermore surprised by the specialist doctors as they insisted that the tests and medical attention be first directed to her. Although she didn’t factually know if she was fertile or not, the prejudiced assumption that she could be the problem was just too overwhelming for her. When the medical tests cleared her, she felt vindicated.

LIVING UNDER THE CLOUD

Infertility issues are evenly split between males and females. It is of utmost importance to have both of you medically checked as soon as possible. Most infertilities can be cured. However, when you leave things unattended, you run the risk of not only living under the cloud in your relationship, but you’d also be in the dark about what the real issue is. That you were once pregnant is no sign that you are still fertile.

TAKE THE LEAD

Although chances are that you may still be fine, you need to suggest that you go together to seek medical attention. We know that semen analysis and sperm counts aren’t the most enticing topics of conversation for most men. But since you’re having trouble conceiving, you may need to have a chat with him.

FRAGILE EGOS

Men generally don’t even like to visit the doctor for a regular check-up. The thought of going for fertility tests wouldn’t be at the top of his to-do list. Even though he may not show it, he may be feeling like he’s less of a man if he can’t get you pregnant right away. Men have very fragile egos.

However, not being proactive about his fertility may be even less manly, in our view. Not checking “his soldiers” after a long period of trying to have a baby is like ignoring the engine light in his car when it first goes on. It could be nothing, but if he lets it go, it could cost your relationship far more in the long run than if he’d just take care of it soon. Be proactive, and set the doctors’ appointment for both of you. Because whether infertility is identified as a male or female factor, it is a shared problem in a relationship and should be addressed as a couple.

PUT YOURSELF FIRST

We’re much more deeply concerned that fertility is a condition for you to be a makoti. What’s that all about? Are you both aware of the wedding vows, “for better or worse…and in sickness and in health”? When you say, “I don’t want to lose this man”, do you really have him since he has such conditions for your relationship?  

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