Wednesday, 24 May 2017

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For the Couples: Coping with Childlessness in Marriage

For the Couples: Coping with Childlessness in Marriage
A Nigerian writer and columnist, has penned an interesting piece about the difficulties childless couples face and how to surmount them.


The excited voice of the caller at the other end of the phone was enough to rouse Mary from her sleep that Saturday morning.
She had a rough week at work, bogged down with testy deadlines. Her friend shrieked in delight as she informed Mary of the joyful news that one of their closest friends had been delivered of a baby boy the night before.
It was a bittersweet moment for the banker. The silent torture she felt was transmitted on the phone when she kept silent for three seconds that seemed like minutes.
When her friend’s inquiry jolted her from her raging thoughts, Mary finally managed to shout ‘Congratulations!’ The minute she dropped the phone, she burst in tears.

She had been married for five years but yet to have a child.

“Just last week, I went to another baby naming ceremony of another friend. It was the fifth one I would be attending this month alone. Why am I going to have my own baby’s naming ceremony? I’m tired and confused,” she told one of her intimate friends.
For Mofe, a businessman, he could not wait anymore. After eight years of marriage without a child, he succumbed to the pressures of his family members.
The issue of being childless had already put a strain on his relationship with his wife, so much that they had stopped talking to each other for months, except for customary greetings.
Mofe, who is the only child of his parents, began an extramarital affair.

“I love my wife but my parents are old and they need to see their grandchild. I told my wife before I started the affair. Even though she was uncomfortable with it and begged me not to go ahead, my mind was made up. I am justified now. My other woman is pregnant,” he said, nonchalantly.
Like Mofe and Mary, many married couples struggle with issues of infertility and childlessness in marriage.
According to 2010 survey published in PLOS medicine, an estimated 48.5 million couples worldwide are unable to have a child after five years.

The World Health Organisation defines infertility as a “disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”
A gynaecologist, Dr. Gboyega Fawole, said this was the major reason why medical doctors usually advise couples to go for medical and laboratory tests after one-year of marriage.
Fawole noted that childlessness causes a lot of tension in the home between couples and their families. He noted that the situation could eventually lead to a crack in their marriage.
He noted, “Medically, we encourage couples to keep trying for a year before we advise both to go for laboratory tests. It brings a lot of anxiety on both couples and the tension it creates could cause a division in their marriage and families and a breakdown in their harmonious relationship.’’
The medical doctor noted that the causes of infertility or childlessness in a marriage could be due to several factors.

“The problem could be from the man four out of 10; or from the woman likewise four out of 10. The remaining two could be from two of them together or no cause can be identified. Either of the couples can be affected so we advise both of them to go for test.

“Some of the causes of infertility, for the woman, include the long-term effect of an infection in the pelvic area, appendicitis, abdominal or pelvic surgery, ovulation disorders and uterine or cervical abnormalities. For the man, it could be from abnormal sperm function or an infection such as mumps which was not properly treated and thus affects the testicles,” he added.
The gynaecologist advised childless couples not to give up on having children of their own.

“Sometimes the factors are treatable, some non-treatable. Sometimes, we treat some and they get pregnant. For the others, we ask them to try assisted reproductive techniques which could be through insemination, In Vitro Fertilisation, or an operation.
"If any of these do not work, we tell them not to give up on having children. Such couples can still try adoption. The most important thing is for such couples to be hopeful even when they try other means, because you never know when it would work,” he said.
A businesswoman, Mrs. Bukola Aliyu, was one of such women who never gave up. She waited for 13 years before she gave birth to a child in February, 2017.
“It was not an easy period but I had faith that one day God will answer me. It was a trying period; there were times people would not want me to hold their children. I was constantly abused and tormented with hurtful words,” she told Punch.
Like Aliyu’s case, many childless couples face a lot of difficulty during this period, marriage counsellor, Mrs. Ebun Olorunyomi, said.
Olorunyomi stated, “From my experience, one of the major issues is that of in-laws from both ends. While the man’s family members would be thinking the woman has a problem, the woman’s family members would be of the view that it is the man that has a problem.”
She also identified tension as another major issue in such situation which the woman experiences every day. “This makes her usually unhappy, especially when she hears her friends are putting to bed. Also, it takes the grace of God to participate in such ceremonies and she goes to weep secretly thereafter and ask God why such is happening to her,’’ she said.
According to her, society also stigmatises couples who have been married for a long time without children. She added, “This is wrong. This kind of thing happens because we are not as civilised as the western world, where some people get married and don’t want children.
"In this part of the world, we are already thinking of children as soon as the wedding ends. All these are bound to weigh down any person who is yet to have children.”
Olorunyomi advised couples to be united in their faith and love for each other despite the thorny issue of childlessness.
“A delay in childbirth does not mean couples’ love for one another should be less. They should keep on loving each other more and stay united in their resolve,” she urged.

“I know of two cases of women who never had children in their youthful years in marriage. But after they had waited for many years, they had their children naturally. I will advise such childless couples to keep looking up to God. God’s time never closes despite what the natural biological clock says. If God can do it for Sarah and others in the Bible, he can do it for other women. There is nothing impossible with God,’’ she said.
Olorunyomi also advised married couples to go for medical counselling and treatment, or consider adoption.
“There is no problem seeking for medical intervention or trying to adopt children. I have a friend who adopted two children after several inseminations didn’t work for her. Also, there have been cases of women who adopted babies, but then still went on to have their own babies. Personally, I would suggest that such couples should put their trust in God to have their own babies,” she stated.
Aliyu said she spent a lot of money going to several hospitals and undergoing fertility treatments, including seven failed IVF procedures. The businesswoman said she almost gave up, but for the encouragement and support from her husband.
“Whenever I saw other women with their children, I would pray over their babies with the hope that I would become a mother someday. I tried as much as possible to remain confident that someday I would hold my own baby,” she said.
She advised waiting couples not to give up, but to trust God while they still seek proper medical treatment.
Source: Punch

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