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Baby first, wedding later?

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th November 2011 03:04 PM

Mercy, 28, and Rick, 34, have been dating for three years Mercy has often expressed her desire to get married, but what she gets are conditions: “Rick insists I first have his child before we can get married,” says Mercy. Yet coming from a Christian background, Mercy wants to stick to the love-marr

Mercy, 28, and Rick, 34, have been dating for three years Mercy has often expressed her desire to get married, but what she gets are conditions: “Rick insists I first have his child before we can get married,” says Mercy. Yet coming from a Christian background, Mercy wants to stick to the love-marr

By Doreen Murungi

Mercy, 28, and Rick, 34, have been dating for three years Mercy has often expressed her desire to get married, but what she gets are conditions: “Rick insists I first have his child before we can get married,” says Mercy. Yet coming from a Christian background, Mercy wants to stick to the love-marriage-baby order, but Rick is not ready to compromise. 

Mercy’s predicament is not strange to many women today Ticiah confesses that when her boyfriend suggested they have a child before putting a ring on her finger, she gave in because she feared if she left him she would not get another man. “I got pregnant, moved in with him, now two children later, I have no ring,” Ticiah reveals.
 
As for Rose, a devout Christian, her two-year near perfect relationship fell apart after her boyfriend suggested they get a baby before the wedding.
 
In the days gone by...
Way back, it used to be first love, second marriage and third babies. Going against that order qualified one as promiscuous. Today, men think they should take a woman for a “test drive” before getting married. 
 
It has become common to receive an invite to the baby shower before receiving one to the wedding.
 
Reste Ssegirinya, a marital coach, blames this trend on the desecration of the sanctity of marriage. “People have sex without intending to get married,” she says. 
 
But Ephraim Kasule, a supporter of having a baby before marriage, thinks otherwise. He says an increasing number of women want a glamorous wedding, but are not interested in bearing children. 
 
“They want to adopt, but not bear children. The only way a man can ensure he gets a child is by demanding one before marrying her,” he says.
 
“If you marry a woman, months into the marriage she may want a divorce and your property, but if you have a child with her, she will stick to the marriage,” reasons Caleb Ndaruhutsye. He believes some women are after material gains, hence the best way to keep them is have a child before marriage.
 
Herald Nkangi, an unmarried father of two, holds a different point of view, “Girls today are not like those in the past who got married while still virgins.
 
Today, by the age of 15, many girls are sexually active and some have abortions before meeting the man they want to marry,” Nkangi argues. He points out that he would only marry a girl without demanding a child if she found her chaste.
 
Nkangi’s fear is justified by online sources that claim that 49% of Ugandan youth are sexually active. According to online sources, each year, an estimated 297,000 abortions are performed in Uganda, and nearly 85,000 women are treated for complications.
 
Sections of the public insist that the overwhelming number of sexually active youth and the increasing number of unsafe abortions has propelled men to ask for a child before committing to make sure the woman is not sterile.
 
Why would a woman give in?
Ssegirinya says the most women give in is fear of losing the man. “Women are working and have little time to date. So whoever comes their way and has a few of the qualities they admire in a man, they will do whatever he demands,” she says.
 
Ritah Mahoro, an events manager, adds that some women, who are approaching 30, fear they it may be hard to find a man as they grow older, if they let go of the one they have. “Because of this insecurity, we end up accepting their proposals to keep them around,” says Mahoro.
 
“Some women are accepting to have children before marriage because everyone else is doing it,” says Hilda Lamwaka. She adds that the values our parents held have disappeared, “in the past a child would be scared to tell their parents they are pregnant out of wedlock. However, today it has become normal, that is why more women are having children before marriage,” she says.
 
Lamwaka says men who want to have children first before marriage are afraid of commitment. She begs women not to have a child thinking it will make a man marry you, “he will take his time knowing you are trapped at home with a child just waiting for him.” 
 
Ssegirinya agrees and points out that some men will get you pregnant just to keep you around because they know you are more likely to stay with them, if you have a child with them.
 
“If a man loves you, he will marry first marry and then have children, later,” she urges.
 
If you say ‘yes’ to his demands…
Pastor Martin Ssempa says this is not a new idea, but the justifications are new, “men by nature want to have the satisfaction of sexual intimacy without the responsibility of commitment,” Ssempa says.
 
According to him, a woman giving in to such a demand makes her get deeply entangled, “she feels like the wife but not legally the wife, this brings about broken emotional trust and a broken heart.”
 
Jacob Omara, a counselling psychologist, says it can lead to abandonment and sexual exploitation.
 
A woman who has children out of wedlock and cohabits with the man is more likely to suffer domestic violence than one who is legally married.
 

Baby first, wedding later?

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