My wife is unable to conceive and so I am considering marrying a second wife

The issue: I married my wife not knowing her periods had stopped (she is in her mid-30s). I only found out after our wedding and it has been an issue ever since. I am seriously considering marrying a second wife or seeing another woman with the hope to have a child that way. I am under enormous pressure from my family and as a result, I am finding the whole situation very difficult to cope with.

Nina’s answer: You have a good job, and for African standards, you are one of the lucky ones. I am originally from the Ivory Coast and so I know that having a well-paid job in Africa, or having a decent job at all, is not easy. If you have money, people don’t treat you as badly as they do poor people. My point is, you as a middle class African, should easily be able to stand up to your family. Unless you are from a rich background, chances are that your family need you more than you need them, and so they should not be telling you how to live your life.

When you marry someone, and if you truly love that person, you are there for them no matter what. You don’t run away at the slightest sign of trouble. As I said before, I can understand a poor person in a village, succumbing to pressure from their family, but you, as a middle class person, have no excuse. Only people like you can help change mentalities. What chance is there for the poor if people like you do not have the courage to stand up to outdated views and customs?

If you really love your wife, don’t marry a second wife, and tell your family to mind their own business. Why are you in a hurry to take another wife? What if the same thing happens and you are still unable to have children? Will you go on to marry a third wife? How do you know for certain that all the fertility issues lie with your wife? Have you both been tested? You haven’t exhausted all the medical avenues, yet you are already contemplating marrying another woman, just because you don’t want to stand up to your family. What about loyalty to your wife; have you ever wondered how she feels about you not standing up for her? This is why so many marriages fail in Africa. You let your family make decisions for you and then you complain about the fact that they interfere.

I suggest that you both see a doctor so you can both be tested and then make a decision based on what the tests results say. If all fails and you are still unable to conceive, then you either accept your fate and live your life as a childless couple, or you try adoption. There are currently an ‘estimated 58 million children on the continent who have been orphaned by war, famine and disease’. These children need a home and someone to love and take care of them. Yes there is also a stigma attached to adoption in Africa, however, once again, the only way to change mentalities is to have the courage to stand up to the old ways of doing things. Too many people are suffering on the continent today because of those outdated views and customs.

Nina Steele is agony aunt. Send any dilemma you may have to: [email protected]

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