Hayley (not real name) has been married for four years but does not have a child with her husband, whom she met when they were both at university.
Her in-laws, on the other hand, have been pressurising her to find means to bear a child. They believe that their son—her husband—is fertile to the extent that they have proposed before that he takes a second wife.
She is frustrated; she does not know what to do. Society too, on the other hand, has labelled her all sorts of names, something which bothers her every passing day.
For her, the only way out is to let the husband take a second wife as being suggested by her in-laws, because she loves the husband so much such that she does not want to let him go.
The husband, too, on the other hand, is frustrated. He does know what to do. Should he, indeed, take a second wife or seek other interventions. He does not want to let his relatives down. He is disturbed.
Such is one of the isolated cases that occur in families despite reasons infertility comes about.
Psychologist Chiwoza Bandawe says the pressure that goes to couples who are infertile usually can lead to depression, especially on the fact that there is always high value placed in children.
Bandawe further states that since having children is sort of entrenched in our culture and is a form of identity, value and worth, couples can generally feel like they have not achieved anything leading to a strain in their lives.
“Because of tremendous value placed [in having children] they can be depressed and can even begin to have other mental health issues because they are not fulfilling what they want and also what society wants,” he said.
The psychologist further says the constant pressure that families who are infertile get is one of the sources that can lead to being unhealthy, too.
While pointing out that infertility is a difficult problem in the context of Christianity, in a separate interview, Reverend Gertrude Kapuma, says being infertile should not remove the relationship that was there when a couple first met.
She says: “The issue of infertility is somehow difficult to understand because mostly the blame would be put on the woman. But, there are times when the blame would be on the man so many times we don’t seek medical attention.
“So, our point as ministers or as church leaders, if we are found with such a situation, is to counsel them and also help them seek medical attention so that whatever comes out of the medical assistance, we can go on helping in counselling them.”
Kapuma, who pointed out that being childless should not guarantee divorce, said there is need for solidarity in such cases as couples.
She says a partner should be understanding and help the woman get through such scenarios, apart from other those outside that marriage.
Besides, the reverend further states that couples should never be disappointed when they have no children, but should understand why that is the case while they seek medical attention and God’s help.
“Many times, when people get married, the next thing they think of is to see the woman pregnant and unnecessary pressure starts mounting on the couple.
“But when we teach about children and procreation, we always say that children are a gift from God and this being a gift from God, there is a secret that God hasn’t given or told us or has not put in place to say you are productive or not, but we always trust that God-willing, we can have children,” further explains Kapuma.
However, according to verywellfamily.com, research indicates that while men and women faced with infertility may be more likely to feel dissatisfied with themselves and their marriages, other studies show that it can bring couples closer together.