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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: The Pregnancy Ambush

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“Have you considered having a baby together? It will help you find out how vested your partner is, in the relationship”

If you’ve been in a protracted ‘serious relationship’, chances are that one concerned friend/relative would have said these words to you. It’s one of those ‘nuggets of wisdom‘ you receive, in pursuit of the ever elusive words of commitment from Le Boo.

Women, in a constant race against the biological clock, are the most susceptible to the anxiety that comes from just hanging. So, when things appear stalled, they begin to consider options for expediting their goals – marriage and children.

In light of this, the idea of introducing a child to the mix becomes like a compelling force for commitment. Rightly or wrongly, this is widely practiced by Nigerians. Based on certain cultural expectations, a lot of people feel obliged to do right by the person they’re having a child with – so men have been known to consider marriage once a pregnancy comes in the mix.

I know a guy who is constantly lamenting about how unhappy he is in his marriage. One day, I got tired of hearing the whining, and asked him if he was forced to marry this woman. The way I saw it, unless he was dragged by the noose to the altar, he had no business moaning this much.
“She got pregnant na! So I had to marry her.”

Oh God! He made it sound like such a burden. His words provided a bit of clarity into why he always seemed so miserable. Upon further talk, he revealed that the pregnancy for which he got married was lost in a miscarriage, and as such he was ‘stuck’ in the situation. Whilst I had very little sympathy for him – I’m not really a fan of the victim mentality – it did make me wonder about the different ways his story could have turned out.

It is my belief that when two consenting adults are having unprotected sex, they’re in a form of committed relationship, and they are ready for any of the consequences – STDs and babies. Neither party should be allowed to wallow in self-pity if any of the by products of their actions come to play.

Now, because mistakes happen, and nothing is ever 100% certain, what do you do when you’re not ready to have babies – psychologically, emotionally and financially – and a pregnancy comes into the mix?

In the past, it was believed that the honour of a woman was not to be besmirched, and as such a man was under an obligation to marry the woman – societal expectations enforced the binding of two willing or unwilling parties. Parents, largely out of shame, would tether their children together. This was based on the premise that if you’re having enough sex to allow yourself get pregnant, then you should be ready to live the rest of your life with that person.

However, we know that marriage is a life long commitment. Is it enough to make a decision of a lifetime based on the fact that you’re having a child together? The child will grow up and leave the nest. A paternity test could reveal that the child isn’t yours. Also, like my friend, you could lose the pregnancy? Or the child may die; then you’re stuck with someone you were just okay with shagging.

It can be argued that the flip side of this is, falling hopelessly in love with the person during the process of waiting for the child to be born. This happens a lot in novels and movies. From what Mills & Boons writers would have us believe, two Friends with Benefits will suddenly realize they can’t live without each other while choosing strollers and picking out baby cots. In this case, the marriage would be a beautiful love story – “Your Mummy wasn’t sure she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me. Then you came along and one day while we were deciding what colour to paint your room, she knew she couldn’t spend another day without me” *cue fairy tale music in the background*

Atoke CheeriosIn real life, depending on the state of the relationship before the added element of a child, a couple may discover things about themselves, which might help strengthen the bond. All is well that ends well, right?

Another angle to consider on the subject is the idea of using the pregnancy as a form of entrapment. In this case, it isn’t really a mistake; instead, it’s a calculated attempt on the part of the woman to bring a child into the relationship. Some people believe that they can tip the scales of indecision by tweaking the parameters of the relationship. Like any calculated business decision, it is a risk. The man might decide that it is immoral, or unethical to have his child unclaimed/unacknowledged; in this vein, he might decide to marry the mother of the child in order to bestow legitimacy on the child. In that case, the woman is getting the title, the husband and all the trappings that come with being ‘settled’. It becomes immaterial that the man was manipulated into the arrangement. He will be very alright!

The deception is not an exclusive right of female folk. Stories abound of how some men swap their partners’ birth control pills with placebo tablets. This is done on the basis that if chic gets pregnant, she won’t go anywhere.

In some cultures, the man doesn’t even have to make an overt proposal of marriage –once it is proven that the pregnancy/child is his, the woman automatically absorbed as the wife. There’s a Yoruba adage that is loosely translated to mean ‘A woman who has had a baby for one ceases to become a concubine – said woman is a wife’

If, however, the entrapment plan is unsuccessful, the woman is stuck with a child for the rest of her life – and a reminder that she took a risk on a project that never took off.

The Pregnancy Ambush is not a new concept; is a culturally cultivated and encouraged – forget what you read on the Internet about your body being the Temple of the Most High. That advice becomes a tiny whisper when you get to the other side of your 30s. And until we’re ready to stop making people feel like they have a deficiency if they’re not married, then, the Pregnancy Ambush is here to stay. We can only continue to encourage people to have protected sex – for their sakes, and for the sake of the child who didn’t ask to be used as a pawn in the Commitment War.

Have a great week ahead. Smile, it makes everything better.

Peace, love & carrot sticks.
Toodles!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Michael Zhang

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

17 Comments

  1. TA

    January 12, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Oh today’s banter came in bright and early. Yippee 🙂 Thanks Atoke.

    Hmmm..If you are not ready to get married then don’t have sex. Outdated as this may sound, it remains the only fail-proof way to avoid the ‘pregnancy ambush’. Condoms like other other preventive measures have been known to fail. Of course not everyone will agree, so if you disagree,then be smart enough to think about the consequences ;long term and short term, of having unprotected sex with someone who is neither your husband or wife. I reserve my pity ONLY for the innocent children of such union.

  2. Precious Ibik

    January 12, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Am not in support of using pregnancy to trap a man. It has its not so good consequences. If a man is bitter because probably you trapped him with a kid and he was forced to marry you, believe me you would wish you never ventured into such evil act. You will both be miserable. Choose right. Dont give in to parental or peer pressure of marriage. #Preshy’s 2cents

  3. Dr.N

    January 12, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Ladies, Pregnancy Ambush works! Forget d fact that d person u end up ambushing might be YOURSELF. Give it a go. Anything to stop d ticking biological clock, huh?
    And any man still having unprotected sex in 2015, God is watching u.
    Dear Atoke, nice post. I have so many cases like this. 2 ended in miscarriage after d marriage. People have to consider raising their kids on their own if there is no excitement about d baby. Better than ending up in a loveless union.

    • Blackbeauty

      January 12, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Just curious.. Dr N, are you a UNICAL graduate?

    • Dr.N

      January 12, 2015 at 6:45 pm

      Nope

    • newbie

      January 13, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Was also gonna say – you look familiar. Does your first name start with C and did you go to Shagamu?

  4. raphael

    January 12, 2015 at 9:08 am

    “stuck” with a child. I wouldn’t really relate having a child to as being “stuck with the child. I believe things happen for a reason and no matter how it comes, children are always blessings. I know a friend of mine who had a child out of wedlock, she contemplated removing the child so she wont be “stuck” for life. But eventually she decided to have it. Fast forward to a couple of years in the future and she has some form of cancer that won’t let her deliver. She now has that single child and although she keeps trying with her now husband to make more children, she hasn’t succeeded yet. She tells me how thankful she is that she changed her mentality.

    Abstinence as the first person said is the only way to be sure that children aren’t born. But we are all humans and sometimes we can’t control our urges and emotions no matter how hard we try. I believe in controlling what you can as much as you can. But when things happen out of our control, we should simply just look for a way to accept life and move on. In this case, love that child and realize he or she is a blessing

  5. Thatgidigirl

    January 12, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Lmao! it does work sha, and truly you may be caught in your own web (cc: flavour and tuface’s baby mommas). However, society should stop the stigma placed on single mothers because the truth is that not everyone would get married or have their fairytale ending. The pressure of making her an “honourable woman” is what forces guys to marry a lady pregnant for them, and the supposed shame of being a single mother pushes ladies too. On the other hand, if you con a guy/girl into marrying you with pregnancy and you end up in a loveless marriage, well……cunny man die cunny man bury am.

  6. miss max

    January 12, 2015 at 10:26 am

    It is a gamble just as you pointed out, it can go either way and the unsuccessful way has been the most told tale. I would rather say it this way; ‘if you are not ready in ‘every way’ to have a child, don’t venture.’ Having a child should not be the basis of marriage neither should marriage be the basis of having a child. The relationship is by the two adults for the two adults, if you are having a child it should be for the sole reason of having one and if you are getting married, it should also be for the singular purpose of that. life is too short to live in regrets and guilt.

    • fiya

      January 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      I will forever treasure this quote “Having a child should not be the basis of marriage neither should marriage be the basis of having a child”. I have a guy told me he love me pass im mama….but he wanna get married right away (we were in our 2 months of dating ooo).
      Na im I asked ol’ boy “whats the rush?”
      He said “I want my mother to carrry my kids before she die” see me see baby making factory ooo.
      So I calmy asked: “is ur mom sick and about to die?”
      Him: no oooo God forbid!!!.
      Me: whats the rush?
      Him: you never know what can happen and me being the last of 7 kids my mom has come up in age.
      Me: bye felicia
      Its just ridiculous that someone with vow their love for u but want unfor something beside that love. Ignorant much?

  7. On your own

    January 12, 2015 at 10:33 am

    In as much as i don’t encourage this, If you think pregnancy ambush can keep the guy, you are simply on your own!
    Nowadays, guys just pay all their dues and carry out their responsibilities as the father
    The be like – it was fun we were having, not something serious.

    We need to know what a guy wants from us. Is he just around to have fun or he is a serious person.

  8. Neo

    January 12, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    I think sometimes some women do it to have a man in their lives one way or another. If you won’t stay for me you will stay for the baby and those are the absolute worst, because like you said the child becomes the pawn in all this especially where the man is emotionally attached to the child, and then they create all these rules in order to have a relationship with the child.

    I hardly care about the motives or means behind bringing a child into this world, but folk need to realise that once that baby is here, the game changes and you have to put YOU (x 2) aside and do the best for that kid. Now best doesnt have to be shacking up and playing house without the emotions but you make sure that child has the love of both parents and every other material thing it needs for life.

  9. Berry Dakara

    January 12, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I personally don’t think that mistakenly (or sneakily) getting pregnant is a good enough reason to marry someone. If they are just having sex and really not interested in a life partnership, the child could easily become used to pit both parents against each other. Resentment from being “forced” to marry will lead to anger, and cause antagonism between the parents and that’s such an unhealthy environment to raise an innocent child in.

    And I agree with Dr N, it’s 2015 and people are still having unprotected sex? C’mon now, there’s more than enough information out there on potential negative consequences.

    berrydakara.blogspot.com

  10. nameless

    January 12, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    very apt discussion jare. pardon me.

  11. Liflblog.wordpress.com

    January 13, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Any woman that tries to hold a man down in such a manner deserves whatever she gets & often times she gets more than she bargained for.
    Atoke *in Wendy Williams voice* how you doing? Your posts leave me in awe. You are a phenomenal writer! Peace, love & shortbread biscuits…yes i said it. Hehehe

    Liflblog.WordPress.com

    LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE EVERYDAY!

  12. gentleme

    January 13, 2015 at 11:43 am

    i know of a guy who impregnated 2 ladies, one was 7mths, while the other 1mths. he told the one with 1mth that his father said there is nothing like polygamy in their family. the 1mth had to abort hers, while the 7mth gave birth to a boy. fastforward, 8yrs later, he had 3boys from that lady, but nt legally married.. i mean no marriage till date. the guy and that lady are not staying togeda. the guy only goes there to check on them and doing his fatherly responsibility. my essence, she thought or hope she can tie him down via pregnant… the guy is a top hawker of girls in town….it works for some women but nt all.

  13. God's own

    January 15, 2015 at 5:35 am

    I don’t support this but like you said works both ways, could be in your favour or not but I think its stupid having unprotected sex with a guy you’re not married to when even some married women use condoms with their unfaithful husbands. My point being even without the fear of pregnancy, what of the std and the likes. Women need to wise up.

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