The common advice is usually to walk away with a broken heart today as a better alternative to the pain of a sickle cell child in the future.
The various combinations and the danger they pose, if ignored, are plastered all over internet timelines to prevent the tragedy of giving birth to sickle cell patients.
They tell those in relationships and prospective partners to find out their partner’s genotype. If the partners have the misfortune of creating unhealthy combinations, they are advised to disengage.
Instagram pages are filled with broken-hearted people who came to this realization late asking for advice on the way forward after investing so much into the relationship.
The common advice is usually to walk away with a broken heart today as a better alternative to the pain of a sickle cell child in the future. It’s a noble and well intentioned advice.
Marriage through religious dogma and ethnic culture has grown to become a necessity in human behaviour. Through marriage we’ve been able to guarantee our continued survival as a species, growing from a few thousand people to billions all over the world.
Due to the popularity of religion and ethnic beliefs, marriage became the most legitimate way of procreating and we’ve taken advantage of this quite well; however, there are quite a lot of us now and we are no longer in danger of extinction from lack of procreation meaning the goal of marriage is now a lot more than just simply a legitimate means of procreating.
It has become a tool for financial security, emotional dependence and fulfilment of romantic notions.
The primary purpose of marriage in application has been ticking a box in the human ladder of achievement and procreating in an acceptable fashion. Today, we have millions of people getting married all over the world with majority of them being in service of these societal and religious norms, a trend that seems to be prevalent the most among developing nations.
This has unwittingly led to the habit of prioritizing biological factors over emotional and mental compatibility when choosing a partner, manifesting in well-meaning pieces of advice such as breaking up with a trusted lover because of genotype incompatibility.
While marriage today has evolved from simply being a legitimate way of procreating, it is still a leading factor for it, and the ability to give birth to a healthy child is still important in choosing a partner but why should the validity of two consenting adults who love each other be dependent on their ability to reproduce?
Two leading forces made marriage into a necessity in human construct, religion and ethnic culture.
Christianity, the top contributing religion to the marriage movement, enjoins its followers in its holy book, the Bible, to procreate but not until after the union with a companion. The Bible speaks heavily on procreating but not until a companion was found for Adam, establishing the hierarchy of importance: first a companion, then procreation.
Finding a companion isn’t an easy task. Anyone who has dated in the 21st century understands the rarity of finding someone who genuinely wants to be with you.
The rarity of this phenomenon has led to a growth in the loneliness index of the human population.
Take, for instance, a couple who met, connected, experienced the ups and downs of life together, entwined in each other's lives, and are intellectually, socially and emotionally perfect for each other date for years before they decide to get married and their church decides to conduct a series of medical tests for them.
They discover they are both AS. The doctor rightly advises them not to reproduce. The parents get to know of it and insist they separate, ‘What kind of marriage won’t produce children?’
Does the desire to have kids seem like a fair reason to throw out a rare level of compatibility in a partner? Perhaps if you prioritise having children over having a suitable partner but here is the thing; statistically a child is more likely to turn out great if he or she grows up in a loving, nurturing environment of both parents. It’s difficult to create the environment if you are not compatible with your partner.
Let’s ask ourselves, what kind of logic justifies throwing away a solid relationship for the prospect of having children who, statistically, will only live with you for 20-25 years after which you have to live with your chosen partner for the rest of your life?
Regardless of what importance you might attach to having children, it will always be second to the quality of your chosen spouse.
If you disagree with this, take a typical Nigerian scenario of a barren woman thrown out by her husband because of her inability to conceive. 8 out of 10 times, we feel bad for the woman and scold the man for abandoning her.
If we, however, follow the logic of recommending breakup for lovers who are incompatible from a genotype stand point because it is important to have kids, it then makes sense and becomes a moral responsibility that the man should chase out his wife in pursuit of this great importance.
It’s important that we understand that there are collateral damages when we try to rigidly enforce beliefs.
I have had conversations with many people, mostly women, on this subject, and I’ve come to discover that the desire for children doesn’t come from a deeply personal perspective but rather from a selfish desire to have THEIR own children in fulfilment of religious and/or societal expectations.
It’s a shame because a country such as ours could do with more people letting go of their desire to reproduce and consider adoption. We can encourage couples who are incapable of having their own kids to adopt from the millions of children currently out of school, a problem that arose because of the prioritising of marriage and reproduction over companionship and the ability to provide.
Today, the popularity of marriage is on the wane but the need for someone to be with grows daily.
More and more people are embracing co-habitation and in a few countries, they’re getting legally recognized and those who simply want kids without strong interest in marriage can fulfil their desires through medical options such as sperm banks and In vitro fertilisation (IVF).
The primary purpose of marriage has changed.
Perhaps it’s high time we embraced this truth and stop encouraging people to throw away rare luck of compatibility in relationships in favour of fulfilling procreation.
Perhaps it’s time we started prioritising companionship over the desire to procreate, by so doing, we enrich the quality of our lives and, perhaps, even solve a humanitarian problem in the process.
Written by Seun Adelowokan.
Seun Adelowokan. Humanist. Big believer in common sense. Arsenal lover.