Pregnancy out of Wedlock Should Not Automatically lead to Marriage

A common practice among certain ethnic groups in Nigeria (and possibly Africa too) is to marry off a girl / woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock, to the man who impregnates her.  I know it is an old, traditional practice, but it is still carried out today.

Ideally, a man and woman who are dating or courting should practice abstinence.  In reality, pre-marital sex is common, even in churches.  Or maybe I should say "especially" in churches.  The result? Pregnancy.  Sometimes.  So, what happens when a woman discovers that she is pregnant? One answer is marriage, especially where the families agree, and ignore the desire of the man and woman.

The reasoning behind forcing such a man and woman into a marital union is still unclear to me.  While I am sure that some happy unions have resulted regardless of this "rocky" beginning, I don't think it is wise to knowingly pursue such a path.

If getting pregnant in the first place was unplanned and a mistake, "marriage-by-force" is an even bigger mistake.  Notice, I said the unplanned pregnancy was a mistake.  The child, though is NOT a mistake.  I hope that is clear.

If a child is the only reason two people get married, that can potentially lead to a very unhappy marriage and in the long run will do more harm than good for the couple and child(ren).

Now, regardless of what happens between the mother and father after the child is born, even if they don't marry, it is not an excuse for the man to shirk his responsibility and delete himself from the child's life.  I believe the father should still endeavor to have a relationship with his child, provided he is a good role model and is not abusive towards the mother and/or the child.

In short, after an unmarried woman discovers that she is pregnant, marriage is optional and not mandatory.  It makes no sense for two ill-suited people to get married just because they have a child between them.

What say you? Agree or Disagree?  Let's hear it!

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Why will they punish the child in the first place by getting pregnant outside wedlock?.How selfish this our generation has become.At times, I just feel the old ways are better even if it is a form of punishment for the 'children' enjoying marriage juice,to force them to stick it out together.mtscheww.As far as I'm concerned having a child outside wedlock is plain selfishness.Why would you not want to bring up a child the proper way?.Anyway,we understand mistakes but for the love of God,let mature adults make this kind of mistake ooo to avoid stories that touch.We don't want a mother begging for her baby food...


Two wrongs don't make a right. I think it would be unfair on that child for them to get married just because they were both irresponsible. Two parents who hate each other will be disastrous


I agree with you completely. I have personally witnessed this not just in my culture, but in my own extended family. I am from Zimbabwe. It's actually very common for a myriad of reasons including protecting the family name/pride, the misguided notion (in my humble opinion) that noone would marry a woman who already has a child etc. The marriages engendered in this way that I have witnessed have since come to an end leaving very young and bitter divorcees. I strongly believe that just being pregant is not enough of a foundation for a strong marriage. I believe that the marriages that have succeeded despite coming about in this way have succeeded because there was something more than just a baby binding that couple together. Forever is a long time to be with someone simply because circumstances or culture dictate or not.


Spot on, Relentless builder. I totally agree with you. Intimacy outside marriage is wrong. But where it happens and it results in pregnancy, the couple involved should not be forced to get married. The fact that they took the unwise decision to hop into the sack shouldn't condemn them both and their child to a lifetime of misery, pain and regret. I wouldn't subscribe to such a decision.

Oluchi Ugwu

It is a very delicate discussion.I dont feel making a couple marry because they are having a child is advisable but also the child is the victim here who did not ask to be brought into the world. i believe in such cases of when a couple know they might not end together, abstinence is very very very

RoseofSharon Os

Ojy: I don't think this problem is limited to our generation. I think it is more obvious in our generation because we have access to all this information almost instantly and people are less discreet. As to how people can punish a child by getting pregnant out of wedlock, I think many times it is unplanned and the child is not even on their mind. It just happens.

That last point you made is true: the mother eventually gets saddled with the burden of raising a child alone and it can impoverish both of them.

Toin: I completely agree with you, and I particularly like how you summed it up: two wrongs don't make a right. I think when people make the decision to marry even when they hate each other, they don't realize that children are like sponges. They soak up everything: good and bad. And if they grow up seeing their parents display anger and hatred and say hurtful things to each other, it can destroy their own future relationships. It's a vicious cycle.

ChuweChuwe: Thanks for showing that this is also an African problem, not just a Nigerian one. Protecting the family name? Hmmm ... That's big in many cultures: French, etc. That notion of not marrying a single mother is quite true. Some men generally avoid dating single mums because they don't want to compete with the child's biological father, who they feel the mum might still have feelings for.

Ultimately though, your conclusion is correct: A healthy, solid marriage needs more than just a baby at the foundation, in order to thrive.

Green Biro: Yes, there are many factors that can lead to a broken marriage, including domestic violence, adultery, lack of communication, etc. But you're right: marriage should be because a man and woman love, trust and are genuinely committed to each other, not solely because they're expecting a baby.

Oluchi: I am all for no sex before marriage, but I think that one is a separate topic by itself. However, seeing that pre-marital sex is what leads to pregnancy out of wedlock, we have to talk about it, ba?

LOL at hopping into the sack. That is sooo ... British! I think some couples would have been happier married to other people and not to each other. The child they are trying to protect ends up being hurt if the parents can't stand each other. Toxic relationships definitely affect children too.

Ema Leecious: Say what?! Are you sure I wasn't the friend? Lol! Just kidding. Amazing isn't it?

What you consider to be a greater crime is actually what some people consider to be the 'only option,' and families actually support them. It's ridiculous. I really like this line: " ...the creation of a child is an eye opener." It reminds me of a show on TLC about babies and the catch phrase was "having a baby changes everything."

You're right. Having a baby shows couples what is really wrong in their relationships. But some people see the danger signs and still charge forward with their decision. It's wiser for them to go their separate ways and in the long run, if the mother marries who she truly loves (and the man who loves her back), that person might prove to be a better father than the child's own biological father.

Rose of Sharon Os: I like your perspective here in pointing out that the child is the VICTIM. Parents make careless decisions and children have to live with the consequences, unfortunately. Abstinence is always the safest and wisest route, but how many people practice it? At the back of their minds, they're thinking they won't get pregnant, and then it happens.

Abstinence at the end of the day, truly benefits the mother, even more than the father because more often than not, the mother is the one who ends up raising the child, if they choose not to get married.


I would love to hear your thoughts. Please Share.

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