Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Are your man’s wild oats your responsibility?

Diana Mogaka, a 31-year-old wife and mother-of-one, is in a dilemma. Since getting married two years ago, she and her husband have been the paragon of a good marriage.

Diana has often felt vindicated that she married the right man. “He was a principled, humble, charming, god-fearing man. All through our dating and courtship, he remained honest and didn’t keep secrets from me,” says Diana. The icing on their cake has been his role as a father, which he has performed with love and compassion.

Then three weeks ago when she was at work, her house help called and informed her that a strange woman had abandoned a child at her house, saying he belonged there. “I informed my husband and rushed home to find a three-year-old boy sipping from a packet of juice by the door. He looked very much like my husband and had a letter stuffed in his pocket.”

The letter, addressed to Diana’s husband, contained a tirade of complaints and accusations that the child’s mother would no longer struggle to raise the child when his father, Diana’s husband, was well off.

Upon his arrival, her shocked husband took the child in spite of Diana’s protests, and after a heated argument, he admitted that the child was his. Diana has been wondering whether she should opt out of her marriage, accept the child as her responsibility, or ask her husband to find the child’s mother, return him and provide the necessary financial support.

HOW MANY OTHERS?

On one hand, she says she loves her husband. “He may have made a mistake, but I know he’s a good man and it’s not the child’s fault.” On the other hand, she says she cannot be responsible for a child he sired out there and about whom he has remained tight-lipped. “I can’t see myself raising another woman’s child. He shouldn’t be my responsibility.”

Diana is not the only woman sailing in this boat. Many women have been left shocked after discovering that their partners have wild oats and wonder whether it should be their responsibility to raise them. And while some married women will often take up such children, others will not.

Roseline Amondi Owaka, a 29-year-old banker, recently quit her four-month-old marriage after her husband revealed that he has some wild oats growing up in Eldoret.

“I thought he was joking and laughed it off. But he was not. He brought out his daughter’s picture and pleaded that I accept her as I would if he were a single father. I refused. Did he think the marriage would tie me up? How many others has he sired?” Roseline says she would not have dated or married him had he been a single father. “I cannot be responsible for an act I did not partake in.”

EVALUATE THE EFFECT

According to child therapist Gloria Wandeto, your partner’s wild oats will have some effects on your relationship. “How you relate will change whether you take up the responsibility for his children or not.”

You may need to evaluate what effect bringing in a child from outside will have on your children, if you have any, how you will cope and relate henceforth, and how you and your partner will handle the child’s mother if she is available or if she chooses to resurface.

This is what Lucy Rutere did.

“My husband told me he had sired a child while working in Eldoret, but he had lost touch with her and her mother. He had a picture of her and kept wishing he’d be reunited with her. I decided that if she ever came along, I’d take her in as my own daughter,” she says. In April, Lucy’s husband was reunited with his daughter, Loureen, and Lucy has taken her in. “It’s my duty to make sure she is alright and to guide and parent her as I do my other children.”

This is something Celine Kiplagat would not do. The 34-year-old mother-of-two says, “It is not and can never be my responsibility.” She adds that she would quit her union if she discovered that her husband has children out there. “I’d consider him irresponsible and untruthful. There would be no more trust between us to continue staying together.”

While the law provides that the child’s father should support his offspring, it can grant full custodial rights to him if the child’s mother is deemed unfit or grievously irresponsible to raise the child. This is what Diana’s husband has vowed to seek. “He says he will go to court and seek full custodial rights,” says Diana.

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