We opted not to have children in the first six years of marriage

Journalist Samuel Ssettumba (R) takes a selfie with his wife. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

From the beginning, we were on the same page. We were united as husband and wife and believed in the reasons why we chose to wait.

Having children upon marriage is considered a natural progression by many. For Samuel Ssettumba, a journalist with 22 years of experience in the newsroom, however, that was not the desired direction. Ssettumba and his wife chose to wait for six years before having children in their marriage. This was no easy fit considering friends, family members, and society expect children to be the next item on the agenda for any married couple. Ssettumba shares their experience with us. 

When and why did you decide to wait for six years before having children?

We made this decision with my wife before getting married. We wanted to spend time together and build a good dynamic between us before bringing the children into the equation. I was 26 years old at the time and she was 24. We calculated and realized that if we waited for six years, I would be 32 and she would be 30, which to me is a good time to have kids.

Was the idea to have no children immediately yours or your wife’s?

It was my idea, but when I presented it to her, she accepted. We discussed the benefits and a specific timeline and we both agreed that it was something that we wanted to do.

What influenced your decision to delay children?

We wanted to bond first and create a good environment for ourselves where children would easily thrive when they finally came. We understood a child is another person who has their own needs, emotions, and demands that you, the adults that choose to bring them to this world have to cater to.

How were you able to delay conceiving during the six years?

We made an informed decision to use family planning. We researched and sought professional help in a hospital. We were advised on a method that would best suit my wife and help us achieve our goal. After the planned time, we were able to have children.

How were you able to stick to the six-year timeline despite social pressure?

From the beginning, we were on the same page. We were united as husband and wife and believed in the reasons why we chose to wait.

The dynamic in a marriage quickly changes once you bring in a child. Soon, you have a maid too and the equation is different; you can longer, even in the privacy of your house, express affection freely. This can shorten your bonding time. We wanted to create a good connection as a couple first and thankfully, we achieved that.

We also anticipated the social pressure and discussed how to deal with it.

How did the decision impact your marital experience?

In addition to preparing financially, we were able to enjoy each other’s company and spend enough time cementing our relationship.

Before we had the children, we used to celebrate every anniversary, take trips, visit local tourist sites, and have weekly outings. This made us understand each other more and create a strong relationship before committing to creating a bigger family with children.

How did your family and friends react?

Of course there were many questions, especially after the second year. Relatives and friends wanted to know why the children were not coming. The funny part is that the questions were always directed at my wife. I told her to direct whoever was asking questions to me but no one asked me directly. I think that is because the people around me understand that I would not allow anyone to interfere with my personal life. 

How did you feel when you finally had kids?

Our first kid was well planned for. We found out we were going to have a child towards our sixth anniversary which was very interesting. We surely celebrated that news well knowing that we were ready and prepared to have the child. Of course, a lot of things changed after the children were born. We can no longer have enough time for each other, we cannot go out or celebrate anniversaries like we used to do but we are not complaining because this was planned for and we are happy as a family.

What advice would you give to young couples concerning child bearing?

My advice would be to only have children when you are ready for them and not succumb to pressure from relatives and friends because, in the end, it is you that will have to take care of those children.

What about couples that are ready for the children but are finding trouble conceiving?

That’s a different case because that means it’s not your choice not to have children. I would advise them to seek professional help from a marriage counselor and also look at all possible options. In my opinion, a marriage can survive without biological children, however, the decision must be made as a couple without the interference of your friends and family.

Ssettumba and his wife have been blessed with three children; two girls and a boy.

We wish the family all the best.