It Could Save a Lot of Tears

On several occasions, I have casually posed the question to a number of persons. What is marriage? And it is interesting what varied responses I got on those occasions.

One middle-aged man apparently in his late forties answered thus: marriage is a serious business involving a man taking a woman according to custom, having children with her, and providing for the woman and the children.

A young bachelor and fellow traveler in the course of a journey said that it meant the ‘coming together of a man and woman to found new home’.  A casual acquaintance and mother of six in her late middle age had this opinion: ‘the Lord of a man, and a woman as husband and wife.

With the anthropologist and the sociologist, the primary purposes of marriage are economic, biological and socio-cultural. To them marriage is an economic unit concerned with division of labour and reproduction, with caring for women in pregnancy and while nursing, and the protection and education of children.

In order to fulfill these purposes, there is need for marriage to be stable. Especially in civilized societies, the psychological aspect of marriage is important. TRUHEALTH therefore sees screening before marriage as an ingredient of stable marriage.


In medical parlance, screening is the identification of unrecognized diseases or defect by the use of tests, examinations or other procedures which can be done rapidly. Screening sorts out apparently healthy persons who probably have a disease from those who probably do not have the disease. A screening test only raises a suspicion which must be properly diagnosed and confirmed by a physician.


SCREENING helps the couple determine their health status before marriage. Any abnormalities detected could be corrected if possible, where correction is impossible, the couple could decide to continue with the relation or not. Having been fully briefed of the possible consequences.


SCREENING before marriage could take several forms but only three important forms will be discussed here.

(a).   FAMILY HISTORY: This is the oldest screening method before marriage. A good family history could reveal cases of mental disorder (neurosis, psychosis, psychopathy), poor intellect, obesity and diabetes mellitus. There is inconclusive evidence that these could run in families. Products of broken homes are less likely to have a successful marriage the situation is worse if the bride is from a broken home. If the father of the groom is an alcoholic, the latter is more likely to become an alcoholic. Other conditions look for in the family include albinism, and sickle cell diseases.

(b).  GENETIC SCREENING: It is advisable to screen for sickle cell trait before marriage. Two people with sickle cell trait will save themselves a lot of agony and sorrow if they do not marry each other. There is a 25 percent chance of producing a sickler from pregnancy. While it is true that some couples have been lucky to have four or more children all AS OR AA, many others have not been as lucky. The same applies to albinism, deaf mutism and familial idiocy Haemphilia though not common in our society is another condition that could be screened for. This only affects males with the trait being passed on from the mother.


At least two sexually transmitted diseases should be screened for before marriage: syphilis could save the couple untimely death and from producing a child born to a mother with gonorrhoea is likely to develop eye infection which could lead to blocked fallopian tubes in woman. In these days of AIDS, it is advisable to screen for carriers before marriage in any of the approved centres.


Firstly, it affords the courting couple an opportunity to know their health status and to seek treatment when necessary, or reverse where possible, any adverse health condition diagnosed by the doctor.

Secondly, by knowing their genetic and health status, it will be possible to make a couple appreciate in advance what possible problems, if any, their marriage may face in the future. They will therefore be psychologically prepared and may also prepare economically and socially in advance to accommodate the event(s), should they decide to ignore any medical advice to the contrary and get married.

Thirdly, screening places a couple in a position where they can make sound and rational decisions which can influence fundamentally the future of their family life and the health of their family life and the health of their descendants.

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