Many couples rarely consider birth orders when dating or settling down, yet it matters whether one is first, second, third or lastborn, as this affects their personality and how they relate. Or does it? Well, the jury is still out, as opinions vary.
Take local musician Kevin Bahati, for instance. He is a lastborn and his wife Diana Marua, a firstborn.
Bahati thinks different backgrounds and environments affect people’s personalities and this extends to relationships and “you try to understand and create each other to fit the person you desire your partner to be.”
Bahati says: “I am easy to apologise and forgive, but my wife can hold a grudge.” He says life, not order of birth, structures people to behave in certain ways.
Bahati is also philosophical about the compatibility in their five-year marriage: “My wife is a firstborn and there are things she looks at with a certain weight. She has been like a mother figure to her siblings. She pays a lot of attention to some things.”
Bahati says he has been trying to learn some things from his wife, as having been “brought up in the streets, some things don’t just affect me. So sometimes she gets really angry over some things and I don’t.”
Justina Syokau, she of the Twendi Twendi (2020) hit song, says birth orders don’t matter more than upbringing, when it comes to building character, which according to her, is what couples need to be compatible. But Syokau has issues with lastborns she says grow up being pampered. “This might affect how they behave in a relationship. They are entitled and this becomes a challenge when two lastborns marry.”
Syokau says marriages and relationships only call for maturity. “As long as there is understanding and good communication people can live together. But when the character is not marching up, relationships might fail.”
Citing her own example, Syokau says she is a middle child who once married a fellow middle child, who “was responsible more than his older brothers, but was mannerless in marriage. “This is why I can’t qualify that birth order determines someone’s personality. Marriage is a decision, because love ends at some point.”
As for marriage between two firstborns, Syokau says good and right communication is key. “But if the character is bad, the relationship will fail.”
For actress Wilbroda (Jacky Nyaminde), birth order does not affect personality. Rather, events in life do. “I have seen firstborns act like lastborns and lastborns take up responsibilities that you would otherwise expect from a firstborn,” she says, adding that character is a choice and flaws are hardly based on birth order, as “two people who genuinely love each other are a perfect match in marriage. Respect and care also form the basis of relationships.”
But psychologist Jackie Gathu explains that some birth orders march specific others. For instance, firstborns are better off marrying a lastborn as most are organised and structured. A lastborn, she says, thus injects some fun, resulting in one responsible and tough partner while the other cools things down.
It is important, says Gathu, for lastborns to keep affirming the firstborn because they thrive on affirmation.”
Firstborns also do well marrying middle children, who are good at peace-making, as most middle-borns attach emotions to almost everything they do.
“Middle ground is to accommodate the fact that firstborn is logical, a thinker while the middle one is a feeler, and room should be created for the middle one to express how they really feel,” says Gathu. She discourages marriage between two firstborns, saying there will always be a power struggle. “They are both tough, in charge, thinkers and independent.” She, however, says most unions between two firstborns thrive best after dividing roles to create room for fun.
As for two middle children marrying, Gathu argues that they should understand they are extroverts by nature and most “value friendship, unity, and comparability. For them to thrive, they should create time for each other, as opposed to the outside world.”
The middle child marrying a lastborn calls for understanding that the middle child likes to avoid conflict while the lastborn wants to have fun and follow no structure, and that “awareness is key so lastborn can understand there is time for fun and seriousness. As for the middle one, they need to understand that just because there is disharmony; it doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t working out.”
Two lastborns marrying might result in a playful, carefree union and they thus need structure and push to pay attention to detail. Besides, Gathu says, “both need to create mutual accountability to make things work.”
Only children, as a couple, is tricky, says Gathu, as both were used to all the resources and attention, and thus need a lot of affirmation to boost their morale besides giving each other space to thrive.