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By Funmi George

Adaobi was by every measure a happy woman. Why not? In her early-thirties – an age when some women are still struggling to have a breakthrough in their career – she could be considered a fulfilled woman. A mother of two beautiful children – a boy and girl, had a wonderful job, and husband who would do anything for her. His level of understanding and support especially when she went back to school for a master’s degree in business development was something she felt forever indebted to him. She had particularly become very busy with her studies, job and the home front.

Now that she was through with the program, she decided to give more attention to her husband, though he was not really complaining about not giving him enough time.  On a particular weekend, she had decided to send the children and maid to her mother’s place as she intended to put the house in order, such as taking dirty clothes to the laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and other important chores within and outside, which she had not done for a while. In her usual practice, she began to pick the clothes one after another and checked the pockets for nothing in particular. 

In one of the trousers her husband wore two days earlier, she felt something crispy. She thought it was an ordinary paper, but turned out to be a hand-written note from a certain Jane.  The note had been there for two days and it read, “Hello Mark, I’m sorry I couldn’t see you yesterday as promised. My car developed mechanical fault on my way to work and had to fix it at great cost. Your phone lines have been quite busy today, even as much as I tried to reach you. I felt I should stop by at your office to have lunch with you, but your secretary says you were already out for a meeting. Will you still be travelling to Abuja tomorrow? Please call me when you get to the office. Love you much – Jane.

She read the note several times and couldn’t comprehend the content.  She suddenly lost enthusiasm for the assignment in the house, but continued what she was doing, believing that she could still find other incriminating clues.  In another pocket, she found a five hundred naira note and complimentary card. After dumping the clothes at the laundry, she went into their private room and began to search his files. She found nothing; but wasn’t surprised, as her husband was a very meticulous person. She felt a wave of anger sweep through her, but tried to control her emotion; then came a strong feeling of pain and hot tears began to stream down her face.

Mark had traveled to Abuja that morning, looking clean and posh, for an official assignment. He would be there for three days. While painstakingly choosing his clothes, she never knew she was dressing him up for another woman. The reality of the painful scenario dawned on her and fresh tears ran down her cheeks.

Pains, like any other, have a universal language. The pains you feel when you realize that your husband has another woman out there need no definition. Many people often argue that the issue of having extra-marital affairs is a way of life especially in the African society. But does that make it less painful? What are some of the realities of living with the thought that another woman is sharing your man? 

Read below experiences of two respondents. You may also wish to share your story with us. Send to e-mail: [email protected]. We will be glad to publish it.

I Had To Be Strong

Lucy, 40, is a pharmacist 

My parents taught me many things about life and marriage. Ours was a beautiful home of six and shared some things in common. I grew up seeing my parents love and adore each other – everything always looked perfect – and built my hope and expectations for the future on that. But I have realized that expectation and reality are quite different. It was not until I was 35 years that I knew my mother’s true story – the sad experiences she had with my dad.

I got married the same year I graduated from university at 24 years. My husband was the best friend at the time we got married and, even now, he remains my best friend; which is why I was able to forgive his misdeed in the past.

Five years after our marriage, he lost his job in a controversial circumstance. Investigations were made, was absolved of blame, and recalled to work. Unfortunately, he felt too scandalized to go back to the same job, and resigned.  He got another job soon after, but had to resign again. It was at that point he decided to go back to school.

For three years, we both managed to run our home on my salary and the little savings he had. He got involved in some short-term projects from close friends which offered us additional income. I learnt not to bother him about my needs and that of the children, whenever I could afford it. I didn’t notice if there was any communication gap between us as we often discussed at length about our challenges since I knew cordial communication was the best way to sustain a relationship.

After few months at school, he began to date a lady which I didn’t know about until one night when someone, a woman, called to speak with me. My husband had completed his studies six months earlier and got a managerial appointment in a manufacturing company. Things turned around for better and life became beautiful for the family again. She told me she wanted to have a chat with me at the office and would appreciate if I did not divulge the information to my husband. I became scared and felt very anxious to meet her the next day. I suspected it had something to do with my husband, but couldn’t imagine what it was.

I couldn’t imagine the motive of the woman to have called me at night, but I never expected what I saw. She was dashingly beautiful, with a great physique and domineering air of confidence. That was what I admired most about her. The first thing she told me was that I was more beautiful than I looked in photographs. I inquisitively inquired where she had seen my photographs and told me my husband always carried two in his wallet – my passport and a family photograph.

I wondered where the conversation would lead to. It was almost at the close of work and insisted she would wait till close time. She had a great smile that concealed every sad thing she had to tell me, which eventually changed the course of my life forever. After close of work, she suggested we both walked down to a park located near my office. My heart began to beat very fast as she began to speak.

She told me how she and my husband had met and the good things he had said about me. He had told her how much I meant to him and went on to reveal how depressed he was when I had to undertake all the responsibilities of the family when he was out of job. She had been heartbroken for over a year when they met and took a great liking to my husband in spite of the fact that she knew he was hooked on his wife. She said she had wanted him, and though she knew nothing extraordinary might come out of any relationship with him, she didn’t mind.

They began to date for about one year. However, he came up one day and told her he couldn’t continue any longer with the relationship because he was feeling guilty about the affair. She explained how he tried to avoid her and how much pain she felt. She had decided to totally forget about him when she discovered she was pregnant. At that moment, my heart skipped, but I didn’t interrupt her. There was obviously no need. She told me she had made several attempts to call my husband, but had refused to speak with her or returned her calls. She had to visit his office to meet him.

When the pregnancy was about four months, she made up her mind not to abort it, but my husband begged her not to keep it because he didn’t want to hurt his family. She explained she was very hurt and felt my husband was just being wicked and selfish, at first, but could not help seeing how much I really meant to him, and could no longer abort the pregnancy even if she wanted to. She said the main reason for coming to see me was to break the news herself and to beg me to forgive my husband and her. She tried to make me promise I would never leave my husband because of her, but that was a decision solely dependent on me. She told me she could conveniently take care of the baby and promised never to break-up my marriage or come between us. To me, it was like stabbing someone with a knife and wrapping it with a bandage. It neither removes the cut nor pain.

That night, I couldn’t go home, but rather went to my parents and wept at my mother’s shoulder. It was then that she also told me some of the experiences she went through with my father at the early stage of their marriage. I couldn’t believe my father often beat up my mother at the slightest provocation. My mother advised that whatever I decided on, I should not show my husband a feeling of rejection, saying the fact that he loved me so much was very important and all I needed to do was to be in control of the situation.

I never thought I could do that, but I did even though it was very difficult to forgive my husband. My wound was deep, but God helped me to get healed. I didn’t tell my husband about the encounter with the woman when I got home, but he knew something was amiss because I had cried my eyes out.

Rachel, the lady’s name, called him the next day to apologize for telling him about the pregnancy, but felt it was the best thing to do. My husband had before then stopped drinking; he came home heavily drunk and woke up with a hangover the next morning. Because of my pains, I could not help him.

We talked deeply about the incident and have leant to take things one at a time. I had to be strong for my children, husband and me. Like my mother advised, it was going to be the most trying period of our marriage and how I handled it as a woman would decide whether I would make it or lose it. I decided to be there for Rachel and her baby, but she lost him. He died at birth. Rachel and I remain the best of friends, even now.

……..    ………

You Never Forget

Debbie, 38, is an accountant

My husband and I had five years of courtship before we got married. Naturally, we had our challenges during those years but had nothing to do with issues of infidelity. I never saw him with another woman and at a point I became very uncomfortable, though I respected him so much. However, I always had the feeling that an unexpected incident beyond his control could happen someday. I didn’t want to be caught unaware as one never knows with men. All the same, I had told him earlier that if he ever got involved with another woman, he should be very discrete about it.

Two years after our marriage, something happened! Looking through the window of our apartment one Friday evening, I saw a green car drive into our compound containing a block of flats and parked close to the building. My baby was asleep and just felt like relaxing on a chair close to the window. I didn’t really bother about those in the car. Perhaps they came to visit the occupants in another apartment.

Within three minutes, I heard a knock on my door. I began to imagine who the visitor could be at that time of the day as I wasn’t expecting anyone. I gently opened the door. The visitor was a beautiful half-caste lady of about 28 years with distinct British accent. She was quite polite and inquired if she was at the right place as she wanted see Mr. Baldwin, my husband. I told her she was, but that my husband was out of town for an offshore official engagement. He worked for an oil company in Port-Harcourt for four years before we got married and transferred to the head office in Lagos.

I demanded to know the essence of the visit. She told me my husband was a friend of three years; she came to Lagos for a professional exam and decided to see him before returning to Port-Harcourt the next day. She had tried calling several times to inform him of her visit, but his line was not going through. According to her, someone had described the location of the estate where he lives – based on the address given her – and had been able to get there with some luck.

It was already late on that Friday evening and told her she must be very lucky indeed to have a car waiting, otherwise, she would have to trek back to the main gate. She asked to leave a note for him, and that was also when she demanded to know if I was his sister. “His wife,” I said, with as much courtesy I could. “His wife?” She asked quite surprised, and I repeated my response so that she could be sure of my status. She smiled, sighed, and ran her well-manicured nails through her hair. “I never knew he was married,” she hinted, more to herself. She then told me not to bother about the note as she would call him again at the office. That was when it occurred to me to invite her into the apartment.

“Since you are here to visit him, why don’t you come in so I can offer you some cold drinks; I guess you must be tired.” She immediately cut in saying, “No, no. I’ll just run along, and my brother is waiting.” As she was trying to walk away, the cry of my baby broke the encounter. “You have children.” “Just a boy”, I said. Before she walked away, I wanted to know the last time they met. She paused for a while as if thinking of what to say. She shrugged and said, “About three months.”  Something registered between us.

My husband was cheating on me and the lady never knew he was married. I went inside the house and picked up my baby. I stared at nothing in particular for a while, felt angry, and suddenly began to shed tears, even as my baby also began to cry loudly. I felt betrayed, though it was not unexpected. Sincerely it hurts.

For two nights, I couldn’t sleep nor had appetite for food. My husband was really shocked to meet me in that state when returned home. He thought I had been ill without informing him since I knew he was out of town, but I told him I was okay.  It was after dinner that I asked him about the lady he was dating. He wanted to say something, but changed his mind after one quick glance at my face. “What is the matter?” he asked almost inaudibly.

“Tara who resides in Port-Harcourt was here to see you.” He suddenly stopped eating his dinner, stood up, sauntered into the restroom, and locked the door. He was there for a long time. The smell of cigarette filled the apartment. I called him several times and banged on the door. He refused to respond at first, but eventually unlocked the door and stepped out. He went out of the apartment and came back almost immediately. He went to bed early that night. We didn’t discuss on the issue for four days and there was uneasy tension in the air.

On the night of the fifth day, I asked him again if it was true that he was dating Tara. He confessed, but said it was nothing serious. I didn’t want him to continue because it could hurt me more. Suddenly, I wished he had denied it. I got so angry that I told him he would have a taste of what he had put me through. Although I didn’t think I was going to date another man to spite him, he believed I could do it if I wanted to. He felt remorseful, apologized and begged for forgiveness. I forgave him. He promised to cut off completely from Tara. Our marriage experienced so much distrust. I felt bad and irritated.

But sincerely, for my sake and happiness of my child, I had to work towards bringing back some level of trust in my marriage. It was a very painful experience to think it ever happened to me. The truth is, you never forget.

*Funmi George is a Relationship Counselor.

Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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