By Bunmi Soflola
Can you ever really trust a man who is so duplicitous he will spend years sleeping with one of your friends right under your nose? Tessy, married for close to 30 years was flicking through a pile of photographs she came across in her drawer when she looked closely at a particular one. It was of her, her husband Tunde, and Joko, a family friend who’d been in their circle of friends for decades. According to her, the photograph depicted a happily married couple enjoying a birthday party with friends. “But my husband has his arm placed protectively around the back of Joke’s chair with his hand inches from her cleavage as she beams into the camera. I am the wife whose head can just be seen poking out behind my husband, as if I’d crashed the photograph!” she said.
“For over six years, Joko was my husband’s mistress. They were already an item when the photograph was taken. While studying their body language when I held the photograph, it seemed obvious. I was totally blind to it at the time. I only discovered their betrayal when Tunde confessed after being faced with undeniable proof of his betrayal. Most women would have been outraged.
But hard as it was, I felt so sorry for him I said I forgave him. And now, incredible as it sounds, I believe the affair was the best thing that could have happened to our marriage – without it we wouldn’t be celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. The truth is, we had become complacent about our marriage, and the betrayal was the shock we needed to make it work.
“Although I was still married to my first husband with whom I had a son when I met Tunde, that love had long since died and I had left several time previously. Tunde was already separated from his wife, the mother of his two daughters. Within months, I’d left my husband – the irony that I started out being unfaithful to my own husband wasn’t lost on me later – and moved into Tunde’s house. We got married a year later.
“Both of us are quick-witted and mercurial. We sparked off one another and made love three or four times a week. The occasional row was forgotten as quickly as it had begun. Our marriage felt like a fairy take. Only 10 years on, a storm was beginning to brew. I was beset with health problems which wore me down and left me less interested in the physical side. I was eventually diagnosed with endrometriosis. But we both found enjoyment in our friendship with three other couples whom we’d met at our social club.
“While Joko, who was about seven or eight years younger than me and a travel agent, was a shameless flirt, she showed no interest in Tunde, at least to begin with, so I didn’t see her as a threat. But as the eight of us socialised more, I became unnerved by their flirtatious exchanges. On nights out, Joko would squeeze me out, ensuring she sat next to my husband in the club restaurant, never missing an opportunity to brush her hand against his. At the end-of-year-party, she didn’t leave his side and she’d link hands with him as they went on the dance floor. Looking back, I can see part of the problem was that I didn’t fight for my husband’s attention. In the past, he’d always said he’d never met such a formidable woman as me, and yet, in Joko’s presence, my self-confidence withered.
“At home, I was no longer fun and playful. Instead, no thanks to my health issues, I spend a lot of time bemoaning my appearance – my doubts about our marriage led me to question everything from my hair and clothes to my figure – even though I was still slim. In the end, everything came into the open after a fund-raising dinner at the club a few years back. I didn’t have my glasses on so hadn’t seen Joko mouthing ‘I love you’ at him over the table, but a few other guests saw it to tell me.
“Back home that night, a row ensued as I confronted him, but he still denied having an affair. Unable to let it go this time, I woke him up in the middle of the night and ask him to swear on his mother’s grave he hadn’t been sleeping with Joko. That was when he burst into tears and begged me to forgive him.
Many women would have either dealt him a few slaps or sunk their teeth into him. Instead, despite my shattered heart, I wrapped my arms around him and we cried together. I knew some of the responsibility was mine and also that I didn’t want to lose him.
“He was full of remorse. He was adamant that although he cared for Joko, he hadn’t loved her and had never stopped loving me. While I was humiliated, hurt and angry, I realised we were both guilty of not tackling the problems in our marriage which had led to his affair. He said he had done it because in Joko, he found a woman paying him lots of attention, telling him he was sexy and fun, while at home he felt weighed down with stress over money, my health problems and my low self-esteem. We’d both neglected our marriage and put barriers up so the only time we communicated was to have an argument.
“Although the affair had gone on for over six years, he said he’d ended it six months before he confessed. Joko’s marriage had broken up half way through their affair. He admitted it was only when he began to fear Joko may reveal all that he realised he stood to lose me – in his words, ‘the most magnificent woman I’ve ever met.’ What also stung me was that two members of our group, two people I considered friends, had known about the affair throughout, and never told me.
“Like a lot of people who discover their partner’s infidelity, I became thirsty for details, almost masochistically so. I’ve since discovered the affair had began in the year 2002. They’d met for a chat at the club after Tunde had told her we were having marriage troubles. By the time they’d finished their drinks, they’d agreed to meet for sex in one of the hotels near the club a week later.
Tunde admits he didn’t even feel guilty, that he believed he deserved the thrill of a mistress as an escape from the misery he felt at home with me. After that, he met Joko at least once a fortnight for sex. When the affair was exposed, it split our friendship group up.
“Of course my husband and I didn’t turn things round immediately. It took several agonising years. While we made love a few days after his bombshell, I couldn’t shake the images of him in bed with her. I lost a lot of weight in a matter of weeks, yet I was resolute in my decision to stay with him. We loved each other deeply and had known what it was to have a strong and happy marriage. I was adamant divorce was not the only way.
“Today, we laugh, we make love every week and we’re tactile even when we’re sitting on the sofa watching TV. And we face up to any problems before they become insurmountable. The irony is that, today, our relationship feels more secure and resilient than perhaps it ever would have done but for Tunde‘s betrayal,”
What The Doctor Ordered! (Humour)
A couple were going through a very rocky time with their marriage so the wife suggested they go and see a marriage counsellor. The man listened intently while the wife told him all the grievances she had towards her husband, particularly the fact that he had lost all interest in her. The counsellor nodded his head in understanding. Certainly the husband had shown no reaction to what was being said.
So the counsellor decided on some radical treatment. He went over to the wife, took her in his arms and gave her a long lingering kiss. “There,” he said to the bored husband. “Your wife needs that at least three times a week.”
“Okay,” he replied. “I’ll bring her in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday.”