By Bunmi Sofola
ONE of the most traumatic experiences in anyone’s life is discovering you’re in love with someone else whilst you’re already married with children. When Nkem, Franchesca’s husband, discovered his wife was having an affair, he couldn’t believe the evidence that was staring him in the face. Taking courage in both hands, he confronted his wife with the facts at his disposal. “I had no option but to confess to the affair,” Fran had said sadly.
“My lover is everything my husband isn’t—kind, considerate, loving, affectionate and energetic. Although Nkem was visibly shaken by my admission, he gave me a few days to think about my future plans including the fact that I wouldn’t be taking our three children with me if I decided to leave. In the end I decided to stay, because of my kids.
Now, I’m very unhappy and it’s giving me a lot of stress. My husband, poor thing, is trying hard not to make me regret my choosing my family over my lover but I think of my lover all the time and wish we are together. I’ve slept with him a couple of times since deciding not to be with him…”
I felt really sorry for Fran because it is very easy to find yourself trapped in a loveless marriage. Her frustration at not getting what she wanted had made her resentful of her husband, who she felt had trapped her by emotionally blackmailing her. The fact she was unhappy in her marriage shouldn’t excuse her affair, and she couldn’t blame her husband for that. Especially after he gave her a chance to think things through and she chose to stay. He was also making an effort to save his marriage, and Fran should show him some understanding. It’s tempting to assume the grass is greener with a different lover, especially if you’re feeling disappointed or frustrated. The reality is, the grass is seldom greener only different.
I told her if she decided to be with her lover, she must then realize things won’t be smooth sailing. He may be the current love of her life, but she must be aware of all the people who will be affected—especially the children. She thanked me and left, but I wasn’t really surprised months later when I learnt she’d left her marriage to be with her lover. This happened some five years ago; time enough for her to realize she’d made the greatest mistake of her life. Ade, her lover was all that she thought he would be—but he didn’t tell her he was once married and his first family lived abroad.
Now they were back and Ade had to shuttle between two homes. He might have divorced his wife, but they’re still good friends and she was always present at Ade’s family’s function with her children. After two miscarriages, Fran also found out another lover was expecting Ade’s child. Ade’s family insisted it was traditional to have child naming ceremonies in the father’s house, so Fran put a brave front on as Ade’s love child was christened in their home. When the same girl got pregnant with the second child, Fran knew it was time to leave.
“I feel sorry for her”, Nkem told me sadly when I recently ran into him. “She’s back in their family home though she sees the children as often as she wants. I’d heard stories about this Ade, but voicing them to Fran would make her more determined to leave. She was so besotted with him and until she got him out of her system, she would have no peace. It was sad to see her resent all the loving gestures I showed her when I begged her to stay. I even helped with the meals and looked after the children, so she could have more time to herself, and maybe see the understanding husband she was throwing away.
“As things are now, she’s put me off having any serious relationships. We were so in love when we got married, so what went wrong? It is true you can’t help who you fall in love with—but you’re not expected to be falling in love when you’re already married. A few friends and relations have tried to get us back together, but I’m not having any of that. I accepted her affair, gave her the chance to choose and she chose her lover. She made her bed and now I don’t want her back…”