By Bunmi Sofola
When Angela’s first marriage broke, she was only 29 with two young children to take care of. “I was 22 when I got married,” she said, “and my husband was a couple of years older. When I had my first child at barely 23, it was clear we wanted different things from life. He wanted a submissive wife in spite of the fact that I was an industrial nurse, but I wanted a husband who could also be my friend. By the time I had our second child, I was no longer happy in the marriage. I didn’t take the decision to divorce my first husband lightly but I had to choose between staying in a marriage that was making me unhappy, and leaving while I was still young to make a quality life for myself.
“My second marriage lasted 14 years and our only child was born after a year of our getting married. We were happy for the first eight years, but he was always away on a business, and had just discovered the joy of playing golf—so most of his spare time went into his new found game. “Naturally, this caused a lot of stress between us. I got used to making all the family’s decisions and became resentful when I had to handle masculine tasks like reconstruction of damaged portions of the house or looking for the right artisans besides doing most of the housework.
In short, I realized I was smack in the middle of problems I ran away from in my first marriage. By the time I was approaching 40, I knew my second marriage was over in all, but name. It was a sad reality. I should have learnt from my first marriage not to marry a man so similar to my first husband. It was actually a relief when he started an affair and admitted he would rather set up home with the other woman. Fundamentally, I think I’m too independent to settle for the facade of a marriage where the husband would rather be with someone else.
“I started going out with men after my divorce and even had a relationship that lasted for eight years— some marriages today don’t even last half of that distance. The man involved wanted marriage— I didn’t, simply because he was almost seven years my junior. As things stand now, I have no intention of marrying again. There’s no point. My children are doing very well, and I’m emotionally secured. After two failed marriages, I’m too cynical to enter a third one now I’m in my 50s!”
Faith, an events manager has been married to her current husband for over 10 years. According to her, her first marriage broke because she married from the ‘group’. “I met Labi, my first husband, when I was working in a bank and ran into him at my usual eatery. He was always with his friends, eating and boozing as if they had no care in the world. When I joined the group, we all started going out together in the evenings and I latched on to Labi. We started living together when my landlord gave all his tenants notice that he wanted to renovate his property, so I moved in with Labi. That set a pattern for our relationship.
We never consciously decided what we wanted to do. We got engaged because some members of the ‘group’ had gotten hitched, and I can’t remember him proposing—we just drifted into marriage especially when I got pregnant, that sort of sealed our fate. I discovered we didn’t have common goals. He was too much a ‘group’s man.’ Even when we had our honeymoon, I was hurt when he said how much more fun it would be if all our friends were there too—and that was the first time we’d spent together.
“By the time he found another job that entailed his travelling most of the time, I’d had enough. I’d started toying with the idea of going into events management full time. As soon as I took possession of the property left to me after my father died, I renovated it without telling my husband. When next he travelled, I left my matrimonial home with my son, leaving him a “Dear John” letter. I’m ashamed I did that, but after all those years of not communicating properly, I didn’t know how to tell him it was over.
“When we eventually met to talk things over, it was hard to end things because the marriage was never abusive. It was just a mediocre one, and I wanted more than that—I wanted a good marriage. I apologized for causing him so much pain, but if I didn’t leave, I wouldn’t have this fantastic second marriage I’m now enjoying.
“David virtually swept me off my feet and we loved being together, just the two of us, and we talked about everything. When he learnt of the low-key marriage that I had with my first husband, he insisted we had the whole works-proper engagement with a lot of pump and a lavish wedding reception that brought tears of joy into my eyes.
“Sexually, our relationship was also different. Not that I had a bad sex life before, but now, I’ve experienced real passion and closeness. Having children together was the icing on the cake, it brought another level of intimacy. He was there in the labour room when our two children were born, and the pride and joy when he held each child made me weep with joy!
“I don’t regret my first marriage because I believe the person you are is the result of different experiences. Splitting up then was traumatic but I’ve learnt that I’m a strong person, and I like myself more now than ever…”