By Bunmi Sofola
Efe had been separated from her husband of 15 years before they both decided who had the custody of the children—three girls and a boy. Efe took the girls as they were all in their teens and Korede, her husband, took the son who was also a teenager.
From time to time though, the girls stayed the odd weekend in their dad’s sprawling mansion. A top politician and businessman, Korede was always hosting one lavish party after the other, delighting in parading his sophisticated daughters as hostesses.
“The girls were away at their dad’s party when an old classmate I hadn’t seen in years called at my office,” Efe recalled. “She told me her husband was at one of Korede’s parties recently (wives seldom attend these parties) and was shocked when some of the guests openly made passes at my girls. Some of the men were quite graphic about how far they’d gone with the girls and how they wouldn’t mind to have another crack of the whip.
One even boasted that he’d had two of them and was hoping to bed the third. My blood ran cold. My eldest was 17 then and the last girl, only 14. Surely, they couldn’t be having sex under their father’s roof with their father’s friends? What kind of perverts are these men? My classmate said she had to track me down so I could put a stop to it. She had no reason to lie to me as we weren’t that close. She said she was so appalled by what she heard she thought I had to save my girls.
“After she left, I reluctantly agreed that my girls had really changed. They were all tall and looked older than their different ages. Most of the time, they wear provocative clothes and lots of make-up bought for them by their father whenever he took them abroad. My 17-year-old had become quite secretive and snapped at me whenever I asked about her private life. I just wrote it all off as normal teenage behaviour.
“When I got home, with my heart in my mouth, I went through all their things, becoming very searching in my efforts. All three had packets of the pill and condoms and the type of cash they had, made it quite plain that the problem I was faced with, was bigger than I could handle. There were substances I found that could be drugs.
“The following day, I tracked down one of Korede’s friends who was a close friend too. I explained that one of the children had actually confessed to being passed around at Korede’s parties. He looked thoroughly embarrassed and a bit terrified. It was obvious that he’d had a go too but he wasn’t admitting anything. He just advised me strongly to stop encouraging my daughters to attend their dad’s parties as they always stayed up till the wee hours of the morning.
“My next move was to face Korede. He didn’t deny anything. He said he was for what was best for the children. So what if they were on the pill and carried condom? Wasn’t I happy that they were having safe sex? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. His daughters were prostitutes, thanks to his greed and perversion, and he had no apologies for that? I threatened to stop them from coming to his home and he said if I as much as carried out the threat, he wouldn’t be financially responsible for their school fees and monthly allowances.
“I was boxed into a very tight corner indeed. They all go to very expensive schools and their tastes are quite extravagant. On top of which we all live in Korede’s house and he is responsible for all the utilities. I have a good job no doubt, but there was no way I could afford all the luxuries my children were born into.
“I tried to turn my girls against their father but they’d been so exposed to the good life they weren’t prepared to let go. They told me they never did drugs—only alcohol and plenty of it. They even have some in their rooms and my 17-year-old told me bluntly that she enjoyed having sex. But with men old enough to be her father? She said she might even end up marrying one of them as she was not prepared to settle with an inexperienced and a poor man.
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“In spite of their bravado, you could see their confusion at times. My 14-year-old missed her period once and she was in such a panic that I felt sorry for her. When she eventually had the period, she quickly forgot her fears and the skimpy gears were back. No sermons on the possibility of their contracting STDs or HIV worked. My only hope now is divine intervention. I pray to God everyday that my daughters will soon realise their folly and turn a new leaf. As for their father, he has no soul anymore. The day he decided to go into politics, he sold his soul to the devil.”
What exactly is infidelity? – A reader asks
“Several different kinds of marital contracts exist today,” writes Dele, a middle-aged ‘happily married’ father of six, and a legal practitioner. “There are married swingers which mark one end of the spectrum, those couples who enjoy extramarital sex with the clear understanding that each is permitted to do so. Then there are the unions in which one partner has so little interest in sex that contract in which both parties profess monogamy but both have extra marital sex in secrecy.
“But what happens if one partner has extramarital intercourse for its own sake? Although other factors, such as friendship and affection, may be involved, there may be no intent to break up the marriage, but simply the need to enjoy another person sexually. Conventionally, this is considered infidelity. But has real infidelity occurred?
“In most cases, the reaction of the “betrayed,’ wife or husband is predictable. Since the promise of monogamy is implicit in conventional marriage, the violated party assumes the worst. For the transgressor to ask the transgressed to accept what has happened as a physical matter, and not infidelity, is usually to ask the impossible. Humiliation, fear, and confusion cancel out any explanation made after the fact. It’s too late to discuss the terms of the contract they’ve already been broken.
“But is all this pain really necessary? Perhaps it’s time to view the marriage relationship in a different light. I suggest that the first step in this process is the realization that, in most cases, infidelity and extra marital relations are two very separate phenomena. People easily overlook the fact that infidelity often occurs without sexual relations. A man may dutifully sleep only with his wife, and maintain a stable atmosphere at home, when he’s really more passionate about his relationship with his boss or his drinking mates than he is about her. Conversely, a woman may be a model housewife and mother in the old sense, but may in fact, think more about her heavy social commitment, or even another man, though guilt might prevent her from consummating this other relationship sexually. Could anyone honestly call either of these two ‘faithful”?
“The problem of infidelity is not an easy one. In recent years, we have been hearing a great deal about ‘open’ marriage and it is estimated that more than ten percent of us practice it—most culprits are concentrated in the cities. The basic premise is that both partners agree they are free to have sexual relations with other people. Whether they discuss each particular relationship or keep it private is a matter also agreed upon. I’ll give an example here.
“A few months ago, a couple visited their married friends. Unknown to the husband, his wife had armed herself with ‘proof of her husband’s extra-marital affairs with their host’s wife. When she later broached the subject, their hostess was livid. ‘’What exactly is your problem?’ she asked the bewildered guest who’d thought her hostess should be cowering in shame. ‘Do you have any evidence that I came to your matrimonial home to sleep with your husband? How dare you come to my matrimonial home to disrupt my peace and quiet?’ Turning to her alleged lover, she said coldly. ‘Why don’t you take your wife home? It’s obvious you can’t control her and you’re no longer welcome here?’
“The poor woman looked bewilderingly at their host for any form of support, but he shrugged. It was obvious who was in charge of this particular matrimonial home. Besides, the host also had his bits-on-the-side, so who was he to rock the boat? Those who argue against open marriage say that it destroys the bond of faith and trust between two people, and that with unlimited opportunities for sex elsewhere, there will be less sexual expression between partners.
But the reverse is true. Studies of such unions have shown that the sexual side of the marriage is often enhanced. Of course, marriage is not the ideal solution for everyone. Jealousy is a powerful, prevalent and highly destructive emotion for both men and women, it may be difficult for many people to understand that emotional involvement between two people is what is important.
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“Open marriage requires great courage and effort on the part of each spouse. Marriage is a complex relationship and shifting the dynamics of it is always a delicate process. But any couple facing the crisis of extramarital sex must think twice. Is sex the real issue, or is it breach of trust? The key to any successful marriage is honesty and faith. If you can accept all of the other’s desires, no extramarital affair will destroy your love.”