By Bunmi Sofola

Is it possible to stop a woman determined to snatch your husband from right under your nose?  A few years back, Juwon thought she had the perfect marriage.

An ambitious husband, who in the space of the 20 years they’d been married had made millions of Naira in his construction business so they could boast of houses here and abroad.

When Kole, her husband, hinted he would need the services of a personal assistant full time – one name instantly came to Juwon’s mind – Louise.

“A friend of mine runs a secretarial cum finishing school,” Juwon explained, “and she had talked glowingly of Louise’s performance at being a top professional.

“Any boss would be happy to have her, she said, and I immediately contacted my friend to send Louise over for an interview.  I didn’t see her when she came for the interview but Kole’s report of her was glowing.

“I didn’t get to meet her until months after, by which time she’d got her claws into him.  She was tall all bright, pretty and very high-maintenance in looks.  A girl who would think nothing of betraying her ‘benefactor’ as she blatantly pursued her husband.

“I would never have believed that anyone would be so aggressive in pursuing her prey in front of a wife like Louise did my husband.

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“My friend, through whom I contacted Louise was very apologetic when she learnt of what happened.  Louise not only chased after Kole, she flaunted their love affair.

“Office staff were wary of her as Kole made it clear her authority was not to be taken lightly.  The more I protested the more hostile my husband became.

“Inevitably, they both went public with the affair and I was in shock when my husband moved into the new house the whole family was to occupy when completed.

“He told me it was for him to have a breathing space from my nagging.  Later, it became a trial separation until it became apparent that they were now living together.

“Kole then told me she wanted a divorce, Louise was pregnant and had never been married, so he would want to make a decent woman of her.

“I on the other hand, had been married for over 20 years with four kids.  Surely, I wouldn’t begrudge Louise of the opportunity to experience a bit of what I’d had?

“It was a nightmare.  It still is.  I thought we were going to work on our marriage after he’d had a fill of her, but that obviously wasn’t the case with him.

“Emotionally, I can’t even described how I felt.  It has been a very hard road.  Pity I didn’t even see if coming.  Over the years, I’d been disappointed by my husband’s desire for fame and wealth – and he’s been taken over by both. 

“When we first met, he didn’t have much but his ambition to ‘make it’.  I stayed in the background and let him do what he had to do.  He was the one with the drive and contacts and I was very supportive and so happy for him.

“When I realised he was intent on divorce, I decided to fight back.  I got one of the best lawyers and was mildly surprised when Kole agreed to a lot of the terms of settlement.

“I got the family house, a flat in London and cash in the bank.  It was obvious our divorce had become just another business deal to him and he wanted to get the best business deal possible.

“As long as I was financially well off, he believed I had nothing to grumble about.

“Living with somebody whose goal is to be as rich as he possibly could, I made a lot of sacrifices.  I was like a single mother with the kids a lot of the time.

“I was determined to be the best mum and I definitely know I accomplished that.  I was devoted to that megalomaniac in every way.

“I thought I was the best wife, but I guess I wasn’t.  I loved that man with all my heart and soul and he effectively killed that love. 

“I’m no longer in love with him, but my heart needs time to heal”.

Who of your children would you rescue first from a fire?

About two years ago, American science writer, Jeffrey Kluger’s controversial book The Sibling Effect claimed 95 per cent of parents had a favourite.

Majority of the mums, especially friends, that I discussed it with assured me they didn’t have favourites as such.  When pressed further, they agreed they know who their parents’ favourites had been – and sometimes still were. 

A lot of them regaled me with tales of how their youngest brother seemed to be on a pedestal in their mum’s eyes, with mum explaining how no one had their bath until she’d had hers.

Another recalled with disgust how her mum gave the only son the chicken drumstick, with the other one going to their dad – the rest of the children got what was on their plate.

That she’s still doing exactly that for their ‘little brother’ even though he’s now 28 and over 6ft tall!  Pamela, a personal trainer says now she has a son, she understands her mum’s preference.

“Perhaps mums appear to love boys more because as toddlers, they could be cute!” she explained.

“When I first fell pregnant, I was honest about my preference for a boy.  I thought it was proper the head of the family should be male.

“Three girls down the line and my husband’s friends ribbing him about living with ‘Charlie’s Angles’, I had everything crossed during my fourth pregnancy for the chance to buy footballs and macho toys with my daughters’ assortment of dolls littering their rooms.

“My doctor was acutely aware of my longing and excitedly blurted out the sex of my baby at my 18-week scan.  A boy at last!  And he was a gentle, loveable one when he eventually arrived.

“It wasn’t that difficult to find extra ‘heart room’, as I called it, for this son of mine who never failed to show me how much he loved me.  Mind you, I don’t believe he is more loved, but there are times when he’s more loveable.

“Unfortunately, my three girls saw things, differently.  They accused me of loving my youngest more than them.  They all abandoned their constant bickering and bonded over their belief that the poor boy was my favourite – so they ganged up against him. 

“As the only child who pees standing up, their fury at his alleged preferential treatment reached a peak when he was allowed to bring in a girlfriend at an age they weren’t allowed to date.

“All explanations on how girls needed to be protected fell on deaf ears – why didn’t my son’s girls mum protect her by forbidding her to go on a date?  Well, what could I say?”

The truth perhaps?  A recent survey concluded that 59 per cent of parents favoured their youngest children and perhaps mums appear to love boys more because the male toddler is so tactile, all cocky and cock-sure smile.

“At the Bank of Family Love,” said Precious, a social worker “you can withdraw as much as you put in with boys.  I’ve found it’s more complicated with girls.”

‘Which brings us to the million dollar question.  If there was a house fire, who would you save first?  Your daughters? Your sons”  Or those designer bags and shoes!?

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