By Bunmi Sofola

When you’re used to too much love and attention from your man, his suddenly changing into an almost passive partner could be very hard for you to bear. It happened to me; I should know.” And, that in a nutshell wraps up the reason why a seemingly good marriage headed for the rocks. Gloria, a shapely 32-year-old secretary in a firm of accountants still wears a sad look.

Her constant efforts at keeping a good smile pasted on her face gives her a look as artificial as her smile. “And, it is all my fault,” she sighed. Gloria and her childhood sweetheart from the village grew up in Warri and they had known all along they would eventually get married – come what may. Their parents were very close and they’d promised one another they would rather see Gloria and Peter get married than have them marry total strangers.

So, even before there was a marriage proposal, their fate was more or less sealed.
“Luckily, we were very much in love. There were other kids we could have got involved with easily, but they just didn’t matter,” said Gloria. “After my school certificate, I came to Lagos and was a clerk in one of the ministries while Peter was already at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. To while away the time, while he studied. I went to the Federal Training Centre for a one-year computer course. And, I got a good job afterwards.

“Peter qualified and got a teaching job. Two years after, we were married in our home town, Warri. It was a grand affair. Drinks and good wishes were in abundance and the fact that we were very much in love, gave the ceremony a very colourful atmosphere for us. In short, I was in seventh heaven.”

According to Gloria, they both stayed in that seventh heaven for almost seven years. “In between which there were the occasional tiffs every couple go through,” continued Gloria, “we had two boys and I couldn’t complain that married life was much of a strain. Peter was always around and it seemed he wouldn’t do quite enough for me. He played the role of a good and proud father to the hilt, he spoilt the children and they were very fond of him. “I can’t quite place where things started going wrong,” se said sadly.

“All I realised one day was that I was bored and restless, we had a good house-help who was a good cook. Peter never stopped helping around the house, and I had very little to do. That was why I did the one thing many foolish and bored housewives before me had done – I took a lover. I guessed all along, I wanted to see how far Peter’s trust in me would stretch. That showed you how smug and conceited I was.

“There was this bloke in my office who never hid the fact that any time I gave the say-so, he would gladly go to bed with me. It was like a game to me. That after two children and years of good marriage, anyone could find me that irresistible. I lapped up his compliments and teased him no end. Inevitably, my little game turned into something serious. I now know that if you make belief long enough, your dream world could turn into a reality.

“We had an office party that fateful day and Peter pleaded a headache and stayed with the children. I told him I would rather stay at home but he urged me to go ahead and enjoy myself. So, I was at the party. And, so was the man who was to contribute to the breakup of the best thing ever that made life worth living for me. As fate would have it, he was at the party unaccompanied, and when he realised I was alone, he jumped at the chance to dance attendance to me. And, I would he lying if I said I wasn’t flattered. Drinks were flowing unchecked… I wasn’t drunk, I was tipsy. I’m not trying to blame what happened next on anything. I knew it would happen. If I didn’t want it to. I was in a position to stop it.

“After the party, he offered to take me home. I didn’t object. On the way home, he parked by a quiet spot. He tried to kiss me but I wasn’t cooperating. Five minutes later, we were kissing and cuddling. There was a momentary ‘flash’ of Peter and the kids, but any guilt I must have felt was soon drowned in the passion that engulfed both of us. I didn’t even know when he let down the seat on my side.

All I knew was that we were making love like our lives depended on it. After our passion was spent, I was cold sober. But, I didn’t regret what happened, in fact, I wanted it to happen again. And, it did several times! Most of the times, it was in his flat, occasionally we had it in his car. Then came what I thought was the chance I’d been wailing for – my husband was to be away for two weeks. They were the most care-free two weeks of my life.

Ben, my lover, constantly took me to his place; we went to parties together, and I felt no remorse leaving the kids at home with the house-help.

“When my husband came back, he was like a total stranger to me. When we made love, I submitted out of a sense of duty – not because I was keen. Instinctively, Peter knew something was wrong and gradually, without my noticing it immediately, he started to change. He never helped around the house without throwing accusing glances at me and I was always irritated when he talked to me.

“Meanwhile, Ben had been urging me to leave Peter to come and live with him. I’d toyed with the idea but I wasn’t that foolish. I even believed he loved me enough to marry me and take on the responsibility of my two kids any time I asked him to. How stupidly naive can one get?

“Then came the day I hurried home after leaving Ben’s flat to find Peter home early. He said he felt something was wrong with us and it was about time we talked about it. I wasn’t ready for any serious talk, I denied anything was wrong and a few hours later, he wanted to make love. I had no alternative than to agree.

While we made love, I relieved how it was with Ben earlier in the day – and without being conscious of it, I moaned. ‘Oh! Ben, I immediately realised what I’d done. I’d made the foolish mistake adulterers over the years had made; even before Peter stopped with a jerk, and looked at me furiously. “I’m not Ben, you know, my name is Peter, or have you forgotten?” He spat at me.

“I’d given the game away. I couldn’t even say anything in my defence because it happened so suddenly. Peter left the house but came back the following morning. He never said anything and I didn’t dare ask him. When next I saw Ben, I told him I couldn’t see him again. He agreed so easily you could almost see relief written all over his face, I felt very humiliated and for the next couple of months, didn’t know if I was coming or going.

Three months later, Peter said he wanted a divorce. What could I do?” Tell him that I loved him after I’d thrown all the love and care he’d showered on me and the children in his face? Subconsciously, I saw the divorce as a sort of punishment, something I rightly deserved. The divorce was granted and I took the younger child, Peter took the elder.

“Since there was no husband to consider, I thought Ben and I could re-capture the old magic: I told him so and he winced… Without looking me in the eye he told me his wife was now back in the flat with their children. If I wouldn’t mind us making love in the car, he could manage seeing me occasionally. There is a saying that when you are down, you can’t possibly sink lower.

How daft that is! I sunk so low I thought I would go mad. Throughout my association with Ben, he never told me he had a wife. When I pointed this to him, he said he didn’t think it was necessary since I couldn’t get married to two husbands. And, to think it was this same man who urged me to come and live with him!

“Apparently, a married woman to him, is the most uncomplicated lay. I’d served the purpose I was meant to serve to him. My services were no longer needed. My parents didn’t know why we broke up, bless Peter. Neither did his parents. But any fool would sense I was the guilty party. It was a blessing that they didn’t know the enormity of my guilt.

I’ve tried to reshape my life, and at the moment, I am steering clear of men. I’d been so singed I would take along time to heal. Only, whatever happens, I know I’ll never find another Peter and I’ll forever live with the knowledge that I messed up my life and separated a good family.”

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