Saturday, January 3, 2009



By Shirley Genga

Just the other day, my married friend came over to my house in tears and was acting overly dramatic. She had found out for the third time that her husband was having an affair. She cried her heart out and told me about his new girlfriend, how she was prettier and younger than the first two girls he had had an affair with. Why she decided to see his girlfriends for the purpose of gauging their beauty was beyond my understanding, but I did not tell her this.

She cried, relieving how much she loved him and how she was scared that he was going to leave her for the pretty woman, whom she thought she could not compete with fairly. But not once did I hear her condemn her husband for straying. Her behaviour was puzzling because back when we were in campus, we liked to joke that when we got married and either of our husbands ever cheated on any of us, we would not only castrate him, but also set his priced possession on fire. But here we were, and my friend was condoning her man’s behaviour and worrying about the other woman instead of confronting him head on.

After two hours of putting up with her whining, I showed her the door and told her that she was behaving stupidly and ought to leave her husband or at least confront him because she was not helping matters by crying in my house. My friend was so disgusted that she stormed out yelling that I would understand her dilemma, maybe one day when I got married.

Puzzled by her strange behaviour, I decided to do my own little research about what women do when they find out that their husbands are cheating on them. What I discovered was not only shocking, but also very enlightening.

Roselyn a mother of two claims that after she had her two babies, she lost interest in sex and that she would only have it for the sake of her husband. And when one day she discovered he was having an affair she was at first upset but since she does not believe in acting without thinking things through, she decided to observe him. When she noticed that he disturbed her less for sex and out of his guilty was an extra good father and provider, she concluded that his affair was not such a bad thing after all. Further, after weighing all her other options, she knew that leaving her husband would be detrimental.

"I sat my husband down and laid down the ground rules about how he would relate with this other woman and how he would relate to me and the family. I did not care if he was getting it elsewhere. I just do not want to know about it and I also asked that he use protection," Roselyn said. She added: "My husband loves to move around, which man does not? But our marriage gives me security, companionship and financial stability. I can use his affairs as an excuse to get away with anything because he gets so guilty, and he overcompensates in other areas like finances."

Be smart

They agreed to sleep in the same room but not share a bed. "The relatives do not know and neither do our friends or children. It is a win-win situation for both of us and our children who get to have both parents under the same roof instead of a separation," she adds.

She calls on women to learn to be smart: "If your husband cannot be faithful, do not be quick to leave; try and work around it because if you are looking for faithfulness in today’s world, you will die alone."

Many people find it hard to understand why a woman would choose to stay in a marriage with a man who has cheated on her or who has a history of extramarital affairs, yet according to many women like Roselyn leaving a man because he is cheating is not as easy as saying it.

Maryanne, a businesswoman and mother of two says that she knows all about her husband’s wandering ways. When she went to her friends for advice after the discovery, they told her to get concrete proof before she did anything stupid. She, therefore, hired a private investigator (PI) and her worst fears were confirmed.

The PI gave her all the information she needed to find the woman if she wanted. After gathering courage and enough anger, she went to the woman’s house and confronted her. She attempted to warn her to stay away from her husband but the woman was not easily intimidated by her outburst. She left, and did not let her husband know that she knew the truth, though she knew the other woman must have told her about the incident.

Multiple factors

"I do not know why I did not have the courage to confront my husband, maybe it was because I was scared of what he would say and for my children’s future," says Maryanne. She explains: "I grew up without a father and I promised myself that my children would grow up in a home with a mother and a father. So for six years, I have lived with him and although I am not happy, at least I am not lonely. Another plus is that my husband is a good provider. My children go to the best schools, we have a nice house, four cars and the best of everything."

she adds: "A lot of women who are mostly single like to sit on their high horses and judge as for staying in a bad marriage but they do not realise that a lot of factors are at play. Great and famous women like Princess Diana, Victoria Beckham and Hillary Clinton did the same thing as we did."

But not all women can put up with straying husbands and will quickly pack up and leave and never look back.

Gloria, a mother of one, was eight months pregnant when she found out that her husband was cheating on her. Despite the odds ahead, and without a second thought, she left him and sought refuge at her parents’ house.

"He was not even sorry for what he did, believing I could never leave him," she says.

What surprised her was the fact that her parents, family, and friends advised her to go back. Even at church, she was advised to go back to her straying husband with the argument that ‘men are like that’.

You decide

After her baby was born, she weighed all her options — she had a well-paying job, she would not be as financially secure as she would be with her husband but she would make ends meet. She could go back to her husband who showed no remorse for his actions and live a financially secure life. She would also have the security of being called ‘Mrs’ or she could separate from him legally, have a life not as prestigious as before but one with dignity and maybe even have a second chance at love. She chose to leave him. It has not been easy for her and her son but she believes that women are only fooling themselves when they stay because of their children.

"What good is it for the child to grow in a financially secure home but one without love, where one parent perpetually lives with the fear of contracting a disease?

By the end of my little research, I discovered I had gone in circles. Either a woman stays or she goes, but the reasons for staying are as diverse in those who decide to, as they are diverse for those who decide to leave.

But ultimately, the decision to leave or stay must come from the aggrieved party. I also heard of cases where a woman thought leaving was the best thing to do at the time, only to regret later, and too late at that, as her husband had gone ahead and married another woman. I also heard of cases where the woman stayed on because of the children or the security, only to lose him to Aids (and with it her security), and for her children to lose their father and in some cases, also their mother. Those who are left behind keep wondering what was better for the children: To have a single parent or to be orphans. Still, the choice is a very personal matter.