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How to handle a cheating spouse

~Punch Nigeria. Monday, April 10, 2017. 

On June 4, 2015, Mrs. Bukola Yusuf (not real name), a mother of three stormed out of her house in shorts, "I was prepared to engage in a fight with the woman who 'stole' my husband's heart," she told our correspondent.

She said she was fed up with the woman who constantly called and sent messages to her husband's phone.

Yusuf said, "At midnight, my husband's phone would ring; whenever I confronted him about it, he would say, 'It is a useless woman disturbing my phone.' I believed him because I trusted him."

When she discovered that the lady disturbing her peace lived two streets away from hers, she became furious.

"That day-June 4, I was ready to fight; to put an end to everything. But my neighbours stopped me from storming the lady's house," she said.

Little did Yusuf know that her husband was having an affair with the lady. She didn't suspect because he promised her he would never cheat on her. He constantly reassured her of his undying love for her, and like every 'good' wife, she believed him.

"My husband does not have only one girlfriend, I heard he has several girlfriends. I almost lost my mind the period I discovered about his cheating lifestyle. I would cry for days; I felt worthless. He couldn't hold his emotions one night; he blatantly told me that he loves the woman that had been calling his phone. He confessed and said that they met some months ago and that he had been hiding it from me because he didn't want to hurt my feelings," she said.

Yusuf told SUNDAY PUNCH that her husband shares his time between her and his girlfriends.

Yusuf isn't the only one battling with a cheating spouse; Mrs. Toyin Oyebanjo (not real name) is paddling the same boat.

Oyebanjo believes her husband's 'womanising' nature started before they got married. She said she thought he would change.

"I have been married to him for 15 years; we separated for two years. It breaks my heart to say that I've not been happy in my marriage since I got married. People may say I was stupid for marrying him, knowing quite well that he can't remain with one woman. But I thought he would change; I thought his love for me would change him,'' she said.

On several occasions, Oyebanjo said her friends had called her on the phone saying they saw her husband with a woman, adding, "It is as if he changes women every month."

Saying divorce has never been an option for her because her religion forbids it, Oyebanjo said she decided to always pray for him with the hope that he would change.

She said, "My only hope is to pray for him; I believe this is a battle I have to fight. I don't want to leave my home for another woman, my children would suffer. I know some day things will get better."

It is not only men who cheat in marriage, women do too as it is the case with Mr. Sunday Godwin (not real name) whose wife regularly cheats on him.

"Over time, I realised she likes to date rich men. Men who give her a lot of money and buy her things I can't afford. When we got married - five years ago - she was naïve but sweet. She was still in the university when we got married. I sponsored her education which I don't regret because she is the mother of my two kids," he said.

Godwin said his wife's love for him diminished when she got a new job. He said she comes home late from work and gets upset whenever he confronts her about her lateness.

He noted, "I have decided to stop confronting her. She doesn't know that I'm aware of her cheating habit. I have sources who constantly feed me with information about her whereabouts. I won't cheat on her because she is doing the same. One day, she will get tired of her shameful act.''

Unlike Godwin who is aware that his wife cheats on him, a man who this correspondent preferred to identify only as Mr. Olanrewaju, residing in Fagba area in Abule Egba, Lagos, is unaware that his wife cheats on him.

Neighbours, who discuss the couple, said on several occasions they had seen his wife alight from a sport utility vehicle.

A neighbour who chose to remain anonymous said, "I think her husband once caught her with another man. But he thinks she has changed; I wonder how he copes with such a woman as a wife."

A professor of psychology at the University of Lagos, Oni Fagboungbe, said the reason spouses cheat is because they have an unmet need.

Fagbounge said, "Cheating in marriage revolves around need for satisfaction. Whether it is a man or woman that cheats, that person cheats to satisfy a need - sexual or material. When a spouse is aware of that fact that the other spouse cheats, the first thing he or she should do is to find out why the spouse cheats.

"However, the underlying problem results from one not having his or her sexual desires met. The cheating spouse has sexual desires that are not being fulfilled. Sadly, most cheating spouses are not willing to make this known to their partners - they 'bottle' it up. For example, a wife whose sexual desires are not being met by her husband would not want to open up to her husband, because he may think she is being wayward. Instead, she looks for a man who would meet her sexual needs. Cheating spouses are forced to look for alternatives because the need has become part of them.''

The don noted that in other countries, when a man or woman finds out that his or her spouse cheats, both of them would go the extra mile to meet their sexual needs, even if it means watching films to boost their sexual drive or going for counselling.

"But in Nigeria, instead of seeking a permanent solution, couples prefer to seek a temporary solution," he said.

Also, Dr. Chika Ndubuisi, a psychologist at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and marriage counsellor, advised aggrieved couples against fighting or confronting the man or woman interfering in their relationships.

He said, "Engaging in a fight with your spouse's affair partner is not the best solution. I would prefer the woman or man to engage in a dialogue with the 'cheating' spouse. Make him or her realise the consequences of his or her actions. Effective communication is key to solving the issue of cheating in marriages. The wife and husband must be on the same page - they should be able to unravel the root cause of why other partner cheats.''

According to him, any man or woman who cheats doesn't understand what marriage means.

On his part, a psychologist, Dr. Nnamdi Ezeh, said counselling is one of the best solutions to handle cheating in marriages.

He said, "Coping with a cheating spouse needs a level of emotional support that is way beyond the life experience of most people. One way to deal with this is to seek assistance from people who understand what one is going through - therapists, family and friends who have dealt with similar betrayal in the past.

"However, one should not be spiteful with it. It's one thing to enlist others for support; it's quite another to tell one's partner's relatives or boss, about his or her behaviour out of spite. Couples most also remember that anything they say to their kids cannot ever be taken back. Hence, they should think twice about 'badmouthing' themselves.''

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