He did it first. He was first unfaithful.
We’d been married just three months when he had his affair. It wasn’t a one-time thing. I don’t know if that would have made a difference.
If it had been just once, just one single sex with her, maybe things would have been different. Maybe I would have felt different. Maybe I would have felt less cheated, less wounded, less insulted… less heartbroken.
I don’t know.
But it wasn’t once. Not with her—the first her. And not with the other hers. They were many, I’d lost count. I’d chosen to not count… not anymore. It became easier not to. It became less hurtful, less real. If I didn’t consciously acknowledge the existence of another her, then maybe she didn’t really exist.
But she did. They did. And I knew.
I confronted him. Multiple times.
But the first time, he looked so contrite. He knelt before me and he begged. “I am so sorry. It was an evil temptation, and I could not resist it. I would never do so again.” And added as he took my hands and his tears slipped. “Forgive me, please.”
And I did. I tried to. I told myself to.
He was my husband. I loved him. He was human, prone to temptation and liable to fall. It was just a one-time thing. Not once with her, but first time being unfaithful to me, to our vows before God. And he’d promised it would never happen again.
So I made myself forgive him. But I could not forget. Was forgetting possible? Was it ever? I doubted it. And did not force it on myself. If memory chose to retain glimpses of the incident, who was I to enforce it not to?
Then he did it again. And this time, he confessed to me. Maybe because the boyfriend of the lady, threatened him.
And we went through the process again— with even more tears and more contrition. “I am so unworthy of you. I do not deserve a wife as good and as gentle as you are. I do not deserve your love or your forgiveness. But I beg you to give it… forgive me, again.”
And again, I did. Yet again, my memory chose to retain; this time not just the sin but his words of contrition.
He did not deserve me.
It became an established fact. I realized it, and I ruminated on it every single day. It became a silent mantra that echoed in my heart—he did not deserve me.
Then another her came to be. And another and yet, another. Soon, he stopped looking contrite. Soon, he stopped kneeling before me. Soon, he stopped using the words of contrition.
“I’m a man, so what do you expect? It is the natural inclination of men to desire more than one woman. Nature made us so. You are not the only wife whose husband has concubines outside. All men do it. So live with it!”
The words stung… more than the sin. They dug a hole in my heart.
Did all men really do it? So no mortal man was, has ever been, faithful?
I did not believe his words. I knew not all men did it.
I was just unfortunate. And I was wounded.
And so I stopped asking. I stopped confronting him. I stopped checking on him and I stopped counting. I blanked my thoughts where he was concerned and focused all my love on our only child. I poured all the love in my heart on our little child. I thought only of our little child and cared only for our little child.
But he was just that—our little child. He was not a man. He was not my man. He was not my husband. And I needed a man… I needed my husband.
Sex had become a wish for the moon. Intimacy, of any kind, a rare blue moon.
We lay side-by-side, night after night, on our matrimonial bed and nothing ever happened. Even the merest touching of our fingers. There was an invisible wall between us.
The he saw me. Another he, not my he. Not the he who was my husband.
He saw me and he paid me a compliment. “You’re a beautiful woman. Very beautiful.”
I looked at him. And my heart fluttered. Something fluttered inside of me, so I think it must have been my heart. “Thank you.” I whispered, and walked away.
I thought of that compliment for the rest of the day. I thought about the simple praise all week long. I pondered on the words. I fluttered, the thing inside me fluttered, again and again as I thought of the words… and of him.
Then I saw him again. He’d come to the office once again. “Lovely hairstyle. Suits you better than the last one.”
This time I blushed—as much as my black skin allowed. I preened at his low-toned words. “Thank you.” I murmured. I could not help the shy smile I bestowed on him.
“Your husband must be the luckiest man on earth.” He said. He too was smiling.
I noticed the wistfulness in his eyes. And mine clouded with sorrow.
That day, and for many days to come, I thought of his words. My husband must be the luckiest man in the world… but he did not think that he was. He never looked at me. Not anymore. He just tossed sweeping glances in my direction, and he never paid me compliments.
“Do you like my new hairstyle?” I asked him that evening at the dinner table.
“Hmm-mmm.” He sounded. But he did not raise his head and he did not look at me.
It hurt. And with the pain came anger. “At least look at me and pay me a real compliment for once!” I hurled at him.
He slowly raised his head. His eyes were clouded with impatience. “I said I liked it, didn’t I? And what is so special about it anyway? Haven’t you worn this kind of style before?”
“No, I haven’t. I’ve never worn this style. My stylist recommended it. And everyone has complimented it… except you.” My appetite was gone. I picked my plates and left the table.
He went on eating.
That night, and for the days to come, we did not speak to one another.
The next time he came and paid me a compliment, I bolstered my smile and let it beam. Enchanted, for he must have been, he requested my mobile details. And happily, I presented him with them.
And the communication began. But it didn’t stop there. He requested to see me, privately. I granted his request. And that evening, he quelled my many months of dryness.
It did not happen once. It did not happen twice. It happened again and again… and again. But it was just him. Only him. None other but him. I became happy. I became fulfilled again. I started feeling like a woman— more than I ever did before.
Then he found out. The he that was my husband found out. So did everyone else.
And now they tell me I was wrong.
No one says that he was wrong too.
He had done it multiple times, with multiple hers and yet they do not tell him he was wrong.
I was wrong. I knew this. I know this.
But so was he.
We were both wrong.
The sin of unfaithfulness—infidelity—was not mine alone.
**I don’t know what happened to KMIYC. No one should ask me abeg. Abeg someone should tell me the details (dates) of NYSC postings these days. Thanks. Have a nice day.**