While some wives hang on to a marriage despite abuse bothering on ‘intimate terrorism’, quite a few who value their pride draw the line on how much they can take from a marriage before packing their bags – children and all.
“One rainy day seven years ago, I recalled Freida, a hugely successful business woman, an amateur detective mission I’d set myself came to fruition. I had amassed the clues and every- shred of evidence. I was closing in on the slut who was sleeping with my husband.
“My heart was virtually in my throat as the moment approached when I would finally confront her. The other woman. The mistress. My husband’s bit on the side. Whatever name I chose to call her, she amounted to the same thing. She was the woman with whom my husband, Deji, was conducting an affair.
The woman for whom he was willing to sacrifice our almost ten years of marriage and a happy home we’d built for our three children. And there she was, walking the length and breath of this fairly posh hotel as a supervisor. A staff member had discreetly pointed her to me and I walked up to her.
‘Are you Linda?’ I asked this slim tall woman with badly done hair extensions. I was really surprised at what I saw. She was slim, tall and at least nine years younger than me. Her look of blank perflexing turned to shock when I told her, “I’m Freida, your lover’s wife.’
She looked really lost for words as she scanned the faces of other hotel guests. “Until I came face to face with Linda, I’d envisaged Deji’s mistress as a younger and more successful version of me. Yet here she was in bend-down jeans, a fake designer handbag and a cheap vest top. I felt relieved but also perplexed, that she wasn’t what I call his type.
She was several inches taller than him for a start. I simply couldn’t picture them together. She was dumb-struck. She meekly followed me to a cheaper eatery near the hotel after her manager agreed she could come with me for half an hour. ‘I knew it was a matter of time before you found out’, she spluttered as soon as we found a discreet corner to sit. ‘He was very careless with how we conducted the affair.’
She then proceeded to tell me everything. She’d met Deji in the restaurant of the hotel where she worked. They’d been sleeping together for more than nine months and she was almost 20 years his junior. I bled her for every detail, bar intimate sexual ones, which, for the sake of my already shredded confidence, I didn’t want to know.
She told me Deji had fed her all the usual cliches: his wife didn’t understand him and we were more like brother and sister. I shuddered with indignation when she revealed how he had told her the insulting lie that I wore leggings to bed to avoid sex!
“She looked at me with some sort of awe as she admitted. ‘You’re really pretty!’ Deji had clearly enjoyed embroidering the fiction that I had long since stopped bothering about my appearance. “So, how did I find myself in this fast -food spot talking to the woman who was sleeping with my husband?
To understand why I was suspicious of my husband, you need to understand the background. I met Deji when I was in my mid 20s and already a proud owner of a big retail outlet. Then in his late 30s, he had attended all the good schools at home and abroad.
He was suave, attentive and self-assured: a typical product of his elite education and privileged background. He was in the foreign office and we travelled extensively after we got married. Five years after we got married, he resigned to set up his own consultancy in Abuja where we had our own house. Then he got a couple of big clients in Lagos and after spending a fortune on hotels, he bought a service flat.
“He quickly established two separate lives. During the week, he was the sleek, jovial businessman in Lagos. At home, however, he became erratic and unpredictable. He’d be vile to me and short with the children. Then, each Monday evening and back in Lagos, he would call me to apologise, promising: We’ll have a lovely time next weekend.”
But the story cycle would repeat itself. I made a huge effort to ensure that when he got home, the house was sparkling, the children in bed and a sumptuous meal was waiting for him. I tried to keep our sex life going, which was difficult when your partner is repeatedly unkind to you .’
“In the end, I accused him of having an affair after yet another row when he’d been particularly obnoxious. He snorted and told me if I was so convinced that he was, I should provide the proof. Luck was on my side soon after. While sorting out his laundry, I found a receipt and booking confirmation in his trousers pocket for an hotel room for the following Wednesday.
He wasn’t due in Lagos that day as he’d had to attend another two-day meeting in another state. “Leaving the nanny in charge, I decided to go to the flat and left by the morning flight. There, in the master bedroom was all the evidence I needed: Make-up and women’s skin-care products. On the bedside table was a hand-written card saying; Deji Dear, I always love intimate moments, love, Linda”.
I was shocked. I had to meet this woman who’d even had the audacity to write the note on the hotel note-let. Talking to her now, it dawned on me we had met before. A year ago, I’d join Deji at the restaurant of the hotel where she worked and she’d served us drinks. She even asked if I was Deji’s wife. I had joked with her that she probably saw more of him than I did. How ironic those words seemed now.
“As we talked, both our mobile phones had rung. Deji was on his way to the flat believing Linda was on her way to meet him. He had also tried to call me. His messages became frantic when neither of us answered. Finally, I picked up my phone, our conversation took place in full earshot of Linda.
When he asked where I was, 1 hit him where it hurts: ‘You’ll never guess who I’m having a drink with… Linda’. Listening to his blustering on the phone sent me into a rage. ‘For Christ’s sake, it’s not even as if she’s classy’ I spat. ‘I could hay understood that. But she’s got really bad taste. I would have thought that if you were going to have an affair, you would have at least chosen someone appealing.’
Cutting him off. I told Linda she was welcome to him and left holding back the tears. “Deji was unrepentant when he showed up the following day. Astonishingly, despite the incontrovertible evidence, he still maintained it was just a fling and scuff at my heart-broken reaction.
Men all over the world do what he’d done, he told me and their wives looked the other way. Why couldn’t I do the same thing? For a start, 1 wasn’t that type of wife and I opted out of the marriage. Deji tried everything in the book to turn everyone against me – friends, family, colleagues – by attempting to persuade anyone who would listen that I had driven him to adultery.
Sadly, there were some who believed him. “We were divorced two years later, but by the time the divorce came through, I’d completely gone off him. From these doldrums though, came unexpected happiness. A mutual friend put me in touch with Tony, an old friend who used to work with me before I got married. Instantly, my life changed for the better.
A widower, we got married almost immediately and now have a child together. Deji still lives in the Lagos flat with Linda. She and I have formed an unlikely alliance, as she acts as an intermediary when my children visit their father.
“I don’t think there’s anything she’s done that requires forgiveness. The confrontation I had with her set the course for the rest of my life. In a way, my husband’s mistress has made me happier than I ever imagined possible … “