BY DANIEL WESANGULA
Is your wife spending too much time pursuing that MBA degree? Has she suddenly changed her wardrobe? Does she seem to be closer to her male friends than she is to you? Has she become distant, ignores you and resists your sexual overtures?
If any of your answers to these questions are yes, then there is a high likelihood that there is another man in your woman’s life, a survey commissioned by The Standard on Sunday reveals.
The survey, conducted by Infotrak Research and Consulting shows a growing number of women, driven by fears within their marriages, conflicts with their spouses, lack of sexual satisfaction, a need for extra money, revenge as well as peer pressure, end up in the arms of the other man.
“As husbands strive to look for resources and make investments they ignore the emotional needs of their wives,” Nairobi based sociologist Loice Okello told The Standard on Sunday.
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Ms Okello says a lack of communication on emotional and sexual matters is the leading reason why women would seek solace in the arms of another man.
“Too much pressure makes them grow apart. People don’t communicate with each other on emotional and sexual needs.”
Okello says in most cases, the women end up dealing with a younger man.
“They get what they are lacking from a younger man, or a workmate. Generally from people over whom they have authority like younger academic aides or drivers,” the sociologist says.
The Infotrak survey shows that although infidelity is highly scorned upon, it is more discreet among women but men open up to tell their stories.
“For some men, it is considered as some sort of badge of honour among peers. They will openly talk about it. But women will not reveal it even to their closest of confidants,” George Ouko, the Catholic University of Eastern Africa psychologist, said.
Ouko says it is largely because the society condemns the woman more than it does the man.
“It is one of those evils that society unfairly deems lesser if committed by a man and more aggravating if by a woman,” Ouko explains.
The church, which is regarded by many as being at the forefront of the morality war, agrees that infidelity within the institution of marriage, and particularly cases of wives looking outward for fulfillment are, like many other evils, on the rise.
“This is an area which even we as the church are at war with,” Gilbert Jumba of the Christ is Alive Ministries told The Standard on Sunday.
Pastor Jumba says infidelity is brought about by different expectations that the two individuals have about marriage.
“Women look for an Adonis in their husbands and downplay the rough edges. But once she starts to notice the imperfections she may look outside, forgetting that none of us are perfect and it is in the understanding of these imperfections that joy will be derived,” he told The Standard on Sunday.
The survey notes that women get into marriage for financial support, love or to escape the pressures of society once they get to a certain age. When any of these are under threat, solutions are sought elsewhere.
From a Christian perspective, pastor Jumba says for a marriage to work, it must be set on the foundation of godliness.
But what are the other factors that drive a wife towards a path of infidelity?
The survey indicates that the reasons that come up mostly in infidelity cases among women is a lack of responsibility on the part of the husband, a lack of trust between the couple, a lack of understanding, constant lies and lack of respect and dishonesty.
And that in all likelihood, a cheating spouse will find all the things that lack in the marriage in a younger man.
“In most cases they don’t get involved with older men. They meet the financial obligations of a younger man in exchange for some emotional and physical satisfaction,” Okello says.
From a professional’s point of view, if your wife is furthering her education, the anatomy of the other man in her life would be as follows:
A university student who offers research assistance, proposal writing and is good at technology. In the process this emotionally starved wife eventually develops a liking for the young man.
They meet after work and late into the evening during alleged discussion group sessions.
“With time, the fondness towards the other man increases, but so does the distance between her and her husband,” she says.
And once the couple gets to this bridge, crossing it is never an easy thing to do.
The survey indicates that upon the discovery of infidelity couples react differently.
For instance, both men and women aged 40 years and above look at infidelity as a forgivable evil. They will be willing to talk about it with the cheating spouse, with the woman willing to confront the other woman and talk things over.
Before the woman makes a major decision, such as walk out of the marriage, she will consult widely but in most cases they tend to hold on to the marriage. The man will most likely marry another woman, as an alternative to what he thinks is a “disrespectful woman” who cheated on him.
“These women give dialogue a chance,” Ouko said. “According to them, what they have built over the years is more important than walking away.”
For women aged below 40 years, there’s no room for a straying husband.
In June this year, Faith Wairimu Maina told a court that she conspired to murder her husband John Muthee Guama. She pleaded for forgiveness for her deed explaining that her husband was a drunkard who neglected taking care of their two children and that he also cheated on her.
According to the survey, for women at this age, cheating is unforgivable. They confront the man and the other woman and even beat her up. They may even resolve to kill the man at the centre of the triangle and end the marriage.
But if they stay, they will most likely turn to cheating as a form of revenge against the husband. In the murder case, Wairimu later recanted her testimony and her husband dropped all charges against her.
Men aged above 40 have no time for dialogue with a cheating spouse. They beat their wives, sometimes to death and disrespect them. To even matters out, they will actively look for another woman, justifying their action on the fact that they were cheated on first. For them, divorce cannot come quick enough.
So what happens when a cheating spouse is literally caught pants down?
The men will in most cases blame the devil for their misfortune and use reverse psychology. Some might end up beating the woman and blaming the whole event on them. Others will intimidate their partners, become apathetic and threaten to marry another woman.
When busted, women tend to be remorseful, apologetic and eventually open up to the reason behind their involvement in cheating on their husbands.
Marriage counselor Agnes Yatich says scenarios of accusations of infidelity among married couples play out all too often in her office.
“The sad thing is that it is now both ways. An equal amount of husbands are rightly accusing their wives of infidelity. It is even sadder when you explore the reasons,” Ms Yatich says.
“Some wives are just bored, looking for a fizz in their lives. But majority do it for revenge.”
As a result, she says, homes are broken, relationships lost, chronic illnesses contracted and most importantly in cases where children are involved, they grow up with relationship issues.
“If it is the father at fault, the girls will in most cases grow up with daddy issues and vice versa. Possibly creating a vicious cycle of distrust and marital violence and abuse,” Yatich says. “It may sound like a cliché, but it is never worth it.”
But it is not all doom and gloom. “Infidelity is not a sickness. It is a life event. It is a choice people have been making for ages and it will continue to exist among us,” psychologist Dr Frank Njenga said.
Mrs Yatich says infidelity is a slippery slope and that anyone in a marriage should grab on to anything within his or her reach to avoid going down that path.
“It’s the little things that make a difference. Husbands should man up and play their role as the head of the house in all aspects physical and emotional. Treat her right and you will have no cause for worry,” she says. But Ndiritu Njoka of the Maendeleo ya Wanaume, has lost all hope in the institution of marriage.
“These women are all evil. They make us raise kids we have not fathered. They cheat and we would be lucky to know because of how secretive they are,” Ndiritu says. “For women, marriage is just for convenience, if they see something shinier outside the house they will chase after it. Men should not be too attached and emotional over women.”
The survey, however, provides a more scientific conclusion. Majority of the respondents agreed that infidelity remains one of the biggest hindrances to a happy marriage. And that fidelity remains a key cornerstone of a successful union.
Pastor Jumba weighs in with a spiritual perspective:
“Marriage takes hard work. Your heart, spirit and morals need to be tamed…and if for some reason a couple starts growing apart, they should always consider talking to intermediaries,” he says.