As told to Mariam
Emem* is a 40+ woman whose husband was cheating on her. The experience changed her perspective on life and she wanted to share her story with other women. Here’s what she told me:
My husband and I met in 1999. We dated for three years before getting married. We have three kids together — the first two are in university and the last one is in secondary school. I work as an educationist and run multiple businesses on the side. My husband works as an engineer, which means he is almost always at work, spending weeks away from home at a stretch. I had gotten used to the distance until January 31, 2020.
I was in Lagos on a work trip when I received a WhatsApp message from an anonymous woman. It read that my husband had been dating another woman, and she was planning to kill me.
I ran to the toilet to catch my breath after reading the message. The lady who sent it included details about our house – in case I didn’t believe the story. She refused to tell me her name or her relationship with the woman dating my husband. She said she texted me because she wanted me to act quickly and save my marriage.
When I got home, I asked my husband about this relationship and he denied it. I didn’t believe him because his countenance had changed so I prayed about it.
Shortly after, I saw some receipts laying around. I noticed a name on them, Toks*. I’d seen the name before and when I asked, he said they were doing ajo together. I saw that he’d been sending her hundreds of thousands of naira, and I realised that all the times he’d borrowed money from me, he was probably sending it to this person. There was a time I used my money to build a fence around one of our properties because he said he didn’t have access to money at the time. Meanwhile, he was busy giving money to this mystery woman. I was livid. The message said she cast a spell on him to only do as she pleased.
I was also shocked. He was good with the kids. We laughed a lot. People called us a loving family. How did this happen without me noticing? I don’t have the words to explain how shaken I was. I started dreaming about the whole thing. I kept wondering why she wanted to kill me. She is not the first person to date a married man. I don’t even like wahala. I live a quiet life so why me? Why do you want to kill me? I am someone who speaks to families, newlyweds at church, and students in school. People see me as a role model.
When I first told one of his uncles, he asked me why I was telling him. He said, “This is not new. Every man cheats.” I said I had to tell someone because the woman wants to kill me and he is more or less unavailable these days. His uncle said he would get back to me. A few days later, he asked me to come over. When I got there, he said, “Adultery is not a sin but bringing adultery into your home is a sin.” I was just looking at him. I had to tell him that I have been taking care of the home — providing essentials, paying bills and the kids’ pocket money. Imagine if I didn’t have a job. I would have been begging them for food to feed my children. God forbid.
I reached out to my sister-in-law, who was like a mother to me. She asked me to follow her to church. I am not someone who believes in miracle churches but I had to try. I had nothing else to lose. I was also scared for my life and my children’s life. The pastor was being dramatic when I got there. He said things like, “They want to kill your husband. He already has three chronic illnesses. Look, they are sharing his obituary poster.” My sister-in-law was on the floor crying. I wasn’t moved because I had been praying on my own for a while. After praying with me, he asked me to do certain things to help reverse the spell. I had to use honey in my foods, put salt in our drinking water, and use anointing oil to cook soups. I also had to make a drink for him with fresh coconuts every day for about two weeks.
The truth is, I know he’s been seeing other women. We’ve been together for 21 years. The cheating wasn’t a shock to me. I was just glad he was keeping it away from home. Unbeknownst to me, he was waxing strong with his mistress. One day I saw his old phone lying around and I went through it. On the phone, there were nude pictures of him and her. I kept scrolling and I realised that they had been together for over three years. I was furious. My head felt hot, and it hurt. I think it was around this time I started making voice recordings about the whole thing. In my head, I thought, if they actually kill me, my children need to know the truth. Till today, when I listen to those recordings, I cry.
During the lockdown, I was grateful to be home because I got to see some of the things anonymous had been telling me about like how he would tell me he was at work but he was with her. One time, I took the kids to our other house in town and when we arrived, I noticed that our neighbours were looking at us as if they had never seen us before. Throughout our weekend stay, they looked incredulous whenever my kids came out of the house to play football.
I tried not to think too much of it until we returned back to the city and I got a message from one of our neighbours. She said that there was another woman living in the house, whenever I was not there. I asked them to send me evidence whenever they saw her in the house or both of them together, just so I could have it. I couldn’t believe that the house that I paid for and furnished with my money was being used for nonsense.
Another day, the same woman called me to tell me that my husband just drove into the house with a girl. I said it’s a lie because he had just told me that he was at work and wouldn’t return for about a week. She laughed and said, “Your husband is here.” I asked her to help me monitor him. I confirmed from the neighbourhood vigilante that he was indeed in town and they had gone shopping. I couldn’t believe that he would go straight from work to her with his dirty clothes that I would have to wash or that we did not have provisions at home, yet he was shopping with his babe. One of my sons, Uwem* is closest to him and likes to wait for him to return with snacks before he eats. I asked Uwem if he had heard from his father. He said no. I asked if he told him when he was coming back, he said no.
I called him twice, he did not pick, so I called his office. I realised that when I called the general office line, they would ask him what they should tell me so I called a woman in another department. I told her someone called me to say they saw him somewhere. Meanwhile, he told me he was at work. She said she was in quarantine but she called the office while I was still on the phone with her. She asked me to stay quiet while she spoke to them. When she asked where my husband was, they said he left by 2. After she ended the call with them, she told me I had to be strong. Then she asked if he was paying the children’s fees. I said yes, she said, “If he stops paying their fees, I will get him arrested but you have to sleep tonight.” Of course, I couldn’t sleep.
The next day, Uwem strolled into the kitchen while I was arranging the snacks I bought for him. He said, “Daddy has been calling you but the network is bad.” I asked where his father said he was. He said, “At the office.” I asked what the background sounded like. Uwem said it sounded like a room, “Like he just woke up.” I couldn’t sleep that night either. I was picturing everything. How I would go to the airport to pick him up and drop him off, meanwhile he would be diverting trips. I wanted to die but death didn’t come. I thought about what I could do. I can’t go to the girl or her family because according to anonymous, she was dangerous and her family was in on it. Morning met me there.
That’s when I started praying for God to guard my heart, so I would stop being shocked by his actions. The next day, he called me twice. I didn’t pick. In the night, Uwem said, “Daddy said I should greet you.” I said, “Greet him too, dear.”
My sister-in-law called the next day. She wanted me to come to her house to get the anointed honey her pastor recommended. I told her I had work and couldn’t make it. I couldn’t help it so I asked her if her brother was with her. She said he told her he was at home. I told her what I had found out. She tried to call him but he did not pick her calls. She had to send him a text saying it was a matter of life and death before he called her. She asked him where he was, he said work. She asked when he was coming to visit her, he said that weekend. She couldn’t believe he was lying to her. In my head, I was like welcome to the party. Later, Uwem called me to say his father was coming home. After work, I went to an eatery I liked, bought food to make myself happy. I made sure I returned later than I usually do. When I went home, I saw that he had piled the clothes, waiting for me to wash it. He was eating my soup in the kitchen — soup that I didn’t have money to put meat inside. He was smiling. In my head, I thought, “Who is smiling with you?” I said “You have come” and walked past him. That night, I called up to five people to keep myself occupied. He noticed something was different. Instead of confronting me, he went to the children’s room. I paid him no mind. I went to bed. Later he joined me and tried to touch me. I laid there like a stone. When he got tired, he left me alone. I prayed for him not to die in all of this because how would I have dealt with the shame when people find out what killed him? They will say I cannot keep a man.
That Saturday morning, my husband left the house before I did. As I was driving out, I saw a car that looked like my husband’s car and there was a woman in the passenger’s seat so I followed it. When my husband noticed that I was following him, he tried to run into a MOPOL base but they refused to open the gate. I blocked them with my car, rolled down my glass and took pictures. My husband was asking me why I was doing this? I said, “Please, dear, smile for the camera.” That was my evidence for his family. He quickly drove off and the MOPOL men came to ask me what’s going on. I said, “My husband and a side chick. You know men now.” They didn’t say anything. Me too, I left. I won’t lie, that incident made me weak. I was just thinking if I was younger, I would have followed him. I would make sure both cars hit each other since he wants to be mad enough to bring her to the city. I thought of my children and all the people looking up to me and decided to leave it be.
I told my sister-in-law everything. She said he had still not gone to visit her. I told her that I will report the issue to my people because it has gotten out of hand. She begged not to do so, that she will handle her brother. I also thought about telling my kids but the woman at his office called and told me not to. She said she left her husband and it hurt her kids. I told her I was going to. When I got home, I was too tired to do anything. I just lay there. My sister-in-law called back to say he came over to report himself that I caught them. He said he had been trying to leave the girl but she wouldn’t leave him alone. She told me she would handle it and I should be patient, that God wanted it to happen this way. She begged me to let him into the house so he wouldn’t disappear, so that he would come and apologise to me. I waited for him. I didn’t even go to church as planned.
I was watching a church programme on my phone around eight 0’ clock, when he came back home. He asked me to reduce the volume so he could speak to me. He said the same things he told his sister — that he had been trying to leave the girl to no avail. He said in the bible when the prodigal son came back, his father threw a party for him so I should be happy he is back. He begged me to not tell the church. Then he said, “Don’t blame me, since I came back to this house, you have not been welcoming to me.” That’s when I got up. I asked him who am I to not forgive him when he is quoting the bible but I have a question, “Do you live here or do you just stop by? When did your office actually release you from work?” He looked at me for a while before saying, “You have started listening to outsiders abi?” I laughed and asked if he had seen me with anybody. He said people want to spoil his marriage. It was all hilarious to me. We sat there till past eight, when I asked him to end the meeting so I could go and sleep. He said let’s pray. Coming from someone that does not open his mouth to pray LOL. I said okay. He prayed that it should be well with his family and God should remove his eyes from all distractions. I noticed that he said distractions, not a distraction. I just kept quiet and said Amen. Later that week, his sisters took him to church. He was told to pray and fast but he didn’t do as long as prescribed. I was just glad that they were able to see that I wasn’t the problem.
I noticed that he started coming home earlier. He started spending more time with the kids. He started calling his family more. When he talks to them, they will call me and say, “Do you know my brother has not called me for three years now? He doesn’t even pick my calls. This is a miracle.” He even took me out to have lunch. I also noticed that he put his phone on vibration because Toks kept calling him. I was even feeling bad for him because he was scared, now that he knew juju was involved.
By January, I noticed that he started picking her calls again and he was being secretive. He refused to admit to it so I didn’t say anything. I just prayed for him. I also stopped paying the bills in the house. No be me be mumu. Now, I will let him know what is needed at home as opposed to doing it myself. One time, because I did not pay light bills, we didn’t have light for up to three weeks. What’s my own? I turn on the generator, charge my phone and turn it back off. I asked my sons to look for schools to go abroad, let their father pay international tuition. Since he doesn’t know what to use money to do. The first one is leaving in September.
I told him the love I had for him when we got married is not what I have for him now and I am only staying because of the kids. Personally, I am focused on ticking off things on my bucket list. If I feel like eating anything, I go out and buy it for myself instead of waiting around. I embrace my kids more these days and find myself appreciating nature. I want to be able to say I lived for me if anything happens.