If you are Nigerian, you are probably thinking ‘he cheated, she stayed…ehen? Kini big deal?’ Well, IF you are Nigerian, there is probably no big deal. Men cheat most of the time (there are exceptions, of course) and their women stay. Life goes on. BUT if you are not Nigerian – or belong to this new generation of Nigerians with ‘funny’ ideas, it is a big deal.
The African expectations from marriage are a bit different from those of our western counterparts. When a woman gets married in Africa, she expects to build a home with her husband; she hopes that they will be happy and looks forward to being happy. She prays he will take care of her and believes without much hope, that he will stay faithful. (At least in the time of our mothers.)
In the US for example, it is a bit different. Most women when they get married, expect to build a home with their husbands and also that they will be happy in the marriage. They might not put much stock by his taking care of them BUT he had better stay faithful! And if he is not…see you later, Alligator!
Which is why when one woman decided to stay even after her husband cheated on her, it became headline news and was even on Oprah! (dot com) You can read it here. You see, I think that most western women give up too easily when it comes to marriage. So this article definitely caught my attention. What held me though, was the verbal abuse that went on in the comments section. She was literally vilified for daring to stay, like she had violated some unwritten code. She was called several things including weak. The general opinion (from about-to-be-divorced and divorced commenters mostly) was that in staying, she was NOT being strong for her children and was enabling abusive behaviour.
OK. I was mystified. In my own opinion, deciding to forgive and remain with a partner who has cheated, in the USA is a VERY strong thing to do. The society makes it easy to walk out. I mean, it is the only thing to do. You watch it in the movies, read it in novels and magazines…he is not allowed to make that kind of mistake. The decision was made the first time he took the conscious step to cheat.
Now I am not advocating for cheating men (heaven forbid!). I am just saying that a good marriage is not good because it is perfect. It is good because both parties (or maybe even just one party?) put in a whole lot of determination and perseverance liberally sprinkled with forgiveness. So maybe this does not work for everybody and some men are just serial cheaters. There is no need to put yourself through an endless emotional bashing. However, if one person has shown the strength of will and determination to make it work against the odds, and if she is rewarded for that by having a good marriage, she does need to be applauded. There is no need to take out our frustrations on her.
I do not believe all men cheat. Neither do I believe that most people who have good marriages in the western world, have them because no one ‘cheated’. Many people do not talk about the intimate details of their marriages so we really do not know what goes on. I admire this lady, not for ‘staying’ per se – really, it is not a big deal in Nigeria – but for being honest and coming out and letting other women who have decided to make their marriages work know that they are not foolish. There is life at the other side of cheating, and that life can be good.
Conversely, deciding to walk out in Nigeria might be a big deal because the society makes it difficult for a woman to walk out even when she is being abused. I admire a woman who can take her children and walk out of an abusive relationship – anywhere she is situated. It takes a strength of will to do that.
The trick is finding the balance. Do you stay and keep getting physically and emotionally abused or do you walk? Then again, are you willing to fight for what you have or do you walk out at the first sign of trouble? It is a question I really cannot answer honestly, because I have not quite been there. However, I will not presume to judge anyone who has either chosen to stay or to walk. And that is what I think those women-commenters in Oprah.com did. My own two cents! Or kobo, as the case might be.