Infidelity

Faithfully Yours, Faithfully Mine!

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He takes you to be his only one. Wait, can he do that? Can a man promise fidelity? More importantly, can he keep that promise? And would you like such a promise to be made to you and to be kept like one’s life depended on it?

I hate broken promises. BUT I can handle them. I like people who keep their word, not to say that I have never had to deal with those who don’t. When you say that I am the one you love, I better be the only one you love. I will however not burn down your house, stalk you, call your mother, nor will I douse you in paraffin and set you ablaze should you not reciprocate my love for you. If we enter into an exclusive relationship, and should you decide along the way that I no longer tickle your fancy, I expect you to have the decency to let me know of this new development and thereby, give me the chance to make an informed decision concerning my future with(out) you.

I am your typical woman; she who loves jealously. She who expects love to be said, proved, showed. I share stuff; jewelry, clothes, food. I borrow stuff too; books, VCDs, shoes. But in the same way that I don’t borrow other women’s men, I don’t share mine either.

I don’t, can’t. WILL NOT share my man.

If I am faithfully yours, then I expect you to be faithfully mine. Either that, or we have a problem. This problem will have to be solved one way or another. Seeking a solution to the problem will involve you getting your act together, or me seeking the exit door. I just believe that life is easier (and safer really) that way.

These are some of the values I have held onto ever since I entered my first relationship. I don’t believe that I am the meanest person to walk the face of the earth. I most possibly could be, but I don’t believe so.

This conversation started at the Storymoja Ideagasm this past Saturday. We were discussing “Who is Writing our History” and it lead us systematically to issues infidelity. You don’t know how these things happen, they just do. My stand on relationships and infidelity was considered ‘standard’ and I was blown.

I am not the kind of woman who has no problem sharing his man with another woman. I know that I will get emotional and jealous and I might try to scratch the other woman’s face to make it unsightly. (She better be pretty – ier because it is kind to upgrade). Downgrading will just make me look bad. And I don’t like to look bad.

I look for the exit door when infidelity knocks. She enters as I leave. I can’t face her. I have grown up afraid to look infidelity in the face, and so I always let her see my back as I leave. I never confront her because I know that she has the ability to hurt ever so deeply.

I fully understand that I can only control my reaction to certain situations that I find myself in. I cannot make a man love me when he would rather not. I also expect the same man not to expect me to love him, and stay put while he loves another woman. In my books, you can love two or a hella lot of people at the same time, but you cannot be in love with more than one person at the same time.

Why do I want to be loved faithfully? Is it because I witnessed the negative effects of infidelity during my childhood and I forever sympathized with the ’cheatee’? Most probably. Could it be because, as someone pointed out during the ideagasm, I come from a family with a majority of girls and therefore my sentiments are wonted from such a family set up? Could be.

But then again, I ask myself why another woman has no qualms sharing her man with another woman? Could it be because she is not really in love with him and therefore her emotions are not stirred enough for infidelity to cut and hurt? I don’t know. I truly believe that if love is present, then infidelity should hurt. So why is another man ready to forgive and be friends with a lady who cheats on him with his friend? Why is he readily willing to look past an affair and forge a friendship even after being put through a betrayal? Is it because he believes that she will come around some day? That she will come to realize that he loves her so much and reciprocate, eventually, the love that he holds for her? Will she ever? And if she doesn’t will he be willing to continue the friendship? Don’t look at me, I honestly have no answers.

Clearly, we don’t all perceive love in the same way, nor do we want the same thing from relationships. If I did not know it before, then the Storymoja Ideagasm drove the point home.

I therefore came to the conclusion that;

We all perceive infidelity differently. One person sees it as betrayal, while another sees it as the free will (that we are all entitled to) to love whomever we love and not to suppress our true feelings for fear of offending.

Infidelity in the strict physical, sexual sense being different from emotional infidelity will have some people preferring the former and other’s the latter. One man’s meat…

When it comes to love, you are better off doing what you feel is right for you as long as you find a likeminded person and let them know what your expectations of the relationship are.

And finally, relationships vary for the simple fact that we are all different people with different upbringings and different experiences. So to each his, her gonads really.

First Published on the Storymoja Festival Blog

Modern Day Polygamy: Pick A Number

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First it was Linda Muthama. And then Cecilia Mwangi, former Miss Kenya, followed hot on her heels. Celebrities (I use this term loosely) trying to ‘justify’ their place in society; the place of a second wife. Cecilia admits that Linda’s coming out on her polygamous arrangement emboldened her to do the same.

They are vilified unjustly and they urge the modern society to stop demonizing them since polygamy is a better, far much better arrangement than monogamous families who bear the brunt of infidelity.  So a man won’t be faithful to his wife and what, we create a carnival for all promiscuous men to go on the rampage and legitimize their philandering?

When I read the articles where the two granted interviews to shed light on their lifestyle choice, I asked myself a few questions; Does the first wife have any say in this or do we give them the ‘put up or shut up’ ultimatum? Would the same women encourage their husbands to get a second wife had they been married as first wives? Better yet, if the said ‘husband’ sought wife number three, would they be ok with it? It’s still good old polygamy isn’t it?

Polygamy feeds two vices; that of a player, and a golddigger. Its hard to believe that such arrangements are borne of love when it happens only among wealthy men.We don’t see the average ‘sufferer’ trying to shoo away scores of women eager to take their (2nd, 3rd, 4th) place in their lives. If he can provide just the basics, why not give the poor man a chance?

Polygamy tells the player that when you settle down, you don’t really have to settle down. One guy even went ahead to tweet, “If Cecilia Mwangi, a whole Miss Kenya, can become a second wife, ladies who are you not to agree to such an arrangement?”

The argument that being Africans, we should not stray too far from our traditional practices, polygamy included, has been floated. Let’s not however forget that just like FGM, wife inheritance, and wife battery, some cultural practices were not really helping the society in general and women in particular. That’s why they had to be discarded at some point. Polygamy thrived in the days when women were considered as good as property. The more a man had cattle, goats, sheep, land, AND women, the wealthier they were considered. Polygamy was entertained in the days when women had neither voice nor choice. A wife had no say if one evening, her husband came home with a woman he had lusted after for a while and in a sexual gratification whim declared her his second wife. Polygamy meant that a woman could do zilch as long as cows had been taken to her father’s home to seal the deal.

It is commendable when second wives encourage their ‘husbands’ not to neglect the other family. Noble even. But it must be understood that sometimes material provision is not all a woman seeks from her husband, especially in this day and age where women are comfortably capable of taking care of their financial needs. All some women ask for is for their husband to prove that while married to him she will become his be-all and end-all, his credit card and stock market shares notwithstanding.

It’s very hard to believe that a woman would consider marrying a man if she knew that there was a chance he could bring another woman into their life and make her part of their marital home. Second wives are a result of infidelity in marriage, a breach of contract. They are always imposed on the first wife. I find that unfair.

We are trying to discourage the illicit and secretive affairs outside marriage by lauding polygamy, but aren’t polygamous marriages a product of ‘illicit and secretive affairs?’

Please help me understand polygamy will you? In my understanding, a polygamous man is a selfish man who convinces a woman to marry him. A few years (or months, doesn’t really matter) later,  he gets bored of the whole thing (loving wife included) and he goes out to play. He then brings home his game and tells the missus “Guess what wifey, I like this one too (maybe even better) I promised you that you will always be my number one didn’t I? Well, she is number two. She stays. End of story.”