When the Biblical Moses went up to God in Mount Sinai to receive instructions for the children of Israel, he came back with the 10 Commandments and then made the following announcement to Aaron and the congregation: “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I bargained God down to only 10 Commandments. The bad news is that God wanted ‘thou shall not commit adultery’ to stay in.”
This is a time-honoured joke I have heard a few times where I live.
The following stories in my expression this week are experiences of married people who fell into the swamp of adultery and got caught in the web of the venom. Readers, for privacy reasons, I will refrain from mentioning the real names of persons involved. When Lillian and Leonard met in Lagos about seven years ago, many people believed that it was a match made from heaven. Leonard knew that Lillian was sexually wayward, but he went ahead with the elaborate wedding that glued them together, for-better-or-for-worse. A few years into the marriage, one day, the wife brought in a boyfriend into their bedroom. The screams and moaning on the bed of adultery triggered off the attention of nosy neighbours. They called Daddy at work. “We hear screams in your house; your wife may be in trouble”. But they knew the truth. That was not the first time they witnessed similar acts. Leonard rushed home and found a stranger sexually pummelling the woman he loved on their matrimonial bed. What would I have done if I were in Leonard’s shoes? Heaven knows that I don’t know. Leonard told a few friends that he would have killed them both if he had a gun. But he had no weapon. Only his car keys. And he couldn’t kill them both. The marriage died afterwards.
Mr. Tito relocated from Nigeria to the United States a few years ago. He was happily married with two young children, six and three and a half years old. The family ran a successful Event and Party business in Lagos. They had been mulling the idea that living in the US would be better for the family; especially for their two young children. The opportunity eventually came, and they both agreed that the man should trip out first. Mr. Tito’s trip to America was to prepare the ground for the rest of the family. While in America, husband worked all manner of jobs and round-the-clock awaiting the time his wife and children would join him in Dallas. Then, I ran into Dr. John recently in the US who told me this story in a heart-wrenching counselling session. John is a medical practitioner in Lagos and a childhood friend of Tito. He was the best man at the couple’s wedding. One fateful day, a man came into the hospital he ran in Lagos with a woman seeking to get an abortion. And the woman standing before John was the beloved wife of his best friend who now lives in Dallas. Mrs. Tito had been fooling around with another man in Lagos while her husband was busting his tail off to make life easy for the family. Lagos is a hotbed of sex vultures of all kind. “Eko Ilu Ogbon”. The land that teaches a dummy a series of lessons and numbers him among the wise. Finding monogamous marriages in the city is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Adultery rules Lagos. It rules Nigeria. But Mrs. Tito was not hungry and poor. A woman does not have to be beautiful to get caught in Lagos’ crossfire of infidelity. I did not bother to ask John if he performed the abortion. “I am torn between telling my best friend the story and protecting my licence. Pastor, what do you think I should do?”; John asked me.
Thirty-seven men were in attendance in an all-men marriage seminar. They came from all manner of religious and professional backgrounds. Twenty-two of them are spiritual leaders; and the question was asked:
“How many of you have had extra-marital affairs in the last one year”?
The questioner didn’t rub in the question. He waited for a show of hands. After about a long three minutes of silence, one man raised his hand. Then, two more hands. Then, more. And then, more. It took about 15 minutes before 35 out of 37 men confessed to have slept with women other than their wives. Then, the questioner, a spiritual leader himself, raised his hand too! They became 36. He then asked:
“How many of you love your wives”?
Thirty-two raised their hands immediately. Four people who didn’t said they were not sure. One said flat-out he had no love for his wife. Then another question:
“Is it possible to love your wife and have an affair”?
Thirty-two people said ‘YES”. This was a true event. I was not present, so don’t ask me.
Then, the final question:
“How many of you will do it again”? Only one raised his hand. It was the man who said he did not love his wife.
Monogamy is a very rare find these days. Adulterous acts are all over the place. Whether it’s in America or Nigeria, men and women are breaking their oaths of “for better-or-for worse”. Even in churches that champion the one-man-one-wife ecclesiology, monogamy is only on the lips of many. Multifarious sexual acrobatics are becoming attractive. Fidelity is in its final flight away from human conscience. In the United States, adultery isn’t just a crime in the eyes of your spouse. In 21 states, cheating in a marriage is against the law, punishable by a fine or even jail time. Adultery in the states of Michigan and Wisconsin is a felony; in Maryland, the penalty is a paltry $ 10 fine. In Massachusetts, an adulterer could face up to three years in jail. Sexual activity between consenting adults is legal in Texas. In Nigeria, this issue is as confusing as the politics of the country. Adultery is free-for-all in my country.
What will you do if you caught your spouse red-handed dancing the sexual blues with another man or woman? One man told me: “I will die”. He prefers to kill himself to killing the woman who will kill him. Some single and married women see nothing wrong in having affairs with married men. “As long as he is my lover, I am cool with that”, said one woman. Many men think it’s their right to jump on different beds. After all, we are in Africa! Although there are men and women who take monogamy seriously, there are many more who don’t.
Adultery crushes emotions. The psychological impact on victims is grave. Homes have been broken, and where children are involved, lives have run into tatters. There are many people sitting in jailhouses across the US because of the harms they inflicted on cheating spouses. Men and women seem to be addicted to flings outside of their homes. In Nigeria, economics usually drives most single and married women looking outside. There is too much hunger in the land. Proof of adultery in some part of Nigeria is only a ground for divorce. In some parts of the North, an adulterous woman can face the death penalty. An extra-marital affair anywhere is all in the mind. There are many marriages that continue to survive the pressure of infidelity even in the face of harsh economic realities. The truth however is that in Nigeria, it is to adulterously hot!
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