I finally read Ekene Onu’s The Mrs. Club and if you have read the book, you’ll know that infidelity is discussed in it. I have not read the In My Dreams It Was Simpler book, but I’ve heard there’s a mistress so I think it’s safe to say infidelity also shows up in that book. A recent visit to The Talkaholic revealed that the topic of unhealthy relationships (though Harry wasn’t just talking about romantic relationships) were on his mind. And every now and then, Solomon Sydelle brings us a TTTEC scenario on the topic of infidelity.
The antics of celebrities with regard to cheating has been a hot topic in the news this year, but to be honest, what happens among celebrities doesn’t concern me too much. When they’re doing good things, I like to use them as inspiration, and I’m always sad to hear of infidelity, but people who say things like “But she’s so beautiful! How could someone cheat on her?” or “Imagine: he’s with Halle Berry and still he wants to cheat?!”, annoy me. These stars are human so their star status can’t be expected to protect them from acts of betrayal that many humans deal with. (Also on my “annoying” list are people who say, upon hearing of a person who has died young: “Oh, but he was so handsome!” as if the loss is more profound because of his looks. But I digress.)
Back to infidelity. I’m curious about the idea of cheating among Nigerians. I’ve heard in a number of places, including on Verastically Speakin’ in either the chatroom, or as an offhand comment when discussing relationships, a general comment to the effect that many Nigerian men cheat. A friend of mine, fellow Yoruba girl and blogger, has mentioned to me once or twice that Nigerian men will cheat; it’s only a matter of time. Of course, Nigerian men don’t have the monopoly on infidelity (and I’m certainly not saying they do, but keep in mind that I’m Nigerian, this blog is focused on things from my Nigerianish perspective, so that’s why I’m talking about cheating by Nigerians). Men don’t only cheat with single women, so of course this means Nigerian women cheat; in fact, a recent Verastically Speakin’ cohost admitted that she cheated in the past. Anyway, Nigerian women cheating seems to be a less hotly discussed topic than Nigerian men cheating (or maybe it’s the people I talk to?).
I’m not ready to accept that cheating is practically a given in any relationship I enter into with a Nigerian man, and I’m even less prepared to accept that if there is infidelity on the part of my boyfriend and/or husband, my job is to remain in the relationship. I am so thankful that I can say that I am a forgiving person (I wasn’t always!). I used to be a grudge holder, until I realized that holding a grudge makes me feel like crap. It also helped that my dad has always been such a strong example of not letting the sun go down on one’s anger. He was often the one to extend the olive branch to me, even when he was the wronged party. The result is that if someone apologizes to me, I will tend to forgive (and even if they don’t apologize, I’ll try to move on). It doesn’t mean that the hurt won’t linger for some time after that but I make every attempt to leave the incident in the past and move forward with the person.
However, I strongly believe this “moving forward” business will fall apart when it comes to dealing with cheating. If, God forbid, a boyfriend or husband cheats on me, regardless of whether or not he asks for forgiveness, I’ll forgive him because it’s a big step in moving forward. But when I say moving forward, I mean moving forward without him! At this stage in my life, I have a hard time believing that it’s possible for someone to dabble in infidelity just once. It’s like trusting me to only eat just one skittle out of a whole bag of the candy: It. Is. Not. Possible. Better you don’t give me the bag!
I have expressed this opinion before and have been asked what I would do if I had children with my philandering husband, especially since no Nigerian man will allow me to leave him and take his children. I think the fact that I live in North America gives me some confidence about how I would make this decision work. It wouldn’t be easy and it wouldn’t be ideal, and I know I’d be called selfish by many, especially those in our community, but I guess I’m selfish enough to believe that I should be able to be married to someone who will be focused on me as his wife, his one and only, and on any children that we have together, and not look for fulfilment elsewhere.
In order to make sure that it’s well understood that cheating is a huge deal breaker for me, I always make sure that guys I’m talking to know this, well before they’ve made up their mind regarding this crazy chick that is GNG. I don’t need a man who is farting out one hundred dollar US bills, he doesn’t have to have a face (or body) that puts Taye Diggs’s to shame, he doesn’t have to be able to buy my love with expensive gifts (shebi I said a bag of skittles will make my day!). But he cannot cheat!
In addition to making sure he knows my very strong feelings on the matter, I will do my part to have a relationship that is full of communication. In loving a relationship, both parties try to do things that will please the other, so I will work hard to not let myself go, I will strive to grow with my husband (not apart), and I’ll prioritize our time together, even if that means paying for a babysitter every now and then. This doesn’t mean I think that if I don’t do these things, my man has a license to cheat, but I expect relationships to be hard work and you get from them what you put in. (But I’m not ready to do hard work if the topic at hand is infidelity! Maybe I need special prayers!)
Despite all this talk, the way some people talk about infidelity, I wonder if I’ve just been blessed to be surrounded by great examples of loving relationships, relationships that are doing what romance novels did for me as a teen
(and in my 20s). Maybe I should just “smarten up” and have a contingency plan for how I will forgive a philandering husband and accept him back into my life and heart instead of planning out I will make my new life without him, but let me be frank: I’m not ready to believe that most Nigerian men cheat, and it’s my job to “deal with it”.
Am I naive?