What you need to know:
- Four brave women pen heartfelt letters to their cheating husband’s side women as they ask the hard questions
- The tension between couples can easily be sensed by the children, especially in a home where both parents are fond of each other.
Marriages fall apart for many different reasons, but one of the most cited and most challenging to overcome is the discovery that one partner has cheated.
Dealing with a cheating partner can be demoralising and traumatising. As Connie Francis, American pop singer puts it, ‘my heart has a mind of its own’, and being betrayed would spark up a million emotions especially when you have to see the person who deceived you every single day.
The tension between couples can easily be sensed by the children, especially in a home where both parents are fond of each other.
According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, surveys indicate that 15 percent of married women and 25 percent of married men have had extramarital affairs.
Infidelity is hardly a new phenomenon. According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014, about one in every five men in Nairobi aged between 15 and 49 years has cheated on his sex partner.
A 2018 survey carried out in Kenya by research firm consumer insight confirms that 24 percent of those in romantic relationships admitted to cheating on their partners. Globally, recent statistics by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy indicate that 15 percent of married women and 25 percent of married men have had extramarital affairs.
Psychologists affirm that infidelity can cause increased anxiety and depression.
“Rejection caused by infidelity is painful which destabilises the victim’s emotions. People who’ve been betrayed need to know that there is no shame in speaking out their pain to a trusted friend or therapist.
Betray cuts to the bone, but the wound can be healed. We also encourage those hurting to journal their feelings as this provides an opportunity for positive self-talk while identifying negative thoughts,” says Professor Catherine Gachutha, a Nairobi-based counselling psychologist.
Despite the pain that comes after betrayal, some victims choose silence, hoping that their partners will change only for things to grow from bad to worse.
One way to rid of pain is to pen your emotions. In this article, four women anonymously express their painful experiences of betrayal, by writing letters to their husband's mistresses.
‘I want to believe you are innocent’
Jane Atieno’s (Not her real name), Accountant in her mid-30s
I hope this letter finds you well. I knew something was amiss in October 2013. Then just a few months ago, our mutual friend disclosed that you confided that the affair had produced a three-year-old son, and he regretted betraying me.
I still wonder if my husband truly understands the pain he has caused me. I was shocked to know you were his childhood friend and I recall meeting you once at a family gathering, and I would never have thought you two had an affair. Prior to the affair, he cared for us and we were great role models to many.
I blame my husband for betraying me. I still recall how he drastically changed five years after our wedding. The perpetual abuse, condescending attitude, and carefree living were getting worse, and so were his unplanned travels, while he often arrived home late with no answer as to where he was from. He had gotten exceptionally careless and forgotten the vows he made on our wedding day.
He out rightly showed he was cheating and didn’t care for our five children aged between four and 12.
I look at my children going to school and longing for their father on days he is with you, and I don’t know what to say because they know I am hurting too.
I have wanted to believe you were/are innocent, that you were duped into a relationship with a lie, that probably I was not in existence.
My therapist says I have to forgive you if I am to heal. How I wish I knew how to do that because this pain in my heart must GO! Barely does a day pass without thoughts of you breaking up my marriage.
I am in pain and I hope you would be kind enough to understand that this man has a family. I also pray that I may gather enough strength to confront my husband and that he will be kind enough to own up to his mistakes.
‘I blame you for coming in between us’
Ann Nyongesa’s Letter (Not her real name), Teacher in her mid-40s
I am writing this letter to express how I feel since I discovered that you have secretly been dating my husband for the last three years. As a consequence, I feel like giving up on my 10-year-marriage. My life has not been the same since my sister-in-law narrated how you were introduced to her and though I have never met you, I was shown a photo you took at our friend's party and your image has never left my mind. My self-esteem is very affected and I can’t help but wonder, “did he come to you because you are slim and I added weight after giving birth to my son three years ago?”
You see I was once slim like you. Before the baby we were happy. But after our last born, I couldn’t keep the weight off and my husband changed.
This really affected me. In fact, I have been trying to work on my weight hoping to drop the kilos and go back to the body I once had.
Though we are still staying together with my hubby, things are not the same. After many confrontations about his neglect and lack of love like he used to, he confessed to me that he wants to marry a second wife and I was devastated. I keep on questioning myself, “what is it that I have not done enough as a wife that would cause my husband to marry another wife?”
I have continuously refused his suggestion of marrying you because it’s hard to imagine how I will explain this in future to my son. I am bitter when I recall how my husband always questions my sanity and he denies his wrongdoing which has led to countless fights. For the sake of peace, I decided to watch things from afar and see what would unfold.
Unfortunately, things are going from bad to worse. I blame my husband for choosing this path and I am also bitter with you for coming in between us.
You have constantly been writing messages to me taunting me on how he regrets ever marrying me and that I should forget him completely. Worse, you have been posting photos of the trips you had prior to being pregnant.
You have gone to an extent of posting on your social media accounts that you are expecting his child which has ruined our marriage reputation to those who know us. It breaks my heart and I wish you would be kind enough to think of the damage you are causing.
It hurts me that when my husband comes home early, you always call him to come to you and eventually this leads to days of not seeing him.
I am tired and sick and I feel like giving up on this marriage.
I hope as you read this letter, God will open your eyes to see what you have caused us.
‘It’s hard to think I’m sharing my husband with you’
Fatuma Wanjiru’s Letter (Not her real name), Housewife in her early 40’s
I trust this letter will find you well and make you leave my husband at last. It pains me when I see my 12-year-marriage ripped apart.
I started noticing the cracks a year ago when I had just given birth to our precious boy.
Suddenly, all I could think of was you. I learnt about your affair through my husband’s personal assistant and he narrated how my husband spends nights in clubs with you. At first, it was hard to believe until his personal assistant told me about the club you love hanging out in. I secretly went to the club, and it was heart-wrenching to see you two enjoying your dates while I was psychologically affected.
I spent most days last year venting out my pain on the Facebook page ‘Kilimani moms’ but I realised I was hurting myself more as this never changed the fact that you were still dating my husband.
Day by day my heart has been bleeding hoping he would get back to the loving man he once was prior to the affair.
It's not easy to think that I am sharing my husband with you, especially in this era of diseases. My husband has been answering your calls even in the middle of the night and I am always in tears wondering, “don’t you have a brain to know you can’t call at night knowing he is married?”.
Constantly you have been sending my husband nudes and even when I delete your number, I still find it on my husband’s phone.
I have tried confronting my husband but unfortunately, this leads to fights at home. Today, I have decided this affair is not going to hold me. As I write this letter, I simply pray that thoughts of you will leave my mind and God will give me the strength to forgive my husband. I also hope that you will understand the pain you have caused us and leave my husband alone.
‘I wish you could understand my pain’
Joyce Mwende’s letter (Not her real name), Business woman in her late 40’s
Things haven’t been easy since I discovered your affair with my husband six months ago. I recall seeing your calls and flirty texts on his phone and when I confronted him, he always blamed me for not trusting him enough. Though I have never met you in person, I have seen your images, and I can see you are short, light-skinned, and curvy. I have been hoping I would meet you and share my pain but I don’t know what the outcome of such a meeting would be. I blame my husband for abandoning us.
It pains me when I recall the vows that my husband told me 10 years ago at our wedding, “I will never make you cry because of another woman,” he told me. Now, all these words are just mere words.
What hurts me most is that your dalliance with my hubby has destroyed my teenage son who has completely disowned his father. My health has been permanently tainted this year from depression and the viral STIs and I’m not sure if you are also infected. Recently, my husband joined me for clinical tests and it was also discovered he also has STIs. Questions have been lingering on my mind about where we got the STIs since I have been faithful to him all along.
No description can accurately portray the soul-wrenching grief of the torment of betrayal. I understand healing is a journey and I have been attending counselling sessions but I must admit it's not easy. I hope that my husband will take seriously the vows he made to me. I also hope I could meet you and explain my pain and maybe you would understand my agony from a woman’s point of view.
Tips on how to deal with a cheating partner
According to Professor Catherine Gachutha, a counselling psychologist, finding out that your partner has been unfaithful can tear you apart and your marriage may be thrown into a state of crisis.
These eight tips can help you cope with the aftermath of betrayal.
- Accept your feelings: It is natural to grief the relationship you once had and you may experience shock, agitation, pain, fear, confusion, and depression
- Don’t seek revenge: Being betrayed by your partner can induce rage. Seek support from your loved ones or professional help and gradually, focus on healing and moving on.
- Take care of yourself: Try your best to eat healthy foods, sleep adequately, get some exercise, drink plenty water, and spend time with your loved ones.
- Avoid the blame game: Don’t blame yourself for the betrayal. Instead, focus on your strengths and be patient in your healing process.
- Keep your children out of it: Even if you have decided to end your marriage, sharing details about an affair with your children will heighten their anxiety. Handle the issue respectfully and let the children know they can rely on your support system.
- Seek counselling: An experienced therapist can help you communicate better and process feelings of guilt, shame, and whatever feelings you might be having.