Nothing irks a busy hardworking wife more than to think that while she is busy making a living to carry her own share of the family’s burden, her husband is busy romping in a steaming session with the maid.
But despite how this may look like a story line from a Nollywood movie, more often than not, in real life, the issue pushes many marriages to the edge of the precipice.
Saturday Punch spoke with a number of individuals who offered insights into this issue, highlighting the fact that the scenario plays out more in the homes of career women.
One of such women, Mrs. Adedolapo, a mother of two, told our correspondent that she became certain that her husband was sleeping with her help when the very respectful 22-year-old housemaid she brought into her home in February 2015 started to “look at me from the end of her nose.”
She said, “The main reason I told the girl to come work for me in the first place was because she was very respectful. I met her when I went for an outreach in Yenagoa and brought her to Lagos.
“She did everything perfectly; she was very nice and treated my children well. But after six months, I noticed that if I walked in and she greeted me by kneeling, she would mouth a welcome to my husband with her back turned. I also realised that this did not seem to bother my husband.
“Later I realised that her attitude toward me also changed. All the respect went out of the window. Anytime she did something wrong and I got angry, she looked at me as if I was a mere chicken. I also noticed that my husband no longer spoke to her in my presence. If I told her to do something and I scolded her for doing it wrongly, rather than my husband to add his voice, he would look away.
“I noticed that she no longer respected or feared my husband anymore. I became really sure something was going on between both of them when I noticed she cooked when we had left the house one day. I got home that evening and asked why she cooked again.
“She said oga (my husband) came home in the afternoon and was hungry and she had to cook for him. My husband had never been in the habit of coming home from work to eat in the afternoon. I sent her packing in August last year.”
Mrs. Adedolapo, who works in a travel agency, said she did not confront her husband and neither did she give him any explanation as to why she sent the housemaid packing soon after.
“The surprising thing is that he never asked me why I sent the lady away,” she said.
The narrative given by Mrs. Adedolapo, it turned out, is not strange to many other career women, who suffer the ignominy of unknowingly sharing their marital bed with their maids.
Another version of a similar story came from a woman who works with a new generation bank in Lagos. She told our correspondent that she had been married for 10 years until 2014 when she separated from her husband. Reason? Her husband was sleeping with their housemaid too.
“We have been on this matter now for almost two years. Our families have been trying to settle the matter. But if I forgive him, it is hard to forget. If I could erase what he did from my mind, then I would forgive him completely,” the woman said.
In the email by which our correspondent communicated with her, she called herself Mrs. AngryNaijaWoman. She said she would prefer to be referred to as that in this report.
Mrs. AngryNaijaWoman told our correspondent that she first noticed the sign of trouble when she realised that her housemaid was showing symptoms of pregnancy.
“The girl was 24 at the time. She had been with us for three years. The first week I started noticing some physical changes in her body, I jokingly told her that I hoped she was not pregnant. She said no. But by the third week, I was sure something was not right. So, I took her for a test and it was confirmed that she was pregnant.
“I was shocked. I took her home and sat her down to tell me who impregnated her. She first gave the name of a younger cousin of my husband’s, who was staying with us for some time.
“I informed my husband and we summoned his cousin, because he had got his own accommodation not long before that. All this while, I was agonising over how my housemaid could be pregnant under our noses, my husband too expressed surprise.
“When my husband’s cousin came and we told him what the housemaid had said, he denied flatly that he was responsible for the pregnancy. But surprisingly, he told me that he had actually slept with her a number of times but always ensured he wore condom.
“We kept pestering the lady for answers, asking her if any other person was involved. I decided to calm down and took her inside to ask her privately. That was when she told me that my husband also slept with her. I beat the hell out of her but she kept repeating that she was telling the truth.
“I confronted my husband and he too pounced on the lady and started beating her for lying against him. Yet, she maintained her stand. I threatened my husband that we would let the lady give birth and do a DNA test on her child. But my friend told me that if I did that, it would be like shooting myself in the foot. I personally took the lady for an abortion and sent her packing afterwards.”
Mrs.AngryNaijaWoman told our correspondent that the marriage has been strained ever since.
She said even though her husband continued to deny the accusation, she knew in her heart that the housemaid was telling the truth.
Asked why she took the maid for an abortion, she said she did not want to wait to find out the father of the child between her husband and his cousin.
“It was clear they were both sleeping with the maid without the other knowing,” she said.
As harsh as it may sound, Mrs. AngryNaijaWoman’s case is one that has become all too common.
In November 2015, a middle-aged woman, Kabirat Jimoh, approached the Oshodi Customary Court in Lagos over her husband’s cavorting with their housemaid. But the husband allegedly took the affair a notch higher. Kabirat was in tears as she told the court that her husband, Sefiu, had to abandon his matrimonial home altogether and moved in with the housemaid in an apartment he rented for the teenager.
Kabirat said he allegedly abandoned her and their three children to live in a one-room apartment.
She told the court that they had been married for 17 years. She said she had travelled briefly when her husband started sleeping with the girl. According to her, she only knew something was going on between the two of them when the girl became insolent.
“Whenever I asked her to do a chore, she would look me in the eye and tell me that she was tired. Whenever I threatened to take her back to our village, my husband would threaten to deal with me,” she said.