Say, two years ago you started a forbidden relationship with a married man. You knew from the start that he was another woman’s husband.
Or maybe you didn’t. You weren’t one of those women who date married men for the convenience of not having him around all the time. You actually wanted him for yourself.
After months of suggestions, plans and pressure, Prince Charming finally leaves his wife and kids for you. Maybe he has concrete plans to settle down with you.
Maybe he doesn’t but he makes it clear that he is now all yours. Now what?
“When he moved out of their house into the bigger house I had found for us, it sent me into a panic,” 29-year-old Mukui recalls the first weeks after her married lover left his wife for her.
Their relationship started out as a fling. She suspected that he was married at the start. By the time her fears were confirmed, she was already in too deep.
Then it became a competition between her and his wife, with Mukui putting pressure on the man to leave his wife for her, something he eventually did, 18 months after they first met.
Now that it was no longer a competition, he stopped looking as attractive as he had when he was already taken, but this hasn’t even been her biggest problem.
PANIC WANED, SUSPICION SET IN
When the panic of taking in a married man into her home waned, suspicion set in.
“I am suspicious of everything. This has been made worse by the fact that I already know that he is a liar. At first, I was suspicious of the good terms between him and his wife.
This got me so paranoid that I would check to see that he came back with the same underwear every time he went to see his kids,” she recalls.
Even though her man has repeatedly made it clear that he wants to commit to her, a general distrust of marriage hovers over their relationship.
“Every day seems like a competition either with his ex or with an imaginary other woman. I can’t shake off the possibility that if he cheated with me, then he might also cheat on me.
Somehow, I will always be that woman who ‘stole’ another man’s husband while he will be the man who cheated on his wife,” she says.
Statistics place the number of men who eventually leave their wives for their mistresses at five per cent. When this happens, these new marriages have a 75 to 90 per cent chance of ending up in divorce.
At a glance, Mukui’s union is on the rocks seeing as she has no faith in it herself. She, however, maintains that she won’t leave just yet because she reckons that all the hurt that she caused others will have
been for nothing if she quits.
In her book The Dating Game, author Brigid Bishop writes that other than the distrust caused by the affair, a change in dynamics is the other reason that causes marriages that started out as affairs to fail.
A sour marriage is one of the dynamics that holds together an affair. When this dynamic is removed by the man leaving his marriage, there may not be enough glue left to hold together a marriage with his
mistress, especially because this second marriage isn’t protected from the stresses of life like the affair was.
This theory proved especially true for Cherop, a 33-year-old, account manager at a public relations firm, when three years ago, her lover turned her from mistress into a wife.
She had been looking forward to the end of his marriage because she saw it as the beginning of a happy life, but it turned out to be the beginning of problems.
“Seeing as we had been together on and off for years prior to his separation, I thought that moving in would be just a continuation of our relationship, but it wasn’t.
While he lived with me and made plans for a future with me, he was acting like a single man,” she recalls.
Instead of running straight home at 9pm like he would when they dated, he was staying out late even four nights a week.
They would fight about it and he would blame her for his unhappiness and his failed marriage.
“It always came back to the affair. We lived together only seven months before we parted ways,” she says.
Ida Too, a Nairobi-based psychotherapist observes that when a man marries his mistress soon after his marriage breaks down, he changes.
“It is frustrating to the woman because while he may move in with you, he can’t commit to you immediately. He needs some time to be single again,” she says.
When he finally does this, you may not seem like the right match for him. You may have served well as an escape from his marital stress but you may not serve well as a life partner.