By Funke Egbemode
Why would a woman leave her matrimonial home if her husband is just taking a second wife? Is that a stupid question, an unfeeling, insensitive one? Because from where I'm standing, I think it is dumb and defeatist for a wife who has laboured in her husband's vineyard for years to abandon the fruits of her labour just because 'Chairman' has decided to bring his sweet 16 home. And I hear women do it these days. Very annoying, too.
This is one of the repercussions of going into marriage without shock absorbers. If a woman is not prepared for the thorns that come with the bed of roses, every storm will throw her. Now, I am the first to admit that the sight and or sound of a second wife is perhaps one of the biggest storm difficult to weather in marriage. It is like your husband telling you that you are no longer enough woman or good enough for him. A new wife feels like your replacement, like your nemesis. You begin to wonder what you didn't do and where you went wrong. If you had not met her, you send friends, siblings to check her out.
Is she more beautiful? Is she richer? Is your husband tired of a school teacher wife and prefers this new corporate executive? All the answers most likely will leave you feeling less than a woman. And all of them are lies of the devil. You are still a great woman, a wonderful wife. Your husband is the one who has changed. He's the one who is not as great or wonderful as he used to be to you. He needs revalidation that he is still attractive and a long-distance runner in bed. He has issues with his libido, self esteem and inborn greed for variety. Tell yourself it is not you because most of the time a man needs no excuse to stray or take second wife.
He just wants what he wants. An incoming second wife is not just a headache but a blinding migraine. The first wife has every right to hurt and she should not bottle it up either. Cry in your closet. Never in the open. Don't curse your husband because he will always be your husband. What is the use of a cursed husband anyway? You need to consider all the bills he still has to pay and his conjugal duties. Hmmm, don't revoke his license to your bed. You can suspend the license. You can amend his rights but what the heck, you don't want to try another third leg at this age, do you? When your anger and aggro are over and dealt with, it is better to return to familiar terrain with twists and turns you know how to navigate.
I am not glossing over the threat that a second wife poses and the pain of sharing your husband. It could put the most virtuous woman in a murderous mode, but you have to start dealing with it. You could start by asking yourself if you gave that marriage your best shot. Did you do all within your power to keep a second wife out? If your conscience absolves you of every blame, then you must forgive yourself and ask the next question; can you still prevent the arrival of this second wife? If you can, then go ahead and do whatever you can. If it is a fait accompli, cut your losses and accept it. If it is a baby that has already been born, it is a pregnancy that you cannot abort. It means the wicked have done their worst; the wicked in this case being your husband.
So, should you now pack your bags and kids and leave your home for a newcomer? If you do, how else would you describe admitting defeat? Jumping out of your own car because a rat or a cockroach has strayed on to your back seat is cowardice. No woman worth her salt should abandon the home she built for another. Unless and until a marriage becomes life-threatening, I do not support any kind of separation. It is only when your marriage starts feeling like a maximum prison and you feel like you are on death row, that is when I think a break is in order.
That is when you need to effect your own prerogative of mercy. Note here that this is my very personal opinion. But if a man wants two wives, you should let him feel the full weight of his decision and choice. If a woman wants to become a second wife, why should you let her become the only wife? Imagine leaving your husband of 20 years for a 30-year-old woman; sometimes the man may even decide to marry a 26-year-old after 30 years of marriage.
Why should you let him get away with a fresh start by moving out? The husband of two wives must pay the price for his prize. If he wants the warmth of two women in his bed, he must be ready to face the intricacies of a sleeping roaster. He must counsel all the children. He now has two sets of in-laws and that comes with its own challenges and expenses. If the new wife wants three children, you as the first wife should encourage her. If a man wants to buy JAMB and WAEC forms at 70, we should let him. If he wants to be young again, you must let him. But a woman who abandons her matrimonial home for a second wife is a coward like no other. It's not like the newcomer is gonna stay in your bedroom or on your head.
Let the man figure out the new arrangements. Let him love you equally. Let him decide if he wants a branch office or he wants both of you at his headquarters. Let him shuttle between two homes. He needs the exercise Don't fight anybody. The pain may be indescribable, but it won't hurt so badly after a while. You can move over for the latest addition if you wish. You could also let her fight for the space she so desperately craves. You can refuse to cook. You can take a long holiday. Anything but moving out, even screaming is allowed. But every wife must defend her territorial integrity. Don't let his second wife become the only wife.