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How marriage feels like once he cheats

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When I was about three months pregnant, I realized my husband wasn’t comfortable getting closer to me. At night when we sleep, he’ll sleep at the edge of the bed far away from me as though we were enemies trapped in the same cell. I would draw closer to him, put my hand around him, and sleep. By the time I would be awake again, he’ll be lying behind me and closer to the wall. I didn’t understand it so I called a meeting on it. “Dear, what’s wrong? You always create spaces between us when we sleep. Have I done something wrong?” He responded, “No you haven’t. You’re pregnant now and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the pregnancy.”

There was some honesty in his voice when he said it and somehow I bought into his explanation. We’ve been trying for a baby for almost four years until this one came along. His explanation that he didn’t want to jeopardize the pregnancy made sense though not factual. When you try and try and try and it later arrives, you treat it with all the care in the world. You don’t want to do something wrong to destroy the fruits of your labour so I understood him but I told him, “Holding me while we sleep doesn’t hurt the baby in any way. Being intimate while pregnant is still healthy.”

He accepted my explanation but found it hard to comply so each night, we continued sleeping like enemies. Sometimes he’ll pick up his pillow, go to the hall and sleep on the sofa. Intimacy came far and few between us until I gave birth. Three months or so after I’d given birth I realized I was always in the mood for some action but my husband found excuses not to do it; “You just gave birth, we have to take things slowly before another one comes when we least expected it.” “I’m very tired, dear. Please let’s sleep.” He always had an excuse each time I approach for some action.

That wasn’t my husband. If I didn’t know him, I would have accepted his excuses and draw the conclusion that he was a man who didn’t like sex but my husband liked it. Those days when our love was new, he could do it two times every day all week. When we got married and responsibilities overshadowed our daily lives, he still could do it once every day. I know this man so what changed? or he doesn’t find me appealing again because I’d given birth? Or someone else is scratching his itches so he doesn’t want mine again? These questions and more got me curious about him.

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Don’t fill a woman with questions. She won’t sleep until she finds answers to those questions. I started ploughing even in areas that didn’t need ploughing. I will search through his bag and search through his pocket for signs and traces of infidelity. I would smell his shirt to see if he had fragrances he shouldn’t have. I went through his clothes looking for strands of hairs that might have come from another woman. I didn’t find any evidence. “Maybe I’m chasing my own shadows,” I said. “It’s just much ado about nothing.”

I wanted to stop searching but he always gave me a reason not to stop. One night while asleep, I picked his phone, put his finger on the touch and it opened. I laid next to him on the bed while going through his phone. There was one particular number he had called at least three times a day for the whole week. Her name was Thess. I went to his WhatsApp looking for messages between him and Thess. There was none. So I typed “Sex” in his Whatsapp search bar and all the messages containing sex started showing and every one of those messages came between him and Thess. He had archived their chat.

I took my time and went through their messages one after the other. I saw the flirty messages and the half nudes the lady had been sending to him. At some point, the lady asked him, “So your wife continues to avoid you?” He answered, “Yes ooo but I don’t blame her, she didn’t have it easy during pregnancy.” Silly bastard, he had been telling the lady I was the one denying him when he had been the one creating a wall of Gibraltar between us.”

The messages got me angry and at the same time sad and disappointed. I didn’t know when I started sobbing but somehow the sound of my sobs got him to wake up. He saw his phone in my hands and knew what the issue was. He asked, “What are you doing with my phone, and why are you crying at this ungodly hour?” I asked, “Who’s Thess?” It took him several seconds before he attempted to lie about who she was. I said tearfully, “No need to lie. I’ve read all your messages. She’s the reason you don’t touch me anymore? You found someone new so you decided to throw me in the garbage?”

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For the first time in a very long time, he hugged me and tried to apologize. I broke free and scream at him, “Don’t touch me with your filthy hands.” The baby squirmed and began crying. I picked him up and left the bedroom. He followed us and kept asking me to forgive him. “I don’t want to give you any excuses. I’m ashamed of everything but please don’t leave me. It would never ever happen again. Just tell me what to do to prove to you that I would never do it again. Should I swear? Should I curse so if I do it again I face the consequences?”

I wasn’t listening to him. My mind was far away thinking all sort of thought; “Tomorrow morning I would pack my things and leave. I can’t live with him again.” “Or I should tell our pastor what just happened.” “No, I’ll later call his parents and tell them what I just found out.” “I swear this would be the end of us. I’m calling for a divorce.” When my mind was in deep thoughts thinking about my next step, he was down on his knees begging and making a lot of promises.” I didn’t do any of the things I thought of doing. Somehow, I was enjoying how miserable he looked and how a man of his stature could kneel and beg.

One morning he didn’t go to work. He said, “Please talk to me. I didn’t go to work so we can use today to resolve this. Just say something. Do whatever you want to do but please don’t leave me. It’s my fault and I ask you to forgive me. I wish I could explain but there’s nothing to say. I messed up, that’s all.” The pain of what he did deep went deep to the core, especially when he had been denying me all along but I had to make a decision. I told him to give me a space to clear my head. Which he did. For about a week we didn’t say a word to each other. And when we finally did, I insulted him. I called him names; cheap, hoe, idiot, any insult that came to my head I dished it out to him but he kept saying sorry.

It’s difficult to fight a man who’s not fighting back so at some point I got sober. We started talking and he started making promises; “I’ve realized my mistake. It’s unfortunate I had to go through all these just to know how much I love you and how much I want this marriage. Trust me, it won’t happen again and I’ll do everything to make this work. Just give me a chance.” From that day on, when the baby cried at night and I woke up, he’ll wake up with me and ask if there’s something he could do to help. After breastfeeding, I’ll leave the baby with him and sleep. He’ll walk around, sing lullaby until the baby sleeps before he sleeps. He came home with gifts and took me to interesting places. All of a sudden, I felt like how I used to when we were dating but I kept receiving flashes of his infidelity.

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It’s not easy to let go of the pains of a cheating partner. No matter how he changes afterward, you still carry a scar that tells you what your partner is capable of. I found myself sneaking through his phone, checking messages just to be sure. Even when I didn’t see any traces of cheating on his phone, I convinced myself that he had deleted those flirty ones. But his actions toward me remained pure. There was some authenticity to his actions, and those were the things that kept my mind at ease.

It’s been over two years since that incident but he keeps trying to win me every day. Now he worships the grounds that I walk and try so much not to put a foot wrong. On our anniversary last year, he said, “Thank you for forgiving me. You’re the reason we continue to have a beautiful life together.” I told him, “Please don’t bring that back again. I’m over it. I don’t want to remember.

Currently, I’m six months pregnant but he doesn’t hold back; every night and day, action. We are like lovers who found each other just yesterday. Too bad I had to go through such pain to rediscover the love he had always had for me. I’m not sharing my story for you to condone cheating behaviors in a loving relationship. No! I’m sharing my story to let you know that true forgiveness is only possible when repentance is genuine.

— Keyla