I began to see this brother more often than not. We got talking and unconsciously I became attached to him. The truth is, I didn’t really know what to look for in a potential husband since I didn’t grow up with a proper father figure.
It did not take long for me to say yes when he first proposed. I said yes not because I had any leading or witness from God but because he took up all my social space as well as being eager to prove to my friends that I also had the capacity to attract a man to my life. Before this brother came to my life most of the brothers who came my way did not appeal to me or I did not give them the opportunity to propose. But this brother, my estranged husband had some advantage because I thought my pastor has some spiritual leading. I found out much later that he just acted basically out of a yearning to see me married.
Within a year after he proposed we got married. The marriage was simple. My estranged father had died two years before my husband proposed so he could not witness the ceremony. But my mother who was now 67-years-old was overwhelmed with joy which knew no bounds. She was so excited that I was going to the altar at last. My brothers and sisters were all happy for me. The church was particularly excited and did everything to make the wedding ceremony a memorable one. I probably would like to add that it is very pertinent that churches could help in placing emphasis in doing thorough investigations into the lives of intending couples, much more than on the wedding ceremony alone.
An important cue of impending problems was when my husband insisted that he would not want a church wedding even though we would hardly spend any extra money. Our reception would have been free at the church’s hall. He insisted on a low key celebration. We only went to court and later sought for the blessing of the pastor. My pastor was curious why we opted for this choice and he thought maybe I was pregnant. But I assured him I was not. My husband who by now had been showing a lot of purported zeal in God’s work, told the pastor that he was not too comfortable attracting so much attention, that his mother’s spiritualist had cautioned her against such and he didn’t want her to feel pressured.
He came with a handful of friends and relatives to pay the bride price. There were just two or three aged persons in the team. The whole ceremony did not last for more than two hours as they insisted they were still travelling back to their village in Edo State that night. But all that did not matter to me. I was so glad to be married.
I didn’t know all these were signs to warn me that I was heading for the rocks. Later I learnt that he was not in the good books of a number of his elderly relatives due to his lack of credibility. We got married all the same after a brief ceremony in a court on Lagos Island. The wedding ring was quite a delight for me. I walked around the neighbourhood and was really proud to be married. But about three months into our marriage I began to see some shades of my husband’s deceptive character. He started coming home very late. At first I thought it was due to his kind of job.
He had just secured a job shortly after our marriage as a sales representative of a manufacturing company or so I thought. There were times he would spend days outside our home. I did not really bother because he was showing so much apparent zeal in God’s work. He had enrolled in the church’s Bible School which would qualify him to be a pastor. That gave me some kind of assurance that my husband was a man seeking the things of God and didn’t make me sensitive to tell tale signs around him.
But as the days unfolded, I began to see a number of signs that got me worried. Is this the person I married or somebody else? That was the question that kept running through my heart. There was a time I stumbled on a packet of cigarette in his car. Apparently the packet was wrapped in cellophane. When I confronted him rather than give me an answer he grew annoyed. He wondered why I would ever come off with such thought. I felt ashamed of myself.
He made me realize it was a colleague of his who forgot it in his car. I took his word then because I saw him as a fervent brother in the Lord. Later it dawned on me I was being fooled. Whenever I smelt cigarette smoke on his clothes, he would narrate how he had been evangelizing amongst drug addicts. All these perceived commitment to serve and obey God never let me scrutinize him more. So I believed him. He was a committed worker or so I thought, always in one program or the other. I could not reconcile that with many other things I started noticing.
There was a time I stumbled on text messages on his phone that were too compelling to ignore. A lady had asked him for money to carry out an abortion. I fumed and took the message to him. How dare you read through my mail? He retorted with much indignation. When he calmed down he took time to educate me on how ladies he had been counselling kept troubling him for money to do all kinds of thing. I tried to believe the best about him and let the issue go, even though as a woman I was having my doubts.
I had a long delay in having a child which was over ten years. While I was waiting on God, I never had any inkling that my husband had another family outside; girlfriends yes, but this?! I am still dazed or is it puzzled how things turned out.
My husband had learnt the terminologies and culture of the church and he could talk! Coupled with a dramatic personality, he could fool people into thinking he was a saint. I found this quite disturbing. I was quite naïve and it took me time to really see through his smoke screen. One disturbing fact I realized much later was that some people I worked with in church saw my husband’s true character and never told me. There excuse? They did not want to wreck my marriage; they saw I was naively committed to it.
The excuse of being a sales representative for a multinational manufacturing company gave him leeway in perpetuating his plans without attracting much attention. Gradually his excesses began to grow by the day. He no longer made any effort to act nice to me. Time they say reveals the intents of the hearts of men. The frequency of his travels had become quite worrisome to me. Don’t they know you are a married man? I asked him. Although I did not have a child as at then, I felt the company was too insensitive. I went to the company to inquire, or rather lodge a complaint and I was told he had stopped being a sales rep less than a year he started work in that company, this was the fifth year after he stopped being a sales rep and I never knew. That was quite a rude shock for me. While I was reeling under the impact of that shock, another shocker awaited me. He had told me that he finished from one of the premier universities in the country, only to discover he was only there for a pre degree program. He wasn’t a graduate which he had told me he was. His hanging around a couple of graduates from that university never let me question his claims. All this I found out when I went to complain at his office. This could not be true I told myself. It began to dawn on me that I didn’t know the person I was married to at all.
There were too many things I find difficult to write about this relationship. All along it seemed he had roped me into a grand scheme. After a couple of years, I would go to church and he would not come. Though he went to the Bible school, somehow his character did not change but rather seem to grow worse.
Although he is not a violent man, he had perfected the act of emotional battering. Over the years I had lost confidence in my ability in being a great achiever. All my fears gradually began to be confirmed. Although he is a smooth talker and would do everything to cover up his atrocities, there are strong evidences to show that he smokes, drinks and womanizes. There are many cases of women and young girls that have reportedly gone to bed with him. It got so bad that he started bringing them to our matrimonial bed whenever he knew I would travel or go for a retreat. As I write he says he is into business and he would use his friend’s addresses. This means he has no fixed address! After a while he told me that he was working on getting some projects from some states and he would have good money when he gets paid. But as at now I don’t think I can believe anything he tells me. My whole relationship with him has been based on falsehood.
Is he acting under a spell? That was the question I began asking myself at a point. I had started visiting pastors and prophets on mountain tops and all they kept telling me was that I had made the wrong choice. We now attend a new church because we relocated from the area where we got married. My new pastor still believes things could work out (or is he just following the church’s dogma?). I have been praying all these years, but he spends more time with the other lady. Several people from different sources have hinted me he smokes Indian hemp. I don’t even think my life is safe anymore. He has become brazen in his atrocities; I don’t even know those he is moving with now. Most of the people I knew as his friends when we married are no longer his friends. I’m more of a nervous wreck right now. I fear for my daughter I’m thinking of divorce. I am usually alone with our little daughter and I do everything alone. There is no form of material, physical, emotional, spiritual or financial support and whenever he shows up it is serious trouble. Already I have moved to live with a friend but the issue of divorce is not pulling through. I am hearing dissenting views from different pastors, even though my church does not believe in divorce.
They keep telling me that marriage is for life. That I had entered it and there was no going back. They keep telling me what God has joined together let no man put asunder and I’m beginning to ask: What if God had not joined us together? What if it was a case of being deceived into a relationship? Thank God we did not consummate our marriage in the church and even if we did, can it be said to be of God? Will God join good and bad? Will he join believer and unbeliever? There are signs to show that my estranged husband just used the church environment as a smoke screen to get what he wanted, a wife. He obviously does not have the experience of salvation. Will he experience salvation? I believe there is nothing hard for God to do. But as it is, I am a shadow of myself, I can feel my life ebbing away and my blood pressure has never been so high. Please what should I do?