He is cheating on me
I try to understand what this means.
The position of the man in a relationship has changed gradually over the decades, with his authority/powers on the wane. He has watched helplessly as the woman continues to push the line further into his territory. The woman, on the other hand has become increasingly emboldened to claim more authority, bringing about the change in language such as ‘he is cheating on me’. 70 years ago, no woman(wife or friend) in this part of Africa dared say anything like that.
Now some even go as far as threatening divorce if the man continued to ‘cheat’. The men folk have been coerced into equally using same expression: she is cheating on me. Although, more appropriate to be used on a woman by a man, instead of using such expressions as: unfaithful, immoral, promiscuous, etc the man’s continued use of such expressions further legitimizes the woman’s invasion of his territory.
In most African traditions, the woman can only say; my man is seeing another woman, whom he may even formally bring into the house as a wife. Or in more modern terms say, my man is keeping a side chick. It is inappropriate for a woman to say her husband is cheating on her. This tends to connote a sense of equality in commitment to faithfulness in the contract.
The fact remains that this forced sense of equality is misplaced because it simply does not exist even today. I do not know of any African culture where the man is made to promise at the point of marriage that he will not have an affair with any other woman afterwards whereas the woman is well understood to promise not to have an affair with any other man as long as the husband is alive. Nowadays, they not only strip the man of traditional powers, date other men while still in marriage, but threaten divorce should the man ‘cheat’. Who said women are not powerful?
This trend may not be far from the thoughts in the mind of the famed movie star, Pete Edochie, who recently advised women to drop a packet of condoms in the ‘cheating’ husband’s bag/pocket instead of spoiling for battle. Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong advocate of one man one woman even at high school level. Is the trend better for the marriage institution? Are marriages more successful now than they were 70 years ago?
Are partners and their offspring happier today than they were 70 years ago? Please note that this trend is more prevalent among women who have acquired a high level of western education, and so is increasing marriage failures among them. Is the trend better for the family? If yes, then do nothing but encourage it. If no, how can it be checked for the good of all?