Nothing irks a busy hardworking wife more than to think that while she is busy making a living to carry her own share of the family’s burden, her husband is busy romping in a steaming session with the maid.
But despite how this may look like a story line from a Nollywood movie, more often than not, in real life, the issue pushes many marriages to the edge of the precipice.
Saturday PUNCH spoke with a number of individuals who offered insights into this issue, highlighting the fact that the scenario plays out more in the homes of career women.
One of such women, Mrs. Adedolapo, a mother of two, told our correspondent that she became certain that her husband was sleeping with her help when the very respectful 22-year-old housemaid she brought into her home in February 2015 started to “look at me from the end of her nose.”
She said, “The main reason I told the girl to come work for me in the first place was because she was very respectful. I met her when I went for an outreach in Yenagoa and brought her to Lagos.
“She did everything perfectly; she was very nice and treated my children well. But after six months, I noticed that if I walked in and she greeted me by kneeling, she would mouth a welcome to my husband with her back turned. I also realised that this did not seem to bother my husband.
“Later I realised that her attitude toward me also changed. All the respect went out of the window. Anytime she did something wrong and I got angry, she looked at me as if I was a mere chicken. I also noticed that my husband no longer spoke to her in my presence. If I told her to do something and I scolded her for doing it wrongly, rather than my husband to add his voice, he would look away.
“I noticed that she no longer respected or feared my husband anymore. I became really sure something was going on between both of them when I noticed she cooked when we had left the house one day. I got home that evening and asked why she cooked again.
“She said oga (my husband) came home in the afternoon and was hungry and she had to cook for him. My husband had never been in the habit of coming home from work to eat in the afternoon. I sent her packing in August last year.”
Mrs. Adedolapo, who works in a travel agency, said she did not confront her husband and neither did she give him any explanation as to why she sent the housemaid packing soon after.
“The surprising thing is that he never asked me why I sent the lady away,” she said.
The narrative given by Mrs. Adedolapo, it turned out, is not strange to many other career women, who suffer the ignominy of unknowingly sharing their marital bed with their maids.
Another version of a similar story came from a woman who works with a new generation bank in Lagos. She told our correspondent that she had been married for 10 years until 2014 when she separated from her husband. Reason? Her husband was sleeping with their housemaid too.
“We have been on this matter now for almost two years. Our families have been trying to settle the matter. But if I forgive him, it is hard to forget. If I could erase what he did from my mind, then I would forgive him completely,” the woman said.
In the email by which our correspondent communicated with her, she called herself Mrs. AngryNaijaWoman. She said she would prefer to be referred to as that in this report.
Mrs. AngryNaijaWoman told our correspondent that she first noticed the sign of trouble when she realised that her housemaid was showing symptoms of pregnancy.
“The girl was 24 at the time. She had been with us for three years. The first week I started noticing some physical changes in her body, I jokingly told her that I hoped she was not pregnant. She said no. But by the third week, I was sure something was not right. So, I took her for a test and it was confirmed that she was pregnant.
“I was shocked. I took her home and sat her down to tell me who impregnated her. She first gave the name of a younger cousin of my husband’s, who was staying with us for some time.
“I informed my husband and we summoned his cousin, because he had got his own accommodation not long before that. All this while, I was agonising over how my housemaid could be pregnant under our noses, my husband too expressed surprise.
“When my husband’s cousin came and we told him what the housemaid had said, he denied flatly that he was responsible for the pregnancy. But surprisingly, he told me that he had actually slept with her a number of times but always ensured he wore condom.
“We kept pestering the lady for answers, asking her if any other person was involved. I decided to calm down and took her inside to ask her privately. That was when she told me that my husband also slept with her. I beat the hell out of her but she kept repeating that she was telling the truth.
“I confronted my husband and he too pounced on the lady and started beating her for lying against him. Yet, she maintained her stand. I threatened my husband that we would let the lady give birth and do a DNA test on her child. But my friend told me that if I did that, it would be like shooting myself in the foot. I personally took the lady for an abortion and sent her packing afterwards.”
Mrs.AngryNaijaWoman told our correspondent that the marriage has been strained ever since.
She said even though her husband continued to deny the accusation, she knew in her heart that the housemaid was telling the truth.
Asked why she took the maid for an abortion, she said she did not want to wait to find out the father of the child between her husband and his cousin.
“It was clear they were both sleeping with the maid without the other knowing,” she said.
As harsh as it may sound, Mrs. AngryNaijaWoman’s case is one that has become all too common.
In November 2015, a middle-aged woman, Kabirat Jimoh, approached the Oshodi Customary Court in Lagos over her husband’s cavorting with their housemaid.
But the husband allegedly took the affair a notch higher. Kabirat was in tears as she told the court that her husband, Sefiu, had to abandon his matrimonial home altogether and moved in with the housemaid in an apartment he rented for the teenager.
Kabirat said he allegedly abandoned her and their three children to live in a one-room apartment.
She told the court that they had been married for 17 years. She said she had travelled briefly when her husband started sleeping with the girl. According to her, she only knew something was going on between the two of them when the girl became insolent.
“Whenever I asked her to do a chore, she would look me in the eye and tell me that she was tired. Whenever I threatened to take her back to our village, my husband would threaten to deal with me,” she said.
However, with all these kind stories as the backdrop, Saturday PUNCH found out ways many career women are devising to prevent ‘sexcapades’ between their housemaids and husbands.
Saturday PUNCH spoke with Mrs. Rachael Fasina, who explained that when she found out that many housemaids deliberately go out of their way to seduce their bosses’ husbands, she decided never to leave her housemaid alone at home.
“When I took the children to school in the morning, I took her along with me to work. She would stay in the office till we closed and we went home together. I thought it was better not to give chance to any temptation. But I had to later let her go because people advised that there was no point keeping her if I could not leave her alone at home,” she said.
Fasina said she later opted for a middle-aged house help, who comes around the house in the morning and leaves at night because “that is safer.”
“I don’t want a young lady that would come and wear mini-skirts in my house,” she said.
Beyond “safer” older house helps, who probably would not tempt randy husbands, many career housewives also resort to employing their relations.
But another career woman, told our correspondent that if a man does not have sexual restraints, even the wife’s relations would not be off limit to him.
“If I am going to take a relation as housemaid, I would rather take my husband’s relation,” the woman said.
Another housewife, Mrs. Omolola Fadumiye, a busy woman, who embarks often on business travels, told our correspondent that even though she had no reason to be worried about such ‘sexcapades’ by housemaids, many women she knows have been forced to get house helps that would not have “tempting features.”
She said, “It may sound funny but prevention is better than cure. For some women, employing such a housemaid would be like having a fire on one’s roof and going to sleep.
Fadumiye said, “Frequent cases of many husbands sleeping with housemaids are enough to scare any woman. But, housemaids are necessary evil. I have always imagined it. First of all, I don’t trust men. Personally, God helping me, I would not allow any unnecessary familiarity between my housemaid and family; not even with my children let alone my husband.
“I will always as a matter of duty, prepare my husband’s meals. That is one thing that causes too much familiarity. Whatever it takes, I prepare his meals. I won’t also allow the maid to stay behind when my husband is in and I need to go out.
“Most importantly, and with all modesty, I satisfy my husband sexually. Any man that will look at me and still have feelings for my maid will be insane. But even unattractive housemaids are not enough to keep some randy men at bay.”
But not all the career women who employ housemaids feel threatened by any possibility of cavorting going on behind their back.
Like Fadumiye, Mrs. Nkoyo Eze, told our correspondent that whether the housemaid is voluptuous, has a large derriere, or looks like a princess, she is not bothered.
“Actually, I am about to get another housemaid now. I am never bothered by the issue of husbands sleeping with their housemaids because I trust my man.
“I look out for neatness in housemaids. The person must be able to smile and have a happy outlook. I am not too bothered about physical characteristics like whether the chest size is too much or anything. You have to see me to understand why I am not really threatened by that.
“I would want to know if the person can handle my children appropriately. I try to look for someone who is not afraid of hardwork.
“But I don’t allow my housemaids to wear skimpy dresses around the house. Not for any reason other than that I don’t want my children to learn bad things. I am modest in my dressing and cannot allow my housemaid to do what I would not.
“But beyond all these, I am not really bothered or threatened by how beautiful the housemaid is. I have many friends who cannot employ a young lady as housemaid.
I, on the other hand, cannot employ someone who is below 18 because of Nigerian labour laws. I also cannot employ someone who is too old because I don’t feel comfortable sending someone who is old enough to be my mother around the house.”
But the reasons for sexual escapades between husbands and housemaids may be deeper than many people think, psychologists have explained.
Prof. Adepeju Omoteso explained that when some women relinquish some of their matrimonial duties to a housemaid, it gets to a stage when the brain of the husband separates the personality of the individual (housemaid) from the individual (female).
According to her, if such a man does not rein in his sexual urges, he would start to see the housemaid as a ‘female’ who has all the characteristics of his wife and who can satisfy him equally like his wife and not like the young lady who is in the house for solely domestic duties.
The don said, “There are so many of these kinds of reports out there. Even in my neighbourhood, there is a recent case like that. There are many reasons for this.
Sometimes, it usually boils down to the fact that the wife is not readily available at home and the housemaid is always there.
“If the housemaid does all the work, cleans the bedroom for them and even prepares the food for the man of the house, if he also feels deprived sexually, it would get to a time when the man would begin to see the housemaid as the alternative.
“When it comes to issues like that, the man is not seeing the lady as the housemaid anymore but just another ‘female’ who can give him sexual satisfaction.
“Sometimes, the husband sleeps with the housemaid even when she is very young. Women should bear this in mind and ensure that housemaids do not do everything in the home to the point of replacing them. I am also a very busy woman but that does not mean I allow my housemaids to go beyond their boundaries when it has to do with my duties in the home.”
Prof. Oni Fagbohungbe, a psychologist at the University of Lagos, explained that people need to understand that sex is a physiological need just like food.
According to him, people’s quest for sex is just the same way they quest for food, even though the society has put in place restrictions on whom one can have it with or not.
He said, “Availability and compatibility are very important in a marriage. In a situation where the wife is a career woman and she loves her job more than the home, the need for sex will be triggered in the man especially if the stimuli is present in the housemaid. If the husband is not a strong-willed man or one with dignity, he would sleep with the house help when the wife is not around.
“The moment the thought surfaces in the mind of a man, two personality structures come in; the id will trigger it, pushing the man to go and do it, while the ego will come there and say, ‘You need sex? That is a lady, why not simply do it with her?’ The superego, which is gentle and cautious, comes in and says, ‘Don’t do this thing.
What if she gets pregnant or your wife comes in now?’ But if the id, which is the strong-willed, dominates the superego, the man goes ahead to commit the act.
“But we must realise that there are stakeholders in this type of situations. The wife is one while the husband is another. The househelp is also a stakeholder because she has an ambition. The househelp probably wants to be the madam of the house too.
“Some of them are from poor homes and are just looking for a break in life. They have ambition and they grab any opportunity that would assist them to fulfill that ambition.”
According to Prof. Fagbohungbe, there is need for husbands and wives to create time for their sexual duties.
He said problem always arises when men stomach sexual dissatisfaction but look for avenues to express their fantasies. On the other hand, he said women must desist from pretending about their sexual prowess because they do not want to be labelled as promiscuous.
“The right communication is important. There is nothing wrong in the husband telling his wife that he does not enjoy how she is doing it. Husband and wife need to discuss sex. It is part of their matrimonial responsibilities,” he said.