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When The Relationship Is No Longer Working, Do You Leave Or Stay?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

ome people can’t bear it when their relationship with their partners is no longer working and decide it is time to leave, while others will stay put and try to fix the broken fence. Njideka Nwapa-Ibuaka tries to find out how the majority of Nigerians feel about the matter.

Dear readers,

Many of us get into a rut at one time or another in our relationships and we begin to think that it is over. How many have felt this “out of love” feeling where you can’t stand your spouse? Sometimes it happens because you temporarily have eyes for someone else, or you just feel irritated by his/her behaviour. Meanwhile you have lived through this behaviour for decades but for some strange reason his sloppiness is becoming unbearable. Several things happening or not happening in your lives at this point in time may be the reason for this sudden anger and irritation. Could it be that you have been shouldering all the bills without complaining but this time you are beginning to feel used?

So I met up with my friend Nkechi who complained that she has been paying all the bills in the home plus the children’s fees but didn’t mind because her spouse, Ejike, had been out of work for about four years. Ejike then found a job almost a year ago but still did not contribute. His excuse was that he needed time to recover fully before chipping into the cost of running the home. Nkechi hated this arrangement but continued to carry her burden until one day when she found a text message from a lady in Ejike’s phone. The lady was asking him where to take her truck for service and when he would send the money he promised her. Something happened to Nkechi that day. She felt used, stupid and condemned. She could not comprehend how Ejike had taken her for granted all these years and though he was working refused to contribute to the home yet found it worthy to send money to another female. Nkechi hated him that day. Nkechi resolved to move out of the home and refused to make one more contribution to their home.

Nkechi moved out and packed up all her belongings into a storage facility and moved 2,000 miles away from the home.  It has been about two months since she moved out and though she and Ejike barely speak she insists that she is not getting a divorce from him. “I need to find myself without him, I have been beaten up, abused and striped of my finances for so long. Ejike wants to render me financially incompetent so that he can finish me off and bury me but I would not allow that.” Nkechi said.

I then asked her why she would not divorce him and start afresh, and she said: “Marriage is sacred but it is ok to seek a transfer from your spouse when it becomes unbearable, you take time off, re-group and come back.”

Woo, I learnt a valuable lesson and saw the wisdom in Nkechi’s words. I decided to do this piece on why women stay even after being in a rut for so long. I realized that couples could get into a rut for so many reasons. With Nkechi and Ejike, it was about financial and emotional instability but then it could also be boredom, lack of romance, unshared interests, and disagreements on how to raise the kids or simply a case of outgrowing each other. I embarked on my usual quest to get answers through one-on-one interviews, to get personal perspectives on matters such as this. Please note that the three women I talked to hard previously indicated to me that their marriage was no longer working. Two stayed on and are “patching it up” but one moved out.

Angela: I decided to stay for two reasons. One is that at my age (52 years) I am almost “over the hill” and not looking forward to putting in time into a relationship. Secondly, the stability of my children especially the girls is important to me. How will prospective suitors address them when it is time to get married? So for these two reasons I stay on and just mind my business. I still serve him food but we sleep in separate rooms. I do not focus on my misery. I doubt that we can even come back after all these years. We are cordial and civil towards each other.

Leslie: I got to a point where I was becoming depressed and almost crazy. I had to move out of the home. I felt he was not worth my time. Luckily the kids were grown and I kept an open home so that whenever they wished they could come to my home.  He was cheating on me and I couldn’t stand him.  It has been three years that we have been apart. I have dated as well and I feel in my heart that at some point we can come back together but though I am not craving it, I am also not shutting it down. After all, he is the father of my kids.

Grace: I stayed because I really love him and I love my kids. They are still teenagers but even if they are grown, I will still stay. I pray for him to change and not to bring disease home. He is the breadwinner and I do not know what I will do if he divorces me. My greatest fear is that he will die and leave my kids and I without a home, father and no money. So I decided to go back to school two years ago and will graduate this fall. Should anything happen to him, I am confident that I can take care of my kids. I still will not leave him but if he wants to go…

These three women in no way represent all women out there but the fact remains that many would remain in a loveless abusive relationship for reasons best known to them. How about you? Would you stay? I would love to hear from you.

Lets keep it real,


Written by Njideka Nwapa-Ibuaka/The Sun News

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