As Njeri*, 33, promised to love Tony* for better or worse in front of a church full of people seven years ago, she meant every word. Her groom, however, was probably just riding along and hoping that marrying her would alter the deepest desires of his heart. You see, Tony is bisexual.
While he had only dated women up to the point where he married Njeri after a year and a half of dating, he had always been sexually attracted to men, perhaps more than he was attracted to women.
For four years, they had what she felt was a good marriage and satisfying sex life.
Tony managed to keep his sexual impulses in check. Then he fell for a young man with whom he had business dealings. A passionate affair ensued. By the time he came out to his wife, he was sure that he couldn’t continue with his life as it was.
“My first reaction was a mixture of anger, repulsion and hurt,” Njeri recalls. During his confession, he broke down and kept telling her that he would never have cheated on her with another woman, something that Njeri admits made her feel a little better about the whole situation. Still, she felt used and had a hard time accepting that the man she had trusted with her heart had lied about such a basic part of who he was.
She went through a phase where she felt a deep sense of shame, occasionally wondering if it was she who had not been feminine enough.
She even questioned whether the love and commitment had even existed to begin with. And when the reality of her situation finally sunk in, she was faced with a tough decision: to stay or to go.
“My biggest worry was that he was really gay but in denial, and that he would eventually identify as completely gay, leaving me high and dry. The fact that he was attracted to both sexes bothered me because I now saw everyone as a prospect for him to cheat with,” she says.
Mixed orientation marriage
Eventually, a job position opened up in Rwanda, offering her the escape she needed from her marriage.
She took her two sons and ran, but Njeri is yet to start seriously dating again. “It will take some time for me to be able to trust again,” she says.
But while Njeri couldn’t get past her situation, is it ever possible for a woman to look past her man’s bisexual orientation? Anabell*, 32, says, yes. She draws from experience.
She walked in on the man she loves in a telling position with his male best friend three years into their marriage. “It was too much, I fainted,” she recalls.
When she came to, she packed her clothes and her daughter’s in a huff and left for her parents’ house. Surprisingly, despite the deep shame and hurt she felt, she still wanted her husband and opted to let her parents think that they’d had a normal domestic spurt.
Her husband later confessed that he had been with both men and women since his early adult years.
Craving a normal life which he saw as having a wife and children, he’d married her and continued with his dark secret life.
In retrospect, Anabell remembers numerous physical rejections from her man which she interpreted as failure on her part. “I thought there was something terribly wrong with me,” she recalls.
After months of trying to deal with the anger and torturing him with the silent treatment, Anabell made peace with the whole situation and decided to keep her family. While it would be hard to forget the hurt she felt, Anabell has chosen what the average woman might refer to as an impossible situation.
She got to keep her husband but their relationship changed.
“Initially, he offered to stop what he said were occasional relations with men if I asked him to but I didn’t. I don’t want us to be in a situation where he has to feel a need to lie again. I just don’t want to hear about it,” she says.
It took some effort on both sides to re-establish the trust and now they carry on their day to day life like a normal heterosexual couple, their secret tightly locked away. “Sex isn’t the main reason that we are together,” she says. “I believe that there is genuine attraction and he married me because he enjoys my company. He’s with me. No else needs to know.”
*Names have been changed
The Daily Nation
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