In February 2016, a 43-year-old traditional medicine practitioner, Ahmed Akinlade, was arrested in Akure, Ondo State, after allegedly “turning a mother of two, who approached him for help on her marriage to a sex slave.”
When the victim was interrogated by the police, she had explained that all she did was meant to save her marriage.
“I came to him because he told me he would help me to get my husband back. My marriage is important to me. He said part of the rituals he would do might involve him sleeping with me once. It sounded stupid but I have heard from people before that what he does works. That was why I agreed when he told me I needed to sleep with him,” She said.
She is just one of numerous women who go to extreme length to make sure their marriage is intact.
In these days of marriage break-ups, divorce and separation, some Nigerian women, no matter what it takes, wouldn’t want to be caught napping. They would do whatever they feel or think is necessary to keep their marriage from falling apart and to make their husband love them more.
If there is one thing that frightens many married women, it is the prospect of losing their marriages in which they have invested so much emotionally and materially.
These women, irrespective of class, looks, educational background or status, go all out to do crazy things to keep their homes together.
Perhaps the fear of the numerous marriages that break up yearly is the reason women are going extra miles to find a solution when there are indications that their unions may be heading for the rocks.
Saturday PUNCH spoke with some women who shared experiences on what they have had to do to save their marriages.
As extraordinary, weird and downright pathetic as some actions some women take may be, marriages fail every day. A case in point is the marriage break up saga of popular singer, Tiwa Savage and Tajudeen Balogun, AKA Teebillz, a trending topic that has yet to go away. If the fanfare, pomp and ceremony that accompany a wedding ceremony are bulwarks against break ups, the marriage of Tiwa and Teebillz would have lasted two lifetimes.
Marriage “doctors” to the rescue
The demand for intervention on marriage troubles seems to have created a niche market, which some “sharp” Nigerians are taking advantage of.
In many Lagos buses, it is not strange to see pasted little stickers advertising one “Dr. Love” or “Dr. Marriage” who specialises in helping women win their love interests to helping to “heal” their marriages.
In recent times, such “doctors” have taken their market to the social media.
A young woman, who identified herself as Grace based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, shared her “success story” after her encounter with one of such marriage doctors based in Lokoja, Kogi State.
The woman, who explained that her husband had abandoned her and the children for some years, said one of such doctors worked his ‘magic’ and soon, the runaway husband came back home.
According to her, it only took a spell.
“I contacted and shared my experience with him and he gave me the terms and conditions, which I agreed to. To cut the long story short, I am now living happily ever after with my husband. He also casts spells like lover’s spells, protection spells, business spells and exam spells,” Grace said.
Of course, there was no way Grace’s claims could be verified, but she insisted that the spell gave her back her runaway husband.
Even though some women would not go as far as casting spells to save their marriages, others from one prophet to another seeking help to get back their husbands.
“These days, many people run to one prophet or another for help on marital issues. But when they hear about people using spells for marital problems, they criticise them. I would never use any. But what is the difference between the two? Do you know what some prophets ask such women to do?” Mrs. Bolaji Adebiyi, a business woman, who has been married for 26 years, told Saturday Punch.
One of our correspondents contacted one of such love doctors, through the phone numbers provided on an advertisement bill pasted on a Lagos public bus, promising “rejuvenation of your love life, marriage, business and happiness.”
The enthusiastic man who picked the call, promptly said, “say no more” when he was given a cooked up story about a husband that has become a serial cheat and abuser.
“All you need is a talisman and some magic words. I got training from India. There are so many fake people around defrauding people. But I am happy that you got in touch with me. I don’t want you to send money because that would not be wise since you have not seen me before. You need to meet me personally. I will tell you what you need to do and how you will use the talisman I would be giving you,” he said.
He finally said that the initial cost of the spiritual intervention would be N35,000, which he said should be paid only if the journalist believed in his power. But our reporter never honoured his invitation to the meeting which was supposed to take place in a very remote part of Igando, Lagos.
In a society where having a baby is seen as the fruit of any marriage, women who have not yet conceived are pushed to seek alternatives without their husbands’ knowledge.
A 34-year-old woman landed in trouble recently when she was connected to a baby sale racket, an issue which is no longer a shock in Nigeria, where many baby making “factories” have been uncovered in the last few years.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the woman, who is still in police custody in Abia State, was arrested when a stolen baby was traced to her.
She was reported to have told the police that her childlessness and the threat by her husband to send her packing if she failed to have a baby pushed her into looking for a way to buy a baby.
All it required was for her to pretend to be pregnant for as long as she could keep up the deception. The trick was in sustaining the pretence for the period of nine months during which, she said, she ensured that the husband saw her just few times as she was away in her village most of the time.
It is unclear how much she paid for the baby, which she presented to her husband as her new born child only to be arrested six months after her joyful husband celebrated the “birth” of a baby meant to save their marriage.
The story of this woman underlines the desperation that the prospect of marriage crash sometimes forces on women, making them to undertake dangerous ventures that would keep their men down by all means.
But while some are busy buying babies to appease their men who are desperate to become fathers, some women simply try to become a little more creative.
They enrol in gym clubs.
Nothing is as good as keeping one’s husband and improving one’s health at the same time. But while many women go through rigorous workout sessions for their psychological and physical health, many women with weight issues say the idea is to improve their weights and look so good such that their husbands would think twice before philandering.
University of Lagos psychologist, Prof. Oni Fagbohungbe, believes such women may be on the right track but not in all cases.
He said, “Women’s sense of security is very fragile. Whenever they feel their sense of security is threatened, they would do anything to normalise that situation. Research has confirmed that most women have very strong id, the personality structure, which dominates their behaviour. The id controls the requirements of life and we call it the ‘I-want’ of life.
“This is why when a woman thinks a man is cheating and she may lose her marriage, without waiting for evidence, the id would make her to do everything to retain the husband’s commitment.
“Whether it (going to the gym to look good) works to get the husband back or not, it is the perception of the woman that matters in this situation. It is like a placebo effect. It works in some cases. But if a woman comes out with the wrong diagnosis of such marital problem, it will be curing a problem with the wrong medicine.
“Behaviour is a stimulus response connectivity. If the man sees something better or more attractive out there, he responds by gravitating towards it. Unless the woman understands that thing and incorporate it into her own behavioural repertoire, the man would stay away.”
Cheating back into his arm
When all methods fail to get a philandering husband back, Saturday PUNCH learnt some women actually try to hit back by embarking on a cheating venture of their own.
Whether this would work will always be a controversial issue between both sexes.
Liz Owoyori, who has been married for eight years, shared her story with Saturday PUNCH,
She explained, “I have realised that arguing or fighting a cheating husband usually does not work. I would never support that a woman should cheat on her husband to get him back but I realised that some men actually hate to lose.
“There was a time I thought my husband might be cheating. Rather than cheat, what I did was to pretend to also cheat. I started text-chatting late into the night and hiding my phone and messages. I made him conscious of the fact that I was hiding something. I was shocked when I realised that he quickly changed. He became more dedicated. It was obvious he did not want to lose me. Now I understand why some people believe that cheating saves some marriages.”
While society is never usually sympathetic to cheats, some claim it provides clarity and sometimes jolts men back into being committed to their wives.
Prof. Fagbohungbe believes this can also actually work in some cases.
He told our correspondent, “Cheating on a cheating husband can work and it may not work in certain cases. In our culture, a promiscuous man does not attract so much negativity. That is why a man can have a wife and a concubine and society does not frown on it. But when a woman counters negativity with negativity, she sometimes ends up being the one who fails.
“The problem is that we are too shy about discussing issues about our life. In the African setting, even when a woman is not enjoying a sexual contact; she would not talk so that the husband would not feel she is too wild.”
Going under the knife
For those who may not dare to go and visit a prophet or engage the services of a ‘love doctor’, they try to ‘improve’ their looks in order to look more beautiful so that their men wouldn’t have any need to look outside.
Jacinta Emmanuel, a Lagos-based banker told our correspondent she had to get butt implant since she found out her husband favoured women with big backside.
“I didn’t tell him I was going for such surgery. But few years ago, I was in the UK for vacation and I had to do the surgery. I had noticed the way my husband would always drool each time he saw ladies with big bum. I knew if I didn’t do anything about my flat backside, my husband would always cheat on me and I may even lose him. I had to quickly do it.”
Emmanuel who said her husband never found out about the surgery, claims her husband loves her more these days.
“I came back and I started wearing stuff that would enhance my backside. He was thrilled. He eventually asked me what happened and I told him I exercised and I ate good food. He believed me. I used the opportunity to save my marriage. It has been okay since then and he hardly looks at ladies as he used to,” she said.
Ufoma Utebor who works in an oil servicing company also said she had to do cosmetic surgery on her breasts so that her husband would appreciate her more.
“Men are incredible people. If you live with your man, you ought to know what he likes and desires. I got married to my man five years ago and he fantasises and tells me he wished my boobs were bigger. I knew he would likely be going after ladies with big bosom so I had to do something about mine.”
Unlike Emmanuel, Utebor said she asked for permission from her husband before she decided to go for breast implants.
“He told me as long as it wasn’t risky, he wouldn’t mind if I could do anything that would make my breasts bigger. Two years into our marriage when we went for vacation in the US, I had to enlarge my breasts and my husband simply loves it!” she said excitedly.
‘What has sustained our marriage’
Even as marriages break up on a daily basis and some other people do strange things to keep theirs intact, some Nigerians say they have been able to sustain their marriage by doing nothing extraordinary.
Mr. Mike Nzeagwu who runs a PR firm in Lagos, has been married to his wife for 20 years and he said his marriage has been filled with wonderful memories.
While admitting it has not always been rosy, Nzeagwu said God in particular, has been able to sustain his home and there hasn’t been any reason for marriage break-up.
“My wife wanted to quit after the first few weeks in the marriage. She couldn’t tell me what the problem was but she kept saying she didn’t bargain for this. I had to keep calming her down again and again. Since then, it has been wonderful.
“What has sustained my marriage is trust in God and trust in ourselves. We trust in each other. My wife is a very strong Christian. Even though I am a pastor, my wife is still stronger than me. She has been a pillar of support. There have been ups and downs but the ups have been more than the downs. There is openness. If I don’t have money, she gives me hers. She can give me her ATM card to go and withdraw money. We don’t hide anything from each other. We don’t allow third parties to interfere in our marriage. We have had issues no doubt but we don’t allow anybody to know about our issues.
“I was open to her. We got married on a Saturday and on a Tuesday, I was sent to Kano. We got to the airport and she said she wanted to drink water. You know things are usually expensive at the airport. I had to tell her I wouldn’t buy it. I told her to endure until we got out of the airport so I could buy her water at a reasonable price. From the first day, she knew I was the kind of person that tried to manage his resources very well. I have been open to her; I have never hidden anything from her. I showed her my pay slip, the first time I took her to my house, and there was no furniture. I thought she would change her mind after the first visit but she didn’t. She is not materialistic. She has made sacrifices in her work to take care of the children.”
Nzeagwu said he is usually puzzled when he hears strange stories of what women do to keep their home intact.
“But I don’t blame those women because they may have felt threatened. It is possible they love their husbands, otherwise they would have decided to carry their bags and walk away. The Bible says you shouldn’t go to Egypt for help. If you pray to God, He can protect your marriage. You don’t have to go to ababalawo (herbalist). He might give the woman juju that would make her love the babalawo more than the husband. Leave everything to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
Like Nzeagwu, Mrs. Vivian Anyaegbu who works in a non -governmental organisation in Lagos said she has been married to her husband for 15 years and they have been able to weather the storm all these years.
Giving tips on how she has sustained her marriage, Anyaegbu said, “There is no competition in this institution. There is no first position or second position. If a couple is able to survive the first six years in marriage, then you know it would be difficult for them to break up. Those years are seen as a testing period in marriage. There should be love in a marriage no doubt but what is more important is understanding and trust.
“I don’t think anybody should venture into any diabolical act. Herbalists would always want something in return. Just pray. We need respect in marriage, mutual respect. Everybody is important. If you know your partner is important and you treat the person right, you will be okay.
“I wanted to leave my marriage in the first two years. I packed my bags and said I wasn’t marrying again but then, I didn’t get to the gate. I was planning in my bedroom but I didn’t carry it out. As long as God has destined that man for you, he will always provide happiness at the end. Why would you want to be separated? It is better for you to be there and endure than expose yourselves to several men who will end up messing your life,” she said.