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Two weeks ago, he woke up from bed, brushed his teeth, bathed, dressed up, and left the house to work. He never said a word to me. On his way to work, he sent me a message; “Happy anniversary.” I responded, “Same to you.” He wrote back, “Five years hasn’t been an easy journey but I’m happy it’s you that I chose to travel with.” I smiled and wondered which side of Google he copied that message from. I responded, “God has been good. May he continue being our strength.” He sent a smiling emoji and I sent a sad face emoji.

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When I said “May he continue being our strength,” he took it literally but I said that from the deepest corner of my heart. I need divine strength to be able to carry on. Each day when I wake up and see him by my side, I ask why I said yes to him. I wonder why all the men who came after me, he was the one I settled with—such a wrong choice. I think of the road ahead of us, the forever we promised each other, and say to myself, “Can forever come tomorrow? I want to walk out of this scam and be free.”

Two years ago, I had the perfect opportunity to walk out of the marriage but I let it slip. One evening Alberta called me; “Beth, are you having problems with your husband?” I said, “No I don’t but why would you ask me that?” She said, “I’m going to tell you something but I hope you don’t do anything crazy. I don’t want to be the one who caused the failure of your marriage.” My heart skipped a beat. I asked her, “Alberta, whatever the issue is, you can trust me to make a sound judgment. Just tell me.” She said, “Your husband. He had been pursuing me for some time now. I’ve tried everything to get him off my neck but he keeps coming. I even told him I’ll report him to you if he continues but he careless. He keeps coming.”

My heart sunk. Words eluded me. I asked her, “Are you sure of what you are saying?” I asked that question not because I didn’t trust her. Alberta has been a friend since childhood. We were baptized together and joined the youth choir at the same time. At some point, we lived close together so we went to church together and came back home together. Her mother was my mother and mine was hers. I was walking with her the day my husband proposed to me. He saw her and yet went ahead to propose to me. So, what changed? Alberta was my maid of honor. How come?

The first evidence Alberta sent to support her claim was a voice note my husband sent her. I was asleep and snoring when my husband recorded the sound of my snore and sent it to her. He said, “Listen to your friend, she sings even when she’s sleeping. How can I have a peaceful sleep?” She sent screenshots of his proposal. And when Alberta told him, “You know I can’t do that to Beth?” He asked her, “Is she your mother’s daughter that you can’t do that to her?” I thought I was peacefully sleeping in my room. Not knowing my issues were out there for the whole world to know. He never ever told me that I snore when I sleep. Yet, he recorded it to shame me.

I told Alberta, “Thank you for being a friend. Thank you for standing in for me when my own husband sought to put me down. I will handle it from here.” She said, “Beth, I didn’t tell you this so you go and fight him. If you fight him, you’ll push him away. Try to be his peace and he’ll change.” I said, “I was his peace when he ran to you. Only God knows how many other women know that I snore when I sleep. This hurt and I won’t sit down.”

I confronted him that evening, showing him all the evidence. In tears, I asked, “How could you do that to me?” I thought he would apologize. I thought he’ll show remorse. I thought he’ll calm me down and even lie to me about why he did that. He said, “I thought Alberta was matured. How could she share the private conversations I had with her with you? I will confront her tomorrow. She would have to explain it to me. What sort of village life is that?” He attacked the messenger and left the message unattended. Everyone I spoke to about this issue told me to be patient. They even accused Alberta of being the vessel the devil is using to destroy our marriage. My own mom to date doesn’t speak to Alberta. She calls her a witch; “Because she’s not married, she’s trying to destroy your own.”

Everyone apologized on his behalf but he himself saw no reason to offer an apology for his behavior. I stayed with him because everyone was against the idea of me leaving but my spirit left the marriage. He would leave early morning and come late in the night, without a word. I used to call to ask him his whereabouts but he objected to that; “I’m not your son, stop calling to ask where I am. I’m old enough to take care of myself.” There’s always someone he speaks to on his phone. He calls them friends. He calls them acquaintances and he calls them colleagues. I don’t have anyone I call a friend. I had Alberta but since that issue happened, I lost her. When I close from work and I don’t get home early, it means our three-year-old son would be home without anyone caring for him. He has the car—a car we both contributed to buy. He should have been taken our son to school but he never does. He drives to work while I struggle to take our son to school before I go to work.

Everything about this marriage has become work I have to do. Where’s the joy in that? Each Friday, he returns from town late in the night with alcohol in his breath. You would expect he would go to the bath and freshen up before sleeping but no, he’ll jump onto the bed and sleep away. All night, I would be the one to deal with a stinking breath while he sleeps peacefully. I told him about it and that day he nearly threw his hand. I shivered. If he did, there would have been no one there to help me escape his brute. I have no joy left in me. When people talk about their happy marriages, I despise them for having something I don’t have; “What do these people have that I don’t have? That they have to be happy while I rot in a loveless marriage?”

I said I won’t wait for the third anniversary but the third came and pass me by. I said, “I would be gone before the fourth anniversary.” The fourth came and passed but I stayed. And then I promised myself, “The fifth anniversary won’t come to meet me here.” Two weeks ago was our fifth anniversary but I’m still here looking as old as my grandma’s pot yet I’m only thirty-two years. “May he continue being our strength,” I said. Maybe at this juncture of my life, I should begin praying for strength to be able to walk away without listening to what society would say about me. I need strength to fight my parents when they force me to stay. I need strength to fight our pastor who calls our situation the work of the devil. I need strength to call Alberta to tell her I’m sorry for everything that has happened. I need strength to embrace my own suffering and yet be bold enough to walk away before the sixth anniversary. May he continue being my strength.

—Beth

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