So this is a Halloween Relationship Horror story with a difference: What if the man you married always treated you perfectly, like a queen, throughout possibly decades of marriage, but treated other people, including other women, with disdain? What if this person even went as far as to harass some of his colleagues and acquaintances, or perhaps absolute strangers, leading to perhaps criminal court cases? How would you as the wife feel about that?
There are quite a few stories circulating at the moment like this. Some of these stories involve very high-profile business men. One of these men has been said for years to be notoriously rude to pretty much everyone he comes into contact with – although he apparently takes very seriously the opinion of his wife. So it was perhaps not the biggest surprise to find that he could be accused of harassment on a deeper level. To be candid, after living with him for so many years, his wife probably knows exactly what he is like.
And yet, the one story that really struck me happened a while ago. It involved just a regular professional worker, married, who sexually assaulted a drunk stranger. This story hit me so deeply, as I was wondering how his wife would feel.
Here is the thing. Looking at this man’s picture, I thought that he was physically very, very attractive: well-groomed, handsome. He was working in a good well-paid job in London. Before he attacked the drunk stranger, I am sure that his wife thought that she had hit the jackpot. Thinking on various wedding parties or functions that I have been to, I can just imagine the way that such a woman would have carried herself for the benefit of her friends and family, as she triumphantly paraded this man who was her prize. Now the man is from a different culture to me, I don’t know which culture his wife is from (although I could guess from her name), but I could see it in terms of my own culture, which is very very status conscious, and very very big on bragging, not always subtly! I suspect that many traditional cultures are the same. So I could just imagine how the backstory may have played out in my own culture. There would have been the purring on his arm, the flaunting of the ring in perfectly manicured nails. Obviously, the ring would have been a huge rock. (Actually, this is London – thinking of house prices, he was well paid but around the average for London – perhaps a smaller rock!) Something sufficiently flashy anyway!
And then there would have been the house. And of course they would have bought a house, or at the very least a beautiful apartment in an area with sufficient cachet to pass muster with all their friends…
And then he did that. And then the humiliation from that event would be enough to completely wipe out all the bragging someone may have done beforehand.
There is no way that I can know that this happened in this relationship of course. For all I know his wife is the complete opposite of all this. But seeing his picture, hearing a bit about him triggered my imagination. Because this is exactly what the backstory would look like if we were talking about an aspirational Nigerian couple. Maybe I’m being unfair to my own people! There are lots of genuinely humble people from a Nigerian background, I must state that!
However in many Nigerian “love” stories, material success is a very large factor; to be successful, and above all to let everyone know that you are successful. To perhaps facilitate it where it does not yet exist, by taking out big debts to impress people with your big car.
And I am asking myself what the wife would have done in that situation? Would she have stood by him? Would she have quickly and discreetly ended the marriage? There are some wives I know who would be so desperate to escape the mortification that their husband attacked a stranger that they would actually leap to his defence that it was all consensual. Apparently the mortification of being publicly cheated on is tiny compared to the mortification of the alternative scenario.
If there was no photographic or videographic evidence, I can almost guarantee that this would be the approach of many such wives who might have conducted a “keeping up with the Joneses” marriage – not out of love or trust for their husbands, but just wanting to save their own face.
And I thought, this incident may have wiped out bragging rights for this woman for the rest of her life. If ever she tried to start swaggering again, there might be some people who would look at her in a such a way as to remind her what happened last time she did that. Or at least that is what would probably happen in my own culture.
I have to state that I do not know this couple. I have never come across them before except through the media reports. But as I say, a few details just triggered my imagination. And I could just imagine the wedding parties, and the bridal showers, with the expensive gifts, and the hen party in some beautiful exotic location with the personalised satin dressing gowns. And then of course the actual wedding itself in a posh hotel, with gorgeous and extravagant floral displays. And glinting prominently everywhere, in every photo that did eventually make it onto social media, as well as the dozens that did not, that ring. (I guess I am just amalgamating details here of actual weddings I have been to, as well as things I have seen on social media!) And then all of that status, so carefully built up over months and even years showcasing your “perfect” relationship on social media, would just have been wiped away, just like that. All the beautiful details and perfect little touches would all have been forgotten in the face of this overwhelming disaster.
A further question I am asking myself: before marriage, did she have any idea that he had that inclination? She may have seen him flirting with other women before; she may have laughed it off as obviously she had won the big prize. And clearly there is a huge difference between flirting and attacking. How about this: did she ever observe him treating other people as being inferior or beneath him? Did he ever shout at waiting staff or was he ever rude to attendants – or did she not notice as she was too busy admiring her ring?
Please note that I am not blaming this wife for her husband’s behaviour. I am sure that this man would have acted this way no matter what wife he married. The question I am asking here is how any one particular woman might come to be the one who finds herself married to someone who assaults strangers?
Also, did any of her friends or family notice anything, or whisper to her their reservations – or were they all too happy to be gloating alongside her?
I don’t know why I am just assuming here that he treated her like a queen. But somehow, that just seems to go with these stories, otherwise that would have been the story itself. And it may all have been part of his plan, to maintain a “perfect” facade, involving a “perfect” wife, a “perfect” and successful family life while doing whatever he wanted in the background.
I am listing this as a horror story because this would be my horror story, as a wife.
So ladies, how would you feel if you were the wife in this situation? How would you feel if someone coldly picked you out as the “perfect” wife to use to maintain a facade behind which he might be mistreating or abusing other women? To be fair, we don’t know if this behaviour was crazily uncharacteristic on the husband’s part. However I am absolutely certain that even if this particular couple were not like the picture I have painted in this post, there are hundreds of couples who are like that, where weird and crazy things do happen behind supposedly “perfect” appearances, where material success is crudely used as a synonym for “perfection” – perfect career, perfect house, with perfect interior design, perfect car, perfect clothes.
For me as a wife, this story would be beyond humiliating. So yes, while I will need my husband to treat me excellently, this actually has to be genuinely representative of his character – I don’t want someone who treats me like a queen while trampling upon other people. I think that this is yet another reason to make sure you thoroughly know someone before you marry them. (Obviously there is no way I can state whether or not that actually happened in this particular marriage.) And finally, this is yet another good reason to make sure that you prioritise character from your spouse above material success, above keeping up with the Joneses, above impressing your friends. Because I can guarantee that no-one will have been impressed when all of this came out.
Actually, having written this, it occurs to me that there are a couple of other attitudes that the wife may have had: firstly, she may have known about, and even tolerated this type of behaviour from her husband, as long as it was secret, and no-one knew. In that way she could have continued to enjoy the trappings of his material success. After all if you marry a rich man largely because he is rich, then you would not want to give that up easily, would you?! And then, when it came out, and he received widespread condemnation, she would have feigned ignorance; the implication and the big fat lie being that if she had had even the faintest idea of this behaviour, she of course would not have tolerated it, she of course would have briskly walked away! Please. Such has been the stance of certain women caught in similar situations with very high-profile husbands, and I consistently find it hard to believe them. Even though I am not myself married, I cannot believe that you would be in such close physical and emotional proximity to someone, and not be able to guess. I cannot believe that you would not be able to read their attitude and their body language or see the lascivious look that comes over their face when they spot an attractive figure. Even if you both had high-profile careers and often worked at opposite ends of the globe, for possibly months at a time, I’m sorry, I still don’t believe it. Did you not wonder what he was up to, night after night after night, with one glamorous starlet after another? If you did not want to come right out and challenge him about what he was doing, would you not at least have asked him for reassurance that he would not publicly humiliate you? I always think that the press and media are so gracious to wives in this situation, in that they consistently give them the benefit of the doubt, and believe their stories, treating them too as victims.
And then there is a second scenario, which is possibly even worse. That is the wife publicly accepts that her husband did what he was accused of, but she does not see what the big deal is. She shrugs, as if to discount the whole thing. Yes, she knows that he attacked “that drunk woman” but men will after all be men, and it was not as if he attacked someone really important! She was only… and after all she was DRUNK! She only had herself to blame!
Asked if she will stand by her husband she can only look at you incredulously! Of course she will! (Whyever would she not?!) He will only be in prison for a few more years (although she cannot understand why he had to go in the first place – this stupid country!) and then after that they can resume their life together. In the meantime, she sees no reason whatsoever to curtail her bragging – did you see the pictures of the wedding?!
Added 10th November 2018
Well after thinking through all those possibilities, a further one occurred to me. Because this is the most gracious possibility, I apologise for only just typing this out now, 10th November 2018, as it occurred to me as early as 1st November:
The further scenario is this: that contrary to all these suggestions, this couple did after all have a love marriage, based on genuine love and regard for one another. As implausible as it might seem, this behaviour from the husband might indeed have been crazy and uncharacteristic on his part. He might be sincerely repentant. In which case, while it would still be appropriate for him to go to prison and serve his time, it might well be the right decision for his wife to stand by him, and wait for him. From the wife’s perspective it might be deeply challenging and humiliating, but still she might recognise that this is what she needs to do. Each marriage will have its own challenges to face, and this might well be the definitive challenge for this particular marriage. It might seem hard for us to accept that there could be any grace that could come out of this situation. But God can forgive even the most awful, seemingly unforgivable things and turn around the lives of everyone involved. Furthermore, this attack from the husband could be a reflection of how he himself might have been abused in earlier years.
So even while hoping for complete healing for the female victim of his attack, I also hope the best for this married couple, praying that God by His power and grace would be able to turn this situation around and bring out light, joy and beauty for everyone involved.