What you need to know:
Other than the distrust that comes when an affair grows into the main relationship, there is a myriad of other challenges faced by a couple that decides to turn an affair into a primary relationship.
Years ago, your eye wandered to a man who was already spoken for. A man who already had a live-in girlfriend or fiancée or worse, a wife. Of course, you did not get into this situation by yourself. He endlessly pursued you. Even when you did not believe him, he promised that if you just gave him a little time, he would leave her for you.
Because of the stories you have heard from your friends about the lies men tell, you took everything he said with a pinch of salt. But now he is gone ahead and surprised you by disentangling himself from the other relationship. He has left his wife and children for you. He has finally moved out of the house he has been sharing with his girlfriend. There is no longer sneaking around with him and you suddenly feel like a child who has been fussing over a toy for far too long that now that you finally have it, you are not sure that you want it anymore. What do you do next?
A general distrust of love and commitment
31-year-old Jean Kiraka snuck around with the man she thought was her Prince Charming as she arrived too late by two years. While she loved him and the woman she was when she was around him, she hated the fact that after their escapades, he went home to another woman.
“I hated when he posted pictures of his perfect family on social media,” she recalls.
Finally, she gave him an ultimatum to choose between him and the woman with whom he had had a traditional wedding ceremony. She was expecting him to make a grand show of love for her such as taking her on an expensive trip or buying her an apartment but instead, he left his wife.
“When he moved out of his home, I was in a panic. I thought it was all temporary. To make me feel better, he invited me to live with him,” she says.
Living with Prince Charming calmed her nerves for a little while. Then suspicion set in.
“It may sound unfair when I say it but I already knew that he could lie. I had been with him so many times when his wife called and he lied to her about where he was. I was there when he told me that he loved me with one side of his mouth and then called her ‘my love’ with the other. I had a right to be suspicious,” she says.
She speaks about getting panic attacks every time he said he was going out with the boys or jumping to look at his phone screen every time it beeped.
“You know how they say how you get him is how you will lose him? I was terrified of that. This relationship turned me into an insecure person,” she recalls.
Needless to say, their newfound come-we-stay relationship did not last long.
“He finally moved back in with his wife. We should never have tried to turn a fling into something else,” she says in retrospect.
The most recent statistics show that only about five percent of married men leave their wives for their mistresses. When this happens, these new marriages have a 60 percent chance of ending up in divorce.
T Bukachi, 29, is among the 60 percent. Her marriage to the man to whom she was a mistress is hanging by a thread.
“We have been married for just a year and a half and there was not even a honeymoon phase. Things have been so rough. It has been one challenge after the other mostly to do with trust. We also fight about money because he still has to support his family,” she says.
For now, she is determined to hold on to the marriage.
“We caused so much harm to be together. We hurt too many people. If I give up, it will all have been for nothing,” she says.
In her book The Dating Game, author Brigid Bishop writes that other than the distrust that comes when an affair grows into the main relationship, there is a myriad of other challenges faced by a couple that decides to turn an affair into a primary relationship.
She writes that the presence of a bad marriage or relationship is one of the glues that hold together an affair but when a man leaves his woman for you, this glue is removed. Often, there is not enough glue left to hold the new relationship together.
This had been true for Fay Oranga, 33, a pharmaceutical sales representative. Two years ago, she was enjoying a hassle-free affair with an older man when suddenly, his marriage broke down.
“We were not even the reason his marriage broke down. He found out that his wife was also stepping out on him and he lost it. He just could not forgive her after that,” she says.
He ticked off a lot of boxes in what she wanted in a long-term relationship and she was happy to become his main woman. What she got instead was a truckload of fresh problems she was unprepared for.
“I thought that our relationship would progress and he would show more commitment but he was behaving like a newly single man. Like a man that had just come out of a long-term relationship,” she says.
They are still together but she suspects that he is running around with other women.
“It has been two years and we are still fighting about the same things. I do not see a solid future,” she says.
Counselling psychologist and relationship coach Nicholas Nasombi says having a man leave a woman for you is like jumping into a relationship with you just after he has had a breakup.
“A breakup is a loss. At the end of every relationship, one needs to go through the grieving process. It is not uncommon for people who upgrade their side relationships into main relationships to behave as if they are on the rebound,” he says.
‘‘When he leaves her, give him time to be single again. Only then will he be able to make an effective partner for you,’’ he says.