The couple married for 27 years but cannot have sex due to tribal taboo

When an affair is revealed, it often triggers powerful emotions for both partners. The partner who has been cheated on might feel traumatized by the betrayal of trust and loss of emotional safety of the other.

The partner that had the affair might fear that they’ll never be forgiven. When an affair is first discovered, it can be hard to think clearly enough to make long-term decisions but in such times it’s rather appropriate to take things easy; seek counselling and other tentative avenues of healing than to rush into decisions that one might regret afterwards.

At dusk, about 5 pm on Thursday evening at the residence of Mr and Mrs Mensah near the Taifa market adjacent to the Ramseyer Congregation and The Church of Pentecost, Mr and Mrs Mensah sat under a mango tree preparing to talk about their marriage life on terms that it educates the youth and young couples.

Commencing the interview Mr Mensah a 57-year-old man disclosed that whenever a marriage hits the wall, the embattled couples have to quickly adjust and avoid blame games.

Mr. George Mensah and his wife Mrs Evelyn Mensah have been married for 27 years and have been blessed with three boys and two girls, but according to the couple, they stopped getting intimate for 12 years and counting and might never get intimate again.

Unveiling the circumstances that led to this decision Mr Mensah said; ” My Wife and I got married in August 1996, we’ve been married for 27 years and God blessed us with 5 children; two girls and three boys, our oldest child is 25 years whilst the youngest is 13 years.”

” The turbulence of our marriage began when my wife gave birth to our fourth child; we were staying at Pokuase. About three weeks after my wife delivered, her grandfather died and she insisted she wanted to go to the funeral which was going to take place in Togo, I discouraged my wife but she wouldn’t budge”.

“Working as a Kia-Rhino driver who goes on long journeys, I travelled to Elubo to deliver roofing sheets and the journey took three days, upon my return, I realized my wife had travelled with the newborn the very day I left for Elubo and had entrusted the three other children to our neighbour, who was a single lady of about 35 years”

“I was enraged when I returned it was in the year 2006, and our children were young, the firstborn was 8 years by then and she couldn’t take care of her siblings in our absence (I will have to go to work), so I asked the neighbour to help me take care of the children.”

” Now instead of going to work and travelling for days before returning home, I had to take jobs that didn’t warrant me travelling outside Accra but even with that I usually get home almost at midnight and at that time I have to go and knock on the door of my neighbour to carry all my three children who are asleep back to our room”

“It was on one of these occasions that I was going pick my sleepy children up and bring them to our room, but unfortunately that night I knocked at the door several times but my neighbour didn’t respond, eager to bring my children to my room and thinking she might have stepped out to natures call, I entered the unlocked room and to my outermost surprise my neighbour was naked on her bed but looked like she was fast asleep.

“God is my witness, I prayed that I muster the courage to carry my children out and avoid this temptation, moreover I didn’t want to wake her up so she would think I have seen her nakedness and get me into trouble.”

” So I successfully carried my second and third born to our room, as I was about to pick my first child out of her room, I felt someone hold my manhood from behind, already I was trying very hard to avoid this temptation but as a man, It was too much for me, so when I turned I realized my neighbour was wide awake and was begging that I lay with her, sincerely I thought of my wife for a second but realizing she disrespected me, I didn’t think twice then I have sex with our neighbour, in a clearer context, I cheated on my wife with the neighbour she first entrusted our kids into.” Mr Mensah narrated.

At this point, the couple had already familiarised themselves with the turn out of events, so there was no serious outpour of emotions except for an atmosphere of silence and “what can come can come”.

Reacting to the travelling to Togo for her grandfather’s funeral, Mrs Mensah stated that inasmuch as she knows she disrespected her husband, she happened to be the first grandchild of her grandpa who was also a paramount Chief in her village in Togo and as a result, she couldn’t absent herself even with the three weeks old baby.

Mr Mensah disclosed that as a result of the incident, immediately after his wife returned from the funeral he made them relocate to Taifa to avoid any form of embarrassment in the future after the neighbour started asking him for sex subsequently and he resisted these offers, causing the neighbour to threaten him on exposing their affair to Mrs Mensah.

Mr Mensah disclosed that after relocating he and the family were living in peace void of any form of embarrassment or threats.

The twist in events happened in 2011 after Mr and Mrs Mensah had their fifth child, according to Mrs Mensah, on a hot Saturday afternoon whilst she was heading out of the Dome market after purchasing some groceries, she met her former neighbour, who had had an affair with her husband and there and there, the lady told her about the encounter with her husband some five years back.

“Initially, I didn’t want to believe her but putting the dots together, as my husband said, immediately i returned her insisted we relocated which was pretty uncalled for but I had to budge since I had disrespected him by going to the funeral and didn’t want to offend him again,” she said

“So I planned on divorcing my husband after hearing what he did but I waited for about three months” she added

Mr Mensah continued by saying one day he just heard his wife say, I’m moving out ” She repeated the sentence I could not understand, “I’m moving out.” I searched her eyes for the familiar fire. Seeing none, I thought, “Who is this woman?” My wife of 15 years by then had become an instant stranger.

“What are you saying? Why do you want to leave?”

“I’m unhappy and lonely and miserable actually.” There, it was — out. “You make me miserable, you cheated on me with our former neighbour (mentioning her name).

At that instant, I knew it was over for me but i tried to calm her down

I touched her arm, but she pulled away as I said, “I can explain”

“Explain what….., but I do know that I can’t stay here. I need some time to sort things out, a little space. I’m not even sure I even love you or that I ever did.”

I stood frozen, as I begged, “Please don’t go now”

She silently picked up her suitcase, flung her purse over her shoulder, and with a dramatic toss of her hair, walked out our front door.

I knew that I hadn’t been the best husband.

I knew that, lately, she had been distant. But I didn’t know that my wife was having an affair.

My wife left home for three months, leaving me with the children all alone.

During the period my wife was away, I was a mess. Each time I called her, I would start to cry and ask her to forgive me and come home, but she answered my questions with one-word sentences. Then she would abruptly say, “Bye” and hang up.

One night, after a hectic day with the five children my wife miraculously came home and said, since you cheated and hid it away from for years, I’m also cheating with a colleague Teacher at my place of work.

I was torn apart after hearing this but to an extent tried not to break down but eventually did, my tears wouldn’t stop flowing but her subsequent statement shocked me to the core.

“But it ends today. I’m going to quit my job tomorrow and I will never see him again. I hope that we will take each other back and  stay married for the sake of our children.”

“Well that was a hard blow to take, I wasn’t ready to divorce her but I was mad that another man had laid with my wife all because of my wrongdoings.”

“When we decided to let both our wrongdoings slide and come back as couples our tradition came to separate us the more”, he said

Mr Mensah explaining how tradition has separated him from his wife said, as part of his Ewe culture, when you sleep with your wife after she has had an encounter with other men aside from you the husband without cleansing rites being performed on the lady, the man will die instantly.

when asked whether purification rites are performed on a man who has also cheated on his wife, he disclosed that he has not heard of any moreover men can marry more than one wife but women cannot.

Mr Mensah also revealed that his wife has refused to undergo the cleansing rites to enable them to get intimate, since in the process of performing the ritual she will be subjected to some form of ridicule by society as a result they have never been intimate since October 2011.

” My wife says she cannot go for the purification rites, because they will mock her and society will make fun of her, and I understand her because I committed the mistake first, as a result, we have not had sex since October 2011, we are together because we want to take care of our children”.

Mr Mensah said the decision to forgive came quickly, but the rebuilding of our marriage took a long time. I would feel good one day and hopeless the next. Then she would get frustrated and confused. There might be a week where we would be caring and loving, and then we’d slip into old patterns and have to remind ourselves to get back on track.

Away from the traditional side, when we got back together, it was a good day if we were just polite to each other. If we could say “please” and “thank you” and not fight or yell. That was as much as we could have hoped for.

We then decided to get godly advice from a wise Christian couple. Then we spent several months seeing a Christian marriage counsellor. We got involved in our church’s couples group and started reading marriage materials.

We knew I had to find out, “Okay, what does a husband do? What is my role? What does that look like?” She had to find out, “What is a godly wife supposed to do?” We learned Biblical principles about loving one another God’s way and found practical ways to apply them.

Another important ingredient to healing was that we offered each other mercy while we were trying to change.

One thing I didn’t ask was for the details of my wife’s affair. I didn’t want to obsess about what she did and where she did it. When the thoughts of her with him came to taunt me, I didn’t allow them to stay. Instead, I chose to think about the future we were building.

I made it my personal mission to try to understand my wife.

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