My dear Jil, I’m afraid you need to protect yourself. That’s the first order of priority. If he’s going to be messing around and catching all sorts of venereal diseases then you have to protect yourself. You must insist on his use of condom. You’ve been lucky three times. You’ve received treatment for venereal disease on three occasions on account of his philandering. You may not be fourth time lucky. My worry is that he’s going to catch something of the order of HIV and infect you. That’s a higher order of magnitude than all you’ve dealt with so far. And this is a young marriage. That’s what makes it so worrisome. If he’s all over town in a two-year old marriage something is either seriously wrong, or something wasn’t right, or he’s got a problem. The corollary though is that your insistence on condom to protect yourself will affect future conception. But at least you’ll be safe. And you already have a son.
Why do men cheat? A number of reasons. Sometimes it’s just lust, sometimes it’s greed; sometimes it’s a non-acceptance of marital status and it may be a state of mind; or there’s a temptress. It may also be recklessness, cultural conditioning, or a problem in marriage. Sometimes it’s because of inadequate sex. The sex in the marriage may not be enough, or frequent enough, or exciting enough. The sex may be too perfunctory and not meeting expectations. Unfortunately sometimes those expectations are porn standards. Young men tend to have such expectations of the porn industry about sex forgetting those in the porn industry see themselves as performance artistes. Many use drugs and injectables to maintain erection. And so you have mismatched expectations. There’s misalignment of desire with reality. This will be more pronounced if you’re not exposed to the world from which he generated those desires.
Sometimes the reason for continuous infidelity is neural hook. The man is hooked to sex, the muskiness of a signature body fluid. At that point the body takes over and begins to dictate behaviour. And sometimes men get into infidelity when they’re looking for internal resolution and comfort. Instead of looking in they look out believing exotic comfort will jar them out of agitative funk. The lack of permanence takes them out of what is normal and quotidian. Remember they had those feelings within an everyday context. So something out of that context becomes appealing. And for some men it’s the illegitimacy of the relationship that is the turn-on. It’s about that thing Solomon wrote, the bit about stolen melons being sweet. The illegitimacy is the excitement. If they marry the woman they’re cheating with the excitement goes. She’s now fully “available.” The law of commoditization sets in. The excitement fritters away. Now they see the woman in unglamorous contexts. She’ll not always be dressed up as used to obtain; she’ll wear bubu, hairnet, snore in her sleep, have unkempt hair.
And for some men, especially the high achieving ones, or the ones with potential – they become amorous targets. Some women believe in hostile take-over, some believe in mergers and acquisition, some believe in leveraged buy-out. Some women have been known to offer the woman at home money to give up her husband. It’s some sort of connubial commerce. The world is a strange place. Some girls make the high achieving projects. And they persist in pursuit. They believe persistence will pay off at some point, that the guy will break at some point. So they stay in his face. They make themselves constantly available. Sometimes they send pics – all sorts. Some girls have decided to live off men and so they set their sights on the available and non-available. Some boys do that too. They want to live off women. The other woman tends to discountenance the quality of the wife at home. She assumes a superiority posture based on the simple fact she’s being pursued. The man’s expression of interest is empowerment. She then seeks to take over. It’s either a hostile or creeping take over. She doesn’t want to be an interim pleasure administrator, a side recourse or redundancy – the go to when the other woman is not available. And sometimes men get into infidelity through their generosity. They don’t mean to. Their kindness makes them attractive propositions and the recipient capitalises on the inroad of the heart. A generous man must be strong.
There are thus many causes of infidelity. The issue is not so pert and simplistic. It can be localised to a marriage, or it can come from cultural conditioning or bad association. The man may have a problem or there’s powerful external stimuli. The issues in a marriage can give rise to infidelity. Constant denial or scarcity of sex can make a man seek it outside. Sex is very powerful, especially for men.
A man must have discipline in life. A man must learn to put a knife to his throat like Solomon said. A man must learn self-denial. Without discipline a man will create problems for himself. He will scatter his seed all over town. He can easily be entrapped. There are many strategists out there. But this being a young marriage something is seriously wrong. You shouldn’t be having this kind of problem. And all a man needs is justification. So if he’s tempted to sleep with a girl outside and you deny him sex he has his justification. It’s some sort of righteousness, albeit a terribly flawed one. What is worrisome about your case is that it’s not a one-off thing or a one-woman thing. He’s constantly going after women like he’s set himself the impossible task of searching for the indefinable and unrealisable.
You mentioned the family angle. It would seem his mother is an enabler of his infidelity. She may be passively encouraging him to get at you. She may see you as competition. Remember that statement she made to him… That if he has a child out of wedlock she’ll collect the child and take care of him… That’s powerful license. This guy is not weaned off his parents. They still have a hold on him, determining his course, dictating his actions. He’s a man-child. I won’t be surprised if he confides to his mum about the intimacy issues in your marriage, or has reported you to her. It’s also possible his father was a man of like passions. Having endured his father his mum is punishing you as proxy. Some mothers-in-law have strange logic. That logic will support any deviant behaviour in their son that approximates what was meted to them by their husband. They want another woman to suffer. It’s like, if I went through it why shouldn’t you? The son becomes an agency of retribution on an innocent woman. It’s selfish love that seeks to prove love of son through destruction of his marriage. These women want their son to themselves having lost their husband to other women. Even when the husband is back they persist. Such people form a philosophy of life to accommodate their pain and suffering. “Men are like that,” they’ll tell you. “His father was like that.” It’s a strange justification. An only child becomes a big consolation in such a scenario. That child will be everything to the mother. He’s her life. It’s like those mums who know their son is engaged in criminal enterprise yet become enablers. It’s a way of maintaining control over the child. Such women have been known to direct their son to have a child out of wedlock, just so they have a grandchild to tend before the boy is ready for marriage. It’s all selfish stuff.
It’s one thing for a man to cheat and feel remorseful, and another for him to wipe his mouth as if nothing ever happened. If coupled with disdain that’s a “So what?!” And so the issue you have to confront is whether he expects you to accept infidelity as norm or whether he’s just temporarily malfunctioning. If it’s a temporary malfunction there’s a chance of redemption for the marriage. If not you will have to weigh stronger options. Can you live with infidelity as norm in your marriage? If he’s about forty he may be going through midlife crisis. That happens to men. At that point a man reassesses his life, how far he’s achieved given the opportunities he’s had. Some freak out at that age. Having achieved a modicum of success they are more attractive to the opposite sex. They can easily get derailed.
If you don’t want to have the persistent regret you’re having now you’ll need to take a decision. Do you want to stay in the marriage or do you want to leave? Stewing in regret won’t help you. Yes, you saw this before marriage and you went on with it… But that’s past tense. What do you want to do now? Do you want to stay or do you want to leave? Those are your choices. The issues are outside you. The issues are not your issues. He’s the one with the issues. The resolutions have to come from him. There’s not much you can do but perhaps pray.
Should you report him to your pastor? Maybe. It depends on the pastor and how the church handles such situations. Beating him on the head with a cudgel will drive him out of the jurisdiction of the church. He’ll likely stop coming to church. If you spread the news all over town he’ll feel he has nothing to lose again. The story is out anyway. His reputation can’t take any more hit. You may thus empower him to be more philanderous. What you need the most at this time is wisdom, and prayers. It may take something nasty outside to stop him in his tracks and bring him to himself.
And it’s wholly possible he’s feeling lonely and doesn’t know how to cope with it. If he’s very talented he may be experiencing the aloneness of the talented. Some men in this state resort to drugs, some to booze, some to women. Only a woman can assuage such loneliness. It’s why I said you need wisdom. Be that woman.