The recent exposé of the goings-on in the Idibia family generated quite a controversy. I am sure we are knowledgeable about the disclosed facts but I will rehash them briefly. Wife Annie inferred via social media posts that husband Tuface was still sleeping with Pero, the mother of three of his kids in the guise of spending time with his children. As expected, everyone who had an opinion aired it, the most common views being that:
1. Tuface was a polygamist and Annie has to accept the fact that the mothers of his other children are wives and not just baby mamas.
2. Annie should not have come on social media, was attention seeking, should have expected that Tuface would still have dealings with the other women that had children for him and is foolish for not walking out on the marriage.
Blended families occur when either spouse has a child or more outside of their present relationship or marriage. The children may or may not live with the couple and they may or may not have been born before the couple got married. Most times especially with men, the woman knows about the existence of the child before she marries him, though, a good number of women actually discover their husbands have children outside the marriage during the existence of the marriage or sometimes after his death. In the case of most women, their husbands do not know of the existence of a child when they marry them as most women tend to hide the fact that they have given birth before. A small number of women especially divorcees and widows do not hide the child or children and it behoves the man to accept them with their baggage.
I have always asked myself what I would have done if Mr Aisi had a child or more outside. Thankfully, he never did and I don’t know what exactly would have been my reaction but I have toyed with several scenarios from denying both the mother and child access to my house, leaving the marriage, accepting the child on conditions which would have included the child living and growing up with us ( if the mother was agreeable) me being the middle person between father and mother etc.
The one thing that I knew without a shadow of doubt, was that I would never take it out on that child, after all, no child decides to come into the world on their own volition neither would I have stopped Mr Aisi from having an active role in the child’s life. I know a family or two where the children were not allowed to ever come into their father’s or mother’s houses, nor partake in any of the families activities that the wife or husband was a party to, as it was a condition their spouses laid down on discovering their existence and I know the mental anguish these children have gone through, some even developing mental illness as a result of their knowledge of the existence of a father or mother with who they could not share life with. In fact, for them, it would have been much better had that parent been dead than alive. I would have been insistent on certain things and boundaries though. Things such as no hiding or going behind my back for visits or spending monies without my knowledge. Boundaries such as the fact that the mother cannot appear unannounced at my doorstep in the guise that she wants to have a discussion about the child except for emergencies.
We are beginning to see more blended families whether by default or unforeseen circumstances. For those that go into it with the knowledge aforehand, the circumstances by which their partners become single and available( death or divorce) is crucial to how they are received but in all situations, the problems to be overcome are always underestimated. At the beginning of the relationship , parties are mainly concerned about the other spouse and often think that because they love each other surely things will work out between them and the children. Many a-times they overlook or choose to be oblivious about (a) the dynamics of the relationships their spouse has with their children, their ex and their ex’ s family, (b) the financial burdens especially when they begin to have their own children and the fact that there may be an inequality due to many factors- the ages of the children, the financial stability or otherwise of the party at the given time, the wealth of the ex’s family and their involvement in how the children are brought up , (c) the emotional anguish they will have to put up with in order to win the confidence of the step children. For women in particular, there is also the constant pressure to assure everyone she is not a wicked step mother and the dividing of loyalties between her biological children and those of her spouse.
For those that discover the existence of children midway into the marriage, it is a most devastating discovery. Not only is your spouse cheating on you but there is proof of their infidelity. I have found out that the way the innocent party discovers the fact is a major factor in how they respond to the situation. It is always better for them to hear from the horse’s mouth rather than to hear from an outside source, be it family, friends or a DNA test. The truth is that whichever which way, the sting of betrayal is deep and can only be assuaged by how the party relays the news and their behavior thereafter. If they act in a manner that suggests that the other party has no choice but to accept the children, then they breed a dangerous reaction in their partner even if on the face of it they tend to accept the situation. If however, their manner is contrite and apologetic it opens the door for true reconciliation.
Whether the children are born before or after the marriage of the couple, upon the discovery of their existence, the parties must sit down and weigh their options and ask themselves the necessary hard questions if they still desire to stay together. May I state here, that for some couples the revelation is a deal breaker and they will choose to opt out and they must never be castigated for their decision. I have personally wondered if I would be able to treat another person’s child as my own when sometimes especially when my children were still growing and were naughty, I felt like disowning them how much more children that are not mine biologically?
Questions such as where the children will live, custody issues, visitation rights, upkeep, boundaries and such must be addressed. Where it is the case that the woman has passed off another man’s child or children as that of her husband’s and the marriage is still subsisting, issues such as the legality of the children’s birth is already addressed in law but the couple must be prepared for a situation where the biological father lays claim to the child/ children. Also couples who have adopted a child amongst other children or have used the option of surrogacy must avert their mind to the what- ifs that may occur in the future.
The truth about blended families is that there will always be that third party in the relationship – the mother/ father of the children and their presence remains whether or not they are alive or dead. How the parties choose to regulate that relationship is vital for the health of their union otherwise outbursts such as Annie’s will feature in the marriage albeit not always through social media.