If you ever believed that the December festive season is an exclusive opportunity for the married to spend time with family, you may want to think twice as married men with secret families have devised creative ways to hide the ‘wife number two’ during the festive season.
One way is to vacation with both families in the same destination, but booking them in separate hotels. As the kids from wife A are busy splashing in the swimming pool, our holiday hero will be busy shuffling to the next hotel to be with wife B and her kid(s) splashing in a different pool.
Indeed, being a mistress is not always as glamorous as movies would have us believe. Life is even harder come the holiday season, like during Christmas and New Year.
A 2015 survey by a leading research firm based in Nairobi revealed that there are more mistresses than married women in Kenya, meaning there are more secret families out there.
The research revealed that 87 per cent of women aged between 18 and 35 know someone who is dating a married man, 71 per cent of women who sleep with married men have no regrets, 29 per cent would have a child with the married men, while 32 per cent would quickly pack their fornication bags and move in if the man kicked out his wife.
The happy women seem to be the ones who are known to the extended family. Take city businessman and politician Opiyo Lando for instance. He has two (breathing) wives.
Lando told The Nairobian that, “I will spend Christmas Day and go for mass with my first wife. In the afternoon, I will go to my second wife. On New Year’s Day, I will spend the entire day with my first wife, and go to my second wife on January 2.”
Lando does not give a hoot about mistresses since, “If a man loves you, he should officially marry you. Being a mistress is just wrecking another woman’s marriage. No man in his right mind should even dream of spending an hour of this holiday season with his mistress. Family must come first.”
According to the 2013 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, 13 per cent of married women – at least 1.8 million – are in polygamous relationships, compared to seven per cent, or 700,000 of married women who cheat on their husbands. This means 1.8 million men have second wives, but the figure could be much higher if mistresses are factored in.
Wangui, a 32-year-old medic says she will spend Christmas alone in her South B house because she’s dating a married man. “I no longer go to my parents’ home because all my sisters go to their husbands. My parents ask me about my man all the time, so I avoid going home,” she says.
Wangui has been a mistress for three years to an executive in the finance sector, and “I can’t wait for the holidays to be over so that I can go back to work.”
Cliff, an accountant, says he has already ‘finished Christmas issues’ with his mistress. “I bought her all the gifts she needed for her family, and told her I will be away in my rural village for the entire festive season. She said she will go to her village too, so I also fuelled her car. The next time we will see each other will be in January,” says Cliff. He admits that he loves his mistress, though family has to come first. “People expect to see me in the village with my wife. Whether I love her is not an issue. She is the mother of my children and the wife everyone knows.”
Cliff’s comments are corroborated by a 2011 Infotrak Harries survey on the status of the institution of marriage in Kenya that revealed that 60 per cent of Kenyans are unhappily married. The survey also reveals that given a second chance, three in every 10 people would not marry their current spouses. Only four in 10 married people said they were in the marriage for love.
Beauty queen and anti-jigger ambassador Cecilia Mwangi said in an earlier interview with The Nairobian that, “We must embrace our African culture. People must stop demonising second wives because we are not bad people.”
University of Nairobi sociology lecturer Ken Ouko argues that polygamy never really died, but has just been reinvented by men who keep mistresses. “Missionaries said it was a sin, and they were quoting the Bible. So, as time passed, people started hiding their second wives because they also didn’t want to be shunned by the community,” argues Ouko. “This has given rise to mistresses. You will find a man totally loves another woman and will do everything for her besides marrying her. This is because of fear backlash from society.”