Ololade Ajekigbe: Cheating and the test of control

by Ololade Ajekigbe

I was having a conversation with some friends when the topic drifted to the issue of cheating. It was no surprise; just recently the news got out that another celebrity marriage had hit the rocks. Before this revelation, cheating had been a hot topic. Famous comedian, Kevin Hart had been enmeshed in a cheating scandal, and social media had gone wild with the news and how men, (in particular), could hardly be faithful in relationships. One of my friends had expressed her concern about the spate of cheating, especially among married couples and had asked me what my thoughts were on the disturbing trend.

It was not the first time I had thought about it actually. How one party would be doing all they can to ensure things go smoothly in the relationship, choosing to be faithful in spite of the temptations they encounter, while the other party remains only partially emotionally invested in the relationship. Quick to yield to the allure of the opposite sex or even go out their way to initiate such dalliances. And if they are discreet enough with their shenanigans, they are even perceived as considerate. The total jerk would do very little to hide their escapades from their partner.

My friend had maintained that cheating was never going to be permissible for her. She couldn’t understand why some women would excuse cheating in their partners even when it was clearly a breach of what’s supposed to be an exclusive relationship, and would instead offer the classic stomach churning response of “all men cheat” whenever the topic is raised in any gathering.

To this kind of women, any woman who left her man simply on the basis of cheating was not the least bit wise. I had had this conversation a couple of times with different people, and each time I have opined that the best approach to these matters is to relax on the need for control. What has control got to do with this, you might ask?

I am not an advocate of cheating. Like most people, I am a jealous partner and would rather not share the affection of a lover. I imagine how painful it must be for anybody to be cheated on, but I also realise that it’s virtually impossible to control anybody or their actions, and a good understanding and acceptance of this reality is the pathway to being at peace in any relationship.

And here’s what I mean – Think about it, do you as an individual possess the power to stop your significant other from cheating? Can you control a full grown adult? Let’s even consider someone we would like to think we have total (or at least a high level of) authority over – our children. When children are really young they hang onto your every word and though they are stubborn and disobedient sometimes, they tend to obey you most of the time.

Fast forward to a couple of years later when they become teenagers and eventual adults, they begin to form opinions of their own and your influence on them as a parent begins to wane, whether you like it or not. It’s the natural course of life.

If your children whom you have raised and nurtured from birth can at some point decide to forge their own path and turn down your suggestions and admonitions sometimes, how much more someone who was raised by someone else and whom you only met when their habits had been fully formed?

The inclination to control is understandable. If we had our way we would determine when the sun rose and set each day. We would make sure no harm came to us or any of our loved ones. We would shut the eyes of our spouses to every beautiful girl or handsome guy who appears to be a threat out there. We would catapult ourselves to the zenith of success without putting in the required hustle.

While we are certain we cannot control nature, we attempt to test our power of control on something that is more malleable; most times a fellow human, our neighbour, our spouse, our friend. Man always desires to take charge, it’s how we are wired.

But what makes the power of control more beautiful is not having to enforce it at all even if one possessed it. Not needing to nag, cajole or employ trickery in making a partner choose us over another. Not having to use emotional blackmail to get our children to obey us. Not having to snitch on co-workers to get ahead in the workplace. Not having to manipulate anyone to get anything.

Am I suggesting that you leave everything to chance? No. You have to be deliberate to get most of what you want in life. I am only saying that at the end of the day, when it comes to relationships of any kind, the truth is, you actually have little control over how others choose to live their lives (and yes, even if they are your spouse). People will do what they want or need to do most of the time. It doesn’t matter how close they are to you.

I am saying an acceptance of this reality will bring you the kind of peace you can only experience when you let go off attempting to force loyalty.

And so, if you find yourself going after every girl that takes more than a cursory glance at your partner, If you try to stifle your kids and micromanage every activity they are involved in just to keep them safe, If you must be close to the boss to be assured of your longevity in an organisation, you’re not only depriving yourself of the opportunity to see how powerful you really are without trying too hard, you are starving yourself of some much-needed peace of mind.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaijain

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