Yusuf Adua

last updated Fri, Sep 8, 2023 12:21 PM

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Marriage struggles in Nigeria: 'You used me' narratives taking a toll

By Yusuf Adua
| Updated 12:21 08/09/2023
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Marriages are meant to be enjoyably beneficial to couples, but when they are getting to the point that any of the parties are playing a blame game, the sad end of either separation or divorce is imminent. 

Such has been the case in Nigeria in recent years. Although divorce and separation in its actual prevalence has not been seriously documented in the country, previous studies indicated that the rate of divorce only in a single state in Nigeria is higher than its entire rate in many European countries.

But it is the high-profile divorces that are often documented, end up in legal separation or make the headlines. Statistics from the High Court at Maitama, which is the headquarters of all high courts in the FCT, show that 32 cases of divorce were filed only in January 2023. 

It is more concerning that half of all marriages are likely to end in divorce. But when it gets messy, as in the case of popular actor Bolanle Ninolowo, who maintained in an interview with BBC News that his wife Bunmi whom they both have two children, never loved him but used him to better her and her family's lives, it becomes clear that the popular mantra should be treated no more as an excuse but a real deal that should be looked at. 

In the interview with BBC, Bolanle Ninolowo claimed that he returned to Nigeria for the first time after 15 years in the USA and by extension, he met his ex-wife on the street where his mum lives.

After they had been friends for six months, he added that his wife, Bunmi, got pregnant for him, and his mom told him that she had to marry her.

“I met her on the street where my mom lives, and I was 24 years old while she was 23 years old and after 6 months of meetings together, she got pregnant for me, and my mom told me that it’s a must I get married to her since I’m the one responsible for her pregnancy. 

"She never loved me but rather used me to better the life of her own family due to her selfish nature," he said in the interview conducted in the native Yoruba language. 

Farida Sobowale, a popular Lagos socialite and business owner, would have taken her own life on Wednesday, August 17, 2023, because she believed her husband had used her. 

She was protected from plunging into the lagoon on Third Mainland Bridge after her extravagant marriage two months before with another socialite, Demola Okulaja, crashed abruptly. 

In itself, the separation was hard to take in. But its aftermath is more scornful. In many Facebook live videos hosted by bloggers perused while compiling this piece, each was adamant that the other person used them to satisfy selfish and personal desires. 

While marriages and separations are not death sentences, the 'you used me' narrative could be, as in the case of Sobowale and many others. Many people have taken their own lives because their spouses allegedly used and dumped them. 

The use-and-dump card

Abiodun Adams is a marriage counsellor based in Lagos, Nigeria. She tells Prime Progress that because marriages and companionship can be exhausting, spouses find it hard to cope when their partners use and dump them.

"From my experience, couples will think they are used and dumped whenever their partners cart home more material or financial benefits from their union after separation", she says. 

From marrying another wife and diverting family finances to secret affairs, Adams maintains that whenever a partner deviates from some of the realities that bind them together, the other person has been used.

"Then some of them decide to live with it. At the end of the day, when the marriages crash, it then dawns on them that they only allowed those anomalies to slide because they are still together. The you used me terror could kill more than any other feeling because it is filled with regrets and shock," she said.


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