‘Covid ended our marriage’

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Around the world, previously happy couples are splitting up and many are divorcing. Some have blamed the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, while others have simply surrendered to the end that a split has been a long time coming. 

In Nigeria, during the pandemic Reni [not her real name] found out her husband had another relationship.

“I found out during lockdown that my husband has a girlfriend.” Reni whispers down the phone from her home in Nigeria. Her family are chatting loudly in the next room, plates clinking as they prepare dinner.

“I confronted him about her,” she says, “and all he said was: ‘How did you get into my phone?’ It was a big blow out. I think he wants a divorce. He doesn’t know I’m speaking to you now, that’s why I can’t show my real face.”

Cooped up together in homes all over the world, many of us have felt the strain on our relationships. Juggling childcare, chores and work, worrying about health, finances and the state of the world, the global Covid-19 crisis has left many of us also navigating a domestic crisis of our own behind closed doors.

For some, like Reni, the close confinement of lockdown has also meant discovering secrets – and having to deal with the fallout.

Lockdown lifted the veil on the truth about her marriage. She says she would normally have been too busy to notice her husband’s cold and unusual behaviour, which led her to check his phone.

But despite the discovery of his infidelity, divorce is simply not an option. “I would call my parents and cry. But my parents are Christians, they don’t believe in divorce or separation. They told me to stay there no matter what your husband does.

“Do I love him? I’m not sure anymore. I’m just hoping he doesn’t speak to her anymore. But I’m glad I found out, it gave me peace of mind that his harsh behaviour was not my fault,” Reni says.

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