Why I stayed with my husband despite him impregnating my younger sister twice

A licensed professional counsellor said people stay in toxic relationships because they have hope that things will get better. File picture: Timur Weber/Pexels.

A licensed professional counsellor said people stay in toxic relationships because they have hope that things will get better. File picture: Timur Weber/Pexels.

Published Jun 23, 2024


People will frequently ask, "Why don't you leave?" or say, “I would have left a long time ago,” after learning that someone they know is in an abusive or toxic relationship. However, leaving is never an obvious answer for everyone.

IOL spoke to two individuals who are in relationships that some might consider unconventional and devoid of love and respect.

*Lerato Kenosi (not her real name) is a 43-year-old mother of three children. Two are from her previous relationships, and one is from her current marriage.

Kenosi said her husband had an affair with her younger sister, *Kelebogile, 24, and impregnated her twice. Despite this, Kenosi remains in the marriage, and they all live together under one roof.

Although this appears to be an unusual set-up considering what happened between Kelebogile and her husband, for Kenosi, it was something that could be resolved.

“Honestly, for me, this is not something that can make me leave my husband. The children were never born, Kelebogile aborted them, so why must I leave over something that’s not even there?”

“For me, what remains important is a man taking care of his financial duties, I don’t care about anything else. My husband never neglects his financial duties, he pays for everything and never asks about my salary.

“I came with two children in the marriage but my husband takes care of them as if they are biologically his,” she said.

When asked whether she still has a good relationship with Kelebogile, Kenosi said their relationship was not affected.

Talking about what led to the affair, Kenosi said she was experiencing difficulties in her marriage, which subsequently led to a lack of intimacy. Additionally, she was away more often due to work demands.

“I landed a new job and I went through some training which kept me away from my family. Kelebogile came to assist with the children and we also thought it was a wise move because she had finished matric. This was an opportunity for her to find a college because she was doing nothing at home.

“If it’s anything, she saved my marriage, because if it was another woman, a stranger, she would have taken my husband and left with him. But Kelebogile took care of my children and made sure my husband stays.

“These things were done by our ancestors, it’s not a shock. It’s just that we have adopted the Western way of doing things and we want to act shocked when such things happen as Africans. If I couldn’t give birth in my marriage, Kelebogile was going to be asked by the elders to step in, so it’s the same thing,” she explained.

Meanwhile, *Salome Mokoena, also a mother of three, forgave her fiancé after having a child with her friend who lives three houses from their place.

Mokoena from Soshanguve said she is in a long-distance relationship with her partner because their children attend school in Soshanguve while their father lives in Mamelodi.

“We used to live together. We lived together for at least 10 years but I had to move after my two children started school. My mother is old and I can’t expect her to do everything while I’m alive and well.”

She explained that she couldn’t find good schools in Mamelodi and thought it best to bring the children to her mother’s place in Soshanguve because the school was closer there.

After moving back to Soshanguve in 2020, she said she would visit her fiancé during school holidays or every other weekend.

“During one of the visits, I learned that he was sleeping with my friend. People told me that they were always together and sometimes they saw her leaving our house in the morning when my husband left for work. When I asked my friend, she denied it. I didn’t ask my man because I know he’s a liar. I just left it at that.

“But before I know it, my friend was pregnant and I was also pregnant with my third child. When I asked her who was the father, she just cried. She never gave me an answer, but I made my conclusion there and then,” she said.

Mokoena said she knows her fiancé was not serious with her friend.

“If he was serious, he would have left me and went to her but he didn’t. And for the fact that he’s still with me and raising our children together, it’s obvious who was a fool between me and my friend.”

Unlike Kenosi, Mokoena said her relationship with her friend was fractured with no prospects of reconciliation.

“I know my partner approached her first, but she had the power to tilt the scale. If she had said no, this wouldn’t have happened, even worse, she had to fall pregnant. My man has cheated before but I didn’t know the women and they didn’t fall pregnant,’’ she said.

According to an article by a licensed professional counsellor, Chareessa Chee, she explained that people stay in toxic relationships not because they want to be treated badly, but because they still have hope that things are going to get better.

“Most of us have wondered why a friend doesn’t just leave a relationship that’s bad for them. In many cases, it’s because this relationship is defining in their life; it’s the only thing that they know to be true. Often, this is accompanied by the belief that they will be the one who will change this person,” she wrote.

Moreover, Chee said some people tie their dreams closely to other people, and a break-up would mean those dreams must die.

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