For many people, stories about house maids revoke bad memories. They bring back memories of evil deeds like torture of children and conniving with robbers to steal from their employers. But there is a story about maids that is told in whispers. That is the story of maids who literally take over the marital roles in homes, in extreme cases breaking up homes.
Jennifer M (not real name) will never forget how a maid snatched her husband and she blames herself for being naïve in thinking that she had a faithful husband.
She was married for almost ten years and never had any issues, but after her last child, she decided to go back to work and got a maid to help her with the domestic work. Years later, her husband grew close to the maid and it turned into an affair. It took her a while to notice because she always got home tired from work and rarely noticed things happening in her home.
“One day I was supposed to travel on a business trip but my flight was cancelled. So I decided to go back home and that’s when I got the shock of my life.
“It was raining and almost midnight when I got home, I opened my bedroom, but I didn’t find my husband. I searched for him all over the house but couldn’t find him. I decided to wake up the maid and see if he had told her where he had gone, and on opening her room I found my husband in the arms of our maid, nude and passionately cuddling the woman who did our chores. My body went numb, my ears started whirling and I felt the room spinning. I packed my bags and later filed for a divorce,” Jennifer painfully narrates.
She says she would have forgiven her husband had he slept with another woman. But to sleep and fall in love with their housemaid in their matrimonial home was beyond excruciating and humiliating.
But is there a reason to justify why a man would sleep with the housemaid?
Pastor Antoinne Rutayisire of Anglican Church of Rwanda Pariosse Remera says that it’s the most horrible thing one can experience in a home.
“Men are lustful but there is no reason to justify such a thing, if you have a problem with your wife you better sort it out instead of seeking for comfort from a maid. If the man attributes their weakness to the absence of their wives, then I think every man will end up sleeping with the maid, you don’t destroy your home because your wife is busy. She is busy working for your family and you married her knowing that she will be busy. All those reasons that people give are merely for the sake of justifying their ill behaviour,” Pastor Rutayisire says.
He adds that when a man sleeps with the housemaid, it’s disrespectful to the wife, especially when they do it from the matrimonial home. Apart from that, it’s a sin, regardless of where it’s done from.
“A maid in most cases is in a weak position to reject the advances of her boss for fear of her job, so it’s close to sexual harassment for a superior to have sex with an inferior. Men should also know that sleeping with someone who is not their wife is a sin, if the man needs intimacy he should go to his wife,” he says.
Pastor David Ewagata of Christian Life Assembly is of the same opinion that nothing can justify a man sleeping with the maid of the house.
“It’s like other affairs that happen and I think it’s caused by the weakness of one’s heart. Sometimes we think that we can’t be tempted but we need to guard ourselves. That’s why the Bible says “you who are standing be careful not to fall”. Though sometimes even our background has a lot to do with how a person can behave; many young men mess around and think that when they get married they will stop but unfortunately the habit follows them into marriage,” Pastor Ewagata says.
He is of the view that marriage is supposed to be sacred where the man and wife are both faithful to each other because even the Bible says that the marital bed is supposed to be kept holy and that no one should defile that.
When such a thing happens, it affects a family as a whole. Some people blame wives for not caring for their husbands and instead let the maid do it. Since it is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the maid will cook for him and in the process, win his affection. Chances are that he will still cheat regardless of how the wife treats him, that’s why it is advisable to choose a partner wisely, Pastor Ewagata adds.
At the end of it all, a man has to be a man and know his boundaries; not because his wife is busy or aloof but because he made vows to always respect her.
According to Sheikh Yusuf Mugisha of Masjid Al Quidsi Mosque, Kacyiru, sleeping with a maid in Islam is a big sin.
He says: “For a respectable man to sleep with the house help is disrespectful to the wife; the children lose respect for their father. It brings about disrespect from the maid to the wife, and she can start behaving like a co-wife and even plot to do harm to the wife. Even the children can get hurt in the process.”
Mugisha says only a man with no respect for himself; someone who doesn’t have fear for God is in a position to do that.
He adds that it’s even possible for the woman to do the same, but for one to do that, it’s because they do not value themselves.
He advises women to be aware of their husbands’ character so that they can take caution. “When you know that your husband has a weak spot for women, regardless of their status, you should take a decision and do what you can at home so that the maid only does the chores which do not bring her close to the man,” he says.
He also says that some women let the maid clean their bedrooms, wash the husband’s underwear or even make the bed, creating temptation for their men.
Jackline Iribagiza, a counselor based at Martyrs Secondary School Remera, says that in such a scenario, she wouldn’t put a lot of blame on a specific party; both would have a hand in it.
She says: “Women sometimes have a weakness of letting maids take complete control of their families, that is from taking care of the kitchen to the master bedroom; this is a mistake because one is providing space for the man to get in touch with the maid which can result into intimacy. Women should know how to put barriers; they should guard what is rightfully theirs.”
Iribagiza advises that women should learn how to take good care of their men because it is an important tool in keeping a marriage strong. Men on the other hand should respect themselves and their wives; they should stay away from acts which can devalue them and their families as a whole.
What women have to say?
Olivia Kabite says that managing a home is not as easy as it seems, but the maid doing all the chores doesn’t mean that a husband has to appreciate her by cuddling her in bed. “We pay the maid to do what she does, and being busy doesn’t mean that I can’t find time for my husband or when I fail to get time for my husband, he should be in the position to understand because the money I’m making is for our family as a whole. There cannot be a reason strong enough to justify a husband sleeping with the help,” she says.
Fridah Nsima says that women are the root cause of the problem, pointing out the fact that some women show their husbands that they are not capable of handling even the tiniest of responsibilities.
“Some women only have one child and start looking for a maid. When you show your husband you are not capable of handling the home at just the arrival of the first child, your husband will start seeing you as less of a woman and pick interest in the other who can handle responsibilities and also take good care of the home.Some advice to women is they should show their husbands that they can take care of them perfectly; and this will save them the drama.
What men say
Mathew Baguma is of the view that women today are trying to be modern housewives who only know how to go shopping and gossiping with the neighbours, a far cry of how things used to be.
“Some women just want to look beautiful and sit in the living room like a decoration. For instance, some Rwandan women find it necessary to have three maids, one for the children, one for cooking and the other for the courtyard. Tell me how a man can respect you when all you do is sit and command.They even make the maids clean their bedrooms, a place which is supposed to be private. Women should wake up and take charge of their homes by carrying out their responsibilities, if not, they certainly won’t get their maids’ respect or that of their husbands,” Baguma says.
Henry Mutabazi argues that it can never be okay for a grown man to sleep with the maid, regardless of what might have transpired between the husband and wife.
“A woman is only human and at some point she may need help, especially if she is working. I don’t think a woman can bring a maid just for the sake of it, especially when they are aware of the disadvantages associated with it,” Mutabazi says.
I say: Is sleeping with the housemaid justifiable?
How can a man sleep with the house help? To make matters worse, some men work for corporate companies, in very respectable positions. It is embarrassing and shocking, and I would never hire a house maid, my husband would rather cheat elsewhere than right under my nose.
Women are aware of their husband’s character and know what they are capable of. If he is the cheating type, don’t even bother getting a house maid - bring his sister - that will ensure fidelity. But if your husband has self-control, you have nothing to worry about.
I cannot allow my wife to hire a housemaid. Men are generally weak and I would not want to be tempted, it can be the start of our disputes at home. We can get relatives, especially from my side, like sisters or cousins to help with the house chores.
Men are never satisfied with what they have. Even with a beautiful wife, he will cheat with the maid at home. It is better to hire a maid who is not attractive to reduce the temptation. But sometimes, whether you bring a maid or not,some men will still cheat, he will at least go for the neighbour’s maid. I think some men are just possessed by an adulterous spirit.