My daughter, my co-wife: Confessions of a mother whose daughter stole her husband


Not long ago, a university employee, Mercy* admitted in an interview with Parent magazine that her daughter snatched her husband. The senior assistant registrar claims she has forgiven both her daughter and her husband for the pain they caused her.

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“I share the circumstances under which my marriage split up hoping it will inspire someone to start her own journey to forgiveness and restoration, as opposed to bitterness, anger and death,” she says.

In 2006, while working as a teacher and counsellor in a local high school, Mercy* met an orphan girl. She took her home and adopted the girl who was three years older than Mercy’s first born.
Mercy says the girl bonded very well with her family and her problems began when she had to resign from her job to recover from an accident that left her with multiple fractures.

“I enrolled for an undergraduate degree in education in Meru. I would be away from home sometimes up to three weeks or longer at a time because of my studies,” she says. “It was while travelling back from one of these trips in 2008, just after my daughter had finished high school, that I received a phone call from one of my neighbours. She told me, ‘Just know that girl you are living with is not your daughter but your co-wife. I was shocked.”

Mercy says she decided to investigate and discovered clandestine correspondence between them. “In anger, I confronted them and to my shock, my husband blamed me for the affair, saying I had brought the girl to him,” says Mercy. She has since forgiven them. Not surprisingly, cases of older women snatching husbands from their daughters, or daughters snatching men from their mothers are hardly reported due to embarrassment and stigma. Experts say such deviant behaviour is among many modern ills placing the traditional family unit at risk.

“Traditionally people feared curses, but nowadays, no one believes in being cursed, so that is why someone can sleep with his uncle and feel nothing. Sex is just sex, with no feelings attached,” says sociologist Ken Ouko.

Mid 2015, when an Embakasi woman, Hannah Mwenje, caught her husband and mother in her matrimonial bed one morning, her tears sent the nation reeling in shock, particularly because she was forced to endure the indignity of watching them. “It was a Sunday. I went to church with my two children. My husband was still sleeping when I left. “During the church service, my baby became restless so I decided to leave before the service was over because he was making so much noise and disrupting the service.

“I got home and found the door open. I could hear voices from the bedroom,” she says, pausing to describe their two-room house in Pipeline, Embakasi. “My husband heard me walk in and came out of the bedroom naked. He dragged me into the bedroom and I found my mother naked in bed. I was dazed,” Mwenje recalls. She says the two went ahead and finished their ‘business’ as she stood shell-shocked watching them.

“When they finished, my mother told me that a man like my husband didn’t deserve a woman like me. She then dressed and gave my one-year-old son five shillings to go buy sweets. They left with my husband as I collapsed on the floor,” says Mwenje.

Mwenje wanted to kill herself but she didn’t have the energy to stand up. She stayed on the floor for hours before she sent her three-year-old elder son to call a neighbour. “The neighbour came and helped me stand up. I had no strength. She took me to her house and took care of my children,” says Mwenje. Her husband, who is a plumber, and her mother went and started living together. But the born-again woman says she has forgiven them.

Mwenje’s case is not isolated. Late 2015, Ghetto Radio reported that a woman in Makongeni estate had been thrown into a state of shock following revelations that her 32-year-old husband had been having sex with his mother. The woman also suspects that her husband has been sleeping with his sister, too.

And in May 2012, a hacker exposed decadent phone messages that had been sent to radio presenter Maina Kageni. Incest, for some Kenyans, is no longer taboo. One of the texts read, “Hi, Maina, call me if you find time. I walked into my house only to find my husband having sex with his younger sister. Akaniuliza (then he asked me) ‘haven’t you heard of privacy?’ I’m confused. Good day.” Another user texted in saying: “I am in love with my father-in- law. I am 26 years and he is 57 years (sic). I love him more than I love my husband. We have been sleeping together since my first year in marriage. He is well-endowed,” she added for good measure.

Another wrote: “My situation is worse because I allowed my mum’s boyfriend to seduce me and I eventually slept with him. I later realized he is HIV positive and I do regret.”


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