- Gender and Relationships
The Extramarital Affair
Infidelity is Common
“Never damage your own character. To have a love affair breaks a bond between husband and wife – and even if your partner doesn’t know about it, the relationship must be less open, so something very important will never be the same.” -- Lauren Bacall
Infidelity has always been rampant. It has a certain glamour about it: the excitement born of secrecy and the experience of newness. Yet it is condemned almost in all societies because of the pain it can cause in relationships – whether it is discovered or not.
Extramarital Affairs Allowed on Festivals
Of the 139 societies surveyed in the 1940s, 39% permitted men and women to have extramarital affairs with particular relatives such as sisters and brothers- in- law either during certain holidays or festivals or under other special circumstances.
Cultures That Allowed Infidelity
The Kuikuru, an Indian tribe in the jungles of Brazil, allow married couples to take up to twelve lovers at a time.
The Todas Tribe of southern India have no objection to their wives circulating among the neighbours and the Marquesans of the equatorial Pacific can’t understand the notion of sexual jealousy
Greek husbands had their courtesans and even indulged in homosexuality forbidden by the Jews.
Infidelity in Ancient India and China
The Chinese husband was executed if he slept with another’s wife.
Extramarital sex on the part of an Indian or Chinese wife was considered as capital offence.
In the ‘Mahabharata’, the offence is more serious with cross-caste affairs: “Whenever a woman commits adultery with a man of a caste inferior to her husband’s she shall be torn to pieces by dogs, and in some public place.”
How Some Indian Women Dealt With Their Cheating Husbands
A friend of mine, Maria B. was so fed up with the emotional and physical abuse of her alcoholic husband who demanded of her all sorts of perverse pleasures, she told him to get it somewhere else and leave her alone. He did but he continued to refuse her a divorce. “I was really good about it.,” she says. “I overcame somehow my feelings of jealousy and kissed him on the cheek sometimes and gave him a hug when he wasn’t being irritable, but I never again had sex with him.” Her trying marriage is now over, definitely aggravated by the husband’s infidelity.
Another friend who allowed a dashing French man to whisk her away to Paris was disillusioned when he left her for one of the Bond girls. When he came crawling back, she let him in but it did not last.
“You could say that I was just a bit flattered by the fact that it had taken a Bond girl to lure him away from me, but it was never the same again between us. I was always worried about him taking off again.”
Rehana S says that her lover was always so attentive and romantic with her that she never realised that he was cheating on her. “It really shocked me,” she says tearfully when this other woman called me up and told me that he loved her, not me. When I confronted him with it, he finally told me that it was over and it was just sex not love.”
Rehana says that was the worst thing he could have told her. She drove her lover mad with questions and when they made love, she kept wondering how he’d liked this big built woman when he had always said he preferred Maria’s petite build. She may have forgiven him, but she never forgot and her relationship too ended in the dumps.
Should Women Ignore the Infidelity of Their Husbands?
If one is not married, it’s easy to just break off the relationship (well, it ought to be), but if one is, it may be the greatest dilemma one could face in life. I hear of more and more women who choose to stay on with unfaithful husbands because of the security and conveniences that marriage offers. But they are never truly secure or happy for security comes from within.
If you, God forbid, find out your lover is cheating on you, I suggest you drop him. Your relationship can never be the same again.
As the Penguin Book of Infidelities puts it: “Infidelity is dangerous, for it confounds the stable order, and introduces notes of deception and betrayal into relationships intended to be harmonious”.