Hard facts behind extra marital affairs!
by Dr. Tilak S. Fernando reporting from London

Extra marital affairs have been in existence from time immemorial in every society. In the so-called sophisticated Western societies it has become a fashion or regarded as an additional qualification to boost one’s self-esteem to say that he or she has a ‘lover on the side’! However morally, ethically wrong or sinful to have an extra marital affair, the fact remains that millions of husbands and wives in the modern world do fall prey to this unfortunate serpent where families breakdown, and in most cases end up in divorce where innocent children are left to pick up emotional pieces left from their parents!

In the case of a man having an affair with another woman, it is said that ‘the wife is the last to know’ when her husband has strayed. She may vaguely come to know about it from the peoples’ whispering behind her back until a well-meaning friend decides to let the cat out of the bag for obvious reasons to keep the family of her friend in tact. Alternatively, the husband finally eases his conscience to his wife with the truth.

No other failure is analysed so thoroughly as love when a husband is having it away with another woman, for it can be the greatest tragedy and disgrace that a marriage can suffer from. Firstly, the wife’s ego will become bruised and later anger; hatred, jealousy, pain, humiliation and desperation begin to struggle for supremacy in the woman’s inner being.

Sometimes, the ‘other woman’ can be the best friend of the wife or the husband’s colleague or just a faceless name. It could also be that the other woman is of a series of casual flings, or a ‘one-night stand’! But rest assured that her obnoxious presence will be everywhere from the whiff of her perfume on his shirt; an ‘idiotic cream smile’ on his face gives him away when he thinks nobody is looking, or the extravagant gift for the wife to ease his conscience.

On a rational analysis, one may try to understand a man’s need for another woman in the first place. Quite often, she may appear as an attempt to resolve a problem that stems directly from the marital bed - like frigidity, limited libido or just plain boredom. The romantic woman fed on a diet of Mills and Boon novels may not distinguish between purely physical and emotional feelings.

Some assume that it is this misunderstanding of the male libido that prevents a woman from evaluating the true nature of her husband’s behaviour and the fact that another woman overcrowding their marriage may not mean that all is not well with a marriage. Many men swear and say that they love their wife but, of course, they say they are ‘just men’ and they ‘need variety’! For this category of men, the other woman seems to make them feel good. They like to admit that they are being discreet and like to come out with excuses that those are not relationships but it is like when he is hungry he eats out, yet he likes the wife’s cooking the best!

In certain cases, after the wife gives birth to two or three children, she begins to demonstrate that she does not want sex anymore. In such a scenario among professional elite classes, the husband may approach his secretary! The wife may not know about the husband’s new relationship, yet to the husband, his wife comes first in every respect even under such circumstances.

Too much of the wife’s possessiveness also can create the path for another woman to enter a man’s life. Some men do confess that they get the feeling as though that their wives want to swallow them alive! It is when she turns into a witch and expects the husband to do everything together, even sharing every thought with her. Naturally, some strong men-folk get suffocated in such circumstances and feel hemmed in. Unnecessary suspicions by wives at times can lead to tears and tantrums but such behaviour will not help except driving the man away, may be to an affair which he may not have even thought about!

In certain cases it is not sex alone that is most important in a marriage, but the total relationship that counts. When women try to use sex as a bribe or a weapon, it opens up a different chapter where they don’t have much to say to one another. Sometimes the other woman is an escape from friction under the domestic roof.

What are the characteristics of this ‘other woman’ men seek at times? She may not always have to be the sexy, glamorous, pampered and wicked creature that the wife may imagine. She might even be older or less attractive or not so educated as the wife, but for sure ‘the intruder’ will be riddled with guilt and resentment with a man’s part-time loyalty and his part-time presence; full of fear too, about losing her looks and losing her lover; and most often she is lonely.

The wife has the first claim to her husband’s surname, his children, birthday, holidays, social life and other celebrations. The ‘other woman’ has to put up with people cutting her dead and sniggering behind her back. Solitary nights, secrecy, stress, guilt and fantasy may become impossible for her to maintain forever. When the excitement of an affair begins to wear out, in all probability, her lover will get back to his wife and family where he belongs, because it will become difficult for him too to stand the emotional, physical and financial strain of leading a double life.