by Thilak S. Fernando

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

In the case of a man having an affair with another woman they say 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 or taunts the wife with the fact!

No other crisis tests love so thoroughly as when a husband is having it away with another woman, for it can be the greatest tragedy and disgrace that a marriage can suffer. Firstly the wifes ego is bruised and later anger; hatred, jealousy, pain, humiliation and desperation begin to struggle for supremacy in the womans inner being.

Some times, perhaps, the other woman can be the best friend of the wife or the husbands colleague or just a faceless name. It could also be that the other woman could be of a series of casual flings, or a one-night stand! But her obnoxious presence will be everywhere whiff of perfume on his shirt, an idiotic cat-has-the cream smile on his face when he thinks nobody is looking, the extravagant gift for the wife to ease his conscience, his late hours or his wrath when the wife has done nothing to merit it.

On a rational analysis one may try to understand the need for another woman in the first place. Quite often, she is 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 cannot distinguish between purely physical and emotional feelings and believes that her husband cannot love her if he has sex outside.

Some assume that it is this misunderstanding of the male libido that prevents a woman from evaluating the true nature of her husbands 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 they are men and they need other women ! For this category of men, the other woman seems to make them feel good. They like to admit that they are being discreet and say that those are not relationships! its like when you are hungry you eat out, but he likes the wifes cooking the best!

In certain cases after the wife gives birth to 2 or three children she begins to demonstrate that she does not want sex anymore. What happens then is that, in many cases where professional elite classes are concerned, the husband will have sex with his secretary. The wife may not know about the husbands new relationship but to the husband, his wife comes first in every respect even under such circumstances.

Sometimes the other woman enters a mans life because of the wifes possessiveness. Some men 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, the 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, may be to an affair which he had not even had thought about!

In certain cases it is not sex that is most important in a marriage, but the total relationship that counts. When women try to use sex as a bribe or weapon it opens up a different chapter where they dont have much to say to one anther. Saman (not the real name) says he has met a single woman with whom he can relax, who makes him laugh, who is interested in his work. They have been to bed once and it was a total sharing and conversation before and after. Sometimes the other woman is an escape from friction under the domestic roof.

What are the characteristics of the other woman men seek at times? She is not always sexy, glamorous, pampered, wicked creature that the wife may imagine. She might even be older or less attractive or not so educated as the wife, but she is for sure, riddled with guilt and resentment, what with a mans 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 his surname, his children, birthday, holidays, social life and other celebrations and the other woman has to put up with people cutting her dead and sniggering behind her back.

All in all, solitary nights, secrecy, stress, guilt and fantasy are impossible for her to maintain forever. And in all probability, her lover, the womans husband will be back to his wife and family where he belongs, because he too cannot strand the emotional, physical and financial strain of leading a double life.

Generally Asian women are reared in a household where a display of affection between adults is taboo. She is conditioned to have sex with her husband whether she wants or not, and then two contradictory elements come into play. There is the long-suffering type who will pardon her husband for all his sins, even sexual exploits outside his home, and there is the other type who accepts all his vices like gambling and drinking but will never allows him to womanise.

Perhaps, the first womans attitude is more realistic because she knows that her husband really loves her in his own way, satisfies her material needs and seeks sex outside because he genuinely believes that he is sparing her from his demands in bed. Such women, generally older, cope by turning a blind eye to the other woman, knowing that it will blow away. They hold their heads up high and smile believing that men are easily aroused and that the other woman doesnt stop their men from being good husbands and fathers. They would never dream of a divorce or of confronting the other woman. Can women take a leaf from Americas book of romance ?

What would you do if you hear that your husband has another woman?