We are constantly hearing about male celebrities who have given into unwise indulgences. What if a woman was to go out and have an affair? Would the transgression be ignored by the husband or would she have to pay big time?
Rahul and Ruhi have been married for 8 years. A happy, compatible couple, Ruhi is the introvert in the relationship. She interests are few and far between, but she definitely loves reading. Luckily for her, she works for a publishing house in Delhi. Rahul, on the other had is full of beans, laughing and joking and the life of a party. Not surprisingly, he is a trainer at a well-known call centre.
Being neighbours, I have known them for years. At festival time we surely meet up and sometimes, I bump into Rahul at the gym we both visit. But off late, I haven’t seen either Rahul or Ruhi. I wait a few days thinking maybe they have gone out of town. But when three months passed, a bit worried, I looked up Rahul’s number in my diary.
What he said left even me a tad surprised. Ruhi had been meeting another man on the sly for what it seems almost a year now. And only recently did Rahul get whiff of it. I meet him for coffee and discuss the issue extensively.
Cheating. The word itself is associated with negativity and naturally brings negative connotations into a relationship. What people who cheat fail to understand is that marriage is a ‘contract of exclusivity’. It is an institution where the two – husband and wife decide to live together with a mission of fulfilling each other’s needs. So when the contract of exclusivity is breached, or overlooked it brings the marriage to a stage of vulnerability which may even lead to dissolution. Although all marriages, where either or both partners indulge in cheating, do not break.
I asked Rahul would he have felt any different had he been caught cheating on Ruhi? Relationships have different dynamics when cheating is done by the wife and different when it is done by the husband. Comparatively more marriages with the cheating husbands survive than marriages with cheating wives. The reason behind this fact is that wives are more accepting as compared to the husbands. Wives are likely to keep her husband’s philandering ways a secret so as to avoid ruining the relationship completely. She will try to assess whether the husband is guilty and make him promise that he will not repeat such transgressions. However, it is the opposite when a wife is caught cheating. The husband, it is observed, will loudly declare it to the girl’s family and will involve his family too.
When wife is caught cheating, the husband shows an explosive reaction of anger. It contains abuse either verbal or physical or both. In some cases the husband also tries to threaten or bring harm to the other man who is involved with his wife. Sometimes this reaction also follows a denial to stay with the wife and bringing an end to the marriage. Incase there are children, the husband tries to share his ill-feelings with them as well. All this is surprisingly missing when the husband is caught cheating.
When the husband gets to know that his wife has been cheating on him, he undergoes feelings of inferiority and feels competitive of the other man. He undergoes a feeling of self-rejection, which damages his self-esteem. So simply saying he asks himself, “What was I lacking?” This is very different when the husband is cheating. The wife of such a husband gets the feeling of having lost her husband, similar to a sense of loss of possession. So the question that such wives think is, “Why did he go away from me?” Rahul is mortified by what Ruhi has done. He feels inadequate, completely useless as a man and most as a husband.
Healing too differs
How will Rahul feel better? How will his marriage, if at all, survive? Husbands feel haunted by the repetitive thoughts of their wives cheating them. The husband visualises the complete picture of all that his wife may have done with the other man. He gets so obsessed with this imaginative movie that it affects his sleep, food intake and work. He gets into a comparative analysis with all that he has done in the marriage and his imagination about the whole act of cheating runs riot. Comparatively it takes much more effort to psychologically heal the husband of the cheating wife than the wife of the cheating husband. The difficulty in healing the marriage is marked by the husband’s obsessive thought pattern around the act of cheating. It requires him to work on letting go of the obsession. Whereas incase of the cheating husbands, the wife needs to be given reassurance that there will be loyalty in future, if at all there is one together.
Reoccurence of transgression
Incase the marriage survives and the cheating wife promises to abide by the contract of exclusivity, it has been observed that most of the wives maintain their promise. But this is different when the husband is cheating – such husbands are likely to again indulge in illicit relationships outside the marriage, as compared to the wives who have cheated.
Acceptance by both
When the cheating wife is given acceptance on the grounds of maintaining commitment for the future, mostly it has been observed that the husbands will make a mention of her past indulgence in an extra marital relationship. Even when she maintains her integrity in the future, the husbands do not leave an opportunity to make her feel guilty as compared to the case when the wife has accepted a cheating husband.
Marital life is indeed different for a man and a woman when there is an instance of cheating. Different people have different opinions around this topic because of the difference in value systems that develop. But still a third person can come between a couple only when there is space between them. A marriage only rests on one fact i.e. complete sharing – of needs, expectations and experiences. When there is sharing by both, almost all of the needs, be it emotional or physical, can be taken care. And as a result there will be no gap and complete bonding will exist. This is what I have advised Rahul and Ruhi and I hope they can carry on the path of matrimony.
Source: The Times of India