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When people have affairs?

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Affair‘It doesn’t happen to Me.’- the refrain provides a false sense of security from facing the harsh realities of life. Nobody is immune from reality and that includes affairs too.

Prithvi’s profession involves a lot of travel abroad. He says, ‘When overseas I like to have a little fun to prevent getting bored. What my wife doesn’t know doesn’t hurt her.” The matter of fact response to keep the hearth and the pleasure business separate does not negate the wrongness of deed.

In another instance, Bala, a bank employee has affairs with his wife’s knowledge. He candidly states, “I told her that I will have flings.” That he does it with his wife’s consent and women consenting to such acts either indulging or witnessing affairs - does not detract the amoral nature of the relationship.

It is not about altruism or leading a blemish free life. Rather it is about respect one has for the institution called marriage and for the partner in that marriage. Latha Nithyanand, clinical psychologist and marriage counselor opines, “Respect your partner even if you don’t love him/her.”

She cites a couple’s situation, where a man had brought his colleague home while his wife was away. The wife who came home earlier than expected says, “I thought I shall give them space. But then I realized that ‘I was jumping the gun.’ It could be an innocent meeting and I needed to give my husband that benefit of trust.”  Her justification being, “Had I brought my colleague similarly and if my husband didn’t trust me then would I not feel hurt?”

The husband was indeed indulging in an affair, she got to know later. But, trust and faith in one’s partner accounts for a successful marriage. So, indulging in an affair would mean not only a breach of trust and faith the partner reposes in you but also implies that you have respect neither for marriage nor your partner.

Initial response to a spouse’s affair is denial next being - ‘why me?’ Very often the conclusion is drawn from personal blame. Remaining faithful is what most believe in and want for themselves. But that belief does not prevent them from having an affair when the occasion arises.

Very often we send signals overtly or covertly that we are ready to have an affair. Latha says, “We need to know how to conduct ourselves without giving a wrong impression. The way we dress, the way we speak, our body language all contribute to emanate signals that we intend or not.”

“Men are vultures waiting to prey. Being married does not deter them from trying.” says Vidya whose husband works abroad. There could be many reasons for an affair: chemistry, attraction or plain sex tops the list. Companionship tries to absolve guilt from the relationship. The need to enhance self image – am I still attractive to the opposite sex - very common mid-life crises; to exact revenge on the spouse; to find solace from a painful, dissatisfying or unfulfilled relationship. It could also be plain fool hardiness by aping what celebrities do.

The reasons are numerous but the act is the same. Call the relationship by any name you want but it is still unacceptable. “What starts as a harmless flirtation blows into a full affair if unchecked.” states Latha. It is only natural to be tempted. Whether we give in to temptation or not lies with us. The onus is on us and the responsibility is ours. The accent is on choice. We choose to live the way we want and we are responsible for our consequences.

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