Seven o’clock in the evening is an odd time for me to switch on the television.  But switch on I did and found myself watching some channel that was showing a poor rehash of the lovely Mahesh Bhatt film “Arth”. For those of you who have not seen this movie, it is about a married woman whose husband is having an affair with another woman. She tries her best to save her marriage – talking to the “other” woman, pleading with  her husband to give their marriage another chance and finally when nothing works she tries to start life afresh-all alone.  The movie I was watching was rather awful in terms of the cast and the acting but somehow the theme seemed to hold me riveted to the screen. So, in between stirring the curry on the stove, I kept coming back to the living room to watch the film. When the husband came in, I yelled from the kitchen “ Don’t change the channel. I am watching that movie” . He told me later he was “shocked” that I was watching such “crap”.

Well.. ‘crap”  or not, I watched the movie almost until the end! Actually, now even  I am surprised how I did that!  I guess because it had something to do with the theme- the worst nightmare for every woman -her husband having an affair.

I sometimes read these articles where people say that no third person can break up a marriage- that the third person’s entry is a logical consequence of an unraveling relationship. I am not so sure about that. I mean, relationships go through phases. Each phase has its own complexity. When you are young and just married there is all the time in the world for each other. Then  you become parents and the relationship undergoes a change.  For women in particular, this is like a watershed – we lose our looks, freedom and become stressed. Some marriages cope well with this change while many don’t. But that does not mean that they break apart.  Or do they create conditions where one of the partners – the husband ( most probably) starts looking for someone else? Or may be that someone else walks into his life and he realizes that this is what he wants .. If that is so then it is probably very unfair to the wife because, lets face it- the wife is also undergoing the same turmoil in the marriage. It is just that women are socially conditioned to respect the sanctity of the married relationship.

But let us look at this from the  point of view of the “other woman”. She is actually not an opportunist. A victim of her need she finds herself in a situation where she is emotionally involved with a married man. So what does she do? She tries to demand more of his time and falls apart when he leaves her.

And men… well in the Indian context I would say they probably have the best of both worlds. They continue being married , enjoy the joys outside, keeping status quo. Some of them are forced to take the decision and make that choice between one of the two women.  And I  guess women who marry previously married men are probably  more insecure in their married relationships  because they have had a first hand experience of what this man is capable of!  Complicated isn’t it?

As a wife I think an experience like dealing with the husband’s extra marital affair can completely ruin your self confidence. It might be easy to say that she should walk out  but most women don’t because marriage and motherhood makes you most vulnerable.  So we try to ignore it, forgive the guy or try for what is called a “fresh start” ! And the saddest part of all this is when it happens about a decade or so into one’s marriage. There used to be TV serial called “Saans” made by Nina Gupta who plays the mother of teenage kids whose husband starts having an affair with her friend. A woman who has never had a career, she finds herself suddenly having to think of life alone with the kids when she decides to walk out of the relationship.

I once had a domestic help who married  a married man (a bit of a tongue twister). Ofcourse I thought that he had duped her by not reveling his married status but she told me that she married him out her own free will.  And her husband like our former Chief Minister was quite happy to have a “manaivi” and “tunaivi”. He fathered four kids ( two each from each of these women) and lived what he considered a blissful married life (lives). I wondered why a sane girl would make a choice like this. My friend says that it is the fascination of having someone “belonging” to someone else suddenly notice you and prefer you to her. Gives her sense of power.. ! Guess in a country like ours these are the only few opportunities that women get to experience power..! But it is inexplicable when movie stars like Hema Malini settle for playing second fiddle..

Man they say is polygamous in nature.. I don’t believe it. I think it is just that our society makes it easy for men to get away with polygamy. So they indulge in it whenever possible. Women on the other hand have to face more social repercussions when they do something like this. So they tend to be more responsible in any relationship.

Whatever, whether it is men or women, three is definitely a crowd and such relationships are best left to movie scripts and romance novels. Trying them out in real life messes with everyone and complicating life..! It does not help either the Pati, Patni or the Woh



  1. For every married man who goes astray,there is a woman,married or otherwise involved.We are not talking about paid sex here.The cheating is prevalent in both genders while the betraying women keep it discreet and under wraps unlike some men.I agree with you that women are more cautious and vulnerable than men in such matters.
    But a good wife is shattered when she learns the deception of her husband especially when she is middle aged and has children and not in a position to walk out like men in similar circumstances.
    From what we read in dailies,the incidence among younger people is on the rise and many affected suffer in silence.

  2. Like it or not. Majority of men want their wives to be submissive. Wife becomes not so submissive after a few years of marriage. Becomes nagging and yelling type. Then comes a woman who pretends to be submissive to attract this married guy. He does not know she will also be nagging and yelling in a few years.

    Also, I get the feeling you wrote as if only men are guilty. I can give you a few stories about the other side where a woman has become more “adventurous”.

  3. Yes KP, it is a new world today where self gratification is the norm. So when one relationship does not satisfy you ( in whichever way) they do what is called "move on" !

    @ SG, I am not in complete agreement with you about men wanting submissive wives. Men want a lot of things from their wives ( it is a long wish list) and then they get tired of what they have got and start looking for something / someone else. Yes, women are also guilty of this but in terms of numbers I think men do this more.

  4. Meera, this is a fascinating topic. And I guess one can debate and discuss till kingdom come.
    You are right when you say that it is the social order that gives man the edge and the raison d'être to be polygamous if he chooses. And social strictures, conventions and inhibitions restrain women from being amorous like men can be. I feel, with the economic empowerment and the casting away of social taboo in another few decades, one may see women being more courageous in such misdemeanors and adventures as men are now.
    Biologically women choose and they choose the best and the safest. It is as we know that women may not be sexually disposed anywhere anytime as men can be. Typical animal like still men are!
    But the “other woman” proverbially and in real time has been the villain of the piece. There is nothing called fairy tale living, it is a mirage and a fairy tale as fairy tales are. This I think is also with extra-marital affair. Don’t you think so? The sheen will certainly be lost. It is how we cope with that reality bombardment that is fatal to a future life.
    Promiscuity necessarily need not be because of discontentment alone. Both men and women are adept in that and only that men are as for obvious reason I mentioned more audacious and indulgent.

  5. On men being polygamous - it is actually true even according to genetics :P
    The woman's body releases only one egg in a month - so woman by nature is monogamous...
    A man releases millions of sperms in a week - he is polygamous by nature...

    But yes, having the other woman in your life can be quite a nightmare! Being the other woman is equally frustrating...I feel all relationships work as long as the two people who are involved desire to be together - there may be moments of weaknesses but if the marriage is strong, I do not see how a one-night-stand would actually manifest into a full-blown affair..

  6. LoL Divya, i had never thought of that - a single man can impregnate about 100 women in one day.. So for drastic population control measures, one should do away with men ( joking). I think what makes a relationship risky is a lack of commitment to make it work!

  7. Anil, your last sentence sums it up well- Promiscuity is not a gender specific trait. Both men and women can "stray" but men tend to do it less as the constraints on them are less. And about men being more sexually oreinted. I would dispute that because women are just socially conditioned to deny anything that is physical- whether it is a desire to go to the toilet or for sexual release!

  8. This was a wonderful movie and all three gave their best.
    As for some girls sticking on to some rotten guys.... well its something that still baffles me.

  9. Hmmm...many things come into my mind..

    1. Yes, after few years the married woman is so very bogged down with her motherhood, she hardly even takes care of her health, leave alone taking care of external beauty and she is no more the glam doll the husband married.

    2. And even at this age, the hormones men have, are playing its trick too.

    3. Agree, both men and women can go astray..and these days with the accessibility through Internets, it may not be surprising if old flames are re-kindled.

    4. The OTHER WOMAN is not a 'husband hunter' always; she may be actually loving the man dearly and yet living with the bitter truth that the married man will never leave the wife, hardly they would. I remember a dialogue from a play about extra-marital relation. A friend of the 'OTHER WOMAN' told her, You loved the right man but in wrong time.

    5. Fidelity and Loyalty. Hmmm...a product of a Patriarchal Society, as said in a book I am recently reading. We should be loyal to our bosses, we need to be loyal to marriage. A phenomenon of a Patriarchal Society is having a control over the tools of production and (re)production. Thus even if society may accept a polygamous man, it will loathe an so called 'ASTRAY' woman, she should be loyal to her marital home.

    6. No, I am NOT advocating EXTRA MARITAL relation. Any institution will survive only when the participants/ members are committed.

    7. I am sorry if I hurt anyone's sentiment...


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