May 10 2012
Maybe I’m wired differently from my fellow female species. Back then, my buddies used to call me Samantha Jones, the sexually liberated tart from Sex and the City. Welcome to the Cheating Wives Club. It’s a reality that does exist. Just like men, women have their physical needs too, and they can experience sexual frustration when these are not met.
Before I proceed with my story, here’s some advice I’d give to attached/married ladies who are ever tempted to cheat: You can actively seek out partners, place yourself in situations where there’s opportunity to hook up and get laid, or sometimes, attraction unexpectedly happens and you can choose to indulge in harmless flirting or let it take off (your clothes included). If you do, however, I’d urge you to leave your emotions at the door. And don’t assume that all males desire a no-strings-attached f**k buddy. Like women, they can’t stand being just a piece of meat and the last thing you want is some hung-up stalker who can’t get over you. So get your motives clear before it gets complicated. If you’re going to feel hurt, used, or start missing him and fantasizing about beginning a relationship, then stop. Quickly.
Anyway, I’m frankly bored with promiscuity. It no longer gives me a rush to know that I’ve still “got it.” Every dog has its day after all; I’ve had my fun and now it’s my husband’s turn. Yes, seriously. I’m not going into how I discovered his infidelity, but it’s happening and he’s confirmed it. It’s like a hostage situation: He knows I don’t have the grounds to put my foot down and walk out on him when my own track record is terrible. It’s like telling someone not to steal when at the bottom of the drawer you have a stash of shoplifted items.
Given my sordid history, I’m tolerating my husband’s visits to prostitutes. My grudging acquiescence takes into account all that he’s endured: A wife who has consistently cheated throughout more than 10 years of marriage, with no money-back guarantee that she won’t again.
And that’s not even the worst of it. I conceived a child with an ex-boyfriend. Imagine if your spouse came home and told you (s)he’s made a baby with someone else. I believe almost anyone would immediately flip and demand a split. I myself don’t think I could be that generous and forgiving. So when I say I’m willing to overlook his current indiscretions, that’s because I really do feel obligated to him for converting my bastard child into a legitimate one—his. For accompanying me on every prenatal checkup, holding my hand during labour, and paying for all expenses with his Medisave. For being a father ever since day one, showering the second with the same love that he gives freely to his biological kid.
I figured early on that if I couldn’t stay monogamous, the least I could do was to let my husband know. Here’s where my morals are twisted: I can’t deal with the guilt of cheating behind my husband’s back, but I certainly don’t give myself grief if he knows about it. I reasoned that being “honest” would be fair to him, so he could decide what to do. He could cut himself loose or do what he wanted, perhaps fix himself a meat sandwich of his own or even propose a swingers’ session for us both.
Maybe I was desperately trying to provoke a reaction out of him by sabotaging the marriage and calling attention to myself to see if he cared. My husband is not just uncommunicative, he can be as cold as ice, extremely distant and unsentimental, and he can shut down emotionally. He won’t even hate, because that itself is an emotion.
Alas, he withdrew into himself more than ever after he learned of my illicit affairs. Once I even brought a boyfriend home, but he looked through us as though we weren’t there. Plonked himself right there on the couch and started channel-surfing without batting an eyelid. Of course, while I was carrying on with this lifestyle, he would talk to me only when necessary. The silence was deafening. Until he accepted my child to raise as his own, that is. His commitment was a declaration that he was staying put.
I feel that we do still love each other, but our love has significantly cooled. Our mutual infidelity has created a rift—we haven’t had sex for close to a year. These days, it’s better though. We’re even on civil talking terms. Recently I told him, “Hey, about this prostitution thing… just to let you know that I have my limits too, and my patience is wearing thin.”
He responded by taking four days of leave and staying home. We went for dinner one night, and for a family outing the following day. He made “amends” by buying me packets of nasi lemak to gorge on for breakfast.
I think I can understand why men are genuinely clueless when their wives want a divorce over cheating, especially if it were a one-off incident. (“But… but, darling, it’s you I love, really. She’s nothing!”) And indeed, it’s likely she really is nothing. But just because I’m able to relate to a man’s primal instincts doesn’t mean that other women can or should.
Regardless of whether you are the cheat or on the receiving end, how you proceed or respond depends on your views of sex and love. Can you accept if your spouse has a lack of self-control and respect for you and satiates his lust elsewhere? Can you forgive an isolated lapse of judgement? Not everyone can and I respect that. Sex and love are very different things and I can separate both distinctly. That’s also why I tolerate his brothel visits. It’s just… sex. Like how it was for me and my multiple partners in the past. I never loved them, but I loved my husband. And I trust he feels the same whenever he beds a prostitute. That’s just me.
But I won’t lie… having a taste of my own medicine has been hard to swallow. I know this amounts to double standards, but if he ever falls in love, I’m walking. That’s me being selfish, because my own happily-ever-after didn’t work out. So I’m fine with him slobbering over the bodies of other women, as long as he continues to keep his emotions out of it.
One of my girlfriends asked me the other day, “Why are you standing for it? I wouldn’t. So what if you were unfaithful before? That doesn’t give him the excuse to get away with what he’s doing now.”
Then the insanity and improbability of my marriage struck me. Which husband would be fine with his wife sleeping around and getting pregnant with some other guy’s kid? And which wife would keep mum when her husband is screwing whores as his way of getting even?
Maybe I’m in denial, maybe I’ve eroded my sense of self-worth down to nothing, but this is my way of coping—what goes around comes around, this is retribution for my sins, better to repay the debt in this lifetime rather than the next. I’m confused, honestly, about how to handle this pathetic situation. I don’t want a divorce either. So whereas other married couples fear their significant other straying, my fears are: Will he ever stop now that he’s had access to forbidden fruit, and is he going to catch an STD?
I’ve tried hard to understand why staying faithful has been a struggle for me all these years. When I was 15, my mom had an affair and moved out for a year to live with her lover (they even had their union solemnised at a temple which, of course, was not legally recognised). I grew up angry and rebellious. My romantic vision of marriage was shattered when I saw that my parents themselves couldn’t even remain exclusive to each other. And even though I was initially determined not to mirror such a destructive pattern, to my horror, I had a shotgun marriage barely a year out of school and was hardly willing to commit myself to a solitary man for life. I enjoyed partying, flirting, flaunting, and even flashing, and I had numerous admirers from whom I withheld my married status. I even had the cheek to accept a pair of diamond earrings as a gift from a smitten divorcé, whose feelings I manipulated before I tired of him and made off (earrings still in my lobes).
Even though I was a superficial, shallow, sexual, and selfish hussy, I’ve always drawn the line at sleeping with married men or those who have a partner, and I’d never ever forsake a friendship even if my girlfriend’s mate was the most desirable male in my eyes.
I recalled my mother blurting out one night when she was wasted on alcohol, that my deceased dad wasn’t my bio parent. I incessantly interrogated her about it until she eventually confessed that she’d had a one-night stand with her ex, who happened to be a married guy, and shortly after, she discovered she had a bun in the oven. Still, she assured me that she is “very confident” that I am my father’s offspring. I’ll probably never know 100%, but it really doesn’t matter even if he isn’t. It’s the same with my kid… I regard my spouse as her true father, the real deal.
Anyway, I guess infidelity was coded in my DNA.