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The infidels among us

Rhona Canoy .

SO… Someone I know is going through some tough times. At least, that’s what everyone around her seems to think. Because her spouse of many years was found to be having an extramarital dalliance. This is not to belittle her current situation but cheating is the one thing that wives dread but never have thoroughly discussed in the marriage. Therefore, welcome to Infidelity 101.

One thing many married couples do not realize is that there is a distinct difference in the way men and women think and view the world. After all, the road to matrimony is not travelled together, no matter what most women think. Let’s break this down, for the sake of argument. When couples make their couplehood official, there is an acknowledgment that some sort of relationship has been agreed upon. The world sees them as “sweethears” or “uyab” and that they are exclusively dating. No other serious romantic relationship is to be entertained and they become each other’s exclusive property. At least, in the mind of the female.

Males are expected to have eyes for only her, and there is some sort of female expectation that she should know where he is at every single moment of the 24-hour day. Early on at this point, the relational imbalance already rears its ugly head. Expectations are rarely (if ever) discussed and agreed upon, but figure dominantly in the couplehood. The male is rarely aware that the female expects to know not only where he is at all times but who he is with at all times. The male’s geographical routes and habits are duly noted and memorized, to be recalled and presented at a moment’s notice when needed. And the male is expected to inform the female of any and all changes in the pattern. Prior to effecting these changes, of course. Males expect the same thing, too.

But here’s where the difference lies. The female expectation is driven by the need to feel that she is a part of her male’s world, life and daily dynamics. That she is on his mind and (by default) in his heart all the time. That he proudly tells everyone about her and what she expects of him, as well as behaving in the manner which she expects. There seems to be some general female fantasy that the male’s life is consumed by her, driven by her, determined by her. Good luck with that, females. The male, on the other hand, cares deeply about the female’s whereabouts, who she is in constant company with, where she habitually geographically gravitates—all these for one simple but all-important reason. To make sure that he isn’t seen and his shenanigans duly caught or reported to the female in minute detail. This dynamic is going to carry through even into marriage.

If the male’s infidelity is discovered during this dating stage, it actually works out better for everyone because all the legal issues still do not exist and therefore to terminate the relationship is simply done by a lot of yelling and screaming and demeaning inappropriate Facebook posts. After which the ignominy and shame dissipates after a period of time. Sympathy for the wronged female is generously sprinkled all around her, and bragging rights for the male is duly established. If, however, the discovery is made after matrimony has been contracted, lawyers and child support eventually come into play, and at its most extreme, annulment proceedings. Which is why, really, it’s time our misguided lawmakers (especially our pretentious senators) need to consider the viability of a divorce law.

Unfaithfulness in a marriage is always a matter for debate. The female is almost always beleaguered because she assumes that the male is fully aware of her expectations which actually have never been completely discussed. Preferably before they sign the marriage contract. I mean, really! Discuss the playbok and all the rules of the game before the starting buzzer buzzes. In truth, that legal and binding document doesn’t work in favor of any one of the parties concerned. Yes, the contract may allow the aggrieved person to hold Damocles’s legal sword over the infidel’s head, but on the other hand, it takes a lot to prove in a court of law that infidelity occurred. The errant parties have to be caught in flagrante delicious, meaning that they have to be physically attached to prove carnal relations. They may be both under the sheets totally naked together, but if their bodies can be determined to be independent of each other, they can claim anything and be found not guilty, with the help of a creative lawyer. In the eyes of the law. Which was crafted by many men.

Females need to understand one thing. It’s bad enough that our culture so casually dismisses marital indescretions in favor of the male. “Men will always be men.” “Sigue lang kay ing’ ana na g’yud ang lalaki.” But the more important thing that the female does not see nor comprehend is this: that the male infidel does not do this to hurt her or their marital relationship. The male is usually unfaithful to fulfill an unmet need, whether it is a lack of physical intimacy at home, the desire for less nagging, or fatigue from the financial responsibilities that come with marriage and children. The most egregious of all is when the aging male’s fragile ego needs adoration from a younger (usually financially voracious) female. The female, as a matter of social gender expectation, will pour her wrath on the OFW (outside female whore), assigning her most of the blame because the OFW is not supposed to be entertaining advances from a married male.

Whatever. The bottom line is that the generally-accepted rules of the marriage game have been broken. What is incomprehensible to most females is how the male, although slightly troubled by the possibility, can risk losing his children, his house, his money in exchange for an OFW. But then, I think the male doesn’t consider these risks at all because of something in the male brain that processes things differently. Most males function on the premise that they are smart enough not to get caught. And that the extramarital activities have nothing to do with his marital obligations. And that they have the ability to maintain the status quo. I must do more research on this matter, but I have talked to quite a number of males to conclude that this mental process is a gender defect.

This column is not written to make light of a very difficult situation. Infidelities cause a lot of pain, heartache, trauma not just for the main parties but also for the children who must suffer the consequences, without any choice in the matter whatsoever. But the issues does emphasize the difference between how opposite genders address and consider the matter. Some marriages survive the crisis and both parties, after a lot of effort and a lot of forgiveness, somehow find a way to still make things work. Other marriages disintegrate. And we haven’t even touched on the issue of respect. And love. And responsibility.

And yes, sometimes, the infidels are female. The one thing most males’s delicate egos cannot handle.

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