In the yester-years, the news that a woman had cheated on her partner was a scandal of immeasurable magnitude. A woman, once married, was expected to be faithful to her husband, no matter what,until death do us part. The so-called “cheating gene” was a preserve of men. But that was then.
In one unscientific yet telling poll at womansavers.com, women were asked if they had ever cheated. Of the 9,400 women who responded, 49 per cent said they had. Another 26 per cent said they had had no problem stepping out on their partners if they knew they could get away with it. That is today’s woman. If men thought they had Masters degrees on cheating, women have gone higher up with PHDs.
Miriam has just completed campus and is an intern at a company in Nairobi. She has a boyfriend with whom she has gone steady, but she is cheating on him with her boss.
“I am doing it in order to get a permanent job. I cannot be an intern all my life. It’s nothing personal, it’s a necessity,” she argues.
Blame the husband
Miriam claims that dividing time between her boss and boyfriend is very hard but she is up to it. She does not care that her boss is married; after all she has a boyfriend too.
Some women blame their husbands for their decision to cheat. “I gave my husband everything I had and even quit my job to raise our five children. I was a good wife who was always waiting to serve him even when he came home past midnight. I gave him support and encouraged him when he was low; I was literally his rock. Anything he needed I provided without second thought; but when I found out that he was cheating on me, I lost it. to. In revenge, I had an affair with his closest friend,” says a woman who wished to remain anonymous.
“I initially intended it to be a one time thing just to get even, but now later I could no longer control it. I, however, have no regrets. If my husband can cheat on me after everything I did for him, why shouldn’t I also have fun?”
You have probably heard that men cheat because of physical reasons but experts have found out that most women cheat because of emotional reasons. Even so, it takes more than mere opportunity to get a woman to slide between someone else’s sheets.
Naomi James, a counselling psychologist and therapist with Oasis Africa, says that women will most likely cheat due to emotional negligence. “Women who feel emotionally neglected by their spouses are easy targets for affairs. If they find empathy elsewhere, they go for it. Men look at issues in a rational way while women are emotionally wired. A careful listening ear will attract a woman toward another man.
My friend, (let us call her Karen) despised cheating spouses. This was as a result of her childhood experience. When she was younger, her father openly cheated on her mother. It got so bad that sometimes he would even bring a woman home. It hurt her mother so much, and in extension, her. But life played a dirty trick on her and she found herself desecrating her marriage of six years.
“My husband is a very quiet man who rarely talks, and worst of all he never shows me any affection. When I first met him, his silence made him seem mysterious, but when one is married, this only makes a woman lonely and miserable,” says Karen.
Karen claims that her husband withdraws from her and their two children whenever he comes home from work. Children are scared of him and he only shows her concern when he wants intimacy. All they talk about is bills and the children. Nothing else.
“I really tried to make it work but whenever I tried to initiate conversation about anything, he would always shut me down. For six years I put up with the loneliness.”
Then a certain man was transferred to her place of work and everything changed. “When you have a husband who starves you emotionally, it becomes very hard to ignore a man who shows you even a little attention,” she says.
Frank would make an effort to talk to her and always wanted to know her opinion on various issues. He always complimented her when she changed her hair or made an extra effort to look nice. With time, she stopped minding that her husband was ignoring her. Soon, she was doing everything, including dressing to please Frank, her office-mate. Then conversations at the office turned into lunch together and tea in the evening before heading home.
“What drew me even closer to Frank was the fact that he actually listened to me. He remembered my birthday and bought me presents.” With that, Karen had no reason to refuse to jump between the sheets with Frank arguing that he deserved her more than her husband.
Naomi James cites numerous other reasons women cheat, from the rational to outright outrageous as follows.
Lack of respect and recognition
Some men take their spouses for granted. They put their wives down in the presence of others including the children. Women want to be loved and affirmed. They want to be appreciated especially on the way they dress and how attractive they are in terms of their beauty. Once they find someone who respects and appreciates them, they are trapped.
A woman in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship will often look for a safe zone outside the marriage. Looking for comfort and psychological inner healing from someone who shows concern leads many women into other men’s arms.
Some women have no guiding principles or moral values. This result from poor upbringing where children have watched their parents cheat on each other thus picking the habit as the normal thing to do. Blame it on the broken societal norms.
Couples today are always on the move, especially in urban areas. Some get wealthy but at the expense of their marriages. Men who are always on business trips or workaholics put their women at a very high risk of getting into another relationship because they are not available. The same happens with women who work far from their spouses, in different towns or countries. Again depending on the moral values of an individual, some women will cheat on their husbands for economic gains; looking for financial support that the man is not able to provide.
The ideal man
Women want to associate with men who portray power, authority and command respect from people. An irresponsible man, weak in ideas and one who depends on the woman to lead creates a feeling of insecurity in her. Women will often involve themselves in extra-marital relationships in search of the ideal man.
Some men may not be able to function well sexually due to illness or because of their lack of knowledge on how to satisfy their partners. If the couple is not helped on how to cope with the challenge, women involve themselves in extramarital affairs to meet this need.
Some women are influenced by their peers; probably bad company that ruins good character. Naomi James, however, does not end it at that. She says: “Though an affair always seems like the easy solution, women should be warned that the consequences are far greater, the grass is not always greener on the other side.”