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Small houses and painkillers

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A few years ago, while attending a diary meeting for journalists, one senior editor revealed he was sleeping with a married woman.

Column by Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

“It’s better to have a married woman because she will not demand too much. All she wants is intimacy which she is being starved at her matrimonial home.”
A deafening silence ensued until I decided to take him on: “While you are sleeping with that married woman, your wife too will be sleeping with her boss.”

The editor stared at me with anger. He could not utter any word. I was to learn later that his marriage was shaky and that his wife was suspected to have been involved in a love relationship with a married man at her workplace.

Sophisticated worlds have now given glossy names for these affairs and in Zimbabwe, “small house” has become almost acceptable as an official term referring to men’s unofficial spouses.

Women involved in such affairs have also coined their lovers as “painkillers”.
But it would seem extra-marital affairs have become the in-thing, an additional qualification to boost one’s self-esteem, says Dr Tilak Fernando, who wrote on a website called London Diary.

“However morally, ethically wrong or sinful to have an extramarital affair, the fact remains that millions of husbands and wives in the modern world do fall prey to this unfortunate serpent where families break down and in most cases end up in divorce where innocent children are left to pick up emotional pieces left from their parents! ”

Dr Fernando said no other failure is analysed so thoroughly as love when a husband is having it away with another woman, for it can be the greatest tragedy and disgrace that a marriage can suffer from.

“Firstly, the wife’s ego will become bruised and later anger; hatred, jealousy, pain, humiliation and desperation begin to struggle for supremacy in the woman’s inner being.

Fernando further explains that on a rational analysis, one may try to understand a man’s need for another woman in the first place.

Fernando adds: “Too much of the wife’s possessiveness also can create the path for another woman to enter a man’s life. Some men do confess that they get the feeling as though that their wives want to swallow them alive! It is when she turns into a witch and expects the husband to do everything together, even sharing every thought with her.

“Unnecessary suspicions by wives at times can lead to tears and tantrums, but such behaviour will not help except driving the man away, may be to an affair which he may not have even thought about!”

But what are the characteristics of this “other woman” men seek at times?
“She may not always have to be the sexy, glamorous, pampered and wicked creature that the wife may imagine.

“She might even be older or less attractive or not as educated as the wife.”
Fernando says the wife has the first claim to her husband’s surname, his children, birthday, holidays, social life and other celebrations.
“The “other woman” has to put up with people cutting her dead and sniggering behind her back. Solitary nights, secrecy, stress, guilt and fantasy may become impossible for her to maintain forever.”

Women, according to Love Doc on Psychology Today, a website on Internet, have secret lovers, primarily because they’re not getting their needs and desires met in their marriages.

“Feeling stifled, unfulfilled, frustrated, and helpless in their marriages, they step outside of their marriages.

“Taking the step is in itself empowering. The affair is a daring active choice, not a more-of-the-same passive response. It screams out loudly ‘Enough! Something’s got to give, either the marriage or me.’

“A common myth is that the affair is about sex. It is not. For the most part, sexual intimacy was better at home before romance eroded.

“Screaming fights or silent simmering hostility erodes romance and extinguishes the flames of passion.

“Chances are that problems in your sex life are not about the quality, but the quantity. Fighting to the death or suffering in silence snuffs and kills sexual desire for most wives. And there’s less and less intimacy in the marriage.”
Love Doc says if insufficient sex is the result of unsatisfactory marriages and affairs the result of unhappy marriages, what are the causes? What do wives want?
It isn’t only that they desire emotional engagement. It isn’t only that they desire sexual passion.

He goes on to say that it isn’t only that they desire safety and protection along with autonomy and independence.

“I have found that wives want mutuality, equal power relationships, and recognition from their husbands.

“Devotion, love, and commitment without passionate sex, fun, and excitement is the steak without the sizzle. For wives to feel sexy they need the sizzle,” says Love Doc.

Does any of this sound familiar? Let me know your thoughts.

rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw

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