Dear Thelma: Double standards for marital affairs

Dear Thelma: Double standards for marital affairs

Dear Thelma,

I would like to pose a question. Hope you will bear with me.

Recently, I was a little bit perplexed regarding relationships in a family. I am wondering how one action gives rise to another different set of reactions or results. Firstly, let me give a scenario of a family consisting of two parents with adult sons and daughters, and grandparents. If a husband or wife has an affair, obviously the spouse will be very unhappy and may even file for divorce.

But what happens when it is the grandparents or the adult children who are having the affairs? It appears there is not even a mention of divorce or disowning of anyone in the family. If a wife's father has extra-marital affairs, the wife might even feel proud because it's a sign that the father is virile. But, when it comes to the husband, it's always "no talk". The word "divorce" is always thrown about. What's your view on this?

Relations

Dear Relations,

This is a sticky situation indeed. The double standards could be due to expectations.

For instance, a wife would expect honesty and monogamy from a husband. This is not unusual. Marriages are, after all, built on that promise. So, when there is a breach of that expectation, there will be hurt and disappointment. A direct reaction from that place of hurt and disappointment would be a call to end the relationship once and for all.

Now, this can be different for different people. Some may eventually accept the cheating spouse's behaviour. They may see this as an error or mistake in behaviour, and seek to make amends and to try and move forward. The moderating factors in these decisions, perhaps, could be expectations of each other and the marriage, an understanding by both parties, or even personality factors.

When it comes to expectations of a filial figure - be it a father or grandfather - there could be expectations based on the notion that they are beyond reproach. Least of all, from an "outsider" like an in-law. Then, there would be the need to protect this person's "face". And, it doesn't matter that that comes at the cost of defending actions that you may not tolerate if you were on the receiving end.

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