Pati, Patni aur Woh!

It was surprising to see Saras Kanda defend her husband in the Geetika suicide case.

Rashi Aditi Ghosh/Zee Research Group

It was surprising to see Saras Kanda, the wife of embattled former Haryana minister Gopal Kanda, defend her husband in the Geetika suicide case despite serious accusations. While Mrs Kanda pleading for husband’s innocence may have shocked many, she is not the only wife to stand behind her husband.

Examples abound from politics to cinema where wives chose to ignore the pain and humiliation of knowing the existence of other women in their husband’s life. Personalities like former US president Bill Clinton, Anthony David Weiner, Dharmendra, Shiney Ahuja and Chand Mohammad were able to save their marriages thanks to their wives.

Infidelity destroys the indelible bond of trust on which all relationships, most especially marriage, are based. Ideally, no wife would ever want to live with a partner who’s cheating on her? But what happens when she has to make the choice? Will she walk out of the marriage? Clearly, it is a difficult and ethical question.

Experts view infidelity as a by-product of a rigid and divided society where caste, creed and other factors define and prevail over individual choices.

Dr Ramesh H Makwa, an expert on the Sociology of Crime & Deviance from Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat thinks, “Love marriages and inter-caste marriages are still a taboo in a majority of India and as a result, Indians suffer from sexual and emotional dissatisfaction. This deficiency leads them towards extra marital affairs which directly affects the women in the marriage as she is the one who is blamed the most. Women prefer to stay mum and defend to save her social status and family status.”

But the decision to rally behind a cheating husband is not that easy. Knowing that the whole world knows your spouse cheated on you can shatter a women’s self-esteem.

Dr Sameer Malhotra, head of Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences at Max Hospital, Delhi, says, “A marriage provides women with physical, emotional and social security. Before stepping out of a marriage she first keeps her children in mind and then decides.”

However, the complex interplay of these factors may take a totally different form when the culprit is the women.

“Ironically, tolerance level within men towards involvement of their wives in adultery is much lesser than women. They blame their sexuality and incapability and easily take the strong step of ending the marriage,” adds Dr Malhotra at Max Hospital.

Explaining the wives’ decision of staying back, Dr Gitanjali Sharma, marriage and relationship counsellor from Delhi, says, “Marriage is not about signing a contract. A couple stays for years together supporting each other in their thick and thins. It is not easy to step out of a marriage all of sudden reasoning infidelity as there is a lot more at stake with the breakdown of relationship.”

Interestingly, the flip side of the rising adultery cases, especially involving celebrities where too much is at stake, is pushing women’s tolerance levels up. Moreover, it is also about giving a second chance to a remorseful partner or husband who makes a genuine commitment to not break the marriage vow.

“It is not easy to get rid of the power and status if you are a celebrity wife. Celebrity wives tend to be more practical than commoners; they think prefer not to involve emotions in their decisions,” adds Dr Sharma.

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