updated 23 Jun 2012, 13:45
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The New Paper
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Some men are looking for women to respect them
by Elysa Chen and Vivien Chan

WHEN Joe the brute cheats on his wife, eyebrows are not raised.

But when clean-cut, all-American, smart (he’s a Stanford University old boy) and incredibly talented Tiger Woods cheats, it seems the world let out a collective sigh.

Wives all over must be thinking: If goodie-two-shoes Woods can cheat, what about other men, including their husbands?

What’s more, Woods has a beautiful trophy wife – a former model, no less.

So what made him stray? Especially since the women linked to him are, well, a nightclub hostess, a cocktail waitress and a nightclub executive.

Counsellors, divorce lawyers and private investigators here agree on this: Men with beautiful wives may still cheat on them.

And good men are just as capable of having affairs.

Seemingly quiet husband

Amy (not her real name), a housewife in her 50s, never suspected her husband of 20 years was having an affair.

The engineer supported the family and came home early every day. He was quiet, gentle and did not smoke or drink.

He got upset when he heard of friends or relatives who had affairs and called them “very sinful”. Then he started behaving strangely and often received text messages – just like Woods.

A few months later, the couple went to Care Corner Counselling Centre for marriage counselling after it was confirmed the husband was having an affair.

Mr Jonathan Siew, their counsellor, said: “The wife told me that it was as though she was seeing a different person. She said her husband had become a stranger to her.”

She isn’t alone.

Lawyer Geralyn Danker, who specialises in matrimonial and family law, has also seen family men having affairs.

Counsellors report a jump in the number of adultery cases, with some seeing the figures triple in the last 20 years.

Divorces are also on the rise. Last year, there were 6,852 divorces, up from 5,389 in 1998.

Men tend to have affairs for physical pleasure and one-night stands or visit prostitutes, while women seek companionship, said psychologist Danny Ng.

Mr Ng, who has 20 years’ experience as a family and marriage therapist, said: “It can happen to the best of people. In a moment of arousal and passion, people get carried away by lust.”

Others believe that they married the wrong person because they are able to connect better with someone else, whether it’s a friend or a colleague, he said.

Relationships outside the home are also free from the day-to-day domestic problems and responsibilities, making them more exciting, he added.

Ms Ho Shee Wai, director of The Counselling Place, said: “Some men cheat because they are greedy, opportunistic and unable to say ‘no’.

“Tiger Woods, because of his fame, has women throwing themselves at him.”

Some men also cheat because they are unhappy in their relationships. Instead of confronting and resolving these issues, they decide to take the escapist route, said Ms Ho.

Chairman of CampusImpact Ivan Teo, 48, who has been counselling couples for five years, said people are now spending more time in the office than at home.

He added that affairs sometimes start when one partner starts sharing more deeply with colleagues than the other partner.

Mr Teo, who is also a pastor, said: “Pastors and evangelists have affairs too. No one starts out wanting to have an affair.

“But when they have such busy schedules, they start spending more time with their secretaries and sharing their worries with people other than their spouses.

“Before they know it, they’ve built a deep emotional relationship with them even if they do not want to have an affair, and it’s all too easy to turn to these colleagues and friends when things do not go well at home.”

Mr Teo, who has counselled a man who had an affair with his colleague after they shared rides to work and had breakfast together, advises people to draw the line when it comes to confiding in friends or colleagues of the opposite sex.

Marital problems are worsened when dissatisfaction is swept under the carpet, he said.

“It’s difficult. By the time people get home and do household chores, they are too tired to talk to their spouses, so they repress their frustrations until it becomes too much to bear, and they turn to someone outside,” added Mr Teo.

Some men need to play the role of the head of the family, and when they are not able to fulfil these roles with wives who have dominating personalities, they turn to someone else who will give them respect, said Mr Teo.

“Such men are not looking for sex, but for dignity. They do not need someone who is beautiful, just someone who will respect them.

“This is a trend that is getting more serious, especially with the rise in women’s education levels.”

More men do it

While he has noticed a rise in the number of women having affairs, Mr Teo said that there is still a greater proportion of men who are having affairs.

He said men tend to look for opportunities to have affairs, while women tend to be more passive.

Mr Siew said that eight out of every 10 cases of infidelity he has handled involved a straying husband.

He said: “For men, sexual attraction is one of the biggest reasons men fall into affairs. They have a biological need to fulfil their sex drive, especially if that need is not met by their wives.”

Changes in society are also contributing to the problem, said Mr Siew.

More men are having affairs with foreign women or when they go overseas for work.

Mr Siew added that when women cheat, the husbands react badly.

He said: “Women tend to be more accepting of cheating spouses. Men, however, see women as property that has been tarnished and enjoyed by someone else.”

While most cases he has seen involve middle-aged couples who are starting to get bored with their marriages, more young couples are also having affairs.

Divorce among couples below 40 years old rose from 2,913 in 1998 to 3,440 last year.

And, like Tiger Woods’ case, it’s often the handphone that betrays them.

Mr Siew said: “The wife starts to notice the husband’s weird behaviour, which include talking on the phone for long periods and text messages which come in the middle of the night.

“Their suspicions are confirmed when they read the intimate text messages on their husbands’ phones.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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