Can infidelity be nourishing?

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That’s an absurd title you’d think? But we understand very little of infidelity to be sure we don’t encounter it in our own lives and if it hasn’t happened to us, we usually hold the right to judge. The way we traditionally understand infidelity is when someone gets physically intimate with another individual of the opposite gender, who is other than their partner. Now there are several levels even within this age old definition of infidelity – one kiss, several kisses, one night stand, many night stands and so on. It can be argued based on convenience that one is less worse than the other but the truth is, its all bad enough or its all quite irrelevant in the larger scheme of things.

If your wife imagined making love to another man (or even woman) while making love to you, would that be adultery? If your husband sat next to you and enjoyed a text conversation with someone else while you longed for a conversation with him, would that be adultery? What if one of you thought a complete stranger in the mall was good looking, now, is that adultery? What if you were about to have a meeting with a new colleague someday and you spent some extra time dressing up to make a good first impression, would that be adultery? What if your recent searches on Facebook featured your exes because you had nothing better to do on a commute back home, would this be adultery?

Neetisaara dictates the virtues of an ideal wife as “Karyeshu Dasi, Karaneshu Manthri; Bhojeshu Mata, Shayaneshu Rambha, Roopeshu lakshmi, Kshamayeshu Dharitri, Shat dharmayukta, Kuladharma Pathni”, This features as a part of the wedding vows you take as a couple in a Hindu wedding ceremony and it dictates the behaviour of a spouse through the relationship over 7 incarnations but today, we like to do this in a different order. We like to verify all the different bits before we commit to marrying someone and hence, stepping outside (even in your imagination) for sexual, intellectual, emotional and social stimulus makes a strong case for infidelity in a marriage.

Given that we have such a high bar for fidelity (almost making it an imaginary concept), I can tell you with reasonable confidence that we encounter infidelity in different forms in our own lives. It’s easy to let society dictate our reaction to infidelity because that’s how we have been conditioned. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna brings back Subadra from the time he is on an exile and Draupadi (who already has 4 other husbands) gets pissed off, but the story of how she feels about either Arjuna’s exploits with Chitrangada or Ulupi is not very famous. It’s our society’s way of setting boundaries on what’s acceptable and what is not – feel free to screw whoever but don’t bring them home and all will be well. But honestly, to each their own and I am going to tell you why it needn’t always mean that we are heading to doomsday.

We feel the need to step outside when we seek something that we don’t get from our existing relationships anymore. When our spouse doesn’t make us feel the way we used to feel when we first fell in love, in an attempt to get rid of this feeling of not being explicitly desired, we have this intense urge to turn back time to when we felt good about ourselves. We try to reconnect with our glorious past, we try to re-invent ourselves to be more interesting or just try all of this in our imagination, disconnecting ourselves from our realities, in turn straying from our present commitments. Our spirit doesn’t settle unless we see some hope for all glory being restored and no amount of sexy lingerie can change that.

Given that routine sets in contempt and this feeling is bound to consume all of us at some point at different levels, feeding this feeling with opportunities to make ourselves feel better could possibly be nourishing for us and our existing relationships. In an attempt to look sexy for someone else, you might make your husband notice you. This might trigger him to reciprocate and this could set things back on track. Or not. But that’s a chance I urge you to take because infidelity stems from a need to revive a dying spirit, that has the potential to be happier in any relationship, in or out. If you find your partner cheating on you, at any level, give them a chance because it doesn’t mean your relationship is dying but it means your partner is trying hard to prevent his/ her spirit from dying.

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