Viewing unfaithful husbands with contempt

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 December, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 December, 1993, 12:00am

THE letter on extra-marital affairs in the South China Morning Post on December 15, intrigued me. Why is it that some wives still choose, and I emphasise the word ''choose'', to see themselves as the abandoned victims of a superior being? It's pretty clear to me that the kind of man who would put his whole family at risk by indulging in an extra-marital affair, with all that that implies, is far from superior. After all, what kind of husband and father is it who knowingly and without batting an eyelid devastates his family home, inflicts pain and suffering on his wife and innocent children, lies, cheats, is devious and deceitful, is without honour, morality, or basic human decency? Because that is what it takes in order to have an extra-marital affair. And everybody knows this.

If a man were to pick up a cricket bat and club his wife and small children half to death, leaving them crippled for life, society would be horrified. Is there any difference? That first foray beyond the marital boundaries is often purely for reasons of lust. And the price for those few moments of mindless self-indulgence is paid by every other member of that man's family, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Thanks Dad.

When two people marry, that is a powerful commitment. Yet none of these sacred vows mean anything to an adulterer. Does the new partner not see this as the most damning indictment of all? Does she really believe he will be any different with her? Can shereally be so dumb? Even after seeing him in action? ''Out there'' are many strong, powerful, secure and honourable men who wouldn't dream of treating anyone, let alone their own families, in such a manner. And more and more men are becoming angry at being unjustly lumped together with the moral imbeciles.

The fact that, instead of just bleating about it, many women are now speaking up firmly and with dignity against the wanton destruction of family life gives courage and support to others who are going through the devastating experience of family breakdown. This sharing of their experiences removes much of the guilt and shame that prevented a lot of women from seeking support in the past and which, in turn, led to isolation, depression and sometimes suicide.

These strong, decent people, both men and women are far from being crusaders or militant feminists. But they've got the plain common-sense to see such men for the weak and inadequate creatures they really are, and don't hesitate to say so. This is particularly courageous of women with young children who are still economically dependent on these bully boys.

Not for them the role of the abandoned, rejected victim. They refuse to feel shame or guilt. They hand that right back where it belongs. They not only denounce their partner's behaviour, they insist on retribution. They stand up against domestic terrorism and the small band of vicious thugs who perpetrate this particular brand of psychological violence.

Society should honour, respect and admire such women. But, most important of all, we should support them. After all, as the saying goes, if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.

Information on tools and techniques for speeding up the healing process and limiting the damage is now being freely exchanged between women who have learnt how to survive. One local writer has produced what can only be described as a survival pack, and information on this can be passed on to anyone who would like it. We cannot always protect our children from the ugly side of life but we can teach them how to deal with it with grace and dignity, for it is true to say that our greatest glory is not in never having fallen but in rising every time we fall.

As for the men who behave this way, perhaps someone ought to tell them that far from being cheered as stud of the year, as the poor little pathetics seem to believe, they are viewed with contempt and distaste by both men and women alike.