Never mind Valentine’s Day. That’s got all the hype it deserves anyway. Let’s talk about the days that go just before, and after—at least in the West. Since commercially-motivated celebrations/occasions, like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, are still relatively new phenomena in India, I’d like to believe that we’re still behind the curve on this one. Though there were so many women milling about the malls on Friday, dressed in red outfits and clutching wilted roses, I could well be wrong. But I do hope not.
Over the last few days, press reports from both sides of the Atlantic have been telling us that February 14 may be the missus’ day out; but February 13 belongs to the mistress. Apparently, since men have to spend Valentine’s Day, showering gifts, attention and time on their wives, they reserve the previous day for their partners in love crime. A British dating site for married people, aka cheats, has backed up its observations with statistics drawn from a stringent survey of 3,853 duping husbands.
Apparently, 71 per cent of the cheating husbands planned to see their mistress on the day before Valentine’s Day. Of these, 42 per cent had booked a hotel for the tryst while 35 per cent (of the poorer or more miserly ones, one presumes) were taking their Second Ladies out drinking to the club/pub. All the wives were getting only a dinner out—with some even having to make the reservations themselves.
For presents, the official partners were receiving flowers and perfumes while the mistress’ loot was at least three times more expensive and involved diamonds, clothing and lingerie. (Clearly my mother knew what she was doing when she refused to let me accept even T-shirts from boyfriends in my youth. “If he can clothe you, he can unclothe you,” was her theory.) To return to the more-exciting present, the swindler’s list was polled before V-day, so we’ll have to wait and see if reality kept pace with the men’s plans.
While the survey didn’t mention cheating wives, there are plenty of similar stories playing out there. Psychiatrists suggest that 10-20 per cent of men and women in marriages and other committed monogamous relationships cheat on their partner at some point. In the US, the percentage of wives having affairs rose almost 40 per cent over two decades to touch 14.7 per cent in 2010, while the number of men admitting to extramarital affairs held constant at 21 per cent.
To the wronged partners of all these people, private investigators recommend Valentine’s as the best time to catch their cheat in action. Many suspicious spouses spend large sums of money hoping to get proof of their partner’s infidelity—only to end up with nothing but fresh worry lines and an empty wallet. Hiring a PI for Feb 13 could change that.
Wives who refuse to stoop so low have another course of action open to them. If you can’t lick them, join them, they say; and some wives do just that. The enrolment calendar maintained by extramarital websites show a ten-fold increase in women signing up the day after Valentine’s Day. Maybe they got tired of waiting around for the husband or were unhappy with his gifts, or lack thereof, or maybe they just realized that Love the way you lie was always meant to be sung as a chorus.