You thought the rich and beautiful are happily married. You thought wrong. They are as unhappy as the poor and the plain looking. Why is everybody looking for a lover?
With each passing day, there are more and more women crawling out of Tiger's woodwork. Nightclub hostesses, porn stars, TV presenters, waitresses. The latest figure on the number of women in Tiger Wood's married life besides his wife Elin is 10, a figure that is unlikely to stand the test of time.
We tend to believe Super Man is someone who flies around with chuds worn over his pants and saves the world from aliens who will curl their lip at anything less than total destruction. Actually, a Super Man is anyone who does what no man can do better. Muhammad Ali was one. Garry Kasparov is another. Bill Gates a third.
Tiger Woods can see a hole in the grass 300 yards far and he is better than anyone born yet to swing and slip a ball into it smooth as a coin in a slot. Woods is one of our Super Men. Besides, he is tall and handsome and worth over $500 million. And married to a pretty pout like Elin.
Why is he looking for sex - and, perhaps, love - outside marriage?
It is not just Woods, of course. There are any numbers of beautiful people who have seemingly got everything, but who are looking for more outside home.
Consider a few names: Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley were almost as good as married. And then Grant bought some sex from a prostitute, Divine Brown, in Sunset Boulevard. He lost Hurley.
Ethan Hawke was with Uma Thurman for a while. But he couldn't bear that happiness for too long and strayed. And Thurman walked out.
Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer had everything going, but he still cast his eye around. What he found was Ashley Alexander Dupre. Clearly, sufficient is never enough.
There are numerous examples in India as well. Film stars, cricket players, ordinary folk. Even Gods. Consider the case of Shiva. When Shiva falls in love with Mohini - Vishnu in the guise of a beautiful woman - he not only betrays his wife Parvathy, but also violates the traditional gender code. In the process, Shiva goes against the idea of marriage as set out in the ancient Dharma Shastras as well.
According to the Shastras, marriage is meant to fulfill three functions: Praja, Dharma, and Rati. Praja is children for perpetuation of one's family, Dharma is fulfillment of responsibilities, and Rati is friendship and sexual pleasure.
Shiva's deviation is indicative of how gods themselves can't resist temptation of the senses. Hindu mythology is loaded with such dalliances.
Behavioural scientists would argue that evolution has a lot to do with sexual attraction. Sex is how you ensure your immortality, the survival of your unique pool of genes. Celibacy, which a lot of marriages enforce, is slow suicide.
Marriage tends to stabilise you and helps you to focus on work that you do with your brains and not with your balls. As the years go by, the little sex and even less attention you get from your spouse work as rudimentary safety valves so the pressure cooker of passions don't explode. In the end, of course, you get used to a life without love or sex. Indeed, in the end you get used to anything - even your spouse.
The moral majority considers adultery a crime. The facile piety of it may contribute a sense of moral superiority to those who either believe in, or affect, that magisterial stance. But, equally, love and fornication outside the fortress of marriage evoke more confusion than contempt among the ranks.
Which is why across the world it has met with mixed response. In India, adultery is punishable with a maximum sentence of five years. In Pakistan, death sentence is more like it, though the law is loaded against women.
In the US, the law varies from state to state. An adulterer could get a life sentence if he gave full head to his penetralia in, say, Michigan. If he did the same thing in Maryland, he gets away with a 10 dollar fine. In the more liberal Europe, they have come to accept adultery as a civilisational vice: man and woman must cheat on their partners so they can afford their little satisfactions - a little bit of love and sex on the side - so they get something free, perhaps that elusive sensation of life. You take a dutiful wife, you get a wild lover free - almost. In Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland or Sweden sleeping with a man or woman outside your marriage is not recognised as a punishable offence. Wisely, maybe, since nearly 55 out of every 100 marriages end up in divorce in a country like Sweden.
In contrast, in India, only about 1 marriage out of a 100 reaches the divorce stage. Despite the low percentage, this is not a country of happy matrimony. Counseling centres and family courts are packed these days with acrimonious couples.
The most chaste amongst us are glad-eyed. Deep within, our search for the perfect partner is never over. Polygamy and polyandry offer their own loaded solutions to our primal needs. They are, in a certain sense, richer than an excruciating monogamous situation where both husband and wife look in vain to access all their joys from one source.
In polygamy, what one wife holds back, the other offers. Sex with A, Love with B, Poetry with C, EMIs with D, etc. The apportioning of the various functions to various people makes no one person hugely powerful. It is, after a fashion, a democratic deal.
But, in normal course, the option is not available to you. So what do you do? You turn The Great Indian Auto-Censor. You do away with your needs. You no longer look for sex every night at home. You don't even look for sex once in a month or, as in many cases, not even once a year. You could do without sex, what the hell. Or, go steady with your hand.
Almost as worse, you stop looking for love and friendship with which sex is deeply linked. You might have been ready for such soft stuff when you were really young. But that was in another country; besides, the wench is dead. Certainly, now, you are not prepared for it. To be vulnerable all over again! To lower your guard in the presence of your 24x7 companion, who might actually make use of it in the very first opportunity! Surely, you have by now learnt to protect yourself?
In any case, responsibilities have taken over and the relationship you aspired for has deteriorated into role-playing. You are wife, you are mother, you are Lactating Machine. Or, you are husband, you are father, you are ATM.
Marriage dehumanises you. You are no longer an individual, whose complex of desires would normally require at least four partners to share its gravitas. You cut it all down and become the stranger driving a car, going to office, coming back home to TV. You see more of Bollywood stars on the screen than your partner in real life. In fact, you know more about the stars than your wife, who is anyway for keeps. You start looking for a lover so the beautiful aspects of your personality can bloom. But, it will take time. Meanwhile, you sit back and judge Tiger Woods, who should have driven that car carefully and not got into an accident. The accident undid him, not the girls. And then it comes to you, sudden as a slap, that not even the Super Man has got enough of love and sex from his marriage. You nod your head: that figures. At last, you and Tiger Woods are on the same page. Surely, marriage is a great leveler, you cleverly observe to yourself. Ah, you close your eyes, lean back in the chair thinking about the pretty woman who stood close to you in the elevator this morning. You wonder what perfume she was wearing and whether you would run into her again.