Why do women stand by erring husbands?

I received a link to this News by email.

This husband had obtained divorce from family court saying that the wife suspected him and that amounted to cruelty. The wife said he was having an affair and that was why he wanted divorce.  …she was ready to tolerate husband’s relationship with the other woman. The high court accepted she had enough evidence to prove husband’s extra-marital affair. In the given circumstances, it was natural for the wife to become suspicious; this did not amount to cruelty.

The division bench restored the marriage.

I never thought this sort of news would please me, but it does because a divorce here would have been a reward for the husband.

I know of this girl who refused to sign the divorce papers.  She didn’t want to leave her abusive husband free to marry another woman, because she said, she knew she was not going to marry again.  She feels he (and his family) should not  think he could ruin her life and happily marry again.

But why does she think she could never marry again?

Another woman found out years ago that her husband was involved with another woman. She hated the girl, had names for her, thought she had an ugly nose and a cunning mind, and she cursed her for ‘trapping’ her husband.

She is still married to him.

She’s sure he will change  someday.  She would never speak of divorce, she fears that is what he wants.

But I don’t think he wants divorce. She takes care of his parents, although they treat her badly. She is bitter but glad nobody knows about her humiliating secret. Everybody does. I think she is living in denial.

When I was a newly wed, a friend was complaining that her maid was very upset because the neighbour’s maid had been visiting her maid’s unemployed husband in her absence.

She said, “She is not going to let her take him away, she fought with her and let her know that!”

I asked why did she want such a husband, my friend gave me a look, “Why should she give up her husband to another woman?

I still don’t understand. Was he hers anyway?

Another woman did not ‘stand by’ her husband like Shiney Ahuja’s wife is doing, she left him and went away.  Years later we heard they were together again. And then after ten-twelve years, we met them in a mall.

He looked old, haggard and ashamed. He knew we knew.

He had been punished -lost his job, reputation and for a while, his  family. His wife had changed too, she looked confident and self assured. He said she had given him a reason to live when he thought all was lost. She only wanted a regular family life, and she has it.  She said they were closer than ever before, and they did look it.

Women like Hillary Clinton and Shiney Ahuja’s wife I think, hope for a similar end to their stories. An affair (or even rape, as in ‘Sheesha‘ – a Bollywood movie) by the husband is seen as rejection, if he needs them again, they feel they have ‘won him over’, even if he only came back when he had nowhere else to go.

Are women in love with their husbands when they fight to save their marriages? I wonder because I think an emotional woman would walk out.  I believe in all such cases women stay because they feel this is their best option. Love and sacrifice here, are but  glorified helplessness. And I wonder if this really is the best option.

But then not everybody has very romantic notions about marriages. For many it’s a practical arrangement. Here’s is a person who “belongs” to you and if somebody tries to “steal” him, you fight! The way you would fight for a car or a bag. What’s love got to do with it?

86 thoughts on “Why do women stand by erring husbands?

  1. Its such a pity rt IHM that they want to stay with the man on other grounds and not just love sometimes!

    they feel they have ‘won him over’, even if he only came back when he had nowhere else to go – thatz such a sad state 😦 N wonder if the men in these situations have nothing called conscience!

    Love and sacrifice here, are but glorified helplessness – Hw true 😦

    Me- Sad Swaram… I got an email with two news, one Shine Ahuja’s wife supporting him, and second the case above…


  2. I don’t know why women put up with this but even more I don’t know why men act like this. If men would put as much effort into loving their wives as they do in cheating on them, they would have great marriages and could be home every night.

    I write a blog about how men can better love their wives. I hope you will check it out.



    Me- Thanks !! Sounds interesting, will definitely take a look 🙂


  3. IHM, There can be many reasons for not leaving HIM

    1) Wife is not capable of financial responsibilities by herself
    2) They have kid/s together, husband is probably not a very good husband but good father
    3) Wife thinks about how *others* would think if she would have divorce
    4) Husband may admit the *mistake* and promise not to do that again, then ‘everybody makes a mistake’ is the right approach, only questions is, would the same husband have granted *forgivenss* to his wife if he was on the other side of the table.

    Me – Mmmm… True… but wrt # 4, IWW, where did she have a choice??


    • @ indianworkingwoman – I kind of disagree with point no. 2 – I don’t feel that two unhappy people in a marriage can provide a happy home for a child. A good father would be a good father anywhere – with his wife or divorced from her.


  4. The main reason for women staying back in those marriages is lack of support from the parents and kids.

    I feel if there is a problem between wife and husband and wife doesn’t want to deprive the love of father to the kids.After divorce she wont marry because she is not sure how her new husband treats her kids.There are so many instances where step father raped the daughters from her first marriage.

    This post brought back my memories of how my mom suffered

    Me- Yes this fear is very real Saritha! I am sorry about your mom suffering… but still she has raised loving daughters and now had adorable granddaughters, who delight in her visits and her treats 🙂


  5. IHM: I so agree to your post. But then still such things do happen in our society, right in front of us.
    I know someone really close to me is struggling with keeping her marriage intact. And, no, she is an educated women, and there is no other women involved. But the way the husband behaves, I would rather kick him out of life. But the sole reason she is trying is for the sake of her lil daughter, so that she can have a “normal” childhood. I have argued so much with her about how hollow and deceiving this relation would be, even she is able to make amends. But she still wants to give it a try, to save the relation.
    And you are right “Is it even worth saving, when it is not even yours?”

    Me- I know of such a mother too, and this is often a big reason, the one I mention couldn’t save her marriage, it got really bad and I am not sure but I think now they are seperated. This dad loved their only child, an adorable daughter, but he didn’t value the marriage even for her… he was fine for a while but then went back to his ways … the girl good looking and rich (dowry was also given), somehow I feel her parents overlooked all the signs that were there, the boy’s had walked out of the ‘mandap’, they were constantly demanding gifts and specific things in dowry, they should have realised and broken the engagement…


  6. With you on this one too 🙂 I know of one such couple. The husband has been having an affair on and off with his childhood sweetheart whom he couldn’t marry because of parent’s pressure. The wife knew before the marriage that the guy loves someone else ! She still went ahead and married him. She knows that he still sees the other girl whenever he can but she hangs on to him and fights for him just the way you mentioned in the last line. She goes a step further that she makes sure that the whole family on both sides know of their fights when she finds out that her husband had gone to see this women. This is to humiliate him in front of everyone. But if you don’t really respect him and make sure that he is humiliated in front of everyone including their child, then why keep him na ? But I think she knows that if she divorces him, he will go straight to the woman he is in love with, has been in love with most of his life. And that’s not acceptable to her !!

    I can’t even think of living with someone who would rather be with someone else.

    Me- I am not able to understand such marriages… what makes women accept such lives? She had the option of not getting into such hell, she knew about it!


    • Well, this kind of behaviour is more like, “If I can’t have him, I won’t let other women have him too” I frankly don’t pity or respect such women. She knew about him but she still took the step.

      Both of them are equally at fault.


  7. IHM,

    You are right.Its helplessness or in some cases convenience. Its not love for sure.
    Regarding why some women are so sure they won’t remarry. I think its once bitten twice shy kinda thing. Its not easy to emotionally invest again. Its not easy to trust your children with somebody who is not their biological father and of course there is still a stigma attached with divorcee women, its not easier to get married again.
    So they decide to stay. I always look at what people do in terms of costs and benefits…the sad truth is the cost of moving out is still very high for women even when they are financially independent.
    I can understand what makes them stay but I still outrages me when they stand by their husbands like Shiney Ahuja’s wife.

    Me- Cost and benefits … I understand that. I agree too tearsmdreams! 😦


  8. Hi..very thoughtful post. And a question I always ponder about. My take is, the institution of marriage has been ingrained in our minds to such a level that it has become an imperative for life, almost like money. This applies more to women than men …may it be for practical purposes or for love. Life without a marriage is not even considered an acceptable way of living.
    And secondly, in today’s world where women have more independence, it is also harder for them to first get in a marriage. I have examples of girls going through the charade of being ‘selected’ by a guy for an arranged marriage for years on end before they actually got married. Maybe its too hard to go through the whole process again. Plus no matter how progressive we get as a society, a woman living happily without a man or getting re-married without any trouble, is not a normal phenomenon as yet, especially in India. And there is no guarantee, that a new marriage will be any better than the present one. Better to resort to known dangers than unknown peril.

    Me- YES!!! I … Very true Dhaami! This still hasn’t changed!

    As for Hilary Clinton, I think, it had more to do with her political aspirations than her interest in keeping her marriage intact. American society needs their politicians to be perfect husbands and wives. But I digress!

    Me- Yes I agree… !

    Also, thank you for visiting my blog 🙂

    Me- Love your blog 🙂


  9. I think its the fault of our culture and our society. The age old thoughts that a man can remarry but a woman cannot. The fact that parents bring up their daughters telling them how important it is for her to have a husband in life, that otherwise her life is a waste, that education is not important and that she will be at the doorstep of heaven if she takes good care of her husband and his family. And then our own Bollywood and K serials, where a wife forgives her husband with open arms even if he’s had an affair with every other woman in town with Phrases like “Daya Ki Murat..”

    Me- Yes…. The society and culture are at the root of this thinking, it seems we only considered the welfare of a percentage of population while making these rules… children who suffer, and women who suffer were not considered members of the same society !


  10. Helplessness all right. I think the whole “standing by her man” thing is a bit too much for me. I mean, why would you want to stand by someone who doesn’t respect you enough and has an affair? Why would you want to stand by someone that hits you? Why would you want to stand by someone that verbally abuses you? Here some days ago in the papers there was this news about this rugby league player’s girlfriend “standing by her man” (that was the headline) after he glassed her earlier this year or late last year when he was either drunk or angry. He “didn’t mean to” but has been suspended from the game and been charged for assault. I think women such as these have extremely low self-esteem and hence put up with this shit. I refuse to believe that a man (or a woman) like that can change. I think if you have an affair once, you are likely to cheat again (whether you are a man or a woman). The same with abuse. I know in my profession I should be more optimistic and say that people can change, but my cynicism tells me otherwise.

    Yes and this low self esteem is a result of the way girls and boys are brought up… mothers bring up sons , like Suranga says in her comment here, to believe they can get away with anything – intimidation, infidelty… and the same mothers teach their daughters to save their marriages at any cost.


  11. Hot topic IHM! I am sorry but this is going to be a long post.
    I see this happening every day. This is from the other woman’s angle. I was speaking to an old school friend of mine who had a child for a married scumbag. I definitely believe she has made poor choices with the men in her life. Anyway we were speaking about this scumbag of a man when she said that his wife was the terrible one. I asked her why did she say that? I said that it was her husband who was the adulterer and he was the one who had hurt her. My friend went on to say that the wife gave her hell and today she is still married to the scumbag who has become blind due to diabetes. I said that the wife was very stupid to hold onto this scumbag and now she has to take care of him. My friend said that she had told the wife if she was so unhappy, to leave her husband (her man). Well the relationship did not last between my old friend and this scumbag even though it produced a beautiful child. I cannot for the life of me figure out why, when women find out that their husbands are unfaithful they blame the other woman, as if the man has done nothing wrong too. It is like a dog and a dumpling…dogs do not like to eat dumplings but do not try to take it from him. He will kill another dog for it even though he doesn’t want it. It belongs to him…well some wives feel the husbands belong to them regardless of what has been done to them. Some feel rather than being alone, they settle for what they have. We have an old saying ” better one than none” which means that many women take the first man that comes along or they might end up with no one.

    Many women do not leave for financial reasons …..my mother was trapped with 8 children and was forbidden to work outside the home. Many of her cousins thought that she had a great life …..upper middle class with a maid, latest gadgets for the home, trips to the beauty parlour, cruising vacations and a nice home in a semi exclusive neighbourhood which was paid for by my father’s employer. Yet my father was an alcoholic, a womanizer and physically and verbally abused my mother. It was only after 25 years of marriage that my mother divorced him.

    Hilary Clinton remained because of political and social aspirations, however if she had left Bill I think she would have had more respect from the American people. Or at least from me!

    Me – Thanks for sharing Islandgal!!! Women everywhere seem to have similar experiences! I feel very strongly that we can change this with our children… we can make an effort to keep our children away from such conditioning…


  12. One thing that I’m always very clear about is infidelity…! It is beyond my toleration! If I can be as faithful as I am(except for my SRK fixation, ahem) then I expect that he shd be too! He is just not worth my love if he can hurt me that way! Physical attraction is deemed natural, but so shd self control and decency be, from both parties!Then again they conveniently say men “tend” to look at pretty women, but to get away with it using the ” Men will be men” attitude towards such lewdness bugs me endlessly! How dare they think we cannot live without them!

    Indy I agree, if he doesn’t care or respect… then what is the relationship about?


  13. “I know of this girl who refused to sign the divorce papers. She didn’t want to leave her abusive husband free to marry another woman, because she said, she knew she was not going to marry again. She feels he (and his family) should not think he could ruin her life and happily marry again.”

    I can’t understand the logic here…Isn’t her life ruined anyway by staying in a bad marriage? How could it be ruined further? Also, why does she think she won’t get married again? I know the general feeling is that no man will marry a divorced woman, but it’s all bulls***…Thankfully, there are enough ‘enlightened’ men who look at the person and not the past…

    I also can’t understand why women think erring husbands will change – they hardly do…If they are let off a couple of times, they know they can get away and so continue to err…


    indianworkingwoman has given the reasons why women usually want to stay in a bad marriage…

    Me – Sraboney that girl has no hope for her own happiness and now feels she won’t let the person who gave her so much unhappiness get away with it… I see no logic in this either, I think she will find happiness if she looks for it. She is financially well off.


  14. Hillary Clinton is just one example. Recently a couple of governers in US have done what Bill Clinton did and their wifes stood by them.And none of them had political ambitions. Why they stood by their husbands is beyond my comprehension and understanding. And please don’t blame society of all these decisions, it is very acceptable here in US for women to divorce and remarry. And if you stay for kids, then that just means you want somethings different from marriage than what husband wants, you have nobody to blame. I think women should also stand up for themselves,take responsibility of their decisions(whatever they may be)and stop blaming others for their situations


  15. Ours is a patriarchal society. There are umpteen families I know where mothers of boys are responsible for bringing up sons with some convoluted standards. These guys are so steeped in a false sense of self superiority that even after marriage they think they can get away with anything including cheating on their wives and adultery, and physical intimidation. Its a case of “my son, right or wrong”…. If the wife is from a similar thinking household, then she has really nothing to fall back on, given that parents probably will not support her, and at the end of the day, you need something to live on. And so she continues on in a pointless marriage, particularly if there are children.

    Its all very easy to say, “why doesnt she walk out ?”. Material security is a fluffy cushion, that’s difficult to let go for some. And our social set ups do not encourage free and easy meeting of men and women. That is a fact that makes for a fuzzy future.

    I sometimes feel, that people like the household help I have had for the last 20 years, have more guts. They live in slummy areas, face eve teasing everyday, fight for water at taps, have the guts to slap fellows in public, ensure that their own children are strictly brought up, and they learn to consign errant and drunk husbands to the trash bin.

    What the thing harks back to, is that mothers need to bring up enlightened sons for women to have a better life……

    Me – You have put it so well Suranga!


  16. So true, IHM !!!

    I think, that the woman is not financially stable, to come out of the relationship. If the kids too are sent with her, what will she do without finances ??? This kind of women, put up with the erring husbands.

    I’ve also seen one other kind – These women dont want to leave the husbands, so that the men dont do this injustice to other women too. Marry them and leave them in the ditch. The women make sure that the men are tied up in this wedding, to save the other women from falling into the ditch.

    I was shocked to hear abt this, the first time !!!! Now a days, these news are making the headlines. We are indeed in a sad state of affairs.

    Me – This is a little like the girl I know, she has no hope for herself, and now won’t let him go scotfree, the only way (she feels, I disagree) she can get back at him by not letting him be free… If it was someone close to me I would have talked to them about (quoting Suranga) dumping the errant husband into a trash bin, and moving on.


  17. I think it has more to do with the emotions of a woman. A lady’s commitment is beyond our conventional thinking. If a lady is committed to something, no logic can change her. For say, take the relationship of a mother & child, a mother always loves her child whether he/she is great or goon, Champion or mentally retarded.
    A woman’s heart is depicted complex but I think it’s not complex, it’s simply beyond our understanding.

    Your post got my grey cells running, maybe i’ll revisit and comment.

    Sunil women don’t stay in bad marriages out of choice!! They are forced by circumstances. A woman’s love for her child is different from her love for a man… my next will be about this!!! 🙂 Also there are women who have extramarital relationships too.


    • Sunil,
      I am sorry I have to comment here. Please don’t glorify helplessness. No you will never be loved by a woman if you cheat, beat or are abusive in other ways. She might choose to stay with you though. She might make it look like she is great in forgiving you but in reality she is just human trying to make best use of her circumstances.
      Regarding your mother and child analogy,though I can question the unconditional part too, lets assume its true…the love that a mother has for her child is as close to being unconditional and illogical as possible…but it goes both ways- I know quite a few men who know and admit that their parents are wrong and act selfishly and yet they love them. Parent and children is a different relationship…that doesn’t mean these men will feel the same way about abusive partners so why do women? There is more to it then meets the eye.


  18. This is My take. If she is bold enough to live independently with or without kids and if she is socio economically independent ,and if she is no more in love with him,most women will dump an unfaithful husband. If the extra marital relationship is really strong and deep emotionally, the spouse concerned will find it difficult to continue married life. But in many of the cases of husbands cheating wives, the relationships are casual and adventurous flings and not an emotional one. The wives understands it and are confident that the husband can be brought back to the senses . This may be the reason for them not walking out of the marriage.

    Me – Charakan I can only say I agree, and good to read your views expressed so objectively!!! Although a lot of men think women stay for love and sacrifice…


  19. It’s just conditioning through the ages. Most women think that once they have got the haldi or whatever on their hands, their life is complete only with their husband. Blind love is not really love. Most women think that their husbands and sons are innocent, and that cunning women are after them. Well, everybody thinks so. As long as women continue to believe that men are “innocent helpless objects” which can be stolen, there won’t be any change in the way they live.

    Has a man ever forgiven an unfaithful wife and accepted her wholly again?

    I would just call such forgiving women and unfaithful men as people with no conscience.


  20. I remember I read a post of your regarding whether men and women are the same from almost every point of view. But I would still want to ask when commitments are concerned are women in general more committed than men (I am talking in general, not including the exceptions). We have alyways heard a mother’s love for her children but not the same way a father’s love for his kids, Similarly we have also heard when a woman loves someone, she gives her everything but not heard similar about a man.

    Being a man, I don’t have any idea about these, so want to know your opinion. Are these all glorified statements or are these good qualities of women that some times becomes a hindrance and men take advantage of that fact:(

    Mustaf a woman’s love for her child cannot be compared to her love for a man. Women are unfaithful too, I know some women who are. Like men they do not want their marriages to break, they maybe good mothers too. It is a myth that women have angelic/pure/worshipable hearts, the truth is they have have human hearts, no more forgiving than a man’s heart, they hate men who cheat, and if they forgive one mistake there might still be hope for love, but in case of regular philanderers women hate the man. I know women who feel this way and I assure you what they feel is not love… when we hear of men having affairs, who do they have affairs with? ..they have affairs with women. Sometimes with unmarried women, sometimes with married women, Husbands do not always walk out marriages either, but that is another blogpost…


  21. Its a pity when woman are forced to stay in a marriage , eventhough knowing her husband has cheated on her…

    To me the reasons that could make her stay with him,

    1. our society treats very badly the status of single woman. it could be better to live with a bad husband than live alone.
    This is not the case anymore! Thankfully single moms live happily now, specially if they are financially strong.

    2. In our society getting married again is a difficult task. even if she decides , what is the guarantee the next person will not cheat?We ” MEN” have such a great reputation…that to find a MEN who could be so devoted to a wife is difficult to find….
    But we are learning that marriage is not the goal in life, it’s just one of the many options for a happy life…

    3. in a broken marriage, the blame always goes to the woman..u could not keep your husband with yourself…even the parents and siblings would treat her as an unwanted…
    More and more families have started standing by their daughters, and now it is not as difficult to walk out…

    4. plus always the welfare of kids comes first before self….
    Many times the kids are the ones who suffer the most in such unhappy marraiges, walking ouit and living peacefully is good for the kids, also this is a good example for the children…

    i could not read the previous comments to avoid repetition…

    by the way i feel men are encouraged to do such acts, knowing that thier wife will pardon..



  22. ur not going to believe it IHM, but I had a similar kind of post in my mind and with the same title! seriously.

    have so much to say, will put that post soon.

    Do that Imp’s Mom, I’d love to read it…


  23. Reminded me of ‘Arth’ when Shabana Azmi’s character’s husband comes back to her after being rejected by Smita Patil’s character.

    I guess often it’s simply a case of dependency and being used to someone. Some people wpuld rather continue living the same life, putting up with all the shit and misery rather than take that courageous step and change things. Fear of the unknown maybe.


  24. I loveeeeeeeeeeeeeee your header IHM….

    ………I can never understand women who tolerate such behavior from their husbands or vice versa. How can a woman live in the same roof day after day knowing her husband is lining the sheets with another woman?? I won’t even be able to look at the man in the face out of sheer disgust. what is it about some women? why are they so forgiving and ready to accomodate? i know i know…i know the answer and plight of many women….esp in our culture given the condition we as a nation treat women and the girl child….
    but it really makes me so angry and mad…


  25. Lets see, there could be a bundle of reasons for women putting up with such behavior but I guess the BIG one is the fact that everyone in the Indian society is brought up with the concept of adjustment. We do not beleive in ending the relationship but rather we beleive in mending it, though sub consciously aware of the fact that there is nothing left in it.

    And, then we have the so called society to face up to, the relatives, the friends, the colony walas etc…. who well rather than being a support act more like image builders for the women especially.

    Si its kind of strange to see women put up with such shit but ironic at the same time that its not just these one or two cases here and there that need attention but more to do with the entire concept of marriage & society in India, ita more to do with the way we think & act as a community than the way we behave, and that is what will truly make a visible difference in such situations.

    Me- Brilliantly put Kamal!!! I highlighted he parts I loved, specailly “And, then we have the so called society to face up to, the relatives, the friends, the colony walas etc.”


  26. IHM, i disagree with the view that women stay in such marriages NOT because of voluntary choice…
    sometimes its a conscious choice they make… because of children involved. the man and woman maybe a terrible pair as a couple, but a wonderful set of parents to the same children. such parents stay together, in spite of being not caring for the other, or being involved with other people.

    i m not sure how much it helps. but i guess as long as the child remains unaware that his/her parents arent together as a couple, his/her world remains rosy and the feeling of security isnt gone yet. and a lot of mothers value their children’s lives more than even their own …

    Me- Ashwathy incompatibility is different, but men who have affairs and rape their maids?
    I feel women choose the best available option, and sometimes financial security for kids is a big reason… I agree! I feel they don’t love such a man, not do they forgive such a man, they are helpless in that they are not able to walk out on a person who caused them so much humiliation.


    • but yes i agree… a lot of times they stay in it for the wrong reasons…
      not wanting to let another woman have her husband, not wanting to live alone, social stigma, blah blah…

      Me- true Ashwathy….


  27. Reasons that i think of
    1. Because women do not want their parents to know that they are suffering
    2. if parents also know, then they stay for kids
    3. They are just not trained to take strong decisions
    4. No confidence on themselves

    I really do not know if I can comment on Hillary Clinton. I have thought about this long back and really one question that I could not answer was –

    Suppose if I love someone, I am proud of someone, I know I have contributed towards his success, then am I ready to quit the person because of an affair. I need not be his wife, but can’t he still be my friend and can’t we still live together. In US, i think this is possible…

    Following your blog for some time now and it makes me think most of the times.

    Me – I agree Bindhu! The last part is most true… the irst four points you made make sense, and need to be taken seriously by all girls’ parents, teaching them to take decisions, to make them self reliant, to raise them ton be confident adults… we mothers can make so much difference. About not telling the parents for fear of hurting them – I feel such a child might feel so isolated or lonely, a family should be there as support, and children should not feel this way…


    • I have always felt that Hilary’s decision was more political. She always had presidential ambitions right from the start and needed him during her campaign.


  28. i suppose it is our basic Indian values which stops women to take the drastic step of leaving the husband
    the word divorce still has a stigma attached to it.
    Me – I guess we can blame the Indian values here… we don’t teach our daughters to be happy and we don’t teach our sons to be responsible to anyone except their own parents. (how unselfish of the parents is that!)

    we, Indian women are very emotional and we attach lots of sanctity to the institution of marriage.

    Me – Anju women are socially permitted to express emotions more than men are, also they have more repressed emotions than men have… but attaching sactiti to marriage is massive conditioning, I feel an institution must serve it’s purpose,or it fails… thankfully we are changing and becoming a little more balanced now…

    most of the women try their level best to hold on to the marriage even if it means that they have to tolerate humiliation or insults
    because before taking drastic step of leaving the estranged husband they think about their parents, their reputation, the after effects of divorce, their own financial status .

    Me – Yes but biggest reason is financial and social confidence (like Charakan pointed out) – the biggest reason why they stay is no better options 😦
    it is very easy for us the women who are still with our husbands to say that single women live happliy or they are accepted these days. we don’t know what emotional turmoil they have to under go .

    Me – Anju this is changing, women have realised that children are fine with financially secure single mothers. But what I was asking was why do they support and stand by the husband like Shiney Ahuja’s wife… I mena even if she believes he did not rape the maid, that it was consensual sx, she is fine with that? You know society will not condemn her for leaving him, in fact they are puzzled by her supporting him! … you must read Phoenixritu’s blog, she is one example of a successful single mother.

    moreover women are basically of forgiving nature. they easily forget the faults of men especially their husbands and continue with the life

    Me – Do they really forgive and forget? I have met women who are bitter and very resentful, they hate the reasons for which they have to stay with the man, although they tend to blame the men less than the other woman (!!!), but still they hate the husband who makes them go through such hell, one of the reasons why some mothers resent their daughters in laws is this unhappiness in marriages, they find no happiness with husbands and learn to emotionally depend on the son… then resent the daughter in law’s entry into his life… bad marriages might make possessive, controlling parents.


  29. IHM, At times, it sounds like stockholm syndrome.
    They should now better that its for their own good to walk out.
    But their mind is not ready to accept a change though for their better.


  30. Shiney is out on bail !!!! Indian laws are the best !!! They let rapists free to roam around and they also conduct a court session for terrorists when the whole world knows what happened !!!


  31. “because I think an emotional woman would walk out. ”
    I think its the opposite. Emotional persons stay, think things will change whether its an affair or domestic violence. Also there is an element of familiarity mixed with prevalent societal conditions like security, no family support etc.


  32. I think staying with erring men is a lot to do with our social conditioning. Marriage, good or bad, seems to give women in India social acceptance.

    About Hilary Clinton, well I think that it was a calculated, smart move by her to position herself as the grieved, forgiving and ideal wife so that she could leverage on it to further her political career. She was making the best of the situation.


  33. Reasons could be many:

    1. Children. Most people seem to stay in rotten marriages so that the children have both mom and dad.
    2. No other option. Sometimes people get into this idea of living with someone so much that they do not see any other option in their lives.
    3. Revenge. If I cannot have you, then she cannot have you!
    4. Ambition. I think this is the case with Clinton atleast. She had to stay put in the marriage to be able to get her own shot at the presidential nomination. Or it could be giving up money and comforts.
    5. Being identified as married, eventhough not happily seems to mean something to most.


  34. the children, its alwayz about the children,
    and then the society, the eyes, the gossip, the scandal…

    that is what ive seen here..

    and its heartbreaking because they think that the children dont suspect a thing, they live through hell each day for the sake of the children
    ahhh and the children, they know, they alwayz know.. they deal with the misery, guilt and depression all by themselves..

    dysfunctional faimlies, things one does for love…


  35. Tough question IHM. As many have already said before me they probably stand by them to keep their face in society (since its usually seen as the woman’s fault) or for the sake of children or for financial security.

    But in a case like Shiney Ahuja, I wonder how can anyone question why his wife has not left him. It has not yet been proved that he is guilty of rape, however whether or not he had illicit relation with the maid is completely their business. I think its extremely admirable that his wife has such faith in her husband and has stood by him in such trying times. When Sanjay Dutt was in jail, his wife also stood by him then. Why would you dump your husband just because the going gets tough?


  36. Some can forgive and move on. Some cannot.
    Fair enough, IHM?

    Me – I find if it’s one time indiscretion it is different, but what about cases where the man continues the affairs for years? Women still do stand by their husbands. Or like the case of Shiney Ahuja’s wife, even when she knew if he didn’t rape her, still there was consensual sex…


    • There is a stigma around ‘slutty’ women; unfortunately, no such thing exists for men. People don’t fully realize how useful humour and ridicule can be to change public attitudes. It can do what rational debates or indignation cannot. Bill Clinton is still the butt of comedians on late night TV.


  37. IHM, This is such a complex subject.. While there are reasons for women under societal pressure and women who are not financially secure to take such a decision.. Hillary Clinton and Shiney Ahuja’s wife – they confound me.. I just don’t understand why they decide to stick by their erring men..


  38. Why indeed do either spouse stay on in dead marriages???

    I have’nt a clue and various comments to your post have only managed to throw some light on this subject.

    There may be many other reasons which I cannot fathom…


  39. Many women remain for the financial well being of their children. Many men when divorced, divorce their children as well. Many will refuse to support their ex and children even though the courts have ordered it. Many women have had to go back to court to have the order enforced where the man has to pay the money into the courts or take some jail time. Many men prefer to take jail first than to pay support. I know this so well. My ex took me before a judge to ask for a reduction in child support for his only child because he had remarried and he has a step son. I asked for an increase because there has been none for several years and I clearly stated that our daughter is growing and needs more. The judge asked him if he didn’t know he had a daughter before he remarried and if he cannot afford to remarry it is his problem, not his daughter’s. He then went on to state that I have remarried and was living a luxurious life style (with his money of course, and driving a 10 year old car) and that my husband was receiving a pension. What was I thinking …….I was actually married this jackass? The judge asked what business is it of his? The judge stated that it is his daughter we are speaking about, not my husband. The judge told him that if he was drowning he should make sure that his daughter was saved first. Well the judge refused to lower the measly amount. He continued to reluctantly support his daughter on the same amount for a few more years. When she entered university he told her that he would be sending her the money directly. I said that was ok with me. Ha, she was lucky she received money, some months she had to call him to remind him. He wanted to know how much was I sending her. My daughter is a smart girl, she told him that it was the same amount he was sending. When she turned 21 he stated that he is no longer supporting even though the courts stated he had to until she had finished school. Well I decided that it was not worth fighting over and my husband and I will pick up the slack. She has graduated with her master’s degree without his help. Hey…….. we’ve come a long way baby!


  40. OH IHM… there is no need to wonder…

    actually our society never allows one to think freely and act upon their will… lot of times we are doing some tings and compromising for society… aren’t we??

    the way a divorcee women gets treated in our society is really scary… the whole world speak ill about them…. like they have no other good thing to do when they have enough in their hands….

    it will take some time to change all this stupid practices…


  41. IHM, I read your post and went through all the comments and I agree with almost everyone.

    There are a lot of factors involved in such cases. We would think that women from higher strata of society would have the guts to leave such sham marriages but in more cases we see such women sticking with their husband as we recently saw in the case of Anupam Ahuja supporting Shiney Ahuja even when latter admitted to having sex with the maid. Whether it was rape or not is another matter. In the west we have seen Hillary and so many Senators’ wife sticking to them. But in all cases they are two strangers living under one roof for each other’s benefit. Husband here needs support for political life and wife gets security and a life she dreamt of. Children get perfect home. You see women from lower strata easily dumping the man and moving on to another often. I guess they have the guts because they don’t have much to lose.

    Then there are cases where people genuinely accept to one mistake and gets pardoned too. I don’t understand the psychology behind such people either but apparently there are many cases where one spouse cheated and the other pardoned and then they lived happily ever after. In such cases, one strayed because of lack of communication, coldness of spouse etc. etc. I even heard of a case where an Indian man with 2 teenage daughters pardoned his wife for cheating. I know it is shocking but I guess everyone weighs so many factors when something grave happens in their relationship.

    I remember years back once we were having this debate on divorces and infidelity and I strongly claimed that I can tolerate anything but not cheating. One lady in her 40s told me then that since I was young, I had such strong views. I told her that I don’t understand why would anyone stay in a marriage after love ends? Then she told me that as I grow older my views would change (I don’t think my views changed yet..may be I am not old enough 😀 ). She told me that infidelity is serious but “mistakes” are not. “Mistakes” happen when there is lack of communication or time. After several years, a couple needs to work to keep the relationship fresh and those who fail often fall into such traps. That doesn’t mean that there is love lost but many times people. Anyways, I still am not that open to such interpretations but I guess she has a point.


  42. Hey IHM you have depicted such a common but complex picture in such simple words… I would like to add some lines to it (obviously with your prior permission) :

    “….if there is no love
    only empty loneliness

    Where can I get a dollop of peace?

    Where can I?

    I’ve heard…that you still get dreams
    still write stories
    chant music from bottom of your soul

    Saga of human existence
    still makes you think

    Your love blossom like a rose

    Today I am here at your doorstep
    with this faithless soul, open arms
    and bending knees…

    Only emptiness in deep of my eyes,
    there are no dreams in my nights

    To dream I opened my eyes
    to dream I opened my arms
    towards you…”

    These words, i think, perfectly suite this post.

    You may take it as the message from an ordinary home maker to IHM… you really flag the social issues well… signing offf 🙂


  43. Why do women stand by erring husbands??well,IHM,I think,we,particularly us Indian women,have been conditioned from our growing up years to think that marriage is sacred and husbands are to be considered if not God,but next to God.So we are supposed to stick to the relationship,no matter what.And even the most educated,most liberated amongst follow that ideology to a certain extent,especially where children are involved.

    Although on a broader angle,I feel some of us,like Hillary Clinton or Mrs Shiney Ahuja stick to their marriages,probably to get back at their husbands.I dont know..thats my thinking..I may be wrong.Its like they know walking out is what would please the straying husbands the most.So the best thing for them would be to keep their men bound to the marriage and embarass and let them face the wrath of the society.


  44. Great post! I have often wondered about the same thing myself, and you know the best part? The whole “Stand by your man” thing is probably the one thing that cuts across barriers of caste, creed, culture and country. From a lady who works as a maid in India to a highly empowered Hillary Clinton, they all seem to think it is better to be unhappily married!

    Dreamer I know of men who stood by continued to live as always … I feel in some cases one is just used to a relationship…


  45. maybe women want to stick with the husband to win over as they might feel partially responsible for that act.. they may feel guilty that he cheated because they were not enough in some way or the other.. and they want to make up for it.

    socety is the topmost answer..

    society will just blame the woman and not let her live a normal life thereafter. even if it was her husband who commited the “mistake”. how can they call it a mistake.. when it is deliberate.

    and financial reasons and kids/family come next.

    even financially stable women dread leaving the husband for social security reasons. and kids they are the poorest souls who get punished in this act. both ways…

    True Oorja…. I also feel society plays a huge role…


  46. Hmmm… why? Possibly because she feels she has already invested so much in that relationship that she can’t afford to let it go under on the basis of one (or two, or three…) ‘mistakes’. Much like a struggling businessman will refuse to cut the lines on a business that is quickly bankrupting him!
    Also, possibly because if she doesn’t, it is like admitting to failure (“she can’t even hold on to her husband!”)and that will destroy what little dignity she has left.
    And again, maybe because
    she has deluded herself that all this is nothing but a bad dream.And that he will soon come to his senses.
    And because our society can be very cruel to a divorcee. No matter whose fault it is, the woman bears the brunt of it. She is considered immoral and easy game for the perverted.
    Again, maybe because if she was a homemaker, she has got used to a certain way of life and cutting ties would mean that she has to now get used to becoming sole bread-earner, decision-maker, etc., etc. which may sound trifling to most urban women but can be terrifying to someone who has not had much exposure to the outside world.
    Ah and yes, of course the children! maybe she doesnt want her children to be at a disadvantage. Not just because of the lack of a father in their life but if he remarries and has children from that union, would her children be disinherited?
    So she would hang on. Like a barnacle on a ship. Battered around but clinging on all the same.
    But having said all that, I wish these women would just open their eyes and have a little faith in themselves.

    Agree Sunita, with everything and with the last line also….


  47. IHM, easons may be several… conditioning, children, no family support…

    but unfortunately, what u have said at the end of the post is also true… they protect their husbands and fight for them like saving some commodity that is being stolen.. the willingness of the guy is conveniently ignored.

    but then ur examples of Hillary Clinton and Shiney’s wife contradict my argument of conditioned, helpless woman…

    have u seen this movie of Shekar Suman and Sudha chandran? i forget the title, but apparently its how she “wins” him back etc etc… at the end she is “victorious” and he is ashamed, yet happy that he is accepted back…

    geeeeeeee! i wasn’t even 12 then.. and it seemed ridiculous.. i can’t tell u how ridiculous it seems now..

    women just don’t believe in remarrying
    !!! our culture! sigh!
    have u noticed IHM, all our “aashirwads” towards married woman are actually blessing the husband’s long life... so she stays “suhagan” and then the remaining blessing are about having kids…

    but husbands get aashirwaad (blessing) of long life… nothing towards wishing him the long company of his wife..

    me – This I found always ridiculous!!! It seems nobody cares how long a woman lives! Not even other women!

    isn’t that also revealing how our culture doesn’t promote a girl remarrying while the guy is most welcoeme to do so, whether his wife is alive or not?

    Me – It is crafty Shines! And it hasn’t done us much good, this thinking….


  48. You have as usual hit the nail on the head. Love has nothing to do with it. It is just a ‘practical arrangement’ and yes the love and sacrifice spoken of in these cases are indeed ‘glorified helplessness’!
    I remember a conversation I had with a friend of mine. My stand was that if ever my husband found love outside marriage or had an affair, he was free to leave. But her reply was, ‘I wouldn’t let him go, I will catch him by the collar and drag him back, why should I let him go??’ I suppose people vary in their views too.


  49. This reminds me of the ‘blind love’ some girls and boys have for each other! Some of them keep pursuing their ‘love’ in spite of knowing very well that the other is not interested in them/ interested in someone else. Clearly this is an attitude that could be shown by someone who thinks that the other person is some kind of a valuable doll to be ‘possessed’.

    Destination Infinity


  50. I think it is harmful for the kids to live in the family where the love is lost! They think the kids wouldnt know.. frankly.. kids do! And its better for them to know the truth rather than live a lie.

    I have this friend.. whose mom tolerated an alchoholic and abusive husband whom she suspected of having a roving eye. But she stayed. Coz thats what she thought marriage is all about.. infact she was afraid to live alone as she thought her family wont support. ( she was right)

    Unconsciously, it was also a fact that she had seen her dad hurt his mom , though he had no vice to blame too.. so I figure she thought this is the nature of the devil.. or whatever.. today she is an advocate of.. dont marry.. for the leapord cant change his spots and men can never be loyal… her daughter (my friend) has a boy friend whom she can never trust. She keeps tabs on him 24 x7 and yet she is not completely convinced that he would be true to her..

    This kind of blind sacrifice seemingly, is the reason why we still see that females stick to erring husbands! For we all follow the examples set in front of us.. no?

    I would never stick by a guy who cheats on me.. but as solilo explained to me.. dsiscretion of one night i can excuse.. once.. but not of a sustained affair.. And my anger wont be directed on the “female” but on my husband! she had no obligations to me! but my husband (future) had promised to be loyal to me!

    Me – Very well explained Winnie the Poohi!! I agree. Parents unknowingly or fully aware, are always setting examples for the children.


  51. because women have been seasoned by most socities and families, to be good facilitators, rather than be independant individuals. Even at this age of increased awareness of women’s empowerment, most women are confused themselves and not sure about what is the right / wrong thing to do in this context, because of their pre-conditioning.

    I would like to believe that more and more women who are waking up to this awareness, are succesful in instilling the right notions in their sons and daughters, so that future generations get increasingly aware of self-respect and understand what is acceptable and what is not.


  52. Hi IHM… Visiting after long… missed u, but was too occupied with life! 🙂

    Me : Good to see you withinaninchoflife 🙂

    ‘Women in India’ have forever been in this state of misery… I wonder why?… Is it half the time out of their own will?… I don’t know, but it appalls me.
    Also, the flipside to this is… more rate of divorces these days. The world is wondering what is it with low tolerance levels and fickle relationships?… I say it is the stand of the young, educated, modern women… what’s wrong with that then?… just because they will not stay quiet and desire an independent and a more self respecting life, it is nobody’s business to point fingers at them. Go women!

    Me – Absolutely !!


  53. Well i think one of the reasons why women dont leave the straying husbands.. is that they might feel “lost”, they might feel “rejected”. By winning him over, they think they have proved their own worth.. and are better than the “other woman”

    What theses women miss is.. that the husband is a scum bag, a cheater and there are no guarantees that he will not cheat again! If things go kaput, they will once again make a sorry, puppy face and return to the “winning” wife!!

    Its actually a sorry state.. but i am sure they have there reasons!

    Me – But think Garima, is his approval a worthy criteria?


  54. Had to come back to this post.. have you watched the movie Frieda of salma hayek ?

    I never remember movie names, is this the one about this girl who wants to be rich, set in South America? Let me google it…


    • Oh no! Its about a painter with some kinda spinal disorder.. based on true story.. she marries a womanizer.. knowing that he would cheat on the bed.. but based more on companionship.. interesting story 🙂


  55. U know IHM, I read the whole post and all the comments and I think this is an issue that can never have one single result even after endless surveys 😦 Yet it’s such a sad and hard fact of life. There are many ordinary women who had the guts to break from such a marriage and maybe run away with someone else who she loves and then the society names such a woman as a slut even after they knew the husband was a cheater. Then there are celebrities who are earning in millions, well established and independent yet stick on to an abusive relationship. Honestly, I have no idea what makes a woman or for that matter a man stay in a loveless relationship, maybe they have forgotten how does it feel to be alive in the real sense or doesn’t respect yourself enough to break the shackles that bind you…I feel so sad 😦


  56. Wow!! Well i think women stand by by their husbands no matter what because one they usually aren’t financially independent but moreover believe that without their husbands they will have no place in the society. It is true that the society hounds single women like hell, thus they feel that it is best to stick with a jerk rather than being abused by everyoneone.
    I tend to believe that Draupadi was in a very similiar fix. When Kunti said that she should be shared by all the five brothers she had no choice because if she decided to leave them she wouldn’t have “a place in the society”. Sad


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  59. I think we shouldn’t pass sweeping universal judgment on all women who decide to stay with husbands who cheated on them. After all, love includes forgiveness. There is a movie starring shabana azmi and om poori where the wife (shabana azmi) cheats on the husband ( om poori) but the husband forgives because he loved her and knew she was just a human who could fall into temptation. What is wrong with that?


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