Married men and their mistresses

Published: Sunday | April 26, 2009

Heather Little-White, Ph.D., Contributor

Last week's article in Outlook sparked several responses from married men and women who consider themselves mistresses. The sustained relationships between married men and other women outside their union is a common behaviour nowadays. T

here are reasons why married men engage in extra-marital affairs and keep one woman as a 'second wife' or mistress. A mistress is defined as a man's long-term female sexual partner, while he's married to another woman (

A businessman of repute telephoned me to challenge points in the article. Let's call him John. He was a little peeved that married men in affairs were seen as villains instead of looking at the social implications that women who are mistresses may be better off than not having a man. Mistresses are able to get financial assistance and are often able to advance in social status depending on the contacts their partners may make for them. John explained that there was no doubt that he loved his wife in a special way as they were childhood sweethearts. But the mistress in his life for 18 years brings a special 'niceness' to his life and together they have been able to build a successful small business when makes her secure and gives him, at times, extra income to prop up his business, and to take care of family expenses.

Good sex

When questioned about his sex life, John admitted that his mistress, who is 10 years his junior, provides the sexual excitement he does not get at home. When asked if this was not a good reason to divorce his wife and marry his mistress, he quipped, 'marriage is more than good sex which you can buy anywhere, it is what a wife will bring to the table, being able to provide satisfaction all round to my satisfaction, the children, family and friends."

Angella, a businesswoman (not John's mistress) supports John's story. She attributes her financial independence to the married man she's been having an affair with for 10 years. According to Angella, "After meeting him, he encouraged me to leave my low-paying job and develop a business from my sewing skills. I checked out the equipment, he bought them, and started making school uniforms from home. As the business grew, I had to find a shop and that has been going well." She attests that she is faithful to her man and although she would love to get married, she accepts her status and does not worry about it. "I know if it is to be it will be," she adds.

Wayne, a young teacher, married for three years, believes that the practice of men having mistresses will continue for a long time as men have roving eyes. He says it's natural for men to wander and be curious for what turns them on especially when they are not seeing it at home. When a wife discovers that her husband is cheating, she usually wants to know what the other woman looks like even though it may be more than the physical. Men will lie to avoid confrontation and save the guilt.

Left and returned home

Albert agrees that it is hard to leave his wife. In his case, he decided to move out of the matrimonial home and get a small apartment as he did not want to move in with his sweetheart just yet. Two months later, the unexpected happened; he was badly injured in a motor-vehicle accident. With both legs broken, he decided to move back home with his wife, as the mistress could not take care of him, nor did she know what to do. Six years later, he's still at home with his wife, hobbling with a cane and he still has the same mistress.

Some married men take the tough decision to leave home to pursue a life of happiness with a mistress who may have shared his life for years. Thomaslaments the miserable life he shared with his wife, primarily due to an interfering mother-in-law and a controlling spouse. This led him to find comfort with a woman who is also married, but unhappy. It was a case of misery finding company. Both went to counselling for an extended period, divorced their spouses, later married and are enjoying each other.

Sophisticated women

Thomas does not like the names ascribed to women who are in relationships with married men. He does not think it is fair to label them as 'husband snatchers', bimbos or desperate bitches incapable of finding a single man. Many of today's women are highly educated and sophisticated so they do not really fit the traditional role of a kept mistress. Persons come together out of life's circumstances and you build a bond, developing an extramarital relationship over years and that puts pressure on a marriage, Thomas argues.

For married men and their mistresses, maintaining the affair is a juggling act to cover up lies, explaining time away from home and dealing with guilt. However, some men have mastered the art of maintaining a wife and a mistress. The question of whether the men will leave their wives for their mistress can only be determined by parties in each extra-marital union.

Reasons for affairs

The top reasons why married men have affairs are:

  • More sex; sometimes due to little or no sex in the marriage.

  • The need for sexual variety.

  • Opportunistic sex (if the opportunity occurs, go for it).

  • The thrill of courting a woman.

  • Boost of the ego to feel special and attractive to the opposite sex.

  • Revenge - to get back at their wives for one reason or another.

  • Sexual addiction.

  • A 'shoulder to cry on' to talk about problems in the marriage.

  • To escape from routine or boredom within their marriage