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A 'misteress' just means more work

Updated: 2011-06-09 09:48
By Dinah Chong Watkins ( China Daily)

A 'misteress' just means more work

Wives know that playing away will result in having one more mouth to feed -- literally

Wiping the last, fuzzy vestiges of sleep from my face, I shuffled into the kitchen and fired up the stove. When the oatmeal was cooked I poured a cup of coffee and carried the tray over to my husband. A quick kiss of gratitude in return and I went back to make my own breakfast. It struck me then why polygamist marriages consist of many wives but only one husband: serving one man is more than enough.

From the daily news bringing us tales of celebrity men and their mistresses, to the predilection of well-dressed women scouring the lobbies of office buildings at lunchtime for a speedy "language lesson", it's clear that a significant proportion of married men have rationalized away the bonds of monogamy -- but what about the wives?

Mistress. The word conjures up slinky lingerie-clad escapades on a hot summer night. No wonder it's not uncommon for husbands to be tempted; in some circles the ability to keep a mistress is a mark of status. For women though, a paid escort or "gigolo" offers images of a swarthy pizza swirler in tight white pants and thick gold chains.

Which is greater: the number of wives willing to underwrite the lifestyles of men unrelated by marriage or birth or the number of daredevils who survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel? Answer: it depends on the barrel. Yet, while a number of wives will engage in an affair, few will go the way of taking on a "misteress". Even though more women have achieved financial and executive success, resulting in a jump in fashion, spa and beauty treatment sales, being a "sugar mama" has all the allure of a plate of cold French fries topped with a layer of congealed brown gravy.

There are reasons why so few wives take on lovers. When you're used to doling out everyday funds from groceries to piano tutors, there's a jarring disconnect when allowances are paid not only to your school-age children but to your lover with the washboard abs. Sure it's exciting and no small amount of pleasure gossiping with your girlfriends over his slim waist, broad shoulders and full head of hair and teeth (all natural, no implants); but there comes a time, and it will inevitably arrive, when your nurturing instincts take over and you begin to serve him instead of the other way around. Then you find yourself cooking your second pot of oatmeal for the day.

Extra-marital affairs arise out of similar reasons: a lack of intimacy, affection and communication, as well as a feeling of being taken for granted by their partners. While for men there is a component of sex involved, it may not be an important element for women.

In Japan, a popular place for married women are "host clubs", where a stable of men - hair and eyebrows immaculately coiffed - are paid by the hour to sing, drink with and most importantly listen to female clients. It's a business model that offers regular and high returns. That it hasn't spread to anywhere other than South Korea may be due to the fact that the initiation process for new hires is hours of deafening heavy metal tracks by Iron Maiden.

In the movie What Women Want, the hero gains the power to hear women's thoughts, and since this is a Hollywood film he actually listens to them. The movie embodies a golden nugget of truth: women want to share their emotions with partners. What many men don't understand is that women just want to communicate, not necessarily come up with a solution. The husband who pointedly offers unsolicited advice time and time again soon wonders why his wife is increasing her sessions with her ripped personal trainer even after she's hit her target weight.

So forget the noontime lover. If you want to be listened to, dump the rock-hard pecs and go with the guy who charges by the hour, the one who won't ever ask you to pick up his dry cleaning or buy him an Armani suit. Just Google: "Psychiatrist".

The author is a Canadian freelance writer based in Beijing. To comment, e-mail The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of METRO.