Is zero tolerance the best policy when you catch your man flirting with another chick?
You are at a social event with your partner, and he is receiving generous attention from one woman in particular (and it’s not your mum). You:
A) Keep a pair of boxing gloves handy for this sort of thing.
B) Smile, preserving your energy for a well planned explosion in private.
C) Give him the icy glare (now, if only he was looking at you).
If you answered A, give yourself a pat on the back. If you picked B or C, you’re still entitled to one, because that’s a tough spot to be in. Which is why, for all those First Lady etiquette classes, even Michelle Obama blew it a few days ago. A series of photographs clicked at a memorial service for late Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg showed Michelle frowning before switching places to wedge herself between husband Barack Obama and Denmark PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, with whom he was seen sharing a good laugh.
Naturally, the story quickly became the stuff of giggles and gossip. Relationships, like chess, involve strategy, and if public reaction to Michelle’s frown confirmed anything, it’s that the Queen’s move must always be carefully thought through.
TOI got four women readers to offer alternate approaches:
Forever hold your peace
“I’d wait for him to realise that it’s more fun to be with me,” says television producer Raksha Shetty about her husband of five years, Karan. “I’d give him the silent treatment all the way home,” adds the 33-year-old Bandra resident. Although it seems like a subdued response, Shetty explains, “You don’t want to give the incident or the woman more attention than necessary. That could be counterproductive.” She advocates trusting your instinct, and, “unless you feel it’s not harmless flirting, allow the matter to die a quick death”.
Boot in the rear
Ahimsa isn’t for everyone, and 24-year-old Sitara Sharma thinks Michelle got it right, especially if the sulking was followed by a swift kick once back home. “Why should it fall upon women alone to maintain the dignity of marriage?” asks the marketing executive, who married businessman Neel a year ago. “How many men do you know who’ll exercise calm if they saw their wives all over another man?” Venting is healthy, otherwise “it’s like shaking a soda bottle — silence before an explosion.”
Trust, not doubt
“I have a lot of single friends, and when we’re at a do, it’s a given that one of them will chat up Malik,” says 39-year-old Mubaraka Chamdawala (below), referring to her husband of 13 years. “It doesn’t bother me, not even if I learn that he finds the girl attractive,” she says stoically, adding that blowing up in public sends out the message that the marriage rests on flimsy trust. Her poise comes from a sense of security. “We have our children and close ties with members of each other’s families. There’s respect and love. So, he finds another girl attractive. Big deal!”
Surprise them
Public relations executive Naina Shetty, 31, offers an extraordinary approach. “Buy her a drink,” is what she recommends. Married to husband Mahesh for seven years, the mother of a four-year-old boy shares, “Some time ago, when we were at a night club overseas, I found that he had turned into a female-magnet. Every time I returned from the restroom, I’d find a new girl beside him, giggling, until there was a small ring of them around him.”
Far from storming off, she bought them a round of drinks, “and by the end of the night, they had left his side and were merrily chatting me up.”
This writer’s view, on the other hand, draws from an argument recently overheard at a traffic signal. “You always have to control everything,” yelled the man, loud enough for his voice to carry over rush hour cacophony into our taxi. A palm curled around the steering wheel, the girl rolled her eyes, and returned fire, “It’s my car, I’m driving, so I’ll decide the route.” Fair enough.