Image via WikipediaIn the conservative way of looking at married couples, a couple consists of a man and a woman.
So if a married man has an extramatrimonial adventure with a married woman, that married woman has an extramatrimonial adventure with a married man.
In the same time there is a married man and a married woman who are both betrayed.
Perfectly balanced ?
Yes and no.
Yes : if this cheating remains secret and without consequences, if the cheaters took precautions, against aids and against having children.
The imbalance I want to talk about occurs when the cheating results in a child.
When a man cheats on his wife, and this cheating results in a bastard child and their adventure remains a secret what are the consequences ?
Fairly simple : the woman who cheated gives birth to a child. This means that her husband (who believes it is his child) has to raise the child of another man. This is what happens when a cuckoo lays his egg in another nest. Hence the term : “cuckooldery” as the opposite of adultery.
In the other family nothing happens. Pretty imbalanced, is it not?
A man can do whatever he wants, and as long as his wife does not know, nothing happens.
A woman on the other hand brings the child of another man into her and her husbands family.
Which of the two is worse ?
Lets look at it from the simple evolutionary point of view : “evolution and natural selection favour the individuals with the most offspring”.
From the point of view of men :
– making a lot of children in your own family AND outside your family is evolutionary good.
– raising the children of another man is evolutionary bad, because your own children have to share the resources (food, shelter …) with a bastard child.
From the point of view of women :
– having a lot of children from your husband or from another man (fitter, taller, richer) is good.
– if your husband has a bastard child in some other family there is only the danger that he spends some of his time/resources/wealth with this other child.
I would say that from the point of view of man the imbalance is far greater than from the point of view of women.
To illustrate this :
– Male lions, when they take over a group and chase the old group leader they also kill all the baby lions, because they carry the genes of another lion.
Naturally, the view I presented above is very limited. These days marriage and family is a lot more than only counting the number of his or her children. So the impact of cheating is much more complicated. But that will be another story. In the mean time this post gives an overview of possibilities.