domingo, 7 de junho de 2020

Without conjugal forgiveness, what will families be like?


As a retired magistrate, from time to time I am consulted informally by spouses, on whether or not to judicially separate. They are eager to know what will happen in the so feared “tomorrow”. Doubts about how assets will be divided, limits of the eventual alimony (the most difficult aspect), custody, visiting rights and a number of already well-known questions associated with every legal separation.

Undoubtedly, despite the varied statistics from country to country, a husbands' infidelity is what mostly leads wives to seek separation. The signatory of this article - even without any specialized training – has but just a snoopy curiosity about the most controversial aspect of the Law-Biology relationship. Therefore I think it is never deemed enough to provide betrayed wives some information – as well as  just a couple of mere intuitions - which will possibly help form a much better scenario of the problem plaguing them. The decision on what to do will certainly be difficult. Strictly legal considerations can bring more regret than happiness. However, by then it will be late, since time consolidates both right and wrong legal unions. Some say second marriages lasts longer than the first not because “the right person” was found in the second one, but because man, exhausted from the problems arising from the separation, has no longer patience - neither money - to face a new battle, or guerrilla. He just keeps carrying on, when the second union no longer arouses the enthusiasm of before. - "Will I have to pay one more alimony"? This is what often troubles him.

To begin with, it is necessary to admit, albeit with some moral disgust that man, just by being a man – and in accordance with Christianity, “made in the image and likeness of God”, an utter insult to the Creator's creation competence - complies nevertheless with Biology. It is suffice to see he has nails, hair, beard, saliva, canines (suitable for tearing flesh) and countless of other unnecessary attributes for a spiritual being. He knows how to kick with the four members (martial arts), snores while sleeps, stinks strongly (when he does not bathe). Is usually gluttonous, bossy, slobbers, sensual, ambitious, cunning, envious and sometimes treacherous. When challenged and positive regarding impunity, he dares the worst atrocities. Those who doubt this do not need to inform themselves in books of Forensic Pathology, all there is to do is to read a few chapters of the Universal History. As a simple example, it mentions the Spanish colonizers of Patagonia angry at the fact that the Indians did not respect their fences and ate their sheep - the natives had no notion of private property and thought that sheep were a type of llamas, their usual source of food supply - ruthlessly killed them. Moreover, they even poisoned the flesh of stranded whales. Finding, before the natives that a whale had run aground on the beach, they poisoned its flesh knowing the Indians would feasted on such voluminous gift from the sea. Sure enough the natives died by the hundreds. With such practices, they “cleaned up the area”. The local beauty to me unexpected - I saw it personally – of the far south end of Patagonia - hides a dark past, which is not even worth remembering. 

Such animal-like "features" of the human being, however, were useful for the preservation of the "Homo Sapiens" species (another arguable compliment). If our ancestors living in caves had been extremely docile, prone to fasting, disinterested in sex and not cunning, the human race would have probably been extinct. Especially if the so-called strong sex (questionable praise, again) had a low sensuality. As children died by the hundreds, victims of disease, malnutrition, and predators, the male cave dweller made up for such child slaughter - even without of course, having the slightest awareness of why he was sexually gluttonous - by fertilizing as many females as possible from his or the neighbouring group. He followed the procedure of the other mammals, almost all polygamous.

Female harems have always been the rule. The male counterpart, non-existent or an exception. When we speak of "matriarchy”, we mean the domination of the group by women, not the fact that they have, as far as I know, a large number of males to cohabit with simultaneously.

This natural polygamy of primitive man was a crude but effective way of guaranteeing the propagation of the species not only in terms of quantity of human beings but also of quality. This is due to the dominant male - practically the only "owner of females" - being the best carrier and transmitter of the then most valuable genetic qualities: brute force, shrewdness and aggressiveness. Were monogamy the rule in the biological evolution of mammals, the immense amount of sperm released in each carnal intercourse would be totally wasted when the mate was pregnant, therefore temporarily sterile. Seeds wasted, therefore. Hence, the incessant search for new sexual partners that could produce offspring, making up not only for the huge infant mortality but also for the early death of warriors or hunters, killed in constant tribal fighting or  predatory animals. Gluttony itself, eating exaggeratedly - today a very unpleasant vice to witness, but not to practice - was also a form of "virtue", since in those primitive times, before the advent of precision agriculture, there was no certainty if it would be possible to eat the next day. A moderate, elegant eater, praised today, was much more likely to die from starvation than a "glutton" who stuffed himself, forming reserves in the liver and fat tissue, thus resisting more to fasting forced by lack of food. Today, gluttony is harmful since in the civilized world we have meals available at least three times a day.

In short, today's man - and the betrayed wives need to remember - this is the outcome of the animal evolution of millennia, still carrying with it primitive characteristics, which in remote ages had its usefulness. One of them namely the instinctive propensity for infidelity.

It happens that, over the course of a few centuries, man - in the manner of snakes, who get rid of its old skin - found out that such "qualities" stemming from his ancestors deemed no longer necessary. On the contrary, they turned out to be flaws. There were no more natural predators. Not so many new-borns died anymore. The brute strength of the dominant male became an excrescence since the physically weaker male, living in society could organize themselves and defeat those biologically stronger. The state was created, a powerful abstract entity but also of very concrete strength, which could hang or imprison the most muscular and aggressive component of the group. Monogamy - at least the official one - became the rule. If Muslim countries still admit polygamy, this occurs - according to those who know the subject - as the Arab tribes lived in constant warfare among them, with large numbers of dead warriors. It would therefore be necessary to have a more effective system to "supply lives" other than monogamy. Hence the origin for the Muslims to have more than one wife, provided he could afford to support them.

Moreover, Christianity emerged, a religion inspired by the noblest desires of man, seen here only from the viewpoint of human race. Attempting to find peace among men, one of the greatest characteristic of this peace would be a monogamous marriage, idealistically perfect, as the number of men and women born is roughly the same. Each to his wife, until death do them part. No fights nor disputes for the neighbour's wife. Well, theoretically, for the spouses and not just theoretically for the children, who always suffer in some way or the other with the separation of their parents.

However, if this is good in theory, the study of real behaviour practice shows that the elegant cover of Christianity is a model made by a tailor much more idealistic than attentive to the real shape of the quasi-animal he dressed up.

Statistics show a high percentage of worldwide male infidelity. This is a fact, albeit unpleasant to know not recently increased due to the fear of AIDS. Since  the quasi-beast is but a few million years old (if we bear in mind the period when he was a fish), it is natural that this immense and tenebrous past makes him squirm and scratch when they put on a very elegant, noble moral clothing, but somewhat at odds with his more primitive nature. It is the same as catching a coalman - I mention this occupation because I imagine it no longer exists - bathe and dress him up in a very elegant tuxedo to attend a sophisticated reception at Itamaraty, and make him pretend to be a diplomat. After a few hours of misery, with a stiff and tight collar and shoes, which are too tight, holding a glass of champagne emptied out continuously, he will end up making a number of gaffes.

This gaffe, in the modern husband, is called infidelity. It is the old bottled up instinct, which half asleep, is what for dogs would correspond to the "call of the jungle", from the writer Jack London, and which Robert Louis Stevenson immortalized in his "The doctor and the monster".

Here I am neither defending the "wolves", nor stimulating the hesitant "near-wolves", who still dither over joining the pack. I am just trying to understand and explain what happens in real life. In any person's circle of relationships, it is common to know that an "x" couple is splitting due to betrayal. Most of the time committed by a mature man, who preferred a woman younger than his wife. In addition, it seems that there is also a biological explanation for this age difference without a conscious awareness from the somewhat retarded and grey-haired stallion.

Man, in this case, does not even know he is used by “wisdom" embedded in the genes, a biological "board" which, in my opinion, works on the sly. The genes know that younger women have a long period of fertility ahead of them, much longer than mature women, who may even be sterile due to menopause. The thin waist of young women - in contrast to the wide hips - which attracts men so much, can only be a biological warning that "the oven is empty" - sending a signal to "fill it" with pregnancy. Moreover, the broad hips seem to favour easier births. All the characteristics of female attraction coincide with greater health, good for pregnancy. The only item for which I have not yet found a biological explanation is the exceptional importance of the beauty of the female face, an attraction that does not always coincide with the good health of the woman and her aptitude to generate vigorous offspring. A tuberculous, or anaemic cancerous, face can arouse passions. Is the appreciation of the physiognomic women beauty a biological sign that man has evolved extraordinarily? Animals are attracted by smell, not by beauty.

All right! All right! - will say the angry female reader faced with such a "simplistic" and biological approach to her problem. — I admit there is still a lot of animal instinct in man, but he needs to know he is no longer an animal! He is endowed with rationality! If we were to forgive this primitive aspect, it would be senseless for criminal law to exist. Man, in extreme situations kills, rapes, steals and even tortures. Do these acts, I ask, deserve "understanding" for the simple reason of being spontaneous remnants of its inlaid animality?”

The reader is right in stressing her idealism. However, my intention here is not to "give the animal carte blanche". It is to show all aspects of the "infidelity" phenomenon, avoiding the rush to seek a lawyer and file for separation. It is the wife's first reaction, particularly when the slip has become notorious. Especially when her friends also heard about the affair. - "If only they didn't know..." - And such frenemies sometimes contribute towards the separation decision. They seem to ask, subtly, if only with their eyes: - "Aren't you going to do something..." - There the betrayed one "does act", reluctantly pressed by the duty to "react". However, often she regrets it. And it is quite possible that the "friend" is keeping an eye on the betrayed woman's husband. This hastiness may also be a reaction foreseen by the interested party, "the other", who is after a husband and not a married lover. I know of cases in which the wife regrets the decision. Not to mention eventual situations of changed positions: the husband, already living with "the other", visits his ex-wife to talk about children and there it happens, sexually, what moral and brio do not recommend. The ex-wife becomes "the other", the mistress, with all the burden of self-reproach for having given in to temptation.

Loneliness is not always better than life for two. The "affair" that caused the separation or divorce may have had shallow roots or even no root at all. We must remember that just as "the rascal" got sick of his wife, he can also get sick of the "other one", quite fast. I know of such an affair. The house cleaner, to please the mistress, told her about the overheard compromising phone conversation, between the master of the house and a woman. The wife reacted in the act. She sought counsel and the separation took place. The husband had no option but to leave. However, not to "live" with the one who eventually caused the problem. Actually, he never visited her. He did not return to his house because he had been the object of so many insults during the separation process, he ended up remembering his wife as a hateful snake. He imagined that if he returned, he would lead a life of a convict in conditional release, constantly watched, ears bursting with constant allusions to his mistake. He preferred to live alone and after a while, with a son. The ex-wife, already mature went on living alone, for all I know. Two unhappy lonely people. All because a house cleaner wanted to be nice to her mistress.

As this narrative is already too long and the Internet is a rather inappropriate forum for dissertations, I bestow here additional short data on the role of the biological mechanism that commands the animal kingdom, with repercussions on human beings, who are not yet angels. Panda bears are in danger of extinction. When in captivity it is common for the couple not to reproduce. I have learned that in some zoos scientists have done everything they can to make the bear couple produce puppies, but in vain. They tried - this is not my imagination, check out its own literature - to "break the ice" even with the exhibition of "pornographic films" (for me a nonsense) - in this case, panda couples in the middle of the act. And they have come to the point - sit down so as not to fall down - of administering "Viagra" to the male panda, with no result. Now - it is only my intuition - I can almost bet that if another female, or male, or other males and females were introduced into the cage, jealousy would trigger the biological mechanism that would lead to the fertilization perhaps of all females. This is because the dispute, the competition, the jealousy, are mechanisms to select the best. Add to this, reader another impressive fact - the egg is normally fertilised by only one sperm, but if it reaches the egg alone it does not receive it, it does not open, and fertilisation does not occur. Because "miss" egg makes a point of selecting, choosing the best one. She seems to think like this - "Excuse me, my dear, I make a point of choosing. How do I know you are the best?"

Considering all of this, the biological load that we still carry, I renew my advice to betrayed women: do not act hastily. Judicial separation should only be required when infidelity is a sign that all the rest of coexistence is already shattered. The husband who cheated - if he is a good husband in everything else and a good father - feels intimately bad when his conscience accuses him. And it accuses him with a special virulence when he realizes his wife to be a worthy companion, polite, capable of shutting her eyes and suffering in silence for a short period. A chance for the good, moral spouse's side to prevail over the more selfish and animal side that man carries involuntarily.

Finally, I will say something "kind of strange" about male betrayal that may not be believable by most readers from both genres, accustomed to listening and reading only platitudes. According to the current version, the married man cheats only driven by sexual dissatisfaction in his relationship with his wife. Not always, believe me. Sometimes it is not libido that causes betrayal but the power of unusual beauty. In other words, the subject thinks - "good and even much better sex, I already have at home, but how to resist such beauty"? Certainly, this citizen, who married rather early, usually suffers from the frustration of not having had in his arms a woman of such beauty. He just does not want to die feeling such frustration. That is why he cheats, without ever thinking of changing his wife. If he had more sense, he would not cheat. But who said rationality drives man?

To lighten the heavy environment of all the above considerations it is perhaps licit to tell an anecdote related to the subject here.  A groom, worried about his tendencies to, say, multiplicity of loves, sought out the priest the day before the wedding. He asked him a favour - to pretend forgetting to mention the "promise never to betray his wife, until death do us part", etc. He explained he did not intend to be unfaithful, however he would prefer to do this "from his inner self", without being forced into a formal promise at the time of the ceremony. In exchange, he gave the priest a check for five thousand dollars to help in the church reform. The priest took the check and left, without a word. The next day, at the ceremony, the priest looking straight into the groom’s eyes demanded loud and clearly - "John Doe, do you promise to be faithful until death do you part'' take coffee to your wife in bed? To pay, without complaining, all the expenses with a credit card, even if you consider them way too excessive? Keep at least two maids and a driver at her disposal and never make a sour face"? Swallowing dry, the groom agreed to everything, but soon after the ceremony, he sought out the priest censuring him: - "I thought we had a deal...” to which the priest handed him the check for five thousand and replied: "The bride doubled the bid."

As for female betrayal, I do not dare address it. Let alone ask confidences.

(Francisco Cesar Pinheiro Rodrigues (Francepiro) is a Brazilian author.Translation from Portuguese by Victoria Fernandes (

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