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Frustrated Men: Why Husbands Sleep with Domestic Helpers?

Helpers, bless them, cook, clean and wash for us, they know some of our deepest secrets, and even know what the hubby's boxers look lik...

Helpers, bless them, cook, clean and wash for us, they know some of our deepest secrets, and even know what the hubby's boxers look like - without them, some families would be in chaos.

Nomvume Maphanga, a marriage counsellor, says domestic workers are becoming so powerful that many marriages and relationships are threatened.

She says cases of men sleeping with their helpers are on the rise, and one in five cases of infidelity she dealt with in the past year has involved a helper.

She says these women are often younger, stylish, enlightened, single and struggling with financial issues, and many of the men they sleep with are doing well financially. With money and power comes a sense of entitlement.

She adds that men like to use their masculinity to advance their power by picking on weaker people such as maids and young girls.
Some Women Have Little Time with their Husbands 

"These days the helpers - unlike the old mamas who used to do domestic work in berets, overalls and uniforms - are younger, wear stylish clothes, are sexier, more educated and because of their age they are very vulnerable and available to their male bosses," said Maphanga.

She says this is made worse by television and other media that se.xualises women in subservient and submissive positions. She said by nature power is attractive and maids are at risk because they may also be attracted to the allure of male power.

"The power dynamic works both ways because maids are also privy to the private lives of those who pay them. Maids get to see their secrets. So, in a way, the bosses are beholden to the maid. She has power over them."

Another thing that makes domestic workers attractive is that the excitement of the forbidden fruit can be erotic and edgy. What is happening? Are our men threatened by empowered women?

Not at all, says Zuko Mathyila, a male activist based in Cape Town. Mathyila said the biggest reason men are playing hanky panky with the maid is emotional dissatisfaction.

He says studies by marriage counsellor Gary Neuman show that 48% of men rated emotional dissatisfaction as the primary reason they cheat. He says men are emotionally driven beings who want their wives to show them that they're appreciated.

Professional women have become so masculine, distant and aggressive that they've become a turn off to men, he said.

Many women use their salary and position at work to transform themselves from the beautiful feminine woman they are into becoming more masculine at home. This makes feminine and submissive maids at home very attractive to men.

"What attracts men to women is women's femininity. This is the same way women find masculinity attractive in men." Some women don't have time to attend to their husband needs.

"Some women only attend to their own needs and leave the maid to attend to their husband's needs. The helper makes their bed, washes his pants and even cooks and serves the husband's food. Human beings by nature love a person who is close to them."

Some women are impolite to their husbands and this forces them to look for comfort elsewhere.

"This is apparent in marriages where the woman feels she is financially better off than the husband and that he is not more deserving. This frustrates husbands, who feel women must be submissive to them. The result is that the husband looks for an easy, submissive alternative around them for sex, and in this case, housemaids," says Mathyila.

He says men want to get away from today's over-empowered and aggressive women, such as their wives and bosses, and be with more regular, easy-going women with whom they can relax and not have to try so hard. Maids are the perfect candidates.

Studies done by leading marriage researcher John Gottman show that cheating might not be a symptom of a bad marriage or relationship. Gottman says most people cheat because of opportunity, accounting for 80% of affairs.

Maphanga says the biggest opportunity couples make is to involve the maid in their personal conflicts by, for example, complaining to the maid about the wife or the husband.

"Although the maid may be living in the house, it is important to exercise boundaries with her and to treat her with the same respect that one would get at work."

Maphanga says women should take on a more nurturing role in terms of cooking and cleaning for their husbands, instead of leaving these tasks to the maids. "To solve this, women can instruct and manage maids in such a way that the maids are seen as assisting them in their nurturing roles.

"The couple can agree to treat the maid as the employee of the wife so that subsequently, even though tasks are carried out by the maid, the instructions and intentions come from the wife, thereby, strengthening the couple's relationship." - Sowetan 

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