It was a strange coincidence when I got information about Greg and Arshad traveling to Pune at around same time for their respective professional commitments. There was an overlap of TWO days in their itinerary. They were my classmates during MBA. I didn’t waste much time to reach out of my other THREE MBA classmates, Sameer, Rajneesh, and Ryan, who are working with different multinational organizations in Pune and usually stay out of the city for their work commitments. They confirmed to me that they too will be in the city during those two days and will keep themselves free and available; I immediately planned for dinner get-together for all SIX of us. I was very excited. It was the first occasion in last 12 years when will be together. Although Sameer, Rajneesh, Ryan and I were staying in the same city but getting together for four of us was a rare occurrence.
While I am zeroing on a place for dinner, let me introduce you to my friends. Greg is working as Project Manager with a Global IT Product Development giant and is based out of California. Arshad has recently started his own start-up venture in Singapore. His organization develops mobile applications for facilitating consumer services. Sameer is working as Vice President – Marketing and Advertising for a leading Media company. Rajneesh is working a General Manager – Operations for an Engineering Manufacturing company, headquartered in Germany. Ryan is working as Associate Vice President – Marketing with an automobile giant.
As Greg was flying back on California on Saturday, I scheduled our dinner date at Spice Kitchen, JW Marriot, SB Road, in Pune on Friday night. All of us reached the venue at 7:30 PM. It was very exciting and emotional moment for all of us. In these 12 years, all of us have grown exponentially in our professional and personal life, some of us chasing our dreams, while others living our dreams. After exchanging initial pleasantries and warm-up, we begin to discuss a number of subjects and issues. We refreshed and recollected our college days, talked about our faculties, and exchanged whereabouts of our other classmates, especially females of our batch. Arshad was seeing the prettiest female of our batch; while Sameer was double timing with TWO, one in college and another his school time friend. It was delightful to know that all SIX of us have working wives. They are multi-talented women who handle their office work and home with equal ease though they get help from the maid and domestic helpers. We also talked about our families, kids, businesses, politics, cricket (one of our favourite topic), elections, etc. and finally when we begin to talk and discuss about relationships, from there on our discussion didn’t switch to another topic as this subject continued until end of our dinner and beyond. We were so engrossed in this discussion that at 11:00 PM, we were reminded by restaurant manager to shut-up and go home as it was time to close the restaurant.
When we began to talk about relationships, as we picked upon failed relationships of some of the celebrities. We were trying to explore as what keeps the relationship together? What makes, once lifetime companions, to move out of a relationship or cheat? Are our values so weak? Our parents stayed together for so many decades, till death did them apart. Is it because both the partners in a relationship want to be financially independent and chase their dreams? Is it because love is not love but has become something else, a social adjustment or a lifelong compromise? Are our values and ethics so weak?
As Arshad began the discussion, he said that as he travels a lot and stays away from his wife and kids for several days in a month. Some days in office are very frustrating, demanding and depressing and therefore, he often get into a physical relationship with his female colleagues, female friends or buy external services. He doesn’t want to do it but it is his work that is pushing him to this kind of lifestyle. It makes him feel good.
Ryan said that for him engaging with females in a not so romantic way is a part of his job as he needs to retain his clients. Some clients are very demanding and you need to provide them with services or do things which you don’t want to do but have no other choice, either you can keep your job and sleep with your social values, principles, and ethics. Such topics are good for discussion but in reality, they are difficult to practice. Cheating, if at all you call it cheating, in relationships is inevitable. We are living in high pressure and highly demanding era. If you will not do, someone else will do. You need business, you need clients, and you need financiers to survive in this market. Ethics and values cannot give you any of these.
I wasn’t comfortable with their response. I said that society can neither nourish nor derail your relationship. We create society. It’s not the other way round. Values and ethics are very personal to an individual and to a family. We cannot generalize it. Marriage is neither a one-time event nor a social drama. It stands on the foundation of commitment, equality, and trust. It is a journey that two people decide to take together to walk through a tunnel of time. They celebrate their joy, success, and achievements. They empathetically console each other during times of difficulties, pain, and sorrow. How can you cheat your partner in the name of professional commitments or depression or workplace pressure? If there are such clients or investors in your business or work, it means you are attracting them.
As I was about to continue, Rajneesh interrupted, “Sanjeev, it appears like the story of “grapes is sour” or probably, you are not a risk-taker. Those who get they enjoy and those who don’t, they complain. A life without risk has no thrill”.
“You know me. I perhaps get to interact with more females on a daily basis than probably what you might have seen in your entire life. So grapes are certainly not sour”, I replied.
“Then possibly, it’s a case of playing safe and not taking the risk”, he responded immediately.
He continued, “Sanjeev, I don’t know why you are bringing up the issue of values, ethics, etc. They are separate topics. Physical or biological needs of an individual are different from emotional needs. Like Arshad said that his business requires him to travel frequently. He travels for almost THREE weeks in a month. During those days, if his body has some physical needs, should he wait to get back to his wife? Also, why all these lessons and preaching of honesty and trust in a relationship are meant for males only? What about females? Sometimes I get being approached by female vendors to give them contract and few of them offer to compromise. Am I stupid to miss such opportunities? No, I am not. I am not approaching anyone, I am getting approached. I have few females on my team who want to grow fast and want to earn big, they compromise. Ultimately, you give something to get something. Both stay happy. What’s wrong in that? It doesn’t mean that we don’t love our wife and our families. Our family is our emotional and social need; however, sometimes either we are compelled by our physical needs or business demands, and does things which people like you call it unethical and start morale-policing”.
“You can call it by any name and give any reasons but cheating in a relationship is not an accident. It is a choice. It is a habit. Don’t look for excuses to cheat. You have a working wife, what if she…”, as I was explaining it to the group, I was interrupted by Sameer.
“I agree with Sanjeev”, Sameer said.
As he said, everybody gave him a strange penetrating look. Arshad said, “Sameer you are saying this, the guy who had so many girlfriends during college days. Please, you don’t start preaching us on relationships and values. It is like after committing all the crimes you decide to go for salvation. Now don’t say that you never had affairs?”
What you do before marriage is your way to explore a relationship. It might work out right or it might fail. When you continue to explore relationships after getting married or committing to someone, it is called cheating. What I was during college or in the earlier part of my career, it was exploration. I was trying to understand relationships. I was trying to find out if any relationship is worth my lifetime commitment. That doesn’t suggest in any manner that I don’t respect relations and emotions involved in it. Once I make a commitment then I don’t cheat and that’s what I am doing.
Rajneesh couldn’t hide his curiosity, “Sameer, are you saying that you have remained loyal and honest to your wife in last 10 years of your marriage”?
Sameer responded, “Yes, you hear it right”.
Ryan asked, “How? You are working in the media industry. You must be dealing with high-profile models. And you are saying that you didn’t have outside work relationships with any of them”?
Sameer continued to share his story. Ryan, you are right. I deal with many high-profile models. Over 50% of my vendors are females. More than 75% of people in my team are females. Every month I take 100’s of interviews and female candidates are willing to do anything to associate with our organization. I have few females on my team who are willing to go to any extent to get good merit increase and performance bonus and yet, I am honest and loyal to my wife, Megha. And I will never cheat her.
- I love her immensely. We have been married for 10 years but it appears as if it was yesterday. I met her on the first day of induction process in my first job. I began to like her. Within one year of working together, I realized that it is not mere liking but more than that. That love for each other is still continuing.
- Creating the foundation of our world. I realized very early in our relationship as what Sanjeev has mentioned that marriage is not an event. It’s a journey. In our marriage, like in any other marriage, she left her house to be with me and help me create our world. This relationship was based on the foundation of trust and honesty. I don’t know how people can cheat someone who has based her entire trust on you to be with you for momentary pleasures.
- Goals and Dreams. What I and Megha want to achieve in our life is much bigger and larger than any other affair. We don’t need any distraction while we are on our journey towards our dreams and nor does we need someone to spoil our success once we reach our goal. We are companions. We are friends. We are a team. Affairs after marriage are for those who dream small and cannot see the bigger picture.
- A role model for our kids. We have two kids – 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. Our kids are our world. They love us. They look up to us. They are proud of us. They want to be like us. We need to ensure that we become good role models for them.
- Lastly, I don’t cheat her and will never cheat her because I don’t want to. As Sanjeev said, your values and principles are personal to you. Neither society nor your profession can force you to do something if you don’t want to do. It is as simple as that. I love my wife. I love my kids. I love our small world. They trust me. And I am honest to them. I don’t cheat them and it’s my choice.
As Sanjeev said, cheating in a relationship is not an accident. It is a choice. It is a habit. You are free to make choices and do what you feel right.
We could have continued for another hour or so but Restaurant Manager asked us to shut-up and cut it short, as it was time to close. It was very engrossed discussion and made all of us think about our value system. We walked down to the parking lot. Embraced one another and promised to meet again soon.
While driving home, I was certain to share this experience with all my friends. We have been reading so many stories and articles to justify extra-marital affairs and here is one person who gave us more compelling reasons to not to cheat your partner and stay honest. Lastly, it is unfair to judge someone based on their past. Being flamboyant or philander during adulthood doesn’t give someone a certificate of being characterless, cheap or dishonest.
What do you think about Sameer? What do you think about honesty, sincerity, and loyalty in a relationship? Share your thoughts.
About the Author
Sanjeev Himachali, Pune
Sanjeev is seasoned Human Resources professional with a wealth of experience spanning across Manufacturing, Information Technology and Financial Services Industries. He is an Integral part of the Global HR Leadership Team which works on HR strategy development and deployment plan for all organizational level HR programs. Sanjeev has a well-rounded exposure to Business Operations and Delivery along with focused Human Resources assignments to understand people and people strategy. It Enables being a true Business Partner in deciding
People Processes and making informed decisions by leveraging market intelligence. He is a strategic planner with experience in Organization Restructuring, Change Management, Organization Development and Talent Management. Sanjeev is a qualified Career and Performance Coach.
Specialties: Change Management, Organization Development, Performance Coaching, Career Coaching, HR Operations, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Green-fieldLegal CGreenfield Operations, Start-up, Learning, and Development, and Compensation and Benefits.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org