Selasa, Jun 09, 2009

The Husband Hunter...not!



We are not husband hunters

As you draw closer to 30, there are some things you must simply accept. One: you no longer qualify to accept little envelopes containing cash on Lebaran day from your aunts and uncles. Two: the crows' feet and dark circles around your eyes are still visible even when you get enough rest. And three: you are beginning to lose more and more friends to their spouses.

With every wedding invitation that comes your way, you are not only reminded that you are becoming one of the rare few among your friends who are still single, but also of the fact that an inevitable distance will stretch between you and your newly married friend.

Now multiply that fact by 10 if your friend is a member of the opposite sex. I must stress here, that by friend, I mean a real buddy-buddy. Not a bootie-call buddy or your best-friend-with-benefits kind of buddy. I mean real friends that you confide in, count on and occasionally smack around just for fun.

Other than the times when they need a woman's advice when they're buying gifts for Mother's day, you are just one of the boys to them. Crashing at their place or catching a quick glimpse of their behinds never left a meaningful impression on you.


The meaningful moments are the times they call you in the middle of the night, drunk as a donkey because they have just lost their job. You drive all the way to pick them up, and when you drop them off at their house at the crack of dawn you yell "Jobless loser!" and drive off laughing.

But be prepared. In time, they'll find the perfect woman. Usually they'll be soft-spoken and have no sweat glands. You are happy to see them happy. And you try to take it lightly as you begin to drift apart slowly and subtly. Now every time the ol' gang goes on a night out, their dear girlfriends come along with faces like they're having the worst time of their lives.

What do you know; a year later they tie the knot. Now you can't even have a simple cup of coffee with your good friend without him being paranoid every time his mobile phone rings, making you feel like a dirty mistress. Being a woman with more male friends than female, I am now experiencing the lowest supply of friends than ever before. I am not denying the facts that as we get older, people settle into family life more than friendships. I respect that.

It is not the consequences of marriage that bother me as much as the jealousy; the treatment of spouses as possessions. People refusing to believe that any friendship between a man and a woman may not involve sex, and wives seeing every fellow woman as a threat or a thirsty husband hunter. In more extreme cases, even a professional relationship between a spouse and another woman is considered a threat.

This is Jakarta. It's a city where women taking charge in the workplace is no longer unusual. Sometimes we wear the power suit and lead the team. But in the homes of our male colleagues, there are jealous wives feeling insecure about their husbands working overtime with us. Calling every 10 minutes and stalling the team's work.

About a year ago, I had to let go of a perfectly good videographer in my team for exactly this reason. The team consisted of three women and two men and we were required to be ready to travel at any time.

In situations where we had to go to small villages with no hotels, we had to make do sleeping in whatever space we could find. Yes, all of us in the same room. Once the videographer's wife found out about this, she insisted that her husband return home right that second, or else.

Afraid of what "or else" could mean, he took the next flight back to Jakarta, leaving us videographer-less in the jungles of Sulawesi.

Just the other night I had to endure a meeting hearing my colleague's cell phone vibrating in his pocket non-stop for the whole hour. I asked him if he wanted to pick it up, he said, "No, it's my wife. She always gets this way when I'm working with you."

I wanted to grab the phone from his pocket, pick it up, and tell her that if she doesn't like her husband working with me, then she shouldn't spend the paycheck he brings home.

Iwan, a 30-something married guy that I occasionally work with, admitted to me that he opted for lying to his wife to avoid confrontation.

"I never had any intention of cheating, but even so, she's still jealous whenever I'm in the company of other women. If she saw me talking with you like this, she would freak. So I just lie. I'm safe, she's happy," he said.

His notion was agreed to with varying degrees by his mostly married, mostly male mates.

"I used to have a really close female friend that I hung out with all the time. I haven't seen her since I got married," says another guy.

"What about your male friends, do you still hang out with them?" I ask. "Yes, she doesn't mind the guys," he says. I thought that was a little unfair, gender-wise, but let's not go there.

At the end of my generalization, I always point out the few rare exceptions. Yes, there are cool women like the one my good friend dated and later married. They become an addition to the family instead of a Yoko Ono.

They join in our conversations instead of being pouty-poodle girlfriends. But, even to the poodle girlfriends out there, I am in no place to judge y'all. It's the culture and misconception of marriage and possession making you the way you are. No amount of glitzy nightclubs and modern life has changed that old-school mind frame.

My advice to you, ladies, is be cool. If you're cool, your husband's friends -- including the female ones -- will like you. And there is no way we are ever going to mess with your marriage if we like and respect you.

Heck, we would even go through the trouble of kicking their asses if their libidos started wandering away. But if your man is a natural bastard and he strays anyway, remember the one taking the sacred vow of eternal fidelity was him, not the woman he messes around with. So remember, ladies. Be cool.

- Kartika Jahja

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#27

My current favourite writer: Fiersa Besari. Sederhana, cerdas dan mengena. If you haven't read any of his works, you should. ...