There are two types of married men who cheat.
The loyal ones, and those who indulge their impulses as their right and privilege, disrespecting their wives and children.
Beside them are mistresses who will either have a black Christmas - or a feast.
The loyal type never discusses his wife with his "squeeze". He prefers to live in two separate worlds and never the twain shall meet. By not discussing his wife, he is telling the makhwapeni that his family is a sacred space he will die protecting.
At least with this man the mistress knows what she is in for. Come December 16, the man has already taken his wife and kids to Cape Town for the trip of the year that will include stints in George and Hermanus.
The mistress will get glimpses of the trip from her Scorpions (spies) who will tell her what a loving family man her cheating lover is.
He will be spotted at Browns store on the V&A Waterfront choosing a ring for wifey or on the cable car tending to his three kids. The holiday snapshots of him playing happy families will tear at the mistress. She will be on a couch for most of the holiday, watching reruns of 1980s romance movies with a tissue box and a tub of ice cream.
In the "loyal husbands" category, there is a strange sub-group called the magodukas (migrants). These are fathers who over the year have neglected their duties to the main wife and homestead. In December the factory in the city is closed and everyone has to go home. He hates going home, prefers the warm perfumed bosom of the city mistress, but has no choice.
Note that loyalty here only refers to the fact that he will be spending Christmas with his family.
This type of husband keeps the mistress happy by discussing and degrading the rural or less educated wife.
He shares all the unsophisticated wife's faults with the mistress to show her that she is his "soul mate without the ring". She relishes these details and feels superior.
He does not earn enough money to happily maintain both women. His pocket might be bulging with the bonus cheque, but every cent is going to be spent. The homestead fence has been trampled down by cows and needs fixing. The four kids need school uniforms. The pantry has to be filled for the year.
The happy mistress this festive season is the one jolling (having an affair) with the second type of married man. He is the disrespectful type who has realised that his marriage reached its sell-by-date five years ago, but instead of manning up and breaking his vow, seeks to humiliate his wife with his public affairs into being the one to leave their marital home.
The mistress is blamed for creating festive widows out of married women. She is sexier, funnier, intelligent, wears the latest weaves and more tantalising lingerie. The cheat says he relives his youth every night in her bed. He credits her with the constant upgrading of his lifestyle, from signing him up for golf classes, suggesting the right holiday spots to booking days at spas when he gets corporate fatigue.
He believes he is bewitched by this temptress because he does not have a free will around her. This is convenient for his conscience, so that he can sleep peacefully at night.
This mistress will be having her home remodelled and taken on a boat cruise this festive season.
I have always been intrigued by this saying by George C Lichtenberg: "Much can be inferred about a man from his mistress, in her one beholds his weaknesses and dreams".
- This column was first published in the printed newspaper on 20 December 2012