The gift of love


  • Ask Dr G
  • Sunday, 19 Jan 2014

Are Asian women more forgiving that their Western counterparts when it comes to infidelity?

I recently received a Christmas gift in the post from a dear English friend, Andrew, who is an alumnus from Cambridge. I was pleasantly surprised having received a Christmas present in January. I guess the act of sending anything in the “snail mail” is a dying art.

However, the thoughtful gesture from an old friend was greatly appreciated. Despite the late arrival of my calendar, I immediately picked up the phone and called Andrew.

Of course, in a true English fashion, I asked about the UK weather and Andrew’s long-term passion (what else? gardening!). Indeed, Andrew responded on how he has been in the last seven years, mourning about the bitter winter. He added: “I guess that’s why the couples in the UK are most likely to split in January rather than any other months of the year!” 

I thought very little of Andrew’s comment about the UK divorce statistics, as this is very typical of his anecdotal sense of humour. But at the same time, I was rather disturbed by his comment. Using Google, I immediately verified the fact. My goodness, it is true! 

It was reported in the Huffington Post recently, the first week back at work after the Christmas break means “ Divorce Day” for legal sectors as the husbands and wives begin to contact solicitors. Apparently, this is even described as the “matrimonial cliff” with increasing number of “silver splitters”. 

According to some legal experts, apart from the misery of the cold weather, the holiday period banged up with the children and the in-laws simply amount to atrocity! The credit card statements reflecting the festive indulgence must also be a contributing factor. 

I began to reflect on the state of affairs in our own shores. Do we have such “seasonal splitters” or are Asians, a simply tolerant bunch, who will weather any storm in their relationships? 

I recently came across Mr and Mrs Lim in the clinic asking for treatment for syphilis. Apparently, the wife had given her 50-year-old spouse a Christmas gift, a health-check package. The grateful husband was completely overwhelmed by the gesture and went for the full check-up even before the year-end. 

Both the husband and wife were completely flabbergasted when the tests revealed a positive VDRL. The husband was tested positive for syphilis. After, a lengthy interrogation, the stunned husband owned up to his naughty past for which he was not proud of! 

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacterium Treponema Pallidum. It can cause long-term complications and even death, if untreated.

Among the famous people who had contracted syphilis included Vincent Van Gough, Al Capone and even Henry the VIII (allegedly!).

Lets face it, these are DEAD famous people after all! However, syphilis may be a forgotten disease, but it is definitely not gone. The WHO global and regional estimate of the prevalence of syphilis in 15 to 49 year-old is at a staggering twelve million in 1995.

In United States, there were about 50,000 reported new cases in 2012. The fact is VDRL is a good simple screening test. However, it is non-specific enough and may produce false-positive result! 

I asked the couple for a re-test and it was negative. I persuaded both of them to undergo FTA-ABS and RPR tests, which have accuracy of near perfection. Both of them agreed, with the husband expressing a guarded sense of relief and regret!

Two weeks after the initial encounter, I called Mrs Lim to tell the good news that both of them are free from any infection. But she knew it anyway! 

“Did you ever think of leaving him?” I may have crossed the line, but my instinct tells me to ask the question anyway. 

“Of course not!” The self-assured Mrs Lim replied without a tinge of doubt. “It takes a lot more than this to break our 25-year-old marriage. We have the kids to consider. But he is going to pay for this for a long time to come.” 

I’m  somewhat confused as I leave the clinic. Are Asia women more forgiving when it comes to infidelity? Can your relationship withstand such challenge? Anyway, it is food for thought.

Boys, think twice before accepting any Chinese New Year gifts. You may never know, your past glory as Henry VIII may haunt you like the ending of the notorious Al Capone! 

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. 

 

 

 

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Syphilis , Treponema Pallidum , Dr G , Christmas , VDRL

   

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