New Straits Times,
Caught in the act by young son
ADAM (not real name) is a househusband who takes care of his two children while his wife works as a lawyer.
"It was simple at first. After our second child was born, I couldn't handle the additional workload. When I suggested we get a maid, my wife didn't hesitate.
"Although our Cambodian maid was not drop-dead gorgeous, I was attracted to her petite figure and demure character."
After a couple of months, Adam's attraction towards the maid grew.
"I wouldn't say I am a pious man but neither would I have expected to be a cheating husband.
"It all started with an innocent brushing of hands when she passed me a cup of tea.
"I could see that she was not the type to say 'no' to requests. So, when I asked her politely if she would sleep with me, she said okay.
"We started having more and more afternoon 'sessions' while the kids took their naps."
Adam's wife didn't suspect anything. In fact, she felt at ease staying late at the office, knowing that someone was at home to take care of her family.
Adam said: "As much as I tried to stop, I couldn't. Soon, I found myself taking more and more risks. I would even try to get the maid into bed while the kids were watching television in the living room. I knew we could get caught, but that was part of the excitement.
"However, the baffled and confused look on my eldest son's face when he walked in on us one day was all it took.
"It was a good thing my son didn't say anything about it to my wife. But from that day, I stopped sleeping with the maid. I realised that I was hurting two innocent victims."
When the maid's bed broke
Shana (not real name), 33, first suspected her husband was having an affair with the maid when the maid's bed broke.
"I always knew my husband had a roving eye and would constantly get attention from his female colleagues. But I expected him to have some standard in choosing his affairs.
"Don't get me wrong, I never condoned it but I was willing to put up with it for the sake of the marriage and kids.
"When our first maid confessed that she had slept with my husband, I accused her of lying.
"I packed her bags and asked her to leave. I was under the impression that she only wanted to 'divide and conquer' the family.
"But when our replacement maid's new bed broke, I got suspicious. She was a skinny and small-sized girl and it didn't seem possible for her to break a bed on her own."
Shana's suspicions were confirmed when she caught her husband sneaking out of their bedroom in the middle of the night one day.
"A part of me didn't want to accept what that might mean, but I had to know. After a couple of minutes, I opened my maid's bedroom door and found him on top of her.
"Needless to say, he was dumbfounded and could not weasel his way out of it.
"I filed for divorce and am now happily remarried to an honest, loyal and trustworthy man."
Expert tips on "affair-proofing" your marriage
UNITED States-licensed marriage and family therapist Dr Johnben Loy, who is also Taylor's University visiting fellow, provides some tips on affair-proofing your marriage.
Q: Why do you think some men find maids sexually appealing?
A: There is a host of factors to be considered before a man finds a maid appealing, not just for the care she provides. For example, the age and the look may be important.
A maid who is older and more matronly can provide care, but can be perceived as a mother figure.
Q: What warning signs should wives look out for?
A: One of the main contributors to extramarital affairs is prolonged emotional and physical distance between spouses. Often, the stress of having a second or third child, together with a busy career, can lead to couples growing apart from each other, thereby, creating a tendency towards extramarital relations.
Wives who are concerned can monitor the "emotional temperature" of the relationship to make sure it is warm and the connection is vibrant.
Q: When it comes to maids, how can couples safeguard their marriage?
A: If a couple is concerned about safeguarding the marriage, the couple can agree to let the wife be in charge of the maid. The husband can request household needs from the wife, who can then instruct the maid to execute the requests.
In addition, the couple needs to make sure not to involve the maid in their personal conflicts, 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 proper boundaries with her and to treat her with the same respect that one would treat a local employee.
Doing these things can help protect the boundary around the husband and wife.
Q:Should wives take on a more nurturing role in terms of cooking and cleaning for their husbands, instead of leaving these tasks to the maids?
A: In marriages with more traditional role patterns, wives 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 the tasks are carried out by the maid, the instructions and intentions come from the wife, thereby, strengthening the couple's relationship.
Is it a fetish?
THOMAS Jefferson was alleged to have sired several children with Sally Hemings, a slave at Monticello. Famous politician senator Strom Thurmond went to bed with his African-American maid and kept it a secret until he was 100 years old.
Though one would assume this age-old practice of having sex with the "help" has long passed since the days of slavery, this is not the case at all.
Be it a fetish for French maid costumes and feather dusters, or a series of power trips, men are still turned on by their maids, as revealed in the recent case of former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Last month, the 63-year-old Terminator star finally came clean about his affair and the "love child" he had with a two-decade-long household employee.
While his story is shocking, some countries have taken the maid fetish to another level.
In Japan, meido kafe (maid cafe) is the hottest trend in town. Designed to look like private homes, establishments like Tokyo's Cure Maid Cafe feature young waitresses dressed in French maid costumes.
They treat diners like masters and mistresses, sometimes offering massages and even kneeling by the table to stir cream and sugar into beverages.
Fuelled by sexy maid-themed anime, the trend is now taking off in Asia, too.
Are Malaysians spared from being enamoured with the help? Apparently not.
Growing trend in maid-employer affairs
A maid agency operator in Klang says he is noticing a growing trend in husbands taking a liking to maids.
"I've run a maid agency for more than six years without any problems. However, for the past two years, there's been a rise in husbands hoping to 'bed' their maids.
"Since most of the maids I provide are young Filipino girls, who clean apartments on an hourly basis, many employers assume they can get away with taking advantage of them."
Florence, a part-time maid, was lured to Malaysia by a man whom she met on the Internet. She was hoping to start a new life in Malaysia and earn a decent living.
"I was happy when my boyfriend told me to meet him in Malaysia. He said there were good jobs here and I would earn a decent living.
"As soon as I arrived in Klang, my boyfriend introduced me to a maid agency boss. He said I had to work for about four hours in an apartment, cleaning and doing the laundry. The boss was willing to drop and pick me up from the apartment guardhouse.
"My first few jobs were simple; I only had to deal with the 'maam' of the apartments.
"One day, I was asked to clean a new client's apartment and was shocked to find only the husband there. I did my work as usual.
"But, when I went to make the bed, I heard someone entering and locking the door. I was scared to see the husband in the room. He said he wanted to make sure I was doing a good job.
"But when I felt his arms around my waist, I started yelling. He told me not to worry because he would pay me a lot of money to have sex with him. I pushed him aside and screamed even louder.
"He got scared the neighbours might hear me, so he left the room. I quickly packed my things and left."
Because of her harrowing experience, Florence is planning to return to the Philippines as soon as she has enough money.
Victims choose silence
Ananda S.P., who runs a maid agency in the Klang Valley, believes such cases are rampant but most victims choose to be silent.
"There are no statistics to show how many of these cases exist because most of the maids are threatened. They only talk about the problem when they're about to leave the country or have already left. Only about one in 50 cases is reported to us during their contract period.
"Generally, this is a problem with Indonesian and Filipino maids. This could be because there's a higher ratio of them here and many of them are also attractive."
Ananda believes there are two sides to the coin: if there are no givers, there won't be any takers.
"These days, most wives spend less time at home and more at work. Men, on the other hand, hold higher positions and have the flexibility to be in the house more.
"Most of the time, these men strike a conversation with the maid. They ask about the maid's background and financial situation before feigning sympathy. Before long, they tempt the maid with extra cash and goodies.
"From the maid's perspective, since she's already married, this is similar to 'servicing' another master. Although this is far from being acceptable, most maids give in to temptation because of their financial situation back home."
Ananda says although most of these sexual advances are consensual, the marriage is at risk.
"In many instances, the maid will try to break up the home by finding favour with the husband. This is where trouble begins because once a wife starts to be suspicious, she will want the maid to leave. In the end, the maid will lose earning a living in Malaysia.
"Sometimes, the maid gets pregnant and is afraid to go home. She usually seeks an abortion. If this happens, we ask the husband to pay compensation to the maid to enable her to return to her country. More often than not, this breaks up the marriage and the couple get divorced.
"However, if the maid is forced to have sexual relations with her employer, we act in the best interests of the maid. We lodge a police report unless the maid is agreeable to the compensation."
Ananda says employers should realise that when they employ a maid, they're inviting a guest into their home, who probably has no money or contacts. They are responsible for her safety and well-being. She's not there to be a sex slave.
HELP University College vice-president and psychologist Dr Goh Chee Leong believes the strength of a marriage is the predictor for whether affairs happen.
"The will and discipline of either party determine the strength of a marriage. When a party is weak, that's when you give in to temptation.
"Wives or husbands who encounter situations like these should not blame themselves; the fault lies with the party who has cheated.
"Human beings are people with will and have the freedom to make their own decisions. No one is forced to cheat because as human beings, we pride ourselves in controlling our instincts and impulses. When we feel tempted, we have the strength to resist that temptation."