They hold no political position but wield tremendous political clout, with an uncanny ability to influence the political direction of a party and even the country.
The most obvious example is Sonia Gandhi, the 51-year-old widow of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. She's not even running for elections but has become the central figure in India's polls.
To the Congress Party, she appears to be its only hope of salvaging what's left of the once great party in the country's fractious politics.
She's of course not the only contemporary example. There's Hillary Clinton who has come to the defence of her husband, accused of having an affair with an intern.
Imagine the embarrassing consequences if Hillary had remained on the sidelines, shunning state functions and refusing to say anything to defend her husband.
The mere act of being silent and conspicuously absent from the side of Clinton would have sent the world's most powerful politician limping out of the Oval Room.
You could say this would be a terrible blow to Clinton who has been accused of having oral sex in the White House.
Philippine presidential hopeful Joseph Estrada who has been accused of liking the three Bs booze, bimbo and baccarat is equally lucky.
Despite being called a political dumbo by his detractors, his PhD wife has always come to his defence.
History, of course, is full of such examples. Argentine's Evita Peron outshone her husband while Jiang Qing influenced her husband Mao Zedong greatly.
The widows of many South Asian leaders have become leaders in their own right, taking over positions once held by their husbands.
Nobody in these countries seemed to mind that their only proven talent has been making naan and tandoori chicken. The family name was enough to send them into a political frenzy.
Some wives, of course, become their husband's worst enemies. Marcos could have possibly clung on to power if Imelda wasn't so obsessed with shoes.
The Filipinos understandably kicked up a storm and gave Marcos the boot finally.
South Africa's Winnie Mandela didn't help her husband Nelson Mandela one bit.
In Malaysia, the wives of politicians are an equally powerful lot although they are much more discreet.
Taking the back seat at political functions while their husbands enjoy the limelight, women power has hardly diminished.
The wife of a senior Malaysian politician, for example, heads a newspaper and exerts great influence on the party.
Seasoned political writers have long realised the importance of spouses, cleverly forging close links with them.
Recently, a young reporter attempted to contact a Cabinet minister at his house. Each time she called, she was told that the Datuk was either meeting some party members or performing prayers.
With the deadline approaching, the exasperated reporter finally approached a political reporter, telling him of her predicament.
The political reporter told her not to worry. Picking up the phone, he called the house and asked for the Datin instead.
Within minutes, the busy Datuk was calling the newsroom instead and offering his assistance.
In fact, some politicians have been known to send their wives to meet the wives of their party leaders during general elections, lobbying for seats and posts.
One Datin, whose husband was left out of an important government post after a general election, is said to have sought the support of another Datin.
The two Datins were said to be close friends, often exchanging recipes for curry dishes.
No one is quite sure what transpired in the kitchen until today but something must have brewed there. A plan must have been cooked up, you may say.
Soon, the particular Datuk was appointed to a post which he was not recommended initially.
Politicians can tell you that the bedroom and the kitchen can both be a boon and a bane. You just have to know what's cooking.