Since this issue has garnered a fair amount of news
headlines in recent weeks, I feel moved to express my own opinions about it.
Here is an issue that
is fraught with contradictions. Most people will claim to be "against" it, but
it is estimated that a majority of Americans have had at least one affair at
some point in their lives. I suspect that that number would escalate rapidly if
either they felt they could "get away with it" or if they did not fear the
social or legal consequences.
The crux of the issue
centers around a religious ideal commonly referred to as the "sanctity of
marriage". When a man and woman are married in a religious ceremony, the common
practice is for them to exchange vows promising to remain "faithful" to one
another and forsake all others for as long as they both shall live. Now, there
should be little doubt that this is a worthy and noble sentiment at the moment
of marriage and certainly has value as the glue which is supposed to keep a
couple together through the years during which they will be raising their
seems as though it is the rare couple who can have a truly happy and fulfilling
marriage in all respects throughout their lives. In most cases, the
relationship seems to deteriorate until the couple is doing little more than
sharing a domicile. Needless to say, there will be little, if any, lovemaking
between those two individuals in a strained relationship and that will
eventually begin to cause problems with the basic sex drive that all humans
possess. In the worst cases, even basic caring and attention for one another
can be lost and the two individuals will also suffer from emotional
dissatisfaction. If those two important needs cannot be satisfied within the
confines of the marital relationship, it seems to me to be natural (if not
inevitable) that either or both individuals would begin to look outside that
relationship for satisfaction.
For some reason, the
act of seeking such satisfaction outside of one's marriage, is considered to be
anything from a moral sin to an outright criminal offense. In many cases, the
spouse who has driven their partner into the arms of another through
inattention, abuse, selfishness, etc. is actually considered to be the "victim"
of their partner's "crime". The accused adulterer is said to have "broken their
wedding vows". How about the spouse who no longer "loves, honors, and
cherishes" their partner? Is that not also breaking one's vows. To my mind, if
there is an "offense" or "sin" that has been committed, it is the latter that
should be the true crime.
Adulterers are often
said to be "cheating" on their spouses. Why should this be so? How can you
"cheat" on somebody who doesn't want what you have to offer and who has nothing
to offer to you? Why is it somehow "acceptable" for a spouse to deny love and
satisfaction to their partner and be legally protected from their partner's
efforts to look elsewhere for it when it is not available at home? How many
current or potential adulterers would even consider looking elsewhere if they
were content and satisfied at home?
Since I am a
non-religious person, I don't subscribe to the notion that marriage is an act of
bonding two people together for life in the eyes of whatever deity they choose
to worship. I feel that marriage should be a contract where the "terms" are
expressed in the wedding vows or in a pre-nuptial agreement. As with any other
contract, if the terms are violated, the aggrieved party would have the right to
terminate that contract.
An alternative idea
would be to treat marriages in a manner similar to how high-level security
clearances are handled. Such clearances are good for a period of five years and
must be reviewed and revalidated if they are to be extended. Perhaps, marriages
should also be subject to a similar method of review. If, upon such a review,
the marriage is found to be no longer viable, it would simply cease to be. This
would mean that both partners would either have to work at maintaining the
marriage's validation or they would have to be prepared for life without it. I
can't see how this would be a bad idea.
In regards to the
cases currently in the news, is it right to cripple or end a career (either
military or civilian) solely on the basis of that individual having had an
affair -- especially one that ended long ago? To me, this is ridiculous.
Righteous indignation aside, I suspect that the majority of Americans would
agree with me. This is essentially an issue of religious morality -- and such
issues are bad ones around which to base laws.
Created with Allaire HomeSite 3.0 .......... Last Update: 03 Jun 98
Earthlink Network Home Page