Professor John Doe
3 April 2018
Extramarital affairs are relationships of a sexual manner involving married individuals outside of their marriage. A person in an extramarital affair is involved in infidelity. Using the sources indicated in the annotated bibliography, I will delve into the issue of extramarital affairs tackling the major issues raised in them by describing and analyzing major theories in an argumentative manner along with objections and replies.
Extramarital affairs have been in existence for arguably as long as the marriage institution has been around. The need for spouses to cheat has been a phenomenon for thousands of years. This can be seen in numerous Bible verses. In ancient Bible times, the matter of adultery was so weighty that there were put severe consequences if anyone was caught committing adultery. These measures were put as a deterrent to anyone who felt tempted to commit adultery. By considering the consequences, there were fewer cases of adultery reported. This stand is supported for instance by the book of Leviticus in Leviticus 20:10, which provides that a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, be it their neighbor’s wife, shall be put to death. This shows adultery has been a societal concern since the advent of human civilization and existence of the documented history.
I will therefore analyze different theories related to:
- Why extramarital affairs occur.
- How it affects the well-being of others related to the couple.
- Theories related to the philosophy of intimacy.
- Moral principles and values in a marriage and their importance.
- Philosophy of intimacy and integrity from a cultural point of view.
- The marriage institution and how various types of marriage influence infidelity tendencies.
- Deontological ethics and how they apply to a marriage setting
- Importance of consequentialist ethics adherence in a marriage.
In trying to understand why extramarital affairs happen, I will consider the works cited in the bibliography earlier. Praver in his book delves in the issue of causes of extramarital affairs. He observes that a majority of cases of infidelity are caused by the exhilaration caused by the prospect of sexual involvement with a new partner that either spouse is interested in (34). It is therefore an indication that such affairs are caused by a staleness in the sexual lives of the specific couples. Lack of a sense of adventure in the romantic involvement of a couple therefore leads them to seek excitement outside of their marriage (Praver 40).
Infidelity, he further observes, is also caused by fundamental disagreements in the marriage. These differences may range from ways to invest family resources, how to handle their relatives, to issues of responsibility in the family. These disagreements cause a strain in the way the couple communicate and relate with each other. If left unresolved, they can cause one of the partners to feel aggrieved and seek solace in an extramarital affair.
As observed by Armstrong, extramarital affairs can be caused by the need of the couple to feel wanted (59). This may be due to a non-emotionally fulfilling marriage. The partner involved may therefore seek extramarital affair to fulfill their self-esteem. In this modern society however, I am strongly convinced that these affairs should not have a place. Marriage is a commitment to each other as partners in the institution. This commitment must precede every other consideration in making decisions or acts that may lead to engagement in an extramarital affair.
Having engaged in a voluntarily and out of mutual consent to an institution of marriage, they should therefore be in a position to seek better ways to solve their differences and addressing the issues in their marriage. With effort, the flame of love in these relationships can be maintained without either partner ever having to seek an affair outside of their marriage.
When these affairs happen, many people are affected by the consequences. The most common outcome of an extramarital affair is a divorce (Gough 35). An extramarital affair destroys the major pillar upon which the marriage institution is built, trust. When a cheating partner is caught, the offended partner feels so betrayed that it is hardly possible to continue in the marriage anymore. Matters are more complicated if there are children involved, and often there are children involved as many marriages get strained by the effort of bringing up children. When a divorce happens the children are most affected as they can no longer enjoy the upbringing of a family environment. They are distraught when their parents engage in legal battles to secure their custody. Having to share time spent with their children makes the parents lose touch with the developments of their children. They are less able to realize when their children are struggling with an issue. It is also known that some children who have been through a divorce situation lose faith in the marriage institution later in life and are therefore more apprehensive about getting married (Lerner 167).
Extramarital affairs therefore are not worth by any standards the distress they cause to those hurt by them. It is the responsibility of a partner to ensure fidelity in their relationship. Before doing anything that might destroy their marriage, a partner should ponder on the real possibility of jeopardizing other relationships borne out of their marriage such as in-laws, and children. Sense of duty and responsibility should precede any selfish urges of personal gratification by either partner. In the trying to understand theories related to the philosophy of intimacy, friendship is a major theory and factor to consider in evaluating relationships.
Friendship as understood here is a characteristically personal connection that is grounded in a concern on the part of each friend for the well-being of the other. The presence or absence of friendship between partners in a marriage therefore, is a supreme factor in evaluating why extramarital relationships occur. In order for a marriage to remain firm, the concern for each other’s well-being must be present. In caring for your partner’s wellbeing it would be impossible to do anything that would hurt them such as being involved in extramarital affairs. In fostering healthy marriages, as observed by Armstrong, in his book, Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy, healthy friendships have to be developed between partners (79).
Love is another concept that has to be considered in this evaluation. Love is an evaluative outlook focused at a particular person. It is not requisite that love directed at someone is reciprocated (Relentless 94). In evaluation of extramarital affairs, it is important to consider love in the marriage. Do both partners share the same outlook on each other? Does one partner love the other partner without a reciprocation of that love? These are some of the questions that need to be answered.
Where a partner goes into a marriage without love for the other partner, it is easier to be involved in extramarital affairs than where partners really hold the same considerate outlook on each other. In trying to avoid these extramarital affairs, it is important that the partners are sure that they really share profound and enduring love between them other than a fascination for each other. Where marriages happen out of a fascination for each other, as soon as the partners are satiated of each other, they find nothing in their marriages to keep them going (Long and Young 154). The cultural setting of a marriage is also a key factor to consider in evaluation of the possibility of a marriage to be rocked by extramarital affairs. Marriage is a key fabric in the social cloth of every society. In this respect, marriages are highly governed by the cultures of the societies in which they happen.
Cultural setting is the main determinant in the type of marriage a couple enjoys. In most eastern cultures arranged marriages are quite popular. These are marriages where the parents and relatives of the young man or lady decide their spouses for them. In contrast, western societies are in favor of “love” marriages. These are marriages that are as a result of the mutual consent of the two partners. Kasulis observes that despite the fact that arranged marriages are achieved with minimal participation of the groom and bride, eastern cultures have more enduring marriages and a better knit social dynamic than western cultures (38).
This is due to a combination of factors, notwithstanding that there might be no love between the partners. Even though the eastern culture is viewed as too conservative, infidelity and divorce level is much less and family bonds much stronger there. Partners tend to persevere in marriages even when they are not happy. However due to the conservative nature of these cultures, extramarital affairs are less prevalent. This is in strong contrast with the western culture where individuals are more inclined to pursue personal joy and contentment at the expense of conforming to societal expectations. It is therefore more likely for a discontented partner in a marriage in a western culture setting to be involved in extramarital an extramarital affair than in an eastern culture set marriage. In this light therefore, it is important to establish the compatibility of partners’ cultures before marriage. A better understanding of each other will essentially translate into a better marriage.
On deontological ethics, and how they apply in a marriage setting, we are concerned with the duty of the partners in the relationship. Deontology is literally means a science of duty. It provides that the moral duty to be performed is completely separated from the consequences of the execution of that duty (Naaman-Zauderer 250). In confining the marriage institution to such rules, it is possible to achieve very faithful marriages but where a large number in them are not content.
Whereas it is good to set guidelines that govern the marriage institution, the only enduring solution to avoid infidelity in marriages is by genuine love and friendship between partners. It is hard to sustain a marriage in which both partners are content by adhering to ethics just because it is your duty to do so.
Another theory to consider is the consequentialist ethics theory. This theory requires that the moral evaluation of acts, rules, institutions is evaluated solely on goodness of their outcome (Odell 212). The standard of goodness achieved should be non-moral. By employing this standard in a marriage setting is of magnificent gains as a partner in the marriage evaluates the goodness of their action before indulging in it. Being promiscuous in a marriage is neither moral nor are the consequences of it good. It is therefore prudent to employ this theory to a marriage as it deters extramarital affairs, by the considerations of partners’ on the goodness of the consequences of their actions.
Armstrong, John. Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy. W. W. Norton & Co., 2003.
Gough, Elissa. Infidelity. Avery Publishing Group, 2000.
Kasulis, Thomas. Intimacy or Integrity: Philosophy and Cultural Difference. University of Hawaii Press, 2002.
Lerner, Harriet. Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up. Penguin Group Inc., 2012.
Long, Lynn, and Mark E. Young. Counseling and Therapy for Couples. 2nd ed., Brooks/Cole, 2007.
Naaman-Zauderer, Noa. Descartes’ Deontological Turn: Reason, Will, and Virtue in the Later Writings. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Odell, S. Jack. On Consequentialist Ethics. Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004.
Praver, Frances. Daring Wives: Insight into Women’s Desires for Extramarital Affairs. Praeger, 2006.
Relentless, Aaron. Extramarital Affairs. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006.