Marriage and Infidelity
There once was a time in this country when men and women looked upon the vows of marriage as being sacred and not to be tampered with by anyone. So great was this belief that a husband stood an excellent chance of being set free for killing a man who dared come between him and his wife. The notion that marriage was ordained by God that no man or woman had the right to tamper with, ruled the day. The breaking of marriage vows was greatly frowned upon by many. Marriage was looked upon as a foundation of society and civilization that had to be upheld and nurtured at all cost.
This is not to say that there was no such thing as infidelity or cheating; such is simply not true. However, great lengths were often taken to keep it secret and out of the eyesight of greater society. Such behavior was never promoted and those who committed it often were made to suffer social scorn and rebuke. Social norms dictated that if you had to have a mistress or an additional lover, you had to do so quietly and discretely in the cover of darkness. Likewise, under no circumstances where you to acknowledge her or him. For to do so would constitute an injury to established society and the social order.
However, as time rolled by, peoples view on the sanctity of marriage and its vows began to slowly change. Factors such as spousal abuse, a growing desire for greater freedom amongst most the world's populations, etc. ushered in new views regarding the state of marriage and how it should be viewed and regulated.
Many people began to argue that marriage vows should cease being so strict that it makes it virtually impossible for people to get divorces, without sometimes having to fight in court for years. The idea that married couples should stay together no matter how terrible their married relationship was, started to be looked upon as unrealistic and outright archaic. It was argued that no one should be forced to remain in loveless relationships, whether children are involved or not. They should have the right to divorce and seek their happiness somewhere else, it was argued. This notion continued to grow causing major changes in the way people and the courts viewed this institution we call marriage.
With the occurrence of the Vietnam War, along with the struggle for civil rights, the institution of marriage took a battering that almost pushed it out of existence. With the cry for greater freedoms and the erosion of past societal standards, came a massive assault on it and the institutions that supported it like the Church and parts of the U.S. government. Marriage was now being called a state of bondage that stifled human expression for freedom. Sexual expression was pointed out to be one of the major forms of expressions that had been stifled by marriage and the commitments and obligations that accompanied it. Even psychologist got in to the act. Many publicly advocated that breaking ones marriage vows by having extra marital sex was healthy for marriages. They added that it was great fun as well.
With sentiments like this looming large, the era of free sex came into being. Sex clubs were opening up all over America and abroad where people could go and have sex with others they hardly knew. They were places you could freely share your wife or husband. They were also places where homosexuality was allowed expression. Many a woman and man found themselves encouraged to have sex with someone of their own sex. Wife and Husband swapping was a main feature of this period of free sex. The sentiment was, like my wife? You can have sex with mines and I'll have sex with yours.
What happened to the institution of marriage? It was pretty much labeled an institution for the dim witted and out-of-touch. It was viewed as a thing of the past that was only indulged in by religious fanatics who didn't comprehend the true joys of life
As time moved on (around mid 70's and early 80's) the venereal disease called genital herpes started to show its head in America. Both men and women were popping up with a strange illness that left highly painful sores in their genital areas. To add insult to injury, there was no cure for it. Once you contracted it, you were stuck with it for life. The sores would go away at times, but sadly would return.
Herpes alone started to put a big damper on peoples attitudes toward continuing the new found practice of free sex. Many sex clubs started to go out of business as a result of a decline in membership. The fear of catching herpes was great. After a while, people started talking about marriage in a positive light again. Many argued that free sex, along with sex clubs, brought about herpes. Some maintained that it was a punishment for immoral behavior.
About 2 years later AIDS and the HIV virus started to rare its head. It started out in the homosexual community, but soon invaded the heterosexual community as well. The horror that it was a definite killer whose transmission was primarily by sexual activity, pretty much did away with sex clubs. In so doing, it also appeared to convince people to looked towards the institution of marriage once again for their sexual and emotional satisfaction. To say that it led to marriage again becoming the strong institution it was in the past, would be untrue. However, it certainly led people to once again place it as a life's high priority again.
Like it or not, infidelity, is a great force in our times. Breaking marriage vows and those made between 2 people at the forming of relationship, still goes on and most likely has been doing so since the dawn of time. Lets hope that those who continue to indulge this type of behavior begin to understand they are doing great harm and injury to those they've made commitments to. They also are hurting themselves by placing in jeopardy relationships, whose lost they may deeply come to regret.