This is a true story that happened to a good friend on a recent Valentine’s Day. While at work, she received two beautiful floral bouquets from her husband, one intended for her, the second clearly intended for his mistress. Needless to say, it was a shocking and unexpected way to find out her husband was having an affair. Not all Valentine’s Days are love stories and not all marriages survive the month of February.
Reflecting on my friend’s story, a note of interest is that although Florida is a no-fault state, there is an archaic statute still in effect which states that adultery is a second-degree misdemeanor.
798.01 Living in open adultery.—Whoever lives in an open state of adultery shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Where either of the parties living in an open state of adultery is married, both parties so living shall be deemed to be guilty of the offense provided for in this section.
This Florida adultery statute is obviously not enforced. The interesting question is why has it not been repealed?
In other countries, similar statutes are being abolished. For example, in May 2020 rights activists celebrated when a Taiwan court struck down an 85-year-old law criminalizing adultery, punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine upwards of $3,000. Taiwanese Chief Justice Hsu Tzong-li said during a news conference announcing the ruling, “(the law was a) violation of a person’s sexual autonomy,” and a “serious invasion of personal privacy.” He added, “While adultery may violate the marital promise, it does not necessarily harm the public interest.”
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, couples like my friend and her now ex-husband may find themselves ready to divorce. My 18 years of litigation experience and six years of exclusive divorce mediation make me uniquely qualified to mediate for you and your clients.
WHY DO PEOPLE COMMIT INFIDELITY?
According to a study conducted by Fincham & May in 2017, “Infidelity is a leading cause for marital divorce and pre-marital break-ups; it can trigger domestic violence; and it is a strong predictor of poor mental health, including depression and anxiety.” So why do so many people cheat? A study by Selterman, Garcia, Tsapelas in 2019 concluded there are eight main motives for why people cheat:
1. Falling out of love
2. For variety (to relieve boredom) 3. Feeling neglected
4. Situational forces
5. To boost self-esteem
6. Out of anger
7. Not feeling committed
8. Because of sexual desire
The conclusion of this study drawn by Psychology Today hypothesizes there is likely a combination of factors as to why people stray, “These eight motives for infidelity cover aspects of the self, the existing relationship, and the context. They reveal great variety in the reasons as to why people cheat. While certainly, one primary reason could drive a person to be unfaithful, it’s likely that a combination of factors is at the root of many extradyadic affairs.”