By: Jenny R. Jeltes, Law Office of J. Jeltes, Ltd.
“So now with all this Ashley Madison fallout, you may get more business, eh?” – Anonymous
Divorce lawyers, or any lawyers for that matter, often get a bad rap. There are legitimate scenarios where a lawyer has done something to earn a bad reputation. This does not mean all lawyers lack morals. There, I said it. There are lawyers who actually think about things beyond dollars and cents.
Believe it or not, I am not scanning and researching the Ashley Madison list and looking to prey on embarrassed, shamed and unhappy individuals who may now be facing divorce. To the contrary, this unfolding of events amidst the recent Ashley Madison hack makes me sad. I am an attorney and I am also a human. With the divorce rate hovering over 50%, it is far worse to think of the many couples who are in loveless, sexless, and unhappy marriages. Oftentimes, it is probably worse than being divorced.
And then… I read the word suicide in conjunction with the Ashley Madison hack.
It is one thing to think of the person dealing with his or her spouse’s infidelity. But has society thought about it from the eyes of the 7-year old who just lost his mom or dad? Does that 7-year old care at all about hacking, infidelity, or privacy? They absolutely do not care one bit. The fact that some individuals are rumored to have committed suicide due to the public outing of their transgressions should make us question things a bit more.
No, I am not looking for business from this Ashley Madison hack. I would like to emphasize that infidelity, regardless of cause and circumstances, has a more intense impact than one may realize. A divorce lawyer cannot prevent the aftermath of infidelity. A prenuptial agreement cannot prevent cheating. And a child of an unhappy marriage cannot make the marriage a happy one. So what does one do and/or learn from this overhyped interest in privacy and infidelity? As a human, I can only guess, but I surmise that it will not amount to much. In a few months’ time, all of the outed individuals will be in marriage counseling, going through a divorce, or begging for forgiveness. And do we as a society really care in the long-term? No, we really do not. Let’s be honest. Unless it is a friend or loved one, we do not really care. In fact, some of us love hearing about the transgressions of Ben Affleck and the recent demise of his marriage.
But you know what? Most of us (I hope) feel sad and disturbed when we think about that hypothetical 7-year old who just lost his/her mom or dad because that parent could not deal with the public consequences of their decisions. And does it really just affect that child? Of course, not. It obviously affects all of the deceased’s friends and family, far and wide. It is precisely that moment when infidelity really matters and hits us at our core. As a society, what do we do with this information? First of all, let us think about marriage and what it means for us. Whether you are single, married, or divorced, the institution of marriage may mean different things to you. This incident should at the very least wake us up. There are obviously a lot of unhappy marriages.
If you are married and have children, think about how such an ordeal might affect them. With proper therapy and support, even couples muddled with infidelity (or threat of infidelity) may avert disaster, save a marriage, or at the very least, preserve a life.