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Schwarzenegger: Terminated

Schwarzenegger: Terminated

Protecting the sanctity of our marriage.


Who is mighty? The one who conquers his evil inclination (Ethics of the Fathers, 4:1)

Whether or not we are following the drama of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s admission of infidelity and the breakup of his 25-year marriage, we can learn a few lessons about protecting the sanctity of our relationship.

Lesson #1: Protect yourself

Those who scoff at Jewish law as being archaic or out of touch with modern times will surely see the wisdom of our Sages in setting up protective measures.

The laws of yichud (seclusion) prohibit a man and woman who are not married to be secluded with each other in a private area. This is to prevent them from being tempted to engage in promiscuous acts. The Sages realized that there is a slippery slope when it comes to these matters and that by preventing the possibility of committing such acts, greatly decreases the temptation and likelihood of their occurrence. 

These safeguards are not a judgment on our capacity for self-control or a call to distrust ourselves; rather they are a realistic assessment of human desire and a way to protect the sanctity of our relationships.

Lesson #2: Make your marriage holy

When a couple gets married under the chuppah, the husband proclaims to his wife, harei at mekudeshes li, “behold you are betrothed to me,” as he places the ring on her finger. It is with these words and his action that he accomplishes what is called kiddushin (betrothal), which comes from the Hebrew word that means holy and separate. Marriage sanctifies the relationship by making it exclusive. You are no longer “available;” you are mine and I am yours.

When couples are able to honor this commitment seriously, they can build a strong relationship full of trust and joy. Unfortunately, our society does not always honor that. We live in a time when the lines of “appropriate” behavior between sexes are increasingly blurred.  It is quite common for married men and women to flirt with members of the opposite sex. While this may seem innocuous, it detracts from the exclusivity we have to our spouse. What appears to be a cute comment or glance can easily become something more serious. When statistics show that 60% of men will cheat on their wife and 50% of women will cheat on their husband, we cannot dismiss the slippery slope effect.

Related Article: Emotional Infidelity

Lesson #3: Finding fulfillment in your marriage

We need to focus on finding fulfillment in our own marriage. In order for a marriage to be a vibrant, living entity, energy must be invested in the relationship. When we are satisfied with our marriage, we will not be tempted to look elsewhere. When we feel unloved, ignored, or unappreciated we go everywhere but to our spouse to get those needs met. We find other people and activities to feel those needs, feeling hopeless about ever getting what we want.  

Without the proper communication skills, it is often too threatening to share our frustrations about these unmet needs with our spouse. It is a lot safer to call a friend and complain or just withdraw and move further away from your spouse.  

When we make our relationship a priority and we learn how to work on our marriage, making it the best it can possibly be, we can refocus our energy where it needs to be. Otherwise, if you are experiencing stress in your marriage and feel ignored by your spouse, a little attention from another man or woman can turn into emotional and physical intimacy.

Although we may feel our marriage is invincible, if we don’t consciously make an effort to honor our relationship, protect its sanctity, and nurture it with love and care, we run the risk of it being terminated.

May 19, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 30

(18) B, May 25, 2011 4:43 AM

If you take vows... KEEP THEM! That's it and that's all. If you or your spouse is having trouble, get to a Rav, Shul, counselor for couples. DO NOT BREAK YOUR VOWS... YOU WILL HATE THAT AFTERWARDS and if you don't? There is definately something wrong and you should have thought about fidelity before you decided to break vows said to the mother of your children. I am a believer in manogamy and that will never change.

(17) Anonymous, May 23, 2011 8:11 PM

These days there is no clear cut to keep marriage. What people want to do, just doing it anyway even marriage. It makes me a great confusion.

(16) Anonymous, May 23, 2011 7:17 PM

man of courage.

It took a lot of courage to come clean about his infidelity of so many years. They married "for better or for worse", so she should accept his confession, apology, and grovelling. Otherwise, SHE'S making a mockery of marraige vows, too.

L., May 24, 2011 4:16 PM

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up

As with everything else, it's not the crime that's the problem here. It's the cover-up. He impregnated his housekeeper 14 years ago and found out 12 years ago about the paternity of the child. He hid this information from his wife for TWELVE YEARS while paying child support. Furthermore, he spent a lot of that time using her good name to help him win public office: he had been accused of indecency and she campaigned on his behalf because he told her he had done nothing. Is there a line past which we just don't forgive and forget?

SusanE, May 26, 2011 4:45 AM

He is a Dangerous and Deceitful Man..

He made a mockery of their marriage. He bore children with at least one other woman. Maria's children have a right to be exclusive to one Father one Mother. That is what he promised when they married. If he wanted to father other children he could have left the marriage and done as he pleased. But he decieved in a very dangerous way.. He had unprotected and unsafe sexual relations with another woman? Then came home to his wife? He should be stripped and thrown from his community of power and politics.

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