When you get married and you say, "I do," that's a response to a "yes or no" question. Are you in this thing 'til death do you part, or not? It's not conditional. You are typically not given the option of saying, "I do, as long as she keeps all of her vows perfectly and as long as she doesn't get fat. Otherwise, I can jump ship if I want."
No, each of you affirms vows to each other, but independently of each other.
So, what happens when one of you breaks your vows? Does the other one have the right to leave? I don't think so. They have no more of a right to leave than if their spouse never cheated. Why? Because of their own vow not to leave.
If my husband cheats on me (which he has), that's one issue, but I made my own promise to him never to leave. That's sort of what that "in good times and bad, for better or worse" part was about.
I know there are lots of folks out there who believe that infidelity is sufficient reason to break that vow and take off. Heck, even the Bible says it's o.k. to get divorced over infidelity, not that you have to, but you can if you want. Clearly, though, I don't believe in that tit for tat perspective, especially when it comes to marriage, families, and children.
To those people who use the argument that if a spouse cheats it's o.k. to divorce them because they broke the vows first, I ask you this: What about the other vows? Most marriage vows include a promise to love, honor, and cherish your spouse. Well, I have seen many men (and women, for that matter) treating their spouses in a way that is demonstrating that they clearly don't honor and cherish them. It should be o.k. to get out of the marriage because that was a break of the vows, right?
No? Where are the Marriage Vow Police when you need them?
Apparently, it's only that pesky sexual infidelity issue that gives you a "Get Out of Marital Jail Free" card. But only in the minds of those who are unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions and their own promises. I wonder if they operate that way in the rest of life. Is the value of their word always contingent on the behavior of others?
Human beings are just that - human. We don't always "cherish" our spouses as we should. We're not always faithful. But families stay together because we depend on our spouse to honor the "'Til death do us part" part of the vows even when we fail, and our spouse hopes that we'll do the same when they fall short.
My belief is that the contingencies should have been reviewed prior to the marriage, at least for those things that could reasonably happen. If she becomes permanently disabled, will you stay? If she cheats, will you stay? If not, maybe you shouldn't get married. Or add that to your vows. Make a promise to stay with her 'til death do you part, unless she's unfaithful. Say that while you're in the church, in your tux, in front of your friends and family. No? You don't want to do that? Huh.
Now I'm not finding fault with anyone who is divorced. People get divorced for all sorts of reasons and they usually think their reasons are good enough. That's not my business. But to the folks who think that infidelity is a no questions asked release valve, please tell yourself (and your spouse and your children) the truth - regardless what your spouse did or didn't do, you made a vow that you're not willing to honor, and that's why you're leaving.
As for me, the "'til death do us part" vow was, and is, the most important one. It means that I'm in it for the duration. It means that Hubby knows I'll be there for him when he falters, intentionally or not. When I found out about Hubby's cheating, I knew I wouldn't be leaving, and that's the first thing I told him in response. I said, "I'm not going anywhere. This will all be o.k." When he found out about mine, that's what he said to me. You're either in this thing together or your not.
Someone who is looking for an excuse to leave the marriage will find one, regardless of what his spouse has or hasn't done.