Surprise! People Using Ashley Madison Have No Intention of Divorcing

{2:10 minutes to read} As a divorce lawyer, I often hear people’s stories of infidelity, whether or not they are pursuing relationships outside of their marriage.

I had never heard of the adultery-themed website until it made headlines recently. I’ve met with clients who have caught their spouses on or some other standard dating website, but never Ashley Madison. As I see it, the people who are using Ashley Madison have no intention of getting divorced. Rather, it is more likely a symptom of some inability to find attraction in their own marriage.

Ashley Madison is unbelievably pervasive. People in marriages everywhere, our friends and relatives, are looking to find relationships with people other than their spouses. There are only 3 zip codes in the United States not represented by Ashley Madison clients; two of them are in Alaska, in towns of barely 100 people, and the third is a town of about 300 people in New Mexico.

I previously wrote a blog called “Adapting to Misery.” It is a reference to an old proverb that a frog put into boiling water will immediately jump out, but if a frog is put into water that is heated slowly, the frog will stay in the water and be boiled to death. Over time, people adapt to the way things are in their marriage. They don’t take action until it’s too late.

Perhaps Ashley Madison is also an adaptive thing. Does it mean that people who are in ongoing marriages are looking to have liaisons with others?

Ashley Madison is not congruent with our cultural ideal of marriage. Or is it? On the one hand, marriage is supposed to be a fairytale “happily ever after.” On the other, it’s also hard work. How are we supposed to know how to do that? Who is there to teach us? Ashley Madison seems to fill a void that helps people to stay married without addressing the challenges of their marriages. What does that mean for our society?

Oftentimes, someone who is having an affair wants to be caught in some way. They are not necessarily conscious of it; they do something “stupid” that asks to get caught. They leave their journal on their bed, leave their computer open with their emails showing, or their cell phone with text messages. Is Ashley Madison the same thing?

Whether you plan to divorce or not, wouldn’t it be less hurtful for all involved to work with each other, and possibly a mediator, to resolve issues in a marriage rather than resorting to affairs?

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