Philosophy In Action All the ideas and discussions
3 votes Vote

Are the promises of marriage binding when a spouse becomes self-destructive?

When couples marry, they often promise to stay together "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health." But imagine that a wife chooses a self-destructive course of action -- say, abusing drugs, profligate spending, or gambling. She refuses to listen to reason or change her behavior. Does the husband have an obligation to stay in the marriage or support her financially due to his past promise? If her self-destructive behavior causes some permanent disability, is he obliged to assist her financially or in some other way? Basically, what do the promises of marriage oblige a person to do?

Erica , 07.02.2013, 09:45
Idea status: completed


DianaHsieh, 13.02.2013, 07:42
Here's the original question, which was just a bit too broad and long. (It's a great question though!)

What are the moral obligations a person has to their spouse?

What kind of obligations does a person take upon themselves when they enter into the marriage contract - financially, emotionally and physically? How long do these obligations last and what kind of events can void them? Does a husband or wife have a financial or moral obligation to take care of a spouse they no longer desire to be with? For this example, imagine that there are children but all past the age of majority and on their own.

If one of the spouses chooses a self-damaging course of action and will not listen to reason, does the other spouse have any obligation to stay or support them financially? What if that self-harm causes them to become disabled on some way -- does the spouse have to stay with them because they said "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health" 30+ years ago? If they do not stay, do they have any obligation to provide financial support after the marriage is voided, even if that financial support would merely fund the self-damaging behavior?

Leave a comment