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MARITAL FIDELITY

Abstract
Marital
fidelity
denotes
unfailing
fulfilment
of
responsibilities and the keeping of vows expressed through
a love of complete devotion. Using the deductive-axiomatic
approach, a theory is formulated stating that Marital
fidelity is an exercise of the couples consent of conjugal
union dictated by ones personal conviction that marriage is
a natural institution founded on natural law. This, however,
is a function of personal and social factors, namely,
commitment and trust, respect and acceptance, meeting
couples needs, and constant appreciation and affirmation.
Hence, a wilful exercise of commitment, respect, familial
love, and sacrifice beget a peaceful, successful married life.
Keyword: marriage, fidelity, natural institution, marital-fidelity
theory
1.0 Introduction
Marital fidelity is an acquired quality that is developed
intentionally. It means a choice of complete commitment, trust, and
respect between husband and wife (Matheson, 2009). More than
that, fidelity denotes unfailing fulfilment of ones responsibilities and
the keeping of ones word or vows (Paulukonis, 2014) expressed
through a love of complete devotion (benson, 2002) by couples.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1995) reminds that
conjugal love, by its very nature, requires the inviolable fidelity of the
spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which
they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an
arrangement "until further notice." The Catholic Church further
notifies that "intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two
persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the
spouses and require an unbreakable union between them." Pope
Benedict XVI stressed that love is never finished and complete;
throughout life, it changes and matures, and thus remains faithful to
itself (Deus Caritas Est, 17). Fidelity, like love, is no fleeting feeling
but a life-long commitment that Christ abundantly blesses. Moreover,
the Philippine Constitution clearly states that The State recognizes
the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family
as a basic autonomous social institution. Accordingly, the Family
Code of the Philippines defines Marriage as a special contract of
permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in
accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life.
This reflects that fidelity in marriage is mandated both by the
dogmatic constitution of the church and the state a reality that

marriage is protected by moral and civil law saying that the contract
of marriage is both a covenant and a sacrament between a man and
a woman, with inherent obligations of fidelity the commitment to
promise keeping and to fairness the commitment to giving from
one spouse to the other their due and to equitably allocate the
marital resources (Govern, n.d.).
Literature enumerates three components of marital fidelity spiritual, emotional, and physical fidelity. Spiritual fidelity requires
both husband and wife to embrace their responsibility of helping
each other and any children they have grow in faith to achieve their
final destiny of eternal life with God. Emotional fidelity gives a sense
of importance, of being someone the other cares for and cares
about. Physical fidelity is the culmination of a lifelong fidelity in
sickness and in health and of intimacy (St. Kilian Marriage
Enrichment Program, 2011).
Fidelity and its rigors can best be described by those whose
lives exemplify faithfulness. The Bible presents Abrahams fidelity to
God despite difficult tests; Ruths loyalty to her mother-in-law
although free to return to her own clan; Hoseas resolute faithfulness
despite his wifes infidelities; Pauls commitment to his mission
despite arduous journeys and imprisonment. By these, one can say
that fidelity is not easy but is possible with the help of God. Above all
the Bible shows that God is faithful no matter how poorly human
beings behave. The Son of God dies so that God can keep a promise.
Married life often presents trials, conflicting choices, a partners
inattention or worse. Faithful love persists. A radical commitment to
fidelity enables spouses to trust one another. Spouses lay down their
lives for their beloved every day.
In her article Marriage and Fidelity, Edwards (2008) argues that
marital fidelity continues to be an overwhelmingly agreed value
worldwide. A Gallup Poll released May 2006 found that only 4% of all
adults believe that adultery is morally acceptable. That means that
96% value fidelity in marriage and believe that the marital fidelity
has a lot to do with honesty and loyalty in marriage, in feeling valued
and loved above all others. A related research released in March
2006 by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of
Chicago also revealed that 22% of men and 13% of women have
ever had sexual relations with a person other than their spouse while
they were married - a fact which reveals that at least 80% of men
and women still value fidelity in marriage.
Matheson (2009) states that fidelity includes refraining from
physical contactbut that is not all. Fidelity also means complete
commitment, trust, and respect between husband and wife. Keeping
the desire and intention to satisfy the partners needs socially,
physiologically, emotionally, and psychologically are as equally

important as the other factors that keeps the marital bond intact and
unscathed between couples.
Evident to these studies are the quantitative nature of marital
fidelity and are directed only towards quantifying fidelity experiences
and perspectives among couples. There was, however, a fewer
emphasis on creating a theoretical perspective on how fidelity works
in marriage. This study, therefore, try to address the theoretical
foundation of describing marital fidelity among couples.
2.0 Theory Formulation and the theory
This section exposes various facts and universal truths which
would be the ground of formulating the theory on marital fidelity. The
set of axioms were anchored on previous studies, journals,
authorities, and analyses of articles. The phenomenon on marital
fidelity has been dictated and challenged by culture and time. The
challenge focuses on how couple stays in their vows for their entire
married life. The phenomenon caught the attention of the church and
the state considering that cases of infidelities arises despite the fact
that marriage is protected by moral and civil law. Following the
deductive-axiomatic approach to theory development, axioms are
derived and propositions are formulated which bounded the scope of
this paper.
Axiom 1: Marriage is a sacred institution protected by law.
Marriage is about a life-long journey, a companion who
will witness your life. This life-long journey is guided and
protected by both moral and civil law. The dogma of the church
mandates that the intimate union of marriage, as a mutual
giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand
total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable
union between them. Complement to this is a section on the
Family Code of the Philippines which defines Marriage as a
special contract of permanent union between a man and a
woman entered into in accordance with law.
Hence, Marriage is strengthened by moral and civil laws
(Proposition2).
Axiom 2: Man is capable of being faithful.
A philosophical belief of Jean Jacques Rousseau
exemplifies man naturally is good. This goodness of man is
grounded on the fundamental truth that man is created in the
image and likeness of God. As the catechises said God,
infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer

goodness freely created man to make him share in his own


blessed life. Thus, man participates in the goodness and
faithfulness of God. Faithfulness is a manifestation of mans
goodness. Thus, if man is good, man has the capacity to be
faithful.
Hence, Fidelity is mans virtue that preserves the
sanctity and legality of marital relation (Proposition3).
Axiom 3: Fidelity in marriage is influenced by several factors.
Mutual and lasting fidelity to the duties of marriage can
be seriously influenced by various factors. Commitment,
respect, love of family, and sacrifice are influential factors that
constitute fidelity in marriage (Paulukonis, n.d.). A radical
commitment to fidelity enables spouses to trust one another. It
fosters openness and intimacy. It dignifies the marriage even in
undignified circumstances like personal failure and physical or
mental debilitation. A high-fidelity marriage is the basis for a
stable family in which children can flourish and on strong
families is built a strong society.
Matheson (2009) states that fidelity includes refraining
from physical contact, however, that is not all. Fidelity also
means complete commitment, trust, and respect between
husband and wife. Moreover, marriage necessitates that sexual
union which is generally driven by instincts should be
intentionally motivated by human affections; it should be
accepted and mutually performed with knowledge, freedom,
and intention and not by force or any coercive acts.
Meeting the couples needs, constant appreciation, and
affirmation of the couples acts are equally important as other
factors. This act of constant declaration of consent between
couples manifests the union of the will towards a conjugal
partnership rendered by the total and mutual self-giving even
accepting each other in their distinct yet complementary
sexual condition.
Lastly, the couple must understand that marital fidelity is
not purely standards of virtues in a society but a personal
understanding that marital fidelity is an emotionalized faith of
each other converting into a strong bond of love.
Hence, Fidelity in marriage is dictated and influenced by
various factors (Proposition4).
Axiom 4: Fidelity is a choice.
Man is a rational being capable to reflect and decide for his
actions which are voluntary. Given that man as a rational being

who has the capability to know what is proper, to distinguish


socially acceptable acts from unacceptable acts, it is then his
choice whether or not to be faithful in marriage. This means
that the characteristics proper to marriage are inscribed in the
very being of man.
Considering that faithfulness is an act of a rational
being, to be faithful is, therefore, a choice and a
decision to make (Propoition1).
Theory
Marital fidelity is an exercise of the couples consent of
conjugal union dictated by ones personal conviction that
marriage is a natural institution founded on natural law. This,
however, is a function of personal and social factors, namely,
(i) commitment and trust, (ii) respect and acceptance, (iii)
meeting couples needs, and (iv) constant appreciation and
affirmation.
3.0 Implication to the Real World
With an increasing number of challenges in marriage at
present, marital fidelity is always at stake. The call to remain faithful
to marital vows is a lifetime commitment. As such, it needs strength
of character to stand against and overcome opportunities and
occasions of cheating the partner. Hence, a constant and wilful
exercise and practice of commitment, respect, love of family, and
sacrifice beget a peaceful, satisfied, and successful married life. With
trust and openness, an atmosphere of total submission and mutualrespect sustains fidelity in marriage. Lastly, while marriage is a social
institution, its sustainability largely depends on the marital fidelity of
the couples. Moreover, to strengthen the developed theory, it is
recommended that it should be validated.
4.0 References
Benedict, X. V. I. (2006). Deus caritas est. English translation
Available at: http://www. vatican. va/holy_
father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_benxvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en. html [accessed on 15
January 2009].
Benson, K. (2002). The Legacies of Ruth and Esther. Voices from the
University: The Legacy of the Hebrew Bible, 135.
Catholic Church, & Paul II, P. J. (1995). Catechism of the Catholic
Church. Christus Rex et Redemptor Mundi.

Edwards, D. (2008). Marriage and fidelity. Retrieved at


http://www.livingwellokc.org/marriage/Marriage_and_Fidelity.pdf on
November 30, 2014.
Govern K.H. (n.d.). Fidelity and Fairness: Mulieris Dignitatems
Wisdom Relating To Marital Commitments, Covenants, Contractual
Relationships and the Roman Catholic Church. Retrieved at
http://www.lawandreligion.com/sites/lawandreligion.com/files/A10S
-3Govern.pdf on November 22, 2014.
Matheson, K.W. (2009). Fidelity in marriage: Its more than you think.
Retrieved at https://www.lds.org/ensign/2009/09/fidelity-inmarriage-its-more-than-you-think?lang=eng on November 30,
2014.
Paulukonis, M. (2014). I promise to be true to you. Retrieved at
http://www.foryourmarriage.org/i-promise-to-be-true-to-you/ on
October 22, 2014.
St. Kilian Marriage Enrichment Program (2011). Fidelity in marriage.
Retrieved at
http://www.saintkilian.org/marriageministry/files/Participants
%20Handout-Feb%204%202011.pdf on November 25, 2014.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution. (1986). Retrieved at
http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/research/Philippines/PHILIPPINE
%20CONSTITUTION.pdf on November 30, 2014
The Family Code of the Philippines. (1987). Retrieved at
http://www.gov.ph/downloads/1987/07jul/19870706-EO-0209CCA.pdf on November 30, 2014