Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

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stillnesscalls
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Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by stillnesscalls »

Hi everyone. Lately it came to my realization that I'm probably creating bad karma and feeling some blockages, because my partner of 3 years now is still legally married. She wasn't able to get divorced because her husband is making it difficult to proceed with the documentation. By kissing her and sleeping with her, am I creating bad karma? Is it considered adultery even if she is emotionally disconnected to her husband and vice versa? May I add that they were already separated when we started dating. Thank you.
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Kim O'Hara »

Putting the emphasis where it needs to be ... "Is it considered adultery" ...

Who by?

Any question about morality will get different answers from different people (and different scriptures, if you were going to say "Buddhism"), particularly when the religious answers are so different from the secular answers.
The religious answers, anyway, are based (sometimes/partly) on secular expectations of the time and place the scriptures were composed, so they are very old-fashioned - women are property of men, for instance. :toilet:

The most sensible way to look at the question, IMO, is to work from first principles, i.e. harming others is bad karma, helping others is good.

:namaste:
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Queequeg
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Queequeg »

Based on what you wrote, I wouldn't worry about it. The marriage at this point is a legal formality, as is your relationship being "adultery". Do you let government rules and regulations determine your moral behavior in other contexts? There are plenty of things that are technically legal but, depending on your moral code, immoral. It follows that just because something legally meets certain definitions that should not impact your morality. These are domestic relations and the government really has no place in it except to regulate the outward facing legal aspects.

The more relevant question would be, other than the marital status of your partner, are you conducting yourselves morally?
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Ayu
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Ayu »

From a legal POV you just have to be cautious with the legal state of your baby - if there would be one to come. The husband will be legally regarded as the father, even if they didn't meet for 3 years. That could be inconvenient.
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Queequeg
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Queequeg »

Ayu wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 5:28 pm From a legal POV you just have to be cautious with the legal state of your baby - if there would be one to come. The husband will be legally regarded as the father, even if they didn't meet for 3 years. That could be inconvenient.
Good point, Ayu. In an East Asian context, I've heard the period before civilization and the rules of propriety were implemented described as a time when people did not know who their fathers were.

Another consideration is inheritance laws. If you acquire property with your partner, in the event they die without making proper estate plans, the husband can swoop in and inherit the property. There's a host of legal reasons to get this straightened out. Depending on your moral code, being technically married might be a problem.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
Bristollad
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Bristollad »

Ayu wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 5:28 pm From a legal POV you just have to be cautious with the legal state of your baby - if there would be one to come. The husband will be legally regarded as the father, even if they didn't meet for 3 years. That could be inconvenient.
I think this very much depends upon the country you are in. That certainly would not be the case in the UK for instance. In the UK, the mother decides whether or not to enter the father's name on the birth certificate. In extreme cases, it comes down to the Courts to decide who the natural father is (using DNA) who then issue a Declaration of Parentage but those cases often revolve around divorce and maintenance payment issues.
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Ayu
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Ayu »

Bristollad wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 7:00 pm
Ayu wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 5:28 pm From a legal POV you just have to be cautious with the legal state of your baby - if there would be one to come. The husband will be legally regarded as the father, even if they didn't meet for 3 years. That could be inconvenient.
I think this very much depends upon the country you are in. That certainly would not be the case in the UK for instance. In the UK, the mother decides whether or not to enter the father's name on the birth certificate. In extreme cases, it comes down to the Courts to decide who the natural father is (using DNA) who then issue a Declaration of Parentage but those cases often revolve around divorce and maintenance payment issues.
In Germany, the simple bureaucratic way is: the husband is the father unless he signs a form that he isn't. Law is not always the same as common sense.
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Queequeg
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Queequeg »

Ayu wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 7:07 pm In Germany, the simple bureaucratic way is: the husband is the father unless he signs a form that he isn't. Law is not always the same as common sense.
In Japan, to get married or divorced, all you need to do is file paperwork saying you are married or divorced. No ceremony required. Seems more civilized than the hoops people jump through to get married and then get divorced in the US.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Ayu
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Ayu »

From my POV marriage is something that counts. It means to take responsibility for eachother in front of a public audiance. It's more than nothing and more than a paper.
Therefore divorce is important as well in order to put the situation straight.

If this husband is putting hindrances to the divorce, it's not the new couple's fault - but it has to be an important aim to get this divorce official.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:
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Queequeg
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Queequeg »

Ayu wrote: Thu Jan 28, 2021 6:46 am From my POV marriage is something that counts. It means to take responsibility for eachother in front of a public audiance. It's more than nothing and more than a paper.
Therefore divorce is important as well in order to put the situation straight.

If this husband is putting hindrances to the divorce, it's not the new couple's fault - but it has to be an important aim to get this divorce official.
While I personally agree that marriage is an important formality related to a relationship between two people, I think its clear that in Western society there is no consensus about its meaning or significance. I don't want to open a can of worms, but here goes...

Conceptually, in popular thought, marriage in the West is still largely defined by the rules and norms connected with Christian teachings. Its all bound up in notions of sin and procreation. In many Western countries, marriage has been redefined to allow for same sex marriages, but we don't have consensus on this. In the US, for instance, its a highly contentious issue even though same sex marriage has been found to be a constitutional right. Add into this mix the range of human relationships possible within a marriage, from convenience to true love. Its not the state's place to regulate the intimate details of marriages, so it follows that the state really should not be demanding onerous formalities for entering into or dissolving a marriage. From a legal standpoint, marriage is nothing but a bundle of legal rights and obligations. The only thing the state should be involved in is enforcing the rights and obligations within and coming out of a marriage, particularly care and support of any children produced in the marriage. They shouldn't be the love police calling foul on people who break moral vows.

In Japan, where you can get married and divorced with the filing of papers, this does not affect the legal rights and obligations the parties have. People can either settle these terms privately, through some sort of agreement, or they can petition the court to intervene.

To me, the state has enough to worry about without getting involved in the details of people's private lives.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
Padmist
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Padmist »

As I posted in the link I gave you, if the husband has some legal rights, responsibility to/for her, as in, she can sue him of marital neglect if she wants, then it is a legal binding marriage. This would constitute an non-sanctioned proper relationship. It's in that document I provided you.
Last edited by Ayu on Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Personal off topic question removed in order to save the post.
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FiveSkandhas
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by FiveSkandhas »

Queequeg wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 8:32 pm
Ayu wrote: Wed Jan 27, 2021 7:07 pm In Germany, the simple bureaucratic way is: the husband is the father unless he signs a form that he isn't. Law is not always the same as common sense.
In Japan, to get married or divorced, all you need to do is file paperwork saying you are married or divorced. No ceremony required. Seems more civilized than the hoops people jump through to get married and then get divorced in the US.
Aren't there "town hall weddings" and "no-contest divorces" in the US, which are both essentially the fimg of paperwork?

I have heard that under strict Islamic sharia law and in the countries like Saudi Arabia that allegedly follow it, all a man needs to do is to pronounce the words "I divorce you" three times to dissolve a marriage.. I don't think the women have the same right.
"One should cultivate contemplation in one’s foibles. The foibles are like fish, and contemplation is like fishing hooks. If there are no fish, then the fishing hooks have no use. The bigger the fish is, the better the result we will get. As long as the fishing hooks keep at it, all foibles will eventually be contained and controlled at will." -Zhiyi
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Tata1 »

stillnesscalls wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 2:57 am Hi everyone. Lately it came to my realization that I'm probably creating bad karma and feeling some blockages, because my partner of 3 years now is still legally married. She wasn't able to get divorced because her husband is making it difficult to proceed with the documentation. By kissing her and sleeping with her, am I creating bad karma? Is it considered adultery even if she is emotionally disconnected to her husband and vice versa? May I add that they were already separated when we started dating. Thank you.
I dont think karma works on the basis of legality
PeterC
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by PeterC »

stillnesscalls wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 2:57 am Hi everyone. Lately it came to my realization that I'm probably creating bad karma and feeling some blockages, because my partner of 3 years now is still legally married. She wasn't able to get divorced because her husband is making it difficult to proceed with the documentation. By kissing her and sleeping with her, am I creating bad karma? Is it considered adultery even if she is emotionally disconnected to her husband and vice versa? May I add that they were already separated when we started dating. Thank you.
I'll take the facts at face value here. (You usually find in these situations that people don't tell you the whole truth, and that might change the picture.) It seems that what you have is a legal problem rather than a karmic problem. Karma derives from intention and action. It's hard to see how in your case that would be a problem. If the facts aren't quite as described then your wife might have a karmic problem.

The issue I would be more concerned with is what's going on with her and her ex-husband. After three years, why isn't he signing? Is he unbalanced? Potentially violent? Litigious? Could he spread damaging rumors? Etc.
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Bundokji »

stillnesscalls wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 2:57 am She wasn't able to get divorced because her husband is making it difficult to proceed with the documentation.
Do you know why her husband is making it difficult to proceed with the documentation? and if you do, would that affect what is considered "adultery" in your POV?

In general, the legal and the moral are very interconnected. The issue of "ownership" is relevant to both. Not all contracts have to be written, but verbal agreements are forms of contractual relationships. In Abrahamic religions for instance, "coveting" imply desiring the property of someone's else. Divorce is usually an indication that both sides of the relationship are on the same page in terms of expectations and obligations.

In Buddhism, wholesome and unwholesome actions can take different levels. They can be described at the level of thought, verbal or physical. As a general rule, the grosser the form of the action, the greater the consequence. This is why, the Buddha advised to stop unwholesome actions at the level of thought before it transforms into a grosser form. Another relevant aspect to karma is that avoiding harm is more important than doing good, and this understanding seems to be coherent with the rest of the teachings which focuses on suffering and ending it.
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Könchok Chödrak »

Adultery is defined by lust. If you fully Love a person, deeply care about them, define healthy boundaries and respect them as an individual and hope for the best for everything for them, without breaking moral codes, as in Love is not hurting others, then it is not adultery. In fact that may mean you may be meant to be together. But True Love doesn't break up real marriages, it makes them stronger. So pursue that type of Love for others and you may find out what you are meant to do. Good luck. Om Mani Padme Hum.
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Technically it's sexual misconduct to have sex with a woman if she has a husband. (Or for a woman to have sex with a man if he has a wife.)

But I don't think in Buddha's time your situation would be common. If they're living as if they're no longer married, maybe there's no rule about it.

Tata is right, though. Karma is not about what the law says... it's about the minds of all people involved. And this is kind of different than the issue of whether you are breaking your vows. (If you've taken them.)
Last edited by SilenceMonkey on Sun Feb 14, 2021 3:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by SilenceMonkey »

Another thing to consider... technically we're always creating neg. karma if we are acting from the influence of the poisons... (3 poisons, 5 poisons, 6 poisons, etc.)

We're basically always creating karma (pos, neg and mixed) until we realise shunyata. The more wisdom we have, the less karma we create. (Although more wisdom can allow us to create much more positive karma than if we are burdened by our heavy emotions and ignorance.)

So no need to feel guilty!
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Re: Is it adultery if my partner is still married?

Post by Seeker12 »

stillnesscalls wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 2:57 am Hi everyone. Lately it came to my realization that I'm probably creating bad karma and feeling some blockages, because my partner of 3 years now is still legally married. She wasn't able to get divorced because her husband is making it difficult to proceed with the documentation. By kissing her and sleeping with her, am I creating bad karma? Is it considered adultery even if she is emotionally disconnected to her husband and vice versa? May I add that they were already separated when we started dating. Thank you.
I would think it potentially might lead to slightly messy karmic connections, but the most important thing is that you are not breaking a bond that is there, particularly doing so in a way that involves deceit, etc.

If it was a situation where the husband and wife were legally married but for all intents and purposes both were exceedingly clear that it was nothing more than a legal thing, and they both agreed that each of them could do whatever they wanted as if they were single, then this is not the same as sleeping with a woman while her husband is at work while he has no clue and thinks she's being faithful.

But, again, in some sense I think you probably are creating a sort of connection with the husband if she is still somewhat entangled with him. FWIW.
I heard this story about a fish. He swims up to an older fish and says: “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.” “The ocean?” the older fish says, “that’s what you’re in right now.” “This”, says the young fish, “this is water. What I want is the ocean!”
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