Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Reductor
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by Reductor »

In this thread the best course of action put forward would be to counsel the offender to come clean. If you're not close enough to him or her to do that, I'd suggest you're not close enough to justify telling the partner about the affair, either. To presume to interfere when you don't know much about the people involved seems lacking wisdom.

As it is, people turn blind eyes to all sorts of marital troubles. They seldom counsel, they seldom console, and they usually avoid even seeing; yet many of those same people feel duty bound to expose adulterers. I'd be suspicious of their motives, and of my own.
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Mkoll
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by Mkoll »

Reductor wrote:In this thread the best course of action put forward would be to counsel the offender to come clean. If you're not close enough to him or her to do that, I'd suggest you're not close enough to justify telling the partner about the affair, either. To presume to interfere when you don't know much about the people involved seems lacking wisdom.

As it is, people turn blind eyes to all sorts of marital troubles. They seldom counsel, they seldom console, and they usually avoid even seeing; yet many of those same people feel duty bound to expose adulterers. I'd be suspicious of their motives, and of my own.
:goodpost:
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Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Dan Rooney
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by Dan Rooney »

As it is, people turn blind eyes to all sorts of marital troubles. They seldom counsel, they seldom console, and they usually avoid even seeing; yet many of those same people feel duty bound to expose adulterers. I'd be suspicious of their motives, and of my own.
That's very true. Our motives are nearly always much less noble than we imagine and much more self-serving than we wish to acknowledge. But surely that cuts both ways. If I want to tell the injured party, am I doing that because I'm an interfering old busybody or because I'm eager to maintain social order and police reproductive relationships, like the good chimp that I am? Perhaps. But if I want to want to sit silently and do nothing, is that because I'm a coward and I want to avoid any possibility of my being involved in conflict? Maybe yes, too. These are not easy questions to answer, for sure. but they are certainly things which we should be alert to, particularly in the case of a course of action which seems to be the default; it is all too easy to see the flaws in all the options (and our possible motivations for choosing them) apart from the action to which we are drawn, which often slips by wholly unexamined.
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retrofuturist
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,

"In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them."

It looks pretty simple to me:

- It''s not a prohibition
- It's encouraging a bit of personal initiative and emotional intelligence in order to find the proper time and place for such words.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
SarathW
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by SarathW »

Why do we have to entangled ourselves with other's personal issues?
This will hinder our own concentration.

- Are you his/her parents?
-Are you the teacher?
-Are you the legal guardian?
-Are you the mentor?
-What is the justification?
Or Are you just the stickybeak?
:shrug:
-According to Koran you have to have three witness before any accusations.
-Jesus asked any body to throw the first stone only if he/she is not a sinner.
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala »

VinceField wrote:In one of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's talks on wrong speech he mentions that the Buddha taught that it is wrong speech to inform someone that their spouse is having extramarital affairs.

After bringing up this teaching with one of my classes today, it was agreed by the students that they believe revealing the cheating spouse would be the right thing to do because they would want to know if it were themselves in the shoes of the spouse being cheated on.

My understanding of the teaching is that it is wrong speech because revealing the cheating spouse will cause problems in the lives of those involved.

I'm curious to hear opinions regarding the morality of a situation like this, where the right thing to do is not so apparent. What would you do? What would you want done if you were being cheated on?
People should read the original post and answer the questions.
  1. Most people would want to know if their spouse was cheating on them
  2. It is not wrong speech if the intention is not to cause division, but to help your friend or relative. The marriage is already in trouble if one spouse is cheating on the other. Revealing the truth may be the last straw, or it might help them to resolve their problems. If the cheating continues for many years, it may become impossible to repair the marriage. If it is stopped after a short time, the marriage may be salvaged. However, it is difficult to know the right time to speak. One should be a close friend or relative, not just a casual acquaintance. Whatever the actual outcome, it is the intention that makes the speech right or wrong. If it's the cheating spouse who is one's intimate friend or relative, then it would be best to give good counsel to them, rather than speaking to the spouse being cheated.
  3. The right thing to do will become apparent if one practices all four Brahmavihāras: 1) Loving-kindness for one's friend, 2) Compassion for the spouse who is cheating, 3) Equanimity regarding being blamed or criticised for telling one's friend, 4) Sympathetic-joy for one's friends willingness to forgive his/her spouse and fix the marriage, or for having the courage to abandon a failed marriage and move on.
The Sigalovāda Sutta Explains the nature of a True Friend:


"These four, young householder, should be understood as warm-hearted friends:

(1) he who is a helpmate,
(2) he who is the same in happiness and sorrow,
(3) he who gives good counsel,
(4) he who sympathises.

(1) "In four ways, young householder, should a helpmate be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

(i) he guards the heedless,
(ii) he protects the wealth of the heedless,
(iii) he becomes a refuge when you are in danger,
(iv) when there are commitments he provides you with double the supply needed.

(2) "In four ways, young householder, should one who is the same in happiness and sorrow be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

(i) he reveals his secrets,
(ii) he conceals one's own secrets,
(iii) in misfortune he does not forsake one,
(iv) his life even he sacrifices for one's sake.

(3) "In four ways, young householder, should one who gives good counsel be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

(i) he restrains one from doing evil,
(ii) he encourages one to do good,
(iii) he informs one of what is unknown to oneself,
(iv) he points out the path to heaven.

(4) "In four ways, young householder, should one who sympathises be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

(i) he does not rejoice in one's misfortune,
(ii) he rejoices in one's prosperity,
(iii) he restrains others speaking ill of oneself,
(iv) he praises those who speak well of oneself."
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lonewolf
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by lonewolf »

VinceField wrote:In one of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's talks on wrong speech he mentions that the Buddha taught that it is wrong speech to inform someone that their spouse is having extramarital affairs.

After bringing up this teaching with one of my classes today, it was agreed by the students that they believe revealing the cheating spouse would be the right thing to do because they would want to know if it were themselves in the shoes of the spouse being cheated on.

My understanding of the teaching is that it is wrong speech because revealing the cheating spouse will cause problems in the lives of those involved.

I'm curious to hear opinions regarding the morality of a situation like this, where the right thing to do is not so apparent. What would you do? What would you want done if you were being cheated on?
As other users have already pointed out there is an infinite number of ifs, buts, variations of the theme. One thing I do know is when the mind is not ready, or developed for the news of this magnitude, the news of infidelity of the loved one will cause such a mind to descend to a very dark, hopeless, and desperate place. Well intentioned, factual, true confession will not prevent such a mind from doing an infinite number of very irrational things. A mind in a desperate state is capable of any action, no matter how uskillful, or evil it is. Such a mind is capable of killing his/her loved one, loved one's lover, him/her self, even the children to spite the loved one, any combination of the above, and infinite number of equally evil things.

So this "well" intentioned confession can possibly, and very likely be the beginning of unimaginable amount of suffering, and misery for many, as the friend, his/her loved one, their children, the lover of the loved one, all their families, and friends, and their families and friends would be affected. So someting that has started as a "well" intentioned confession, in reality would become the beginning of a living nightmare.

Be weary of false, not very well thought out "good" intentions, as they say the road to hell is paved with them.

Personally I would keep my mouth shut. The only exception is if I knew there was an imminent danger to my friend's physical well being somewhere in the plot, and he absolutely needed to know to protect his physical well being, and even then I would feel partially responsible for the hell that would inevitably follow.
Last edited by lonewolf on Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
shaunc
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by shaunc »

lonewolf wrote:
VinceField wrote:In one of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's talks on wrong speech he mentions that the Buddha taught that it is wrong speech to inform someone that their spouse is having extramarital affairs.

After bringing up this teaching with one of my classes today, it was agreed by the students that they believe revealing the cheating spouse would be the right thing to do because they would want to know if it were themselves in the shoes of the spouse being cheated on.

My understanding of the teaching is that it is wrong speech because revealing the cheating spouse will cause problems in the lives of those involved.

I'm curious to hear opinions regarding the morality of a situation like this, where the right thing to do is not so apparent. What would you do? What would you want done if you were being cheated on?
As other users have already pointed out there is an infinite number of ifs, buts, variations of the theme. One thing I do know is when the mind is not ready, or developed for the news of this magnitude, the news of infidelity of the loved one will cause such a mind to descend to a very dark, hopeless, and desperate place. Well intentioned, factual, true confession will not prevent such a mind from doing an infinite number of very irrational things. A mind in a desperate state is capable of any action, no matter how uskillful, or evil it is. Such a mind is capable of killing his/her loved one, loved one's lover, him/her self, even the children to spite the loved one, any combination of the above, and infinite number of equally evil things.

So this "well" intentioned confession can possibly, and very likely be the beginning of unimaginable amount of suffering, and misery for many, as the friend, his/her loved one, their children, the lover of the loved one, all their families, and friends, and their families and friends would be affected. So someting that has started as a "well" intentioned confession, in reality would become the beggining of a living nightmare.

Be weary of false, not very well thought out "good" intentions, as they say the road to hell is paved with them.

Personally I would keep my mouth shut. The only exception is if I knew there was an imminent danger to my friend's physical well being somewhere in the plot, and he absolutely needed to know to protect his physical well being, and even then I would feel partially responsible for the hell that would inevitably follow.
:

goodpost:

Very wise advise. Always remember that it takes no brains & even less effort to keep your mouth shut.
Something unfortunately I've often regretted not doing.
denise
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by denise »

from experience...receiving a phone call out of the blue from a stranger telling me what she thought " i deserved to know " was the beginning of a nightmare....with my spouse standing there as i listened to this call....i thought i knew this person after 23 years....in the next moments my life changed forever...but...better then than 10 more years later i think...
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by Spiny Norman »

denise wrote:from experience...receiving a phone call out of the blue from a stranger telling me what she thought " i deserved to know " was the beginning of a nightmare....with my spouse standing there as i listened to this call....i thought i knew this person after 23 years....in the next moments my life changed forever...but...better then than 10 more years later i think...
So on balance you were glad that somebody told you?
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denise
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by denise »

yes...hard to hear but grateful it did not go on longer...try to find the positive
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manas
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by manas »

VinceField wrote: I'm curious to hear opinions regarding the morality of a situation like this, where the right thing to do is not so apparent. What would you do? What would you want done if you were being cheated on?
Break up with the cheating spouse, and if asked why one did this, reveal it at that time, to the person who asked.
To the Buddha-refuge i go; to the Dhamma-refuge i go; to the Sangha-refuge i go.
Buckwheat
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by Buckwheat »

I thought about this more, and this is the honest truth, but it is not based on morality. It is based on my personality and what I would likely do based on my own predispositions to avoid conflict yet to be supportive... If I am closer friends with the cheater, I would keep the secret and council him to end both relationships and figure out his own life before dragging another person through his drama. If I was closer to the one being cheated on, I would tell about the cheating and offer my support. If I was genuinely close to both parties I would do both parts I just described.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Dhammanando
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by Dhammanando »

VinceField wrote:What would you want done if you were being cheated on?
  • OVER THE COFFIN

    They stand confronting, the coffin between,
    His wife of old, and his wife of late,
    And the dead man whose both they had been
    Seems listening aloof, as to things past date.

    —‘I have called,’ says the first. ‘Do you marvel or not?’
    ‘In truth,’ says the second, ‘I do—somewhat.’

    ‘Well, there was a word to be said by me!...
    I divorced that man because of you—
    It seemed I must do it, boundenly;
    But now I am older, and tell you true,
    For life is little, and dead lies he;
    I would I had let alone you two!
    And both of us, scorning parochial ways,
    Had lived like the wives in the patriarch’s days.’
    — Thomas Hardy
If I were a woman, and in the advantageous position of knowing all that I know as a man, I should take the view of the divorcée in Hardy’s poem and wish that my friend would mind her own business and keep her knowledge of my husband’s infidelities to herself.
Anabhirati kho, āvuso, imasmiṃ dhammavinaye dukkhā, abhirati sukhā.

“To not delight in this dhammavinaya, friend, is painful; to delight in it is bliss.”
(Sukhasutta, AN 10:66)
LXNDR
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Re: Revealing a cheating spouse: Wrong Speech?

Post by LXNDR »

when one is not sure, it's best to refrain from action, at least this way one's safer in terms of acquiring bad new kamma

but if urge to act is irresistible, of course it's more prudent to appeal to morality of the cheater doing it like so
Aranavibhanga sutta (MN 139) wrote:
8. “And how, bhikkhus, does there come to be neither extolling nor disparaging but teaching only the Dhamma? When one does not say: ‘All those engaged in the pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desires … have entered upon the wrong way,’ but says instead: ‘The pursuit is a state beset by suffering, vexation, despair, and fever, and it is the wrong way,’ then one teaches only the Dhamma
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