To wreck is to inflict pain onto something. To badly destroy something to a point of no recovery. A homewrecker is a person, object or activity that causes or comes close to causing the breakup of a marriage (Wikipedia.org). The definition goes further to give an example that ‘a homewrecker is said to have taken one of the spouses away from the marriage thus wrecking the marital home’. This example is what has taken precedence over what marriage wrecking is all about. It is that precedence that has mostly come to be endured as a rightful definition in society. A man or woman who is not contracted to a marriage is said to be a homewrecker just because he/she engages with a contracted partner in a way that lead to problems arising in a marriage. This is cemented by the law (customary and otherwise) to a point that such a person is charged and punished heavily. How we came to an understanding that such a third party is duly at fault, is still a mystery to common sense.
I will hasten not to absolve this third party from any wrong doing. He might be equally at fault depending on the type of engagement he/she has with a married spouse. As the law states, your ignorance to it is not excuse good enough to let you go scot-free. Thus, your knowing or unknowing of the true status of that married partner that you are engaging with is of no consequence. I believe though that even in such a scenario, it can be argued out especially in extreme cases where a third party was in complete darkness credit to the married partner. A case for example where a third party takes measures to find out the true status of his/her potential partner, yet wrong status is deliberately given just so that the innocent man or woman can be comfortable. This is a subject for another day anywhere.
My born of contention relates to who exactly has caused trouble to a marriage between a contracted partner (a spouse) and a concubine or concubinator? By societal standards, we blame the concubinator or concubine. But I strongly hold a different view. Two persons (married partners) contract to a marriage institution. The two vow before the eyes of the law and everyone else that they shall stick to each other regardless of the circumstances. It is the two that put to paper their signatures in agreement that they shall protect the sanctity of the institution that they are entering into. It is actually the two who can determine whether they are still in-love or have fallen out of love. It therefore follows that the two partners are the sole protectors of their contract. Not the law, not the third party but the spouses themselves hold the keys to the stability of a marriage.
If the spouses could ensure that they do not engage with anyone else but there legally known partners only, there could be no problem. If their responses to ‘advances’ where influenced by their legal marital status, we could not be having this debate. Now that the same contracted persons decide to defy the very agreement that was made before the law, suddenly we want to point a finger at an outsider. It would only make sense if the very person who violated the agreement was brought to book. This is the person who knows the boundaries as prescribed under whatever terms that were made for that particular relationship. By blaming the outsider, I think we would be scratching a none-itching body part. We actually risk finding fault on the wrong person when the real culprit is within.
Last week social media was awash with this discussion following some court judgement so related. I have not read the judgement but I could tell from the discussions that a third party was punished for something like home wrecking. It is my view that marriage sanctity is beyond legislation. We should not expect the Judiciary nor Parliament to protect our marriages. Not even the whole mighty army nor police can protect our matrimonies. It does not matter how well a law is crafted in terms of protecting a marriage. If the marriage was meant to be, it shall be. If the two persons involved are unwilling to nurture and salvage their matrimonial values, then no other factor can do that on their behalf. I conclude by saying that of course, whoever engages with a married person is acting wrongly. But the real home wrecker is the spouse who decides to engage elsewhere other than within the marriage itself.