No more worries for cheating spouses

15th May 2018
MARRIAGE STILL RELEVANT: Moruti Thabiso Segatlhe (Not in picture) says couples need God to keep their marriages strong in the midst of Judge Lot Moroka’s )ruling that some Marriage Act provisions are outdated Source:The Midweek Sun


By Keletso Thobega -

Cheating spouses together with side chicks and guys had a field day of jubilation recently when Judge Lot Moroka ruled in court that marriage wrecking laws in Botswana were archaic and outdated.

While the ruling was circumstantial, it has set a precedent to challenging the laws governing marriage in Botswana. Judge Lot Moroka last week made the landmark ruling in a case in which Phindile Mhotsha was sued for marriage wrecking by Precious Kgaje, who argued that the accused had an adulterous affair with her husband.

The plaintiff had wanted the court to evaluate the common law validity of the third party based on adultery pertaining to civil marriage. In his ruling, Moroka noted in part: “It is the quality of the citizen; his or her integrity and respect for the marital institution and not the fear of sanction that sustains tranquillity in the marriage,” adding that “it is not in all instances where one spouse commits adultery that divorce follows.” Moroka further stated that the remedy of damages against the third person is ineffectual as it leaves a critical co-prepetrator, being the married spouse, off the hook. Moroka made relevant and eye-opening points, one of them being that marriage does not end attractiveness and married people are not exempt from being attracted to other people, but argued that “the maturation of this attraction to a romantic relationship does not depend on the absence or presence of threat of sanctions presented by the action injuriarum of adultery. “In lay-man terms this means that marriage is a covenant between two individuals and a third party who is not a contracting party cannot be blamed for breaching this contract. Respect yourself enough to do the right thing and protect your marriage. The third party is invited by someone into the marriage, no one is forced to have an affair; it is a choice,” Moroka said.

Among other key issues, he also noted that the idealistic perception of marriage is that married couples should work hard to ensure that they are emotionally and physically unavailable to other people and it is not the obligation of the courts to drive fidelity in the marriage. He cited that in other situations, cases of obtaining by false pretence and extortion when the other party was demanded to pay damages were becoming rife. “Cases of marriage wrecking when one party sued but did not divorce – enjoyed spoils of compensation,” he said. In an interview with The Midweek Sun, popular life coach Kgomotso Jongman concurred that marriage was for two people and the third party was invited by someone within the marriage. “You cannot expect a third party to protect your marriage for you, that is your prerogative as a married person.” He noted that the reason adultery and infidelity were rife is because some people marry for the wrong reasons. “They then go out and look for things to complement what they lack in their marriages because they did not marry for sincere reasons such as pure love, for example,” he said. Marriage officer and pastor in the Evalengical Lutheran Church Pastor Thabiso Segatlhe reiterated that it was the responsibility of married individuals to protect their marriages.

He said that marriage is a gift that should be respected, adding that self-awareness was a critical component in exchanging vows. He pointed out that the emotional, spiritual and sexual aspects should be in synergy for a marriage to work, saying that it was the responsibility of the married parties to create an environment conducive to marital bliss. Segatlhe noted that challenges and pain were inevitable in marriage but with God, anything could be overcome. “You don’t suddenly become blind when you get married so you will notice third parties and some would pursue you but it is up to you to uphold the dignity of your marriage through self-discipline by pushing away the third party,” he said. He also stated that fidelity was possible in marriage provided both parties loved and respected each other, and were committed to their union. Segatlhe encouraged people to go for pre-marital counselling before settling down. “In pre-marital counselling, we trace both parties’ history, personality traits and characters, not to expose any negativity but for them to better understand each other better and make the right decisions,” he said. The outspoken pastor also argued that the sanctity and relevance of marriage would never be eroded regardless of the changing values in society. “Marriage is like love, it is Godly and would never go away no matter what happens. It is cemented on the values that Jesus encouraged such as honesty, true love and confession for one’s mistakes.”

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