Ashley Madison is a tragedy–not because names have been revealed on a hacker’s website, but because of what that security breach will do to relationships and families. However, I believe the answer to the question “Can Anything Good Come From The Ashley Madison Tragedy” may be “Yes.” In my experience in over thirty years as a divorce lawyer, in nearly every case where there is an affair, the affair was a symptom of problems in the marriage, not the cause, contrary to what many people believe. When a marriage is healthy, and both partners are satisfied with the relationship, affairs just don’t seem to happen, unless there is a sex addiction, which is a whole other discussion. It may be surprising to know that many judges feel (or seem to also feel) this is true, so running off to court to fight may not be the winning lottery ticket for revenge that some people think it will be. Going to court is embarrassing, gut-wrenching and financially devastating.
So, if there were problems in the marriage, maybe the good that can come out of this revelation is that the partners can finally acknowledge those issues before it is too late and without going to court–maybe they can finally talk about the fact that one or both of them are not satisfied in the relationship. Some partners can talk about the “elephant in the room” just by themselves, but most people need a licensed counselor to help them navigate through those difficult conversations. What can a licensed counselor provide? An experienced, licensed counselor can provide the support necessary for the two parties to have a constructive and productive conversation about the situation and the options that might be available for them, including long-term counseling (which will hopefully result in reconciliation) and if all else fails, divorce. These conversations ARE difficult, probably the most uncomfortable, awkward, painful conversations people may ever have in their lives. And that is why they need a professional to help them work through those conversations. Without a trained counselor, who has the skills and experience to work with clients during this time, the discussions can and often do become hurtful, ugly, and sometimes even more permanently damaging to the relationship than not talking about the problems at all.
As a divorce lawyer, it is my recommendation that if you or your spouse have had a revelation involving the Ashley Madison website or anything of that nature, you are well-served to immediately find a licensed counselor and, together with your spouse, explore the possibility of reconciling your relationship. Whether you have been married 6 months or 50 years, there is a reason that you married your spouse, and the relationship you two had may very well be worthy of giving it the time and effort of trying to save it. Even if it is time to end the relationship, with a counselor helping you work through the questions that may get you to that conclusion, you can preserve some semblance of respect, dignity, and maybe even friendship, between you and your spouse. Preserving that relationship will be better for your own mental health and, if you have children, it will definitely be better for your children, because despite everything, you and your spouse still need to parent those children together for the rest of their lives.
If you must divorce, please consider using the collaborative divorce process — it is private (all negotiations are outside of court); it protects your relationships with your spouse, your children, your extended family and your mutual friends, and it preserves your estate from the financial ravages of litigation. I will be happy to provide the names of counselors that my clients and I have worked with and that take good care of clients and their families. And if you must divorce, I will work to protect your privacy, your relationships and your estate from the devastation of court. If you would like to talk to me about this, my website is www.milner-law.com, and my phone is 940-383-2674.