Journal Article

Extra-marital sexual relations in Poland

M Bienko

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 10, issue 1, pages 27-36
Published in print April 1996 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online April 1996 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI:
Extra-marital sexual relations in Poland

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Fidelity is rarely addressed as an explicit dimension of family law although it is normally an implied obligation of marriage. It is certainly an important factor in understanding the stability or instability of marriage in a particular society. Polish civil and canon law are reviewed for their statements on fidelity. A survey of male skilled workers and professionals in the Warsaw area about their attitudes to and experience of extra-marital sexual intercourse is reported. The everyday morality of Polish men is found to include rather more tolerance for their own or their partners' adulteries than is implied by the law. It is submitted that a social accommodation to this may promote more stability in marriage than an attempt to resist it by legal means.

As it is commonly understood, fidelity means preserving a consistency between words and acts: it has such connotations as attachment, loyalty, acting in accordance with professed principles, and keeping promises towards other people. The content of the commitments which are made has a cultural background and reflects the dominant values in a particular society. However, the continual processes of social, moral and legal change and the different situations of different individuals relative to these mean that the operationalization of such a commitment is always likely to be problematic. However, both adherence to and breaches of marital fidelity have a particular importance because of their sedimentaton in the traditions of a society. This may make them a matter of customary law which according to Petraczycki (1985:303) is 'an unconscious creation of commuity social experience and contains instinctive social 'wisdom' of empirical origin'. Thus the regulation of fidelity can aquire the character of a legal control, whther this has a statutoy basis or not. This paper reviews both civil and canon law provisions in the light of a survey of Polish attitudes towards infidelity.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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