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History of Infidelity, Adultery, Affairs and Cheating & Unfaithful Spouses

The History of Infidelity

When most people hear the word infidelity, they think of someone cheating on his or her marital partner, more commonly known as having an affair or being unfaithful.  The word infidelity actually comes from the word infidel, which means someone who has betrayed or been unfaithful to their religion.  It can also simply mean someone who generally lacks faith.  Over time, infidelity began to take on a new meaning, and rather than meaning one who has lost his or her faith, it has become symbolic of one who has is not faithful to their spouse or lost faith in their marriage. Today it is typically termed for someone who has been disloyal to their spouse, usually sexually, and is used interchangeably with terms like adultery, affair, being unfaithful or simply cheating on your spouse.  In some countries, particularly those within Asia and the Middle East, infidelity is considered a very serious crime.  Several centuries ago, this crime was punishable by death, either by public stoning, hanging, or worse.  Today, it is still considered illegal in many areas of the world, and even in some areas of the United States.

The word infidelity is synonymous with the word adultery, which is forbidden according to the 7th rule in the Ten Commandments as set forth by God.  The Christian religion in particular looks down upon infidelity.  Today, infidelity is one of the number one leading causes of divorce worldwide.  Since the time of the Holy Bible, infidelity has been mentioned.  Abraham and Jacob were both written about in the Bible as being unfaithful husbands.  This dilemma has been going on for thousands of years, and it seems as though it may never cease.  The desire for one who is married to be with another person seems to be a problem that history has accepted, and the modern world has learned to live with.  It's much easier said than done when you are the spouse of the one who has been untrue.

Infidelity has been written about in literature for many centuries.  From the classic plays of William Shakespeare, to the modern works of Arthur Miller, cheating husbands and wives give creative artists much more ideas to develop drama and fodder for exciting plots.  Movies have always used infidelity as a way to create an exciting film, and often murder or other devious deeds ensue.  For those who feel they may have been betrayed, hiring a private investigator is always an option.  This gives the other person the chance to "catch their partner in the act," so they will have some proof if or when they need to present this information to the courts.  Infidelity almost always grants the victim the benefits in divorce cases.  Therefore, enlisting the help of a private investigator can be helpful when trying to obtain proof of the assumed cheating.

Lust and longing can create problems when your partner is looking in the other direction and having thoughts about someone else.  Unfortunately, infidelity has been in existence as long as humanity has, and it's something that some people must deal with.  For those who have become victims of infidelity, it's good to know there are people who can assist you in getting your life back on track.  With the help of private investigators, lawyers, friends, and family, anyone who has had to deal with infidelity can get through the difficult time and hopefully come out with the upper hand.

As licensed private investigators who help our clients to discover the truth, we would be happy to speak with you about infidelity issues that you maybe facing. The call is free and strictly confidential. Call +1 (866) 640.1010.

In 1833, Eugθne Franηois Vidocq, a French soldier, criminal and privateer, founded the first known private detective agency, Le bureau des reassignments (Office of Intelligence) and, again, hired ex-cons. Official law enforcement tried many times to shut it down. In 1842 police arrested him in suspicion of unlawful imprisonment and taking money on false pretenses after he had solved an embezzling case. Vidocq later suspected that it had been a set-up. He was sentenced for five years with a 3,000-franc fine but the Court of Appeals released him. Vidocq is credited with having introduced record-keeping, criminology and ballistics to criminal investigation. He made the first plaster casts of shoe impressions. He created indelible ink and unalterable bond paper with his printing company. His form of anthropometrics is still partially used by French police. He is also credited for philanthropic pursuits – he claimed he never informed on anyone who had stolen for real need.

After Vidocq, the industry was born. Much of what private investigators in the early days was to act as the police in matters that their clients felt the police were not equipped for or willing to do. A larger role for this new private investigative industry to was to act as sudo law men, particularly when dealing with labor and employee issues. The wealthy found that the need to help control large numbers of workers who had developed new ideas as a result of the French Revolution and the freedom of men did not sit well with the wealth resource owners. Some early private investigators were nothing short of mercenaries and or professional military companies helping private entities with problems that could be solved with force or the show of force, usually in foreign countries.

In the US, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency was a security guard and detective agency, established in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton. Pinkerton had become famous when he foiled a plot to assassinate then President-Elect Abraham Lincoln. Pinkerton's agents performed services which ranged from the equivalent of both a private military contractor to that of security guards. During the height of its existence, the Pinkerton Detective Agency had more agents than the standing army of the United States of America, causing the state of Ohio to outlaw the agency, due to the possibility of its being hired out as a "private army" or militia.

During the labor unrest of the late 19th century, businessmen hired Pinkerton guards to keep strikers and suspected unionists out of their factories. The most notorious example of this was the Homestead Strike of 1892, where Pinkerton agents ended up killing several people by enforcing the strikebreaking measures of Henry Clay Frick, (acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie, who was abroad). The agency's logo, an eye embellished with the words "We Never Sleep" inspired the term "private eye.

Pinkerton agents were hired to track western outlaws Jesse James, the Reno brothers, and the Wild Bunch including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

It was not until the prosperity of the 1920s that the private investigator became a person accessible to the average American. With the wealth of the 20s and the expanding of the middle class came the need for middle America.

Since then the private detective industry has grown with the changing needs of the public. Social issues like infidelity and unionization have impacted the industry and created new types of work, as has the need for insurance, and with it insurance fraud, criminal defense investigations, the invention of low cost listening devices and more. 


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and one who is not his or her spouse. Some legal jurisdictions have defined it as "crime against marriage", as opposed to infidelity.


Although the definition of "adultery" differs in nearly every legal system, the common theme is  outside of marriage, in one form or another.

For example, defines an adulterer as a person who "engages in sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse." North Carolina defines adultery as when any man and woman "lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together." Minnesota defines adultery as: "when a married woman has sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband, whether married or not, both are guilty of adultery".Adultery was known in earlier times by the legalistic term "criminal conversation" (another term, alienation of affection, is used when one spouse deserts the other for a third person). The term originates not from adult, which is from Latin a-dolescere, to grow up, mature, a combination of a, "to", dolere, "work", and the processing combound sc), but from the Latin ad-ulterare (to commit adultery, adulterate/falsify, a combination of ad, "at", and ulter, "above", "beyond", "opposite", meaning "on the other side of the bond of marriage").

A marriage in which both spouses agree that it is acceptable for either partner to have sexual relationships with other people other than their spouse is a form of nonmonogamy. The resulting sexual relationships the husband or wife has with other people, although could be considered to be adultery in some legal jurisdictions, are not treated as such by the spouses.

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Some cultures have a distinguished interpretation of the term infidelity: in some legal systems, it might be tolerated as long as it does not fit the jurisdiction's legal definition of adultery.

Penalties for adultery

Historically, adulterers have been subject to severe sanctions, including the death penalty, and adultery has been grounds for divorce under fault-based divorce laws. In some places, the method of punishment for adultery is stoning to death.

In the original Napoleonic Code, a man could ask to be divorced from his wife if she committed adultery, but the philandery of the husband was not a sufficient motive for divorce unless he had kept his concubine in the family home.

In some jurisdictions, including Korea, Taiwan and Mexico, adultery is illegal. In the United States, laws vary from state to state. For example, in Pennsylvania, adultery is technically punishable by 2 years of imprisonment or 18 months of treatment for insanity (for history, see Hamowy) (criminal statute repealed 1972), while in Michigan the Court of Appeals, the state's second-highest court, ruled that a little-known provision of state criminal law means that adultery carries a potential life sentence. In Maryland, adultery is punishable by a fine of $10. That being said, such statutes are typically considered blue laws and are rarely, if ever, enforced. In the U.S. Military, adultery is a potential court-martial offense only if the actions of the accused were "to the prejudice of good order and discipline" or "of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces". This law has been applied to cases where both partners were members of the military, particularly where one was in command of the other, or one partner and the other's spouse. The enforceability of criminal sanctions for adultery is questionable in light of Supreme Court decisions since 1965 relating to privacy and sexual intimacy, and particularly in light of Lawrence v. Texas, which protected the right of privacy for consenting adults.

In Canadian law, adultery is defined under the Divorce Act. Though the written definition sets it as extramarital relations with someone of the opposite sex, the Civil Marriage Act gave grounds for a British Columbia judge to strike that definition down. In a 2005 case of a woman filing for divorce, her husband had cheated on her with another man, which the judge felt was equal reasoning to dissolve the union.

A majority of nations in the European Union, such as Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium,South Africa or Sweden do not criminally prosecute adultery.

Apart from formal punishment, historically adulterers have suffered from society's disapproving attitudes toward them. The nature of these attitudes vary widely depending on local culture, religion and values, and how seriously the adulterer regards the opinions of others. Often adultery might be overlooked and tacitly accepted by others aware.


Adultery in selected cultural or religious traditions

Man and woman undergoing public exposure for adultery in Japan, around 1860


Man and woman undergoing public exposure for adultery in Japan, around 1860

Main article: Religious views on sexual intercourse

Historical views

Historically, adultery was rigorously condemned and punished, usually only as a violation of the husband's rights. Among such peoples the wife was commonly reckoned as the property of her spouse, and adultery was therefore identified with theft. But it was theft of an aggravated kind, as the property which it would spoliate was more highly appraised than other chattels. It is not the seducer alone who suffers. Dire penalties are visited upon the offending wife by her wronged spouse, and in many instances she is made to endure a bodily mutilation which will, in the mind of the aggrieved husband, prevent her from ever being a temptation to other men again (Schoolcraft, Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, I, 236; V, 683, 684, 686; also H.H. Bancroft, The Native Races of the Pacific States of North America, I, 514). If, however, the wronged husband could visit swift and terrible retribution upon the adulterous wife, the latter was allowed no cause against the unfaithful husband; and this discrimination found in the practices of ancient peoples is moreover set forth in nearly all ancient codes of law. The Laws of Manu are striking on this point: in ancient India, "though destitute of virtue or seeking pleasure elsewhere, or devoid of good qualities, yet a husband must be constantly worshipped as a god by a faithful wife"; on the other, hand, "if a wife, proud of the greatness of her relatives or [her own] excellence, violates the duty which she owes to her lord, the king shall cause her to be devoured by dogs in a place frequented by many" (Laws of Manu, V, 154; VIII, 371).

In the Greco-Roman world there were stringent laws against adultery, but this applied to those having sex with a married woman. A married man having sex with a slave or an un-married woman was not a crime. The lending of wives practiced among some peoples was, as Plutarch tells us, encouraged also by Lycurgus, though from a motive other than that which actuated the practice (Plutarch, Lycurgus, XXIX). The recognized license of the Greek husband may be seen in the following passage of the Oration against Neaera, the author of which is uncertain, though it has been attributed to Demosthenes: "We keep mistresses for our pleasures, concubines for constant attendance, and wives to bear us legitimate children and to be our faithful housekeepers. Yet, because of the wrong done to the husband only, the Athenian lawgiver Solon allowed any man to kill an adulterer whom he had taken in the act" (Plutarch, Solon).

In the early Roman Law the jus tori belonged to the husband. There was, therefore, no such thing as the crime of adultery on the part of a husband towards his wife. Moreover, this crime was not committed unless one of the parties was a married woman (Dig., XLVIII, ad leg. Jul.). It is well known that the Roman husband often took advantage of his legal immunity. Thus we are told by the historian Spartianus that Verus, the imperial colleague of Marcus Aurelius, did not hesitate to declare to his reproaching wife: "Uxor enim dignitatis nomen est, non voluptatis." (Verus, V).

Later in Roman history, as the late William E.H. Lecky has shown, the idea that the husband owed a fidelity similar to that demanded of the wife must have gained ground, at least in theory. This Lecky gathers from the legal maxim of Ulpian: "It seems most unfair for a man to require from a wife the chastity he does not himself practice" (Codex Justin., Digest, XLVIII, 5-13; Lecky, History of European Morals, II, 313).


In Judaism, adultery was forbidden in the seventh commandment of the Ten Commandments, but this did not apply to a married man having relations with an unmarried woman. Only a married woman engaging in sexual intercourse with another man counted as adultery, in which case both the woman and the man were considered guilty.

In the Mosaic Law, as in the old Roman Law, adultery meant only the carnal intercourse of a wife with a man who was not her lawful husband. The intercourse of a married man with a single woman was not considered adultery. The penal statute on the subject, in Leviticus, 20:10, makes this clear: "If any man commit adultery with the wife of another and defile his neighbor's wife, let them be put to death both the adulterer and the adulteress" (see also Deuteronomy 22:22). This was quite in keeping with the occasional practice of polygamy among the Israelites (which is no longer practiced).

In halakha (Jewish Law) the penalty for adultery is stoning for both the man and the woman, but this is only enacted when there are two independent witnesses who warned the offenders prior to the crime being committed. In the past, the legal standards for capital punishment were so high that a court that executed one person in seven (or, according to another account, seventy) years, was considered a bloodthirsty court. Although this penalty technically still applies, today Jewish courts do not execute anyone for any reason. Halakha forbids a man to continue living with a wife who cheated on him; he is obliged to give her a get or bill of divorce written by a sofer or scribe. Neither is the adulteress permitted to the adulterer, who must also give her a bill of divorce if he married her.


Christianity arose out of Judaism, whose decrees regarding adultery are found in the Torah, the first five books of the Christian Old Testament. The Torah explicitly forbids adultery, describing it as an act punishable by death. It is also forbidden by the Ten Commandments, which are considered to be the basis of all Jewish Law.

Jesus classed as adultery even a sexual relationship by someone who divorces their spouse, not mentioning such qualifications for someone whose spouse divorces them. The accounts of Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18 state this absolutely. The account of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 makes an exception for the break-up of a marriage because of πορνεία, a word that literally means "fornication", and that some interpret as referring to invalidity of the broken marriage, while others take it to mean "adultery", even if it is not the specific word for adultery (a word that, in its verbal form, appears in the same verses).

In Judaic culture of the time, "fornication" was applied as sleeping around during what Westerners would call "the engagement" or pre-marital time, and was regarded as grounds for not following through with the marriage proper. This involved the partners-to-be serving divorce papers on each other. Note that in Judaism, "putting away" (separation) was regarded as just the first step towards "divorce" and much text relating to marriage only makes sense when read with this in mind.

In Matthew 5:28, Jesus declared that adultery is committed in the heart by a man who looks with lust at a woman, and made no distinction about whether the woman was married or not. Saint Paul also put men and women on the same footing with regard to marital rights. This contradicted the traditional notion that relations of a married man with an unmarried woman were not adultery.

This parity between husband and wife was insisted on by early Christian writers such as Lactantius, who declared: "For he is equally an adulterer in the sight of God and impure, who, having thrown off the yoke, wantons in strange pleasure either with a free woman or a slave. But as a woman is bound by the bonds of chastity not to desire any other man, so let the husband be bound by the same law, since God has joined together the husband and the wife in the union of one body."

The same idea appears in the sixteenth-century Catechism of the Council of Trent, which gives the following definition and examples of adultery, expressly including the case of a married man having sexual intercourse with an unmarried woman: "To begin with the prohibitory part (of the Commandment), adultery is the defilement of the marriage bed, whether it be one's own or another's. If a married man have intercourse with an unmarried woman, he violates the integrity of his marriage bed; and if an unmarried man have intercourse with a married woman, he defiles the sanctity of the marriage bed of another."

The modern Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses the idea more concisely: "Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations — even transient ones — they commit adultery." It continues on to say that through adultery a person "does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, and undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based." While such an act can easily lead to the dissolution of the marriage, the possibility for healing under such conditions is still a possibility, so long as the couple commit to uncovering the underlying issues that led to the betrayal.


Main article: Zina (Arabic)

According to Islam, adultery is a violation of a marital contract and one of the major sins. In Islam; adultery includes both pre-marital and extramarital sex. Fornication and adultery are both included in the Arabic word 'Zina'. As they belong primarily to the same category of crimes, entail the same social implications and have the same effects on the spiritual personality of a human being, both, in principle, have been given the same status by the Qur'an. The hadith states that the punishment of stoning to death is prescribed for a married person who commits adultery.

"Do not go near to adultery. Surely it is a shameful deed and evil, opening roads (to other evils)" (Quran 17:32).

"Say, 'Verily, my Lord has prohibited the shameful deeds, be it open or secret, sins and trespasses against the truth and reason"' (Quran 7:33).

"Women impure are for men impure, and men impure are for women impure and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity." (Quran 24:26)

In Pakistan, adultery has been criminalized by a law called the Hudood Ordinance, which specifies a maximum penalty of death, although only imprisonment and corporal punishment have ever actually been used. The Ordinance has been particularly controversial because under it a woman making an accusation of rape must provide extremely strong evidence to avoid being charged under with adultery. The same kinds of laws have been in effect in some other Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia. However, in recent years high-profile rape cases in Pakistan have given the Hudood Ordinance more exposure than similar laws in other countries. Conviction is only possible with a minimum of four witnesses.

Adultery is a capital offence, punishable by stoning, under Iran's Islamic law. Nowadays, Iranian officials are banning stoning because of social objections.

Proving Adultery under Islam Law can be a very difficult task as Islamic law requires the accuser to produce four eye witnesses to the act of sexual intercourse, each whom should have a good reputation regarding truthfulness and honesty.

See also

Look up Adultery in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

  • Adultery in literature

  • Incidence of Monogamy

  • Fornication

  • Mistress

  • Affair

  • Emotional affair

  • Open marriage

  • Swinging

  • Cuckold


  • Best Practices: Progressive Family Laws in Muslim Countries (August 2005} 

  • Hamowy, Ronald. Medicine and the Crimination of Sin: "Self-Abuse" in 19th Century America. pp2/3

  • Moultrup, David J. (1990). Husbands, Wives & Lovers. New York: Guilford Press.

  • Glass, S. P., & Wright, T. L. (1992). Justifications for extramarital relationships: The association between attitudes, behaviors, and gender. Journal of Sex Research, 29, 361-387.

  • Jack Goody A Comparative Approach to Incest and Adultery The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Dec., 1956), pp. 286-305 doi:10.2307/586694

  • Pittman, F. (1989). Private Lies. New York: W. W. Norton Co.

  • Rubin, A. M., & Adams, J. R. (1986). Outcomes of sexually open marriages. Journal of Sex Research, 22, 311-319.

  • Vaughan, P. (1989). The Monogamy Myth. New York: New Market Press.

  • Blow, Adrian J, Hartnett, Kelley. (Apr 2005). Infidelity in Committed Relationships I: A Methodological Review. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.

  • Blow, Adrian J, Hartnett, Kelley. (Apr 2005). Infidelity in Committed Relationships II: A Substantive Review. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 

  • Discussion on adultry and what to do.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adultery"



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Page references: Infidelity | Adultery | Unfaithful | Cheating | Affair | History of Infidelity | History of Adultery | Marriage | Lust



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