Was I morally correct in asking my (now) ex-wife to delay the divorce which she

Read another response by Jyl Gentzler, Peter S. Fosl
Read another response about Children, Ethics, Love, Sex
Was I morally correct in asking my (now) ex-wife to delay the divorce which she had initiated, in order to retain her much needed health insurance under my employer, until she had obtained such on her own? Or was she correct in her assertion that it would have been morally incorrect for her remain married to me, regardless of her health needs, due to the example shown to our children when she was meeting and dating others?

I agree with Jyl Gentzler that marriage might for some people take the form of an open relationship, where extra-marital relationships were permissible; and if you find this form of relationship satisfactory, then keeping your then-wife covered by your insurance even while she engaged in extra-marital relationships would be permissible.

But I hold a slightly different view of the issue of decption in this case, a view that leads to a different judgment about keeping your then-wife insured even if the relationship was for all intents and purposes over. I think the analogy with "Green Card" marriages in this case a weak one. Green Card marriages are different from cases like the one you describe because Green Card marriages are frauds from the very beginning. They never achieved the status of real marriage in the sense they don't involve relationships of love, commitment, sexual congress, or reproduction. Your relationship, I take it, was at the start a real relationship. Given that your relationship was a real one at the start, it was proper that your wife was covered by your insurance.

It remains in my judgment morally permissible and not a deception to delay your divorce and continue to cover your wife under your insurance for a limited time (a few years strikes me as a reasonable) for these reasons:

(1) Any reasonable person should understand that marriages commonly end. I believe that currently in the U.S. there is somewhere around 50/50 chance of it. Insurance companies know this.

(2) It often takes people, especially those with poor educational or employment histories, a long time to find sources of medical insurance in the U.S. (This because U.S. institutions are negligent in not offering medical coverage. According to the Census Bureau's 2005 Current Population Survey [CPS], there were 45.8 million uninsured individuals in 2004, or 15.7% of the civilian non-institutionalized population. This state of affairs is morally wrong.)

(3) Allowing people to go without medical care who have entered the institution of marriage in good faith but whose marriages have nevertheless failed is unecessarily cruel and socially irresponsible in a society of plenty like ours. It would also be irresponsible to your children to expose them unnecessarily to the risk of losing their mother or having her seriously impaired for lack of insurance.

So, if, wherever you live, the state or other institutions provides an easy alternative to your covering your wife, keeping her covered and delaying your divorce would be unecessary and morally inadvisable. But if no reasonable alternative exist, letting her go uncovered would be wrong.

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