Opinion: Second Love

POSTED: 06/24/13 11:56 AM

The rightwing Christian party SGP has found something to get excited about: Second Love, a website that promotes love affairs for married people. The site has, or so it claims on the site, already 350,000 members and that makes it look like hordes of married people in the Netherlands are dying for their share in the extramarital affair market.

SGP faction leader Kees van der Staaij is not a happy camper when it comes to having affairs. Why does the cabinet not speak out against this, he wondered in an op-ed in the Volkskrant. Well, we’d say that is none of the government’s business how people conduct their affairs. But van der Staaij begs to differ:

“Stirring up trouble in a marriage is not normal. Stirring up trouble in a good marriage is outright bizarre. But still this is exactly what the website Second Love does. Spouses that are happily married are encouraged to have an affair. That unfaithfulness damages spouses and ruins children. For that reason members of the SGP-Youth have filed a complaint with the Advertising Code Committee against the advertising by Second Love.”

Van der Staaij notes that there is a taboo on naming unfaithfulness in families and their damaging consequences. An increasing number of men, women and children are suffering daily, politicians keep their mouths shut, the SGP-foreman says, adding that the government is using double standards in the fields of marriage and family. “It is time to turn the tide in the interest of society.”

It is hard to find fault with Van der Staaij’s argument that there is a need for strong relationships and complete families. We know all about that in the Caribbean in general and in St. Maarten in particular. The broken family is one of the main reasons for all kinds of social ills.

The SGP asked State Secretary Martin van Rijn already last month what he thought about Second Love. But according to Van der Staaij the state secretary “went in hiding behind the reasoning that relationships belong to the private domain of individual citizens.”

It is hard to find fault with that argument as well, but van der Staaij maintains that the government’s attitude that it has no authority to meddle in this field, is damaging and implausible.

The SGP faction leader says that advertising unfaithfulness is an almost criminal attempt to make money out of other people’s misery, because the risk of problems is significant.

Well, maybe van der Staaij ought to look at the state of marriages in general before making such a broad statement. After all, marriage is the main cause of divorce. And among the families that do not make the step towards splitting up not everything is exactly fine and dandy.

From that perspective, a little adventure on the side could even take some pressure off a strained relationship and bring partners that don’t see straight anymore closer together. There is no guarantee that this will happen of course – we’re not saying that an extramarital affair is the cure to repair all bad or troubled marriages – but on the other hand: if a marriage becomes a straightjacket it has no future either.

A marriage is a bond between two partners. It is a voluntary union (let’s leave forced marriages out of the equation here) and that means that it will only work when there are two willing partners. In that sense a marriage is a bit like democracy: only if everybody plays by the rules does democracy work. If a party loses the elections and then starts shooting its opponents, democracy dies with them in the process.

So Van der Staaij has a point in the sense that society will benefit from strong relationships and stable families, but he is wrong in thinking that the government has a role to play. It’s already bad enough that security services are snooping around all over the world in our emails and other internet-activities. Let’s put relationships beyond the ugly grasp of the state.

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