This quote got me thinking about all the things that are both perfectly legal and perfectly horrible. Interestingly, hurting someone’s feeling is only punishable by law when you hurt the feelings of a soon-to-be former spouse.
Those types of wrongs tend to only result in legal filings in divorce courts. You can be rude, or nasty, or thoughtless: and you won’t get a ticket or have to do any community service. You can be petty and selfish and cold, and those actions will not land you in jail. But they are punishable in divorce court.
I almost drew a diagram about the difference between legal and ethical here, about how you can be a horrible person but have no criminal record (and few or no friends).
Break some laws? Behind bars you go! Break some trust? Nothing illegal there, well, until alimony is involved at least. So in the case of marriage, it literally does pay to be nice.
(c) Jessica Hagy, 2012