Alaska is the first state in the nation to discourage cheating spouses with an official observance of Marriage Fidelity Day.
Gov. Frank Murkowski this month signed a proclamation marking Sept. 15 the day for reminder of marriage vows.
"Infidelity inevitably wreaks destruction on families in general and on innocent children and spouses in particular," the proclamation states. "Marriages are the basis for a stable family unit and infidelity creates instability and volatility."
The day was made official at the request of Penny Tupy of Prescott, Wisc. Tupy is the owner of Save Your Marriage Central Lifeworks Coaching Services. Tupy also is founder and director of the nonprofit organization Save Your Marriage Central Global Village Inc., which advocates for healthy marriages.
"I want to do for affairs what MADD did for drinking and driving," she said. "We take the position that an affair is not a love story. It's a tragedy. We are working to raise awareness of the risk factors for having an affair and how to avoid them."
The business side of Save Your Marriages Central offers online and teleconference courses to train "marriage coaches" to council couples with troubled marriages. The two-year program costs $4,200, Tupy said.
The nonprofit is pushing to get the proclamation signed by all 50 governors, she said. Alaska is the first, she said. Save Your Marriage Central will continue through 2005 to press the other 49 states to adopt the proclamation.
Murkowski spokeswoman Becky Hultberg said the governor signed the proclamation to show support for strong families and the institution of marriage.
"We do many, many, many proclamations every year and this was one that we looked at and evaluated and thought it was a good message," Hultberg said.
She said Murkowski's decision to make the proclamation doesn't necessarily mean he supports the organization or people who authored the proclamation.
Tupy, who is married with six kids, said she has firsthand knowledge of the damage that infidelity can cause to a relationship.
"In my first marriage, I was the one who had an affair and I saw what it did to my kids," she said.
She said she started the pro-marriage organization in support of children and to create a cultural shift in which a faithful marriage is considered "cool."
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.