Is it Wrong to Break a Promise Made Under Unclear Circumstances?

Bob After not Quitting his Job

Bob After not Quitting his Job

Promises are given special weight. If a person promises to do something, they are looked upon with scorn if they fall through with their promise. It is seen as dishonorable to break a promise. But what about a promise made before one has all the information? For example, Bob signs a contract to work for Jeff for 3 years. Bob begins work and, six months into the job, realizes he can’t stand the office environment. Under normal circumstances, Bob would quit the job and search for a different employer. However, due to the contract, Bob has promised that he will continue the work for another 2.5 years.

Is Bob wrong to break the contract?

This brings up a similar question: are contracts the same as promises? By signing a contract, are you promising to do something? Is it stronger than an average, verbal, promise? Weaker?

What if Bob married Jeff? Six months into the relationship, he finds the relationship incompatible. Is he wrong to divorce and break the promise?

Is breaking a work contract different from breaking a marriage contract?

If divorce is wrong, it would seem that breaking a contract at work is also wrong. Obviously, divorce seems like it is justified under certain circumstances. If the spouse cheats in a relationship, hardly anyone would fault the cheated spouse to divorce the cheater.

 If a person is getting cheated out of money by their office, they are justified in breaking the contract under legal terms.

On the other side, if a spouse has an argument with another spouse, it seems unfair for one to divorce the other. Arguments happen in relationships and, generally speaking, can be worked out. Likewise, if an employee has one bad day at work amidst a month of otherwise good days, it seems irrational for them to bail on the contract.

So when is it justified to break a contract? At what point is it OK?

I suggest that it is justified to break a promise/contract whenever it seems as if there is a trend of bad performance with no hope for improvement.

If Bob and Jeff are able to work through their differences, it seems unfair for Bob to quit the contract he signed with Jeff, despite work being horrible. However, if Bob is justified in believing that things with Jeff will not improve (i.e. he has made attempts to improve the environment and has been met with hostility or failure), then he seems justified in breaking the contract.

If Bob and Jeff are married and Jeff is always demeaning towards Bob, with no hope for improvement, then it seems as if Bob is justified in a divorce.

What do you all think? Comment below with your opinion regarding when, if ever, it is OK to break a promise.