As an infidelity expert frequently called on by the media to comment on high profile infidelity and popular infidelity issues in the news, I’d like to comment on selected points from Jenny Sanford’s interview in Vogue magazine about her husband’s infidelity.
My comments and observations are based on my 15 years of ongoing infidelity research, which include thousands of consultations and interviews with male and female victims of infidelity, cheaters of both sexes, and other professionals in the field.
Below are my comments and observations on Jenny Sanford’s interview in the September 2009 issue of Vogue.
VOGUE: For the record, Jenny Sanford and most of her friends were as shocked as the rest of America when they learned about the governor’s affair with an Argentinean divorcée.
Finding evidence of the affair last January in a stack of papers was, she says, a shock. “It never occurred to me that he would do something like that.
Never underestimate a man’s susceptibility to infidelity. Like many wives, Jenny did not think her husband capable of having an extramarital affair. In fact, in one interview she said she didn’t think he had it in him. But a good marriage is not immune to infidelity, and even happy husbands cheat too.
Last year there were 3 separate infidelity studies in 3 prestigious medical journals which proved that no one, no marriage is immune – especially if the right (or wrong) circumstances come into play. The best way to safeguard a marriage or relationship is to learn to spot the early warning signs of infidelity so that positive action can be taken before the affair reaches the point of no return. See the articles entitled Happy Husbands Cheat Too and Why the Wife is Still the Last to Know.
JENNY SANFORD: “Over the course of both pastoral and marriage counseling, it became clear to me that he was just obsessed with going to see this woman. I have learned that these affairs are almost like an addiction to alcohol or pornography. They just can’t break away from them.”
The Sanford affair started out as an innocent friendship. Over a period of 8 years, it developed into an emotional affair which then progressed to sexual infidelity. Emotional infidelity is highly addictive. Emotional bonding between the two affair partners takes place gradually just like drug or alcohol addiction. Once a cheating husband develops a dual emotional/sexual bond with his mistress, like Sanford’s bond to Maria Belen Chapur, he does indeed become obsessed. Affairs in which there exists a dual emotional/sexual bond are extremely difficult to overcome. See the article entitled What the Sanford Affair can Teach Us about Emotional Infidelity
Jenny Sanford continues to demonstrate that she has far more insight into the dynamics of her husband’s affair than their counselors and advisors. They failed to prepare Sanford for the withdrawal symptoms, and the onslaught of emotions he would experience after ending his affair. When the emotional upheaval hit him, he was caught totally off guard, and behaved in a most embarrassing way.
VOGUE: Even so, like the rest of America, she and a friend couldn’t resist Googling the woman at the center of the firestorm. “What woman wouldn’t want to know what her husband’s mistress looks like?” asks the friend. (Sanford’s reported verdict: “She’s pretty.”)
Most wives or girlfriends have a natural curiosity about the woman their husband or boyfriend is cheating with. What does she look like? Is she prettier? Smarter? Sexier? These are things almost every betrayed wife wants to know. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as the curiosity doesn’t become a morbid obsession.
Another question that lurks in the background of every betrayed wife’s mind is “Will he leave me for her?” In Jenny Sanford’s case, the signs indicate that this is unlikely to happen. For more on this see the article entitled Will He Leave You for Her?
It’s also necessary for a wife to know certain things about her husband’s mistress, in order to insure the safety and well-being of her family. Is she violent? ( Joey Buttafuco’s teenage mistress, Amy Fisher, shot his wife Mary Jo Buttofuoco in the head) Is she mentally unstable or emotionally fragile? (Steve McNair’s mistress Sahel Kazemi killed him, then turned the gun on herself.) Does she have ulterior motives like John Edwards’ mistress Rielle Hunter? Is she seeking fortune or fame? Will the mistress threaten or harass her lover or his family, even after he ends the affair? Will the wife and children need to get an order of protection? What kind of woman is she? How will she react if things don’t go her way? For more information see the article entitled What You Need to Know About Your Husband’s Mistress and Why.
VOGUE: Her willingness to forgive and move forward is probably what has most impressed the world about Jenny Sanford.
I think Jenny Sanford is to be commended for the position she has taken regarding her husband's affair. She is a role model for betrayed wives everywhere. Jenny Sanford has shown the world that a wife with a cheating husband can lay the groundwork for saving her marriage without sacrificing her dignity and self respect. See the article entitled Jenny Sanford shows Betrayed Wives How to Take a Firm Stand.
VOGUE: Whether her friends think she should stay with her husband is another question. “I think she will be fine with him or without him,” says Reese.
JENNY SANFORD: “If you don’t forgive,” she says, “you become angry and bitter. I don’t want to become that. I am not in charge of revenge.
Unlike many betrayed wives, Jenny Sanford is not out for revenge. She has far better things to do with her time. Many scorned wives invest a lot of time and effort trying to get even with the cheating husband, or seeking revenge on the mistress for her role in the affair. Often this only serves to make a bad situation worse. That time and energy is best spent in finding an effective way to handle the affair and move on from there. For more information, see the article entitled How Betrayed Wives and Other Infidelity Victims Get Revenge on their Cheating Mates.
JENNY SANFORD: All I can do is forgive. Reconciliation is something else, and that is going to be a harder road. I have put my heart and soul into being a good mother and wife. Now I think it’s up to my husband to do the soul-searching to see if he wants to stay married. The ball is in his court.”
In their eagerness to hold onto their marriage or relationship, many female victims of infidelity become doormats, bending over backwards to please their cheating husbands or boyfriends to keep them from leaving. All this does is empower the cheater. See the free tip sheet How Wives with Cheating Husbands Can Gain the Upper Hand.
Jenny Sanford seems to be well aware that forgiveness is not something to be simply handed over on a silver platter. She has made it clear to her husband that he will to work hard and put fort a concerted effort to rebuild their marriage and regain her trust.
As Jenny Sanford put it, the ball is now in Mark Sanford’s court.
*** © copyright 2009 Ruth Houston