In Her Words
Jenny Sanford: A Different Kind of Political Wife?
Is a lustful romp easier to forgive than an affair of the heart?
-Julie Ryan Evans
At first glance, Jenny Sanford appeared to be a different kind of scorned political wife than those who have gone before her. She was not at the governor’s side when he tearfully apologized for his adulterous affair with Maria Belen Chapur of Argentina. She promptly kicked him out of the family home and sent him packing to the governor’s mansion because it’s “important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect and my basic sense of right and wrong,” she explained.
When asked about the governor’s future career by reports, she sharply shot back:
“His career is not a concern of mine,” Jenny Sanford told reporters camped at the end of her driveway as she left with her boys for a boat ride the other day. “He’s going to have to worry about that. I’m worried about my family and the character of my children.”
Finally, we saw a woman who won’t stand for being betrayed, publicly humiliated and deceived by a man whom she put her trust in. At last a woman willing to set an example that there’s a price to pay for cheating, that it’s not just something a few tears and counseling sessions will erase.
But she may not be so different after all. Reports say that already she and the governor are working to repair and rebuild their marriage. He joined her and their four sons for dinner Saturday evening at their beach home on Sullivan’s Island. And while he considered resigning, he decided that he’ll go ahead and serve out remaining 18 months despite the cries from those who think it’s the right thing for him to do
Meanwhile the gallivanting governor’s Argentinean mistress, a former television reporter, has broken her silence to acknowledge the affair, but remains mum beyond that saying it “has already been made too public during these last days, bringing to me even more pain.”
What pain, she doesn’t specify. But we can imagine that it’s along the lines o f heartbreak. Because what makes this adulterous political affair different from the scores of others is that this one seems to involve real feelings, love even. The deep emotion Sanford has/had for is evident in the sappy e-mails he wrote to Chapur, which she says were obtained by someone hacking into her computer:
“Have you been told lately how warm your eyes are and how they glow with the special nature of your soul,” He stated. “You have a level of sophistication that is so fitting with your beauty.”
If Gov. Sanford truly loved his mistress, does that make his indiscretions any worse, or maybe make us a little bit more sympathetic toward him? Is it better to be betrayed for a cheap, lustful fling, or does it cut deeper when it’s a serious emotional affair of the heart? Is one easier to move beyond, to forgive, from which to figure out a way to go back to the life you built together?
Jenny Sanford gave up a successful Wall Street career to help Mark launch his career in the political arena. “Leaving it and coming down here and following this nice young boy from Carolina was a big jump,” she once told the Associated Press.
Many say Sanford wouldn’t be where he is today without Jenny’s help, that she ran his campaigns and was the real force behind him. But apparently it wasn’t enough for the governor.
So how could she even think about attempting reconciliation? She has money; she is educated; she could easily go on without him. Could she just love him that much? Is marriage, perhaps, that sacred to her? Will she do it for the kids? Does she not want to let “the other woman” win in the end? Or will she be unwilling to forgive such a betrayal? Will she be unwilling to let him just pick right back up in a family life that he had so little regard and respect for? And, of course, there’s the question as to if the governor can really walk away from his lover for whom he risked so much.
In the end, we can only hope that no matter what happens Jenny Sanford really is able to maintain her dignity, self respect and basic sense of right and wrong not only for her boys but for the rest of the world that’s watching the whole, all-too-familiar mess unfold.
What about you? Could you forgive your spouse’s affair? Would it be easier or more difficult to forgive if real emotions were involved?