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Jenny Sanford, no longer a role model

Jenny Sanford was my role model, until I read her book.

Well, not role model, exactly, but improbable heroine. When her cheating, blubbering, disappearing-with-his-soul-mate husband turned up on national television to confess that he had not been hiking the Appalachian Trail, Jenny Sanford was neither standing by his side nor crawling into a hole.

As I wrote then, the wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford offered "a new and improved version of the betrayed political spouse -- neither enabler nor victim." In contrast to her moonstruck husband, Sanford had her feet on the ground. "I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will," she said in her statement the day of her husband's rambling news conference. She confronted his adultery with the toughness one might expect of a one-time Lazard Freres investment banker. "He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her," she told The Associated Press.

Then I was asked to review Sanford's new book, "Staying True." The delicious part is that Mark Sanford is an even bigger heel than you thought -- than I thought, and that's saying something. This is a man who had the nerve to call his wife, post-news conference, and ask, "How'd I do?" Who, after another other woman surfaced, called his wife and asked "what I thought he should reveal in the interview." If "Staying True" is Jenny Sanford's payback time, it must be said: He gave her a lot to work with.

The disappointing part is that Jenny Sanford is, well, the very victim I had imagined her not to be. The book is replete with instances of Jenny-as-doormat, from the very start of their relationship and continuing, excruciatingly, months after her discovery of his affair.

After one of the all-too-rare pre-affair moments in which Jenny gets angry, Mark enlists
leaders of a congressional Christian fellowship to talk her down. They told her she was right to be angry, Jenny recounts, but that

staying angry with Mark was not an option. If I wanted to heal the relationship, I had to open my heart and be kind, even if Mark was in the wrong. They would work on Mark. We even went so far as to talk about sex and (one of the leaders) told me not to withhold it as punishment as that would make everything worse.

Worse, I wonder, for whom?

The creepiest moment, though, and even Jenny seems to recognize this in retrospect, is when she lets her husband go to New York for two nights to see Maria Belen Chapur, his supposedly-ex-mistress -- accompanied by a friend-cum-chaperone to keep him in line.

"Later in the year, when I confided in friends about what was happening and what Mark was asking to do, I better understood that allowing him to see Belen in New York -- which is what I eventually agreed to let him do -- was ludicrous," Sanford writes. "Of course, it was ludicrous of him to continue to ask me to let him go, but he wore me down, asking again and again and insisting that the way for this to be over was to allow him the closure he needed." Sorry, but the only closure that Mark Sanford needed at that point involved his zipper.

So the disturbing question about Jenny Sanford remains: Why would a woman so obviously smart, well-educated, successful and attractive allow herself to be treated so badly for so long? Sanford's situation may be uniquely public, but she is certainly not alone in allowing herself to be undervalued -- indeed, in undervaluing herself. I confess: I am better at diagnosing this tendency than I am at explaining it; I'll leave discussions of women and self-esteem to the psychologists, pop and otherwise.

In the meantime, though, I'm bringing home my copy of "Staying True"
for my teenage daughters. If they read it as a how-not-to dating manual, maybe Jenny Sanford will end up my heroine after all.

By Ruth Marcus  | February 5, 2010; 2:48 PM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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Comments

But what are the real choices here for women? I mean we know the fairytale isn't true. So what do women do? Perhaps Mrs. Sanford loved her husband and believed him when he said he was trying to find closure. Perhaps she took her vows seriously even though her husband was fast and loose with his. It seems to come down to being married or being single. There isn't a middle ground. And maybe she believed they could work through it. So much of the time the wife is made to look incompetent because she is married to a "nut" or a libertine of the worst sort, yet when all is said and done, there just aren't that many options for women. Of course, no one, man or woman, should have to live with bad treatment, and I'm not advocating that they do, just thinking out loud. I certainly want to read the book.

Posted by: cmyth4u | February 5, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"Why would a woman so obviously smart, well-educated, successful and attractive allow herself to be treated so badly for so long?"

Unfortunately, I know too many women who have been in this same situation. I myself was in graduate school, getting my Master's degree, when a boyfriend (also a grad student) repeatedly ridiculed me, telling me I would fail and that I was a terrible writer. (I would later go on to be published.) I ended the relationship, but it is amazing how powerful it can be to hear someone tell you you can't do something. The story of an otherwise strong woman as a doormat is more common than you'd think, and it's tragic.

Posted by: ras4q | February 5, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

While we're wondering how Mrs Sanford could be so weak, we should also ask how Mr Sanford could be so cruel and clueless.

Why is it that some men are such pigs?

Posted by: bmschumacher | February 5, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Clearly she should have walked sooner. Maybe he should have too. It would have avoided "making everything worse."

Posted by: wp11234 | February 5, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Clearly she should have walked sooner. Maybe he should have too. It would have avoided "making everything worse."

Posted by: wp11234 | February 5, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Clearly she should have walked sooner. Maybe he should have too. It would have avoided "making everything worse."

Posted by: wp11234 | February 5, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Bravo! Great job of blaming the 'victim' you'd rather not cast as a 'victim'. Women's rights have come so far...

Seems to me no matter what Jenny Sanford had done, someone (probably Ruth Marcus) would have found eventually fault with this woman for her husband's failings. She had to be either the enabler, the victim or the heroine. She couldn't just be a human that might (shock) not act perfectly but just do the best she could. Images of glass houses and stones come to mind.

Posted by: joule13 | February 5, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I grew up with Rod Stewart's song: "You're in my heart; you're in my soul." When my husband had an affair, I was devastated. It's hard to imagine the anguish if you haven't been through it, especially if you have young children witnessing the behavior of each of you. The affair was in 2001 - 2002, and I don't think I recovered until I saw that news conference of Sanford's last year. What a fool. What an incredible fool.

Can you imagine how Jenny lived for the six years of the relationship prior to the affair being sexual? By forming an intimate relationship with some woman he met on a dance floor, he denied his own wife and the mother of his four boys the ability to be his confidente. He's a fool, and I don't blame her at all for having to take some time to realize that he was in what my husband has described about him as "la la land." Sanford is likely to come out of it someday, since any woman who would cheat with a married man has some big character defects. If he does come out of it, I hope he has as big a mouth as he did at that press conference last summer. I think that Sanford's problem really comes down to not understanding what love is. It's about being committed for life and building a life together.

Jenny's book is on the way to me from amazon. I may change my mind after I read the story, but to me she has made a heroic witness to the commitment of marriage.

Posted by: kmltig | February 5, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Mrs Sanford educated, strong woman, she did right thing by walking away from her weak husband. Yes - she loved her husband and of course it was very difficult for her to make that final desicion.
I am proud of her and she IS a role model .
Can't wait to read her book!!

Posted by: paloma71 | February 5, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

"Why would a woman so obviously smart, well-educated, successful and attractive allow herself to be treated so badly for so long?"

I dunno. Ask Elizabeth Edwards. Was she a role model of yours too?

Posted by: racheldrum | February 5, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

If your daughters are old enough to read this book, then I would suggest you don't have as much of a child care problem as you were whining about the other day from Switzerland.

Get a grip, Ruth. I hope you can instill the values that will guide your daughters, but I'm not sure reading about another woman's pain and obsessive love is the way to guide them.

Posted by: annetta3 | February 5, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

She did not see the warning signs from the beginning because her legs were open instead of her eyes and ears. I know it is not PC to say that but it is true. We will ignore and forgive a bunch of crap while we are having sex with a man....especially if we are not married to him.

Posted by: EyesOpenLadies | February 5, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

America is so fortunate to have conservative leaders like Mr. Sanford advising us on who should and should not be allowed to marry, and what makes a partnership work. Now, apparently, they also have innovative advice to offer on how to structure the vows themselves! Who knew?

Would gay and lesbian Americans accept that as a "conservative compromise" - marriage rights but with the fidelity part of the vows taken out, as Sanford insisted of Jenny? Gay or straight, we all await with held breath the next wise counsel from these Talibans in western drag. We are so lucky they are "protecting marriage" for us all. Whatever would we DO without them?

Posted by: B2O2 | February 6, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

And this:

"After one of the all-too-rare pre-affair moments in which Jenny gets angry, Mark enlists leaders of a congressional Christian fellowship to talk her down."

Gosh, I wonder if this "pat the hysterical lady's head" session was held at the C Street brothel-frathouse where all the Christian legislators who had affairs meet to compare notes? The same one that has shuttled millions of dollars to the Gay Genocide campaign in Uganda. Does the book offer any details on that, Ruth?

Posted by: B2O2 | February 6, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Jenny Sanford lost my respect when she publicly said that the governor wouldn't see children unless he gave up the other woman. Certainly she was hurt, but using her children as pawns in the marriage? The silence on this from women in America has been deafening!

Posted by: olavj | February 6, 2010 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps my own experience will help understand all of this. When one finds out that their spouse, who they believed loved and cherished them, has created a life of fabrication, all heck breaks loose--inside your head.

For me, it was like someone took a baseball and hit me hard on the side of the head, and I spent the next year staggering around, trying to find something solid to hold onto. Because all that I had held onto before was no longer stable, and so nothing was.

This is not the time to write a book. You are in a PTSD-like daze. And later, you long for the opportunity to go back and not say all of the ridiculous things you said out of your hurt, pain and confusion.

Someone should have counseled her to keep quiet. Write a book, perhaps, but not for five years. Not until wisdom and perspective had regained a foothold in her brain.

And, so cut her some slack, please. She still may be a person worthy of respect and admiration, but give her time. And don't judge her on anything she says this year, or maybe even the next two.

Posted by: dfgrayb | February 6, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

I can understand a smart, strong, and independently wealthy woman staying with a dirtbag like Sanford.

What I can't understand is why, when Mark Sanford never mentioned his children or how he hurt them in his presser, Jenny Sanford didn't pack immediately, take her sons, and leave.

We women can absorb a lot of punishment, but Mark Sanford was the role model for those four boys. Why in the world would she choose to expose them to his horrendous behavior? Good luck to the women whom they marry. They can thank Mom.

Posted by: arancia12 | February 6, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

We all have to live our lives the way we think best. I don't think we can judge another person's actions until we have walked in their shoes.
I just wish guys like Mark Sanford would not give marriage advice when they obviously know nothing about what marriage and family mean.

Posted by: chlind | February 6, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Hey, olavj, if I were a woman I wouldn't let that jerk play the children (like he was playing his wife) until he was finally finished with all of his little extra-marital romps. And then it might only come as part of the structured visitation rights set out in the separation papers.

He's a jerk and a blubbering, self-righteous hypocrite. Let him cry himself to sleep on his C St. bunk with the rest of his Fellowship Foundation buddies - the true apologists and enablers in this story.

Posted by: hardrain | February 6, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

EyesOpenLadies - you busy next Saturday?

Posted by: marknesop | February 6, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

It takes a special kind of woman to marry a lifelong politician. The word "special," in this case, is not an accolade.

Posted by: jd5024 | February 6, 2010 1:46 AM | Report abuse

If you stop and think about it for a minute, Marcus's attitude here is pervasively sexist. How?

Let's suppose that the desire for monogamy is a trait associated far more basically with women than with men, perhaps even having an evolutionary foundation. We might, likewise, imagine that men do not place the same importance on monogamy, and that might even have an evolutionary foundation.

So when Marcus relentlessly blasts Mark Sanford for failing to adhere to a monogamy standard, what Marcus is doing is condemning him for failing to live by what may, in essence, be women's rules: rules that women want, rules that comport with women's psychology, rules that cut against many men's tendencies. To establish a female standard of living and then rip men to shreds for failing to live by this female standard--to really viciously slander, belittle, and obliterate the man, as Marcus does here--is powerfully sexist. And if it were men condemning women for failing to live up to some male-centered standard of living, Marcus would be the first to rave about the unfairness and sexism. She, however, may be doing exactly the same thing.

Her response is likely to be a mocking laugh at the thought that men should get to breach the monogamy requirement, and that all I'm doing is rationalizing male adultery and approving of letting boys be boys. Well, actually, Marcus, I'm viewing this from the perspective of a gay man. And from that perspective, the obsessive demand for complete, lifelong sexual monogamy strikes me as quite inconsistent with male sexuality. And the utter dismissiveness toward a potential gender difference here is patently sexist, says this gay man.

Posted by: uh_huhh | February 6, 2010 2:14 AM | Report abuse

I lost respect for Ruth Marcus (what little I had) when she published her naive woman-crush piece on Jenny Sanford months ago. At that time Ms. Sanford had already used her children as pawns in a game of publicly humiliating her husband (hey, he's a hypocrite and whatever else you want to say; I'm talking about her using her kids), and played the Christianity card, again publicly, accusing him of being less of a Christian than her. Ms. Sanfod's own self-righteousness, and unhesitating use of her kids as weapons have never been noticed by the heroine-worshipping Ms. Marcus.

Posted by: turningfool | February 6, 2010 2:32 AM | Report abuse

"Well, actually, Marcus, I'm viewing this from the perspective of a gay man."

And, uh-huhh, apparently a gay man who has no desire to commit to a monogamous relationship. No problem, that's your choice.

But what we're talking about here is a man who entered into a marriage contract to honor and love his partner. That was HIS choice, and he failed to live up to that commitment. It may be your opinion that men are by nature promiscuous and unable to remain faithful to one partner. If that's your experience, then that has formed your opinion.

I believe that men have the capacity to honor a monogamous relationship, straight or gay, because they possess the capacity to choose to be so. Marriage provides a structure for that commitment. But as we've seen in so many cases (Sanford, Ensign, Haggard and Craig come immediately to mind), the act of marriage is no guarantee of fidelity. Those who fail at faithfulness do so as an exercise of free-will.

Posted by: hardrain | February 6, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

"Well, actually, Marcus, I'm viewing this from the perspective of a gay man."

And, uh-huhh, apparently a gay man who has no desire to commit to a monogamous relationship. No problem, that's your choice.

But what we're talking about here is a man who entered into a marriage contract to honor and love his partner. That was HIS choice, and he failed to live up to that commitment. It may be your opinion that men are by nature promiscuous and unable to remain faithful to one partner. If that's your experience, then that has formed your opinion.

I believe that men have the capacity to honor a monogamous relationship, straight or gay, because they possess the capacity to choose to be so. Marriage provides a structure for that commitment. But as we've seen in so many cases (Sanford, Ensign, Haggard and Craig come immediately to mind), the act of marriage is no guarantee of fidelity. Those who fail at faithfulness do so as an exercise of free-will.

Posted by: hardrain | February 6, 2010 2:43 AM | Report abuse

"Well, actually, Marcus, I'm viewing this from the perspective of a gay man."

And, uh-huhh, apparently a gay man who has no desire to commit to a monogamous relationship. No problem, that's your choice.

But what we're talking about here is a man who entered into a marriage contract to honor and love his partner. That was HIS choice, and he failed to live up to that commitment. It may be your opinion that men are by nature promiscuous and unable to remain faithful to one partner. If that's your experience, then that has formed your opinion.

I believe that men have the capacity to honor a monogamous relationship, straight or gay, because they possess the capacity to choose to be so. Marriage provides a structure for that commitment. But as we've seen in so many cases (Sanford, Ensign, Haggard and Craig come immediately to mind), the act of marriage is no guarantee of fidelity. Those who fail at faithfulness do so as an exercise of free-will.

Posted by: hardrain | February 6, 2010 2:46 AM | Report abuse

Sorry everyone. It wasn't necessary for me to make my point X 3.

Once was sufficient.

Posted by: hardrain | February 6, 2010 2:56 AM | Report abuse

As a 63-year old white male who has been married and faithful to the same woman for 34 years, I want to congratulate this woman for helping to chart a new course for women who are married to high-profile but immature men like Sanford. It's unfortunate it did not begin with Spitzer's wife or with earlier wives, but it will now serve as a beacon to others whose husbands do not deserve the title. Among the disturbing elements in this chain of events is that this woman felt obligated to submit to the "counsel of congressional Christian fellowship leaders -- presumably a group men who, instead of publicly condemning the husband stress obedience, forgiveness, and continued service as a sexual partner. What an absolute crock! They clearly had his interests in mind rather than hers and encouraged, probably admonished, her to play the traditional supportive role as if he rather than she was the damaged party. I am continually amazed that strong and powerful women continue to adhere to so-called Christian organizations, often run by powerful men, which in ways obvious and subtle continue in this day and age to subordinate and to refuse to acknowledge them as equals. Women are much more prone by their nature to emululate the principles taught by Christ than are men, yet men continue to control the primary functions, the authority, the wealth, and the priority of the several axioms of Christian faith. The same applies to most other religions as well. Now that she has written her important book, this woman's next step should be to disassociate herself from those pompous males who, in the name of Christianity, will seek to give her guidance as to how to conduct her life.

Posted by: zuhofen | February 6, 2010 3:27 AM | Report abuse

this whole sad situation shows how little things have changed. mrs. sanford tried to save her marriage as did the kennedy wives, donna hanover guiliani, mrs. spitzer, etc. i just hope mrs. sanford's lawyers protected her family assets in a pre-nup and my governor goes back to his family's plantation. no doubt we will elect our non-politician to another office to join the ones he has held for 15 years.

Posted by: george32 | February 6, 2010 4:49 AM | Report abuse

Great column, not. To bad you did not recognize that it took Jenny some time to realize who she was dealing with. But why did you feel you then had to blame her for your mistaken assumptions?

Posted by: JoelPB8 | February 6, 2010 4:52 AM | Report abuse

Actually, (in the WaPost review of the book) Mark Sanford does NOT make the vow to be faithful at the wedding ceremony. He never made the vow - so I guess he actually didn't do anything "wrong" did he?

But she did stick with the dork and put up with a lot of crap because she was ambitious and wanted to be part of someone who was going to moving up in the world. She was willing to sacrifice a perfect marriage to someone as long as his star was rising.

But that all changed when she saw that when it all came out in the public and he didn't know how to repair his image or his marriage.

Posted by: cmecyclist | February 6, 2010 5:05 AM | Report abuse

Really, what does smart have to do with it ? It doesn't matter how smart you are, your emotions can lead you to the fool very easily, again and again.

Posted by: rbe1 | February 6, 2010 5:28 AM | Report abuse

Jenny Sanford came from a time and place--even though she's a highly educated, wealthy, successful woman on her own--where women did try to make their marriages work. They didn't just throw in the towel. And, I don't blame her for that at all. As far as going ahead with the marriage when the hound dog wanted to remove the fidelity clause, how many females back then would have let that be a deal breaker. She was in love apparently and love puts a pair of blinders on you. That's all. I would have agreed to a lot of stupid things when I was so in love.
All of this said, here's the bottom line. the sad eyed hound dog is a narcissist. He won't change, never has, never will! He's always been the same and that is: IT'S ALL ABOUT HIM!
IT WILL NEVER BE ABOUT ANYONE ELSE. IT WILL ALWAYS BE ABOUT HIM!
Good for you Jenny, I am happy you finally threw him out and it sure sounds like for good. I'm from SC originally and he, as well as others, has embarrassed our state. You have not. And, please, don't share your wealth with this unworthy man.

Posted by: aprilsal2010 | February 6, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

Advice from a now 76 yr. old woman who didn't get out of a bad marriage soon enough. This was back in the bad old days when divorce was still a scandal. I put up with things for 16 years that would now be considered intolerable because I believed in the possibility of change and for the sake of three children. I mistakenly thought they would be better off in a two-parent household, no matter what.

I would love to indulge in all the sordid details for my own catharsis, but will not. I can only give heart-felt advice to women who are abused both psychologically and physically. Get out the relationship as early as possible---the younger the kids, the better for their recovery and adjustment. Mine were 11, 10, and 9. Very difficult ages for making a change.

I'm one of the lucky survivors. The post-divorce years were difficult as hell, but out of the sheer will to reclaim my life I managed to earn a Ph.D. and pick up the pieces of a shattered existence, make a career in academe and discover that I was worth something.

You young women and mid-lifers must save yourselves and your children from mates who will destroy you if you let them. As for me, it took me much too long to realize this.

Want to talk to me? moran@sbc.edu

Posted by: moran1 | February 6, 2010 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Dear Ruth:
Just what planet do you and this women live on?
"So the disturbing question about Jenny Sanford remains: Why would a woman so obviously smart, well-educated, successful and attractive allow herself to be treated so badly for so long?"
As a full fledged member of the chattering class somehow you do not recognize that Jennie Sanford may be all of these things and yet she is none of these things.
Your writings on this say so much more about you than they do about her.
The Sanfords deserve each other and neither of them deserve any more of my time or yours. What could she possibly teach your daughters?

Posted by: sginnc | February 6, 2010 6:12 AM | Report abuse

She was First Lady of SC. Probably had dreams of being the First Lady of the US.

It's all about the power trip.

Posted by: BuddyK | February 6, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Hi,

As Judge Judy would say, 'She picked him!' This also goes for Hillary, Silda, Elizabeth, Lee!

Nuff Said...Dennis

Posted by: dgiansante | February 6, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

who among us haven't put up with some crap with the one we supposely love. You know that old saying,"There are no victims only volunteers" apply to us all in affairs of the heart. As someone else said earlier she is still too much in the mix to rationalize the relationship and she is going to rue the day she wrote the book in her present state of mind. Because she'll look back and see how stupid she made herself look. Its like you're insanely mad at your spouse well right a note and send it too yourself instead of them. We all have been where she is at to some degree or another and when you are hurting you'll do thing that you wish you hadn't

Posted by: brothastimulus | February 6, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

After smarts, looks and wealth, there is only character remaining. That is the most important, and the least looked for reason to marry a particular person. I have also observed that people tend to marry their equal.

Posted by: JohnnyGee | February 6, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

He is not a smart man, but he knows what love is, Jenny. You should have gone back with him to GREENBOW, ALABAMA!

Posted by: steveboyington | February 6, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Whoa! Hold on here. Didn't Jenny Sanford's God and religion teach her and Mark that she is to serve and obey her husband? Wasn't she just trying to follow this expectation?

Never underestimate the power of patriarchal religions to get women to do things that are not in their self-interest and excuses the man's behavior.

Posted by: uche05 | February 6, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

To explain the "why" takes some effort. Read the DSM-IV, about personality disorders. Study NPD. Then read Kohut. Then read Kernberg. Then read more. Then look around you and you'll begin to understand more about politicians and actors, and those who are candles to the moths. But it takes work.

Posted by: BrianTRaven | February 6, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Jenny Sanford lost my respect when she publicly said that the governor wouldn't see children unless he gave up the other woman. Certainly she was hurt, but using her children as pawns in the marriage? The silence on this from women in America has been deafening!
Posted by: olavj
---------------
The fault here is America's, not Jenny Sanford's. America repeatedly forgets that children have two parents. Rather the mother is regarded as the "only real parent", and the father is regarded as a moneybag, to steal money from, and to imprison if he protests.

Jenny Sanford should not put up with abuse from her husband and she should stand up for her rights. But it is America which needs to remember that fathers have rights too.

Posted by: rohitcuny | February 6, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

This whole Jenny is women's example of the "heroine" while Mrs Spitzers" is an example of the "victim" is pure shallowness, busybody-ness, and just plain infantile, imo.

After reading all the commentary about these women's marriages and relationships one would think they exist for our entertainment and approval alone. Weird.

Mrs. Edwards, Jenny Sanford and all the others are simply passing stories of pretty typical marriages for most of us, we neither hold them up or tear them down to suit our tastes, we just realize that they were caught up in their marriage and relationship, taking the bad, with the good, the creepy, and the strange, the truth, the lies, all in the name of "love" or "something somwhat resembling."

Ms. Marcus most of have outgrown our need for heroines and victims in favor of reality. We realize that pretty much everyone has a good deal of heroine and victim in our natures and a good deal A-holeness in our personalities. Such is the life of a grown-up.

Posted by: rannrann | February 6, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps her book should be required reading for all high school girls. It sounds as though the warning signs were there, and like many women, Mrs. Sanford chose to ignore them.

The advice of the leaders of the men from the "congressional Christian fellowship" was, for me, the creepiest. There was no marriage left to salvage thanks to her husband. Forgiveness is one thing, but sleeping with a serial philanderering, abusive, unloving, insensitive man sounds like prostitution.

Posted by: MNUSA | February 6, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Mark Sanford, the perfect narcissist, is beyond feeling embarrassment or guilt. His EGO is what drives him. Even at this point in his life, after all the disgusting, cruel, insensitive things he has done to his wife and children, he is STILL the Governor, and he has not been punished at all for his lies.

He lied to his wife, his staff, his children, his friends, and even spent FATHER'S DAY last year with is mmistress. That's how much he thinks of his children. He bragged about his being a fiscal conservative, yet used taxpayer money to travel first class to see his mistress in South America!

Mark Sanford is a total disaster and an embarassment..... a total SCUMBAG!

Posted by: cashmere1 | February 6, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

How many more Republican Family Values couples work like this?

Posted by: vigor | February 6, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

It's worth mentioning that the incident with the counseling was BEFORE the affair

"After one of the all-too-rare pre-affair moments......

We even went so far as to talk about sex and (one of the leaders) told me not to withhold it as punishment as that would make everything worse."

This is the tiniest window into the lady's thinking but it is noteworthy. Even thinking about withholding sex as punishment for being "angry" at a spouse strikes at the very heart of a Monogamous marriage relationship. Once you use sex or children as a weapon to beat down your spouse and win an argument the relationship is threatened or over. The wedding vows cut both ways. Its not "love honor and cherish except when you forget to replace the toilet roll"

Grownups learn to compartmentalize their lives and get on with living.

But something tells me that this couple was not well matched from the beginning.
In another interview She is quoted as saying "Years later, she said, he would bemoan his lack of dating experience, wondering aloud what he had missed. "
To a woman of her talent and experience this should have SCREAMED mid life crisis. If she would even think of withholding sex, the greek tragedy is well on its way.

Don't get me wrong, the husband is a classic low life creep. He wanted both the political career/ trophy wife and the wild sensual woman on the side. What is not really clear is what she wanted. Was he in effect simply a trophy husband, rather than a lover and supporter and confidante?

I'm married 35 years to a wonderful beautiful talented successful and understanding woman. That she stays with me is my daily miracle. But every good marriage is a work in progress that takes endless commitment. Taking your spouse for granted in any way shape or form is a recipe for trouble.

Posted by: Vince5 | February 6, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

No matter what she or any other woman does in the case of an adulterous affair by the husband, there will be some who criticize.

Even now a well-educated, professional woman can have a sense of no self-worth when this happens. We look inside first and see where we might be to blame. Then, if groups such as the C Street adulterers start haranging a woman, it promotes a sense of "I did wrong - otherwise he would not have turned to another woman" and that is devastating to a woman's self-respect.

Face it - we are still in a paternalistic society where men are the power figures. And men know just how to push the buttons to reflect blame on the woman instead of themselves.

Posted by: Utahreb | February 6, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

To jd5024 - you are right, it does take a special kind of person to marry a lifelong politician. There's a toxic mix of charisma, charm, attention and narcissism that blends to skew almost every aspect of life. As for Jenny, she faced life with a politician, a role as a mother and keeping marriage vows she deeply held. That's admirable. I find it unfortunate that when Ms. Marcus gets a true glimpse of what Jenny's life entailed through the book, Ruth's previous assessment undoubtedly based on a few press statements and the like goes from role model to something less so. My advice to you and your girls, Ms. Marcus, is not to confer role model status unless you know the real deal and are prepared to accept the good and the bad - front to back. I truly hope you are not expecting perfection from your children but rather teach them that when we fall and fall again the key is to get back up and move forward. The made for TV stuff we see from politicians is just that - the real stuff is almost always far different. While I agree that the book detaling all the wrongs of her marriage may not be the wisest of moves (and I bet that in four years or so she will regret doing so in part), I can say that she wrote it from a place very very few appreciate.

Posted by: sah2 | February 6, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

The marriage does appear to be a "business deal" from the get go. Mr. Sanford married a woman - strong, wealthy, intelligent, with the "correct" set of values in order to help advance a public life. She must have known of the emotional void going in but chose this man regardless. She has no one but herself to blame. But she can be a role model for our daughters for what not to do. It's also a reminder for mothers/aunts/grandmothers/friends to instill a sense of worth in our young women so they do not "settle" for a relationship where they are not valued.

Posted by: ldr1 | February 6, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Why was the writer so quick to make Jenny Sanford a hero when she knew so little about her? This speaks volumes about the writer's thought patterns. Very shallow. Very flightly.

Posted by: greendayer | February 6, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm a Democrat and I haven't read the book, but I can't judge her reaction. Her own livelihood was tied up in his career by being his campaign manager, so she stood to lose her marriage and both their jobs as well as the reputations they had worked for. Plus they had children. Definitely not something to take lightly.

It sounds like she was naive in the beginning, then she tried to make it work before Sanford became a sleaze of epic proportions. Not her fault.

Posted by: sarahabc | February 6, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Jenny Sanford is a real human being, not someone's imaginary role model. She handled one of those impossible situations that can come up in anyone's life about as well as anyone could. I feel some loss of respect for Ruth Marcus for publishing this catty judgment.

Posted by: Roytex | February 6, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Why would Jenny Sanford care about being anyone's role model? Why so harsh on another woman (rhetorical question)? A lot of her musings in the book are from the retrospective and therefore she has had time to think about her past behavior and motivation. I'm sure at the time she married, she was in love and was certain he loved her. While you might not have made the same choices or you might have, Sanford is too hard on herself and you are too hard on her too. She has 4 children and severing a marriage under those circumstances should not be taken lightly. She was grace under pressure and it seems to me that she was hoping to salvage the family, for her sake and the sake of the children. I think that is role model material. That said, there is great satifaction as an outsider to see her dump the jackass. He needs to grow up. I hope she takes him to the cleaners.

Posted by: commentator3 | February 6, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Jenny Sanford cannot, under any circumstances, be described as "smart." She's as much a wooden-headed religious dupe as her husband is.
I doubt whether this affair will make her reconsider her jezuz indoctrination. Both Sanford's are brainless sheep.

Posted by: zenstyle | February 6, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

sarahbc: She is wealthy through inheritance. She doesn't 'need' to work.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | February 6, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I am mystified by the people who wonder how such a relationship could exist.

All you have to do is look at the '50's. A decade which republicans are extremely enamored with. Men were the king. Women were subordinates (which the Bible says is the way it's supposed to be, by the way). So, why is it surprising that the woman allowed her husband to do what he wanted?

They both live in the '50's paradigm of "marriage"; one woman + one man + whoever he wants to have extra-marital relations with.

Classic.

Posted by: topwriter | February 6, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

We all make choices that seem right at the time and then turn out to be terribly, awfully wrong - but the question is, why write a book about it, more pain for your children? That's what makes her less of a role model, not the "bad choices." The only ones who are not making bad choices"are those of us who living under a rock (although, come to think of it, I would call that a bad choice too).

Posted by: june3 | February 6, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Don't discount the disorientation and anguish that comes when the one to whom you should be able to turn for comfort becomes the source of your pain.

Posted by: joyceelin | February 6, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

We are so surprised and confused about how this couple could have gotten into this. If you are confused it is because you have overlooked the 'smoking gun'.
Similarly, in the case of the Christmas airline bomber we ask: what can we do? How did this happen?

The answers relate to our missing the idea of 'pathological identification". For the would-be bomber, he was/is Muslim, and that identification trumps every other potential identification he might proclaim, such as being a human being, such as believing in the primacy of human-made and human-interpreted law in favor of shariah, a law proclaimed and interpreted by a man wearing funny clothes who one takes as speaking for a non-existent god.
For the Sanfords, the key is mention of the "congressional Christian fellowship", another pathological identification suffered, apparently, by both Mr. and Mrs. Sanford, involving their belief in a different flavor of 'religious faith and law', which for them trumps any human-made and human interpreted law.
The Muslim and the Fundamentalist Christian are cut from the same pathological cloth, only the pattern is different.

Posted by: cfr666 | February 6, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Did you ever wonder why Mr Sanford felt at ease asking his wife "How'd I do?"

I think that says more about their marriage than she lets on and most folks want to believe.

A little Mr and Mrs Clinton me thinks.

Power corrupts absolutely.

Posted by: tslats | February 6, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I am aware of men betrayed by their wives but did they go out and chit-chat? Tell me?

Posted by: jnlg | February 6, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm not really sure now, what the extent of "career-ending" extramarital affairs is. What do women claim is, according to their cult of victimhood, enough to finish off a person in public life.

I get the idea that Sanford, Edwards, Spitzer and Woods are knaves and heels.

But women lap up the movies of male stars with multiple affairs.

Does the "unacceptable!!", "politically doomed" "outrage and shock"!!! narrative extend to judgment on past figures?

As in, we should have barred JFK, FDR, Eisenhower, LBJ, Clinton from office based on a mistress on the side?? If "we only knew"? Reagan's days as a Hollywood rake, which ended before his political career but which did involve infidelities?

What was the last "really good" President of moral purity? And I don't mean cheating-free as the only moral purity as Truman and Nixon had grave moral faults.

You have Bush I, Bush II, Carter, Ford, Hoover...
And maybe you could say "we had worse" than Bush I....

I know these days we could use a Nixon or a Clinton or a FDR or Truman in office. Set up with a room in the White House with the People's gratitude for their mistresses, the Pedergrass machine, or a Plumbers squad.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | February 6, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Has no one ever heard of Freud? Manifest vs Latent content? Concepts of fidelity were and are clearly established by males to control the likelihood of the female doing what all humans want to do- "what's on the other side"? Few males practicing "exploratory sex" are willing to grant the same to the opposite sex. Jenny Stanford should have requested the same rights -traditionally, only those of the Southern gentleman?
And any male, congratulating himself on fidelity, has absolutely no idea on what his spouse has been doing. Look at studies of "monogamous" animals!

Posted by: jupiter100 | February 6, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

It's sad, Ms. Marcus, that you decided that the victim should be the culprit. It's the same argument used by interrogators in rape cases, in which they paint the victim into someone who deserved the rape by their actions: "He wouldn't have raped you if you hadn't worn that dress, or looked at him that way, etc." You have no compassion, madam.

I have known women who have had abusive, unfaithful, and manipulative husbands. And like Ms. Sanford, they were educated, very competent women who excelled at their jobs, raised good kids, and tried to put on a good "front" so that no one would notice their private pain. Many tried to stay in the relationship, mostly because they did love their husbands, hoping that he would someday change. Some even blamed themselves for their husbands actions, wondering if they did things that made them deserve the hell they were going through. And a few even tried to make the marriage work because they didn't want to be seen- either in their own eyes or in the eyes of their friends, family members, fellow church-goers, co-workers, etc.- as a failure. Just because you are "smart" doesn't mean that you are immune to such feelings.

I look forward to reading her story. Part of her healing process may have been to tell the truth. I hope and pray that she will move on with her life and that God will help her raise her children well.

Posted by: ecglotfelty | February 6, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

So Jenny is not entitled to be seen as a vulnerable human being. And admit as much. Acording to this subjective "review" women must be seen ONLY as strong and indomitable all of the time - even when the unrealistic bubble that is all things American and political never does shield any person from any of that - ever.

Just ask Hillary Clinton about that. Or Elizabeth Edwards about that. Or any other spouse of a high ranking politician in America. Who know whom else will be suspected as to not being as a percect feminist "role model" in the furure, by this oddly judgmental opinion writer's criteria. Or if this person saves all of that scorn for Jenny Sanford alone - exclusively.

Wow. Not this writer's role model anymore? I am shattered. Not...

Easy to sit and armchair quarterback it all - without having to LIVE it all. I couldn't disagree with this review more.

All in all - I found the honest assessment Mrs. Sanford makes of her uniquely lead life to be refreshing and integrity bound and an express reason to call her an absolute role model - for women on all spectrums of society in our country.

Posted by: eastcomom | February 6, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Having been through my own traumatizing divorce, my advice to this woman is she should have waited 10 years before writing an entirely different book. One that I might be interested in reading.
In her "door mat" episodes she is eliciting sympathy. She needs a shrink more than a word processor.

Posted by: mikie44 | February 6, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Intelligent, accomplished women are not attracted to losers. A successful politician is a winner. In adolescence, the words "winner" and "stud" are practically interchangeable (applied to young men, that is).

It's only a rare man who has the ambition and competitiveness to reach high office and also the character to channel that drive away from sexual conquest.

It was ever so. A good friend of mine worked as a secretary for a half-dozen sub-cabinet and cabinet appointees in the 70's, and she says there was only one who did not have a mistress that his staff knew of. (In case you're wondering, that one was James Brady.)

Posted by: msh41 | February 6, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

You have to live the experience to understand it.

Your assumption that being well-educated, attractive, smart and successful implies that a person facing a traumatic situation will "move on" immediately and smartly. really?

Jenny Sanford, like many men and women facing the betrayal of a spouse, had to go through the journey of understanding and accepting the situation. She had to go through the pain and the humilliation of the betrayal. She had to think of how to resolve it unselfishly. And how hard that is when you have children!

Do you truly think this can be done in an instant? Do you think that just being smart and well-educated will give you the answers to this situation? Will being attractive solve it? I doubt that the first thing in Jenny's mind was "oh.. am I being undervalued? hmnmm let me get that fixed using the models I learned in Harvard. I should be able to do that because I'm successful...". Hello?

I also doubt that the second thing in her list was being a role model. She's just telling her story, she never said she wanted to be a role model.

She's a woman just like any other, Ms. Marcus. And hopefully, you'll never have to endure her experience. And I think that she is doing the best she can do given the circumstances. I have not heard of her going into drinking, or dating out of revenge... she's maintained her head high and has put emphasis on the well-being of her family-- all, mind you, under public scrutiny.

Even before I read her book, I know Jenny Sanford is a strong woman. It may have taken her time or many instances of the situation for her to take action. So what? Is that a fault? Absolutely not.

You seem well-educated, smart, successful. Add a bit of heart, Ms. Marcus.

Posted by: limonromero | February 6, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I certainly don't think that Jenny Stanford should be condemned for being so slow in responding. Its a complex case as she was married to a politician who disavowed any pledge of fidelity.

The real problem is that she apparently was looked on more as a political advisor by Mark Sandford and he thought he could turn the roles on and off by just by asking her for advice. This presumed that she could separate her role as a pragmatic advisor and her role as a loving and loved wife OR that she was a throwback to the days when "open" marriages were par and expedient. He presumed wrong and she was probably surprised, too. Their view of their relationship was apparently different and that is why he asked if she would allow him to see his mistress. I suspect that she was no longer enticing him to the bedroom any longer and he felt that it must have renewed his hunting license. (So she isn't entirely blameless but she sure is classier than he was.) He has every symptom of an immature man being led around by his lower brain. I applaud her for giving him a chance to recover but evidently he went with "soulmate cum sex relief". But, he didn't have anyone to advise him how to do this with finesse and so he took a walk on the Appalachian Trail. (That's such a nice euphemism, I think I'll keep it! "Hey, Honey, if you keep withholding sex of don't have the drive for it anymore, I think I'll just go saunter over to the Appalachian Trail. Seeya in a couple of days." )

Their's was a complex relationship and not at all simple. But, as with all male/female relationships, unless a strong foundation is built and reinforced or polished over the years in all facets, there will be distractions FOR EITHER partner. I think we all know that; if not, you'd better check whether your partner is taking a walk on the Appalachian Trail without you.

Posted by: oakland | February 6, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

He just followed the old-fashioned southern rule: marry up, screw down.

Posted by: rusty3 | February 6, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

On the very day that Mark Sanford came out and admitted his affair, the shocking news came from Iowa of the murder of nationally recognized high school football coach Ed Thomas by a former student and player. There could be no greater example of 180-degree opposites in marital faithfulness. Ed Thomas was a thoroughly loving husband to his wife & a devoted father to his children, but first and foremost a humble, committed servant of the Lord. Thomas could have left his little town of Parkersburg to coach in college, but turned down all offers, feeling that he belonged at the high school where he'd been for so many years as a teacher, coach and mentor to so many students as well as his community.

Thankfully, for every Mark Sanford in this world, there is an Ed Thomas.

Posted by: ehsmith1 | February 6, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse


Ruthie, dear,

just because the WaPO staff is down to a nub, and you're given space to fill every day now,
doesn't make you the template for is a fine strong women.

JUst because your idiot publisher puts all her female friends (like Applebaum) in whatever columnist starring roles as are left, doesn't make it.

Spending all your time hassling around aboub your baby sitter while assigned to Davos, and writing at LENGTH doesn't put you in the class of Ms. Sanford. Not even close.

Maybe try more on the fringes of your prayer shawl. THAT was riviting. And would mesmorize the girls at the Post.

Posted by: whistling | February 6, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Or, maybe HE's just a jerk?

Posted by: sgoewey | February 6, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"Why would a woman so obviously smart, well-educated, successful and attractive allow herself to be treated so badly for so long?"

Because she is a "good" Christian, her husbands needs must come before her own, the leaders of her faith told her that. It's sad as hell.

Posted by: datdamwuf2 | February 6, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

It's clear what the lesson is here, boys. TREAT 'EM LIKE SH*T. They love it and in their f*cked up logic, they respect it.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | February 6, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Good luck to the women whom they marry. They can thank Mom.
-------

Wrong. They can blame good old dad on that one. Don't make her to be the villain. When you're on the outside looking in, it's easy to make judgments. When you're in the situation, you aren't necessarily seeing clearly. Mrs. Sanford's situation is difficult for any of us who live anonymously. Try watching your zipperhead husband bleat like a freaking calf over a soul mate in front of the world. It was a DISGUSTING, humiliating display and he had the cajones to ask, "How'd I do?" Lorena Bobbit would have nothing on me when this guy fell asleep. When I was done, he'd be peeing through a straw.

Posted by: itsagreatday1 | February 6, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

when will you realize that men are not monogamous? And that 50% of married people have affairs? It is not normal to enjoy being stuck with the same person day in and day out when they are getting more and more undesirable day after day, your kids are brats, and you feel trapped.

The only men that would not play around when opportunity arises are those that are too busy, too old, or their wives' are still too inviting sexually to bother straying.

He should have done the right thing and just get divorced. Just like Tiger. You know you don't want to be stuck so get divorced. Let someone else pretend they get off on watching Shrek 3 with 3 brats and an overweight nag.

forget that "til death" - it is not normal. It might be convenient but it is not normal not to want to pursue attractions to others.

Just get divorced. No one wants to be stuck with Elizabeth Edwards nor Jenny Sanford and everyone knows that women from other countries blow away US women.

Posted by: jackson641 | February 6, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Like everyone in this situation.

They realize that they are married to an a-hole. They realize that everything that they have invested in the relationship, was invested in a relationship with an a-hole.

They do everything they can to rescue the relationship. Simply because they have so much invested in it. It's either do that, or flush it all down the drain.

You just don't flush years of your life down the drain because of one ahole without giving them every stinking, nasty fetid chance that you can, to not be one. Hopefully. Finally. When all is said and done. It's too late to go "high-brow". You have to get down in the dirt and wallow with them. Because that is what your life is all about.

And you don't get out of the dirt until you've done more than enough wallowing to know that it's just not worth it, all to rescue a relationship with an a-hole. Until it's no longer about rescuing the past. It's all about rescuing the future.

Posted by: dubya1938 | February 6, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Don't overanalyze someone else's life decision - especially if it involves four young boys without a role model in their father. At the end of the day, Jenny Sanford exhibited courage, strength and intelligence. Her big mistake was saying "hello" to that Sanford man at the NY party when someone introduced them. She will still come out ahead of her ex, who'll probably marry his soul mate and live happily ever after. Men like him can do this.

Posted by: mirrorgazer | February 6, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Don't overanalyze someone else's life decision - especially if it involves four young boys without a role model in their father. At the end of the day, Jenny Sanford exhibited courage, strength and intelligence. Her big mistake was saying "hello" to that Sanford man at the NY party when someone introduced them. She will still come out ahead of her ex, who'll probably marry his soul mate and live happily ever after. Men like him can do this.

Posted by: mirrorgazer | February 6, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

...the real shame is that they both had plenty of opportunities to make a clean break and do the right thing, but neither of them took those opportunities when they were staring them right in the face. In the end their very value system let them down. His in terms of his political dreams, and hers in terms of her marital dreams. The moment that he put his marriage and his gubernatorial ambitions above finding true love and enjoying life with his soulmate, he failed. The moment that she put her marriage to the governor of South Carolina and the potential 45th president of the US, she failed. They both should have realized that neither of them could get where they truly wanted to go, indeed needed to go, with the other. She merely postponed the inevitable by even trying to make this work, and he simply proved to be less than half of the man that he thought that he was. Their mistakes were not in just walking out on the ice. It was in how far they continued to walk out on the ice after it became clear that it could not sustain their weight. Both hoping that that would change. Neither doing what it took to take them out of danger. Really they both failed each other, and in the end their failure could no longer be hidden.

But at least she had the nerve to stand up and admit it. Mark Sanford would still be trying to make his marriage work right now. Today. If his wife hadn't given up on him and taken this all on the chin.

Posted by: dubya1938 | February 6, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"The creepiest moment, though, and even Jenny seems to recognize this in retrospect, is when she lets her husband go to New York for two nights to see Maria Belen Chapur, his supposedly-ex-mistress -- accompanied by a friend-cum-chaperone to keep him in line."

...eh, I would have done the same thing, under the condition that if he has sex with her it's over.

And I would have called her first to make this clear. "He's coming up to see you because it is important to him that he tell you in person that it's over. In the interests of giving him peace of mind, I'm going to let him do this. It won't hurt anything unless it's not really over, and if it's not really over, then it's better that we all admit this and move on. So the one thing that I ask of you as anything resembling an honest woman is that if you two have sex, to simply admit that it isn't over. No excuses, no rationalizations. Just admit it".

Then send him up there all by himself and let the truth come out. If anything will solve this problem, getting the truth out will do it.

Posted by: dubya1938 | February 6, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

...the fact that you can't trust them not to cheat? That's a whole different problem.

Posted by: dubya1938 | February 6, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that anyone who has worked at a large corporate firm like her would have had her ethics, patience and common sense challenged so many times, it would make staying with Mark Sanford a non-challenge by comparison. That's the kind of society that we have today. Once someone gets up to that level, there are no innocents. Anyone at that level is complicit in underpaying their employees, hiring illegal aliens to work as housekeepers, and browbeating their fellow employees while doing everything to make themselves look good. That's the type of world we live in today. I didn't have that much sympathy or admiration for her from the beginning.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | February 6, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

More than likely she was a shriveled up cold bi$%h and that only goes so far. If not he wouldn't have ended up with another woman.

Posted by: askgees | February 6, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Gee, Ruth, who are your role models? Are you anyone's role model? Do all of your decisions -- esp your most personal ones -- make perfect logical sense? Would I (who am I?, you ask) think of you as a role model? Jenny Sanford didn't set out to be your role model -- or anyone's for that matter. She was married to a man she loved; she believed he loved her too. She was trying to work through this relationship. She ultimately made a decision to leave her husband. Many, many women do not. It is a decision that is usually NOT encouraged or supported. Why are you so judgemental?

Posted by: t1123 | February 6, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Jenny Sanford's story is an excellent one to share with a variety of people, men and women, who are victims or victimizers in different kinds of relationships, whether between friends, family, spouses, colleagues, etc.
It helps to look at, analyze, criticize, apply failures of others and see that many intelligent people who can see others' faux pas, often are so unable to make good decisions or to foresee the consequences of their own lack of understanding in dealing with explosive, sensitive details incurred through personal betrayals.

Posted by: pjcafe | February 6, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Ruth, well written and thoughtful essay; you've asked some compelling questions.

I'm a psychotherapist in private practice, and clinical social worker by trade. I've been in practice over 35 years. The ethics of my profession won't allow me (and justifiably so) to comment on someone I've never met, but I can respond to some of the issues you raise, since my practice largely centers around adult survivors of abuse. About 2/3rds of my practice consists of women.

Many women stay involved with abusers, despite their education and backgrounds. Relationships and sexuality come from a part of the brain that often supersedes the more recent human evolutional acquisitions, like intellect and willpower. And, if the individual carries a history of past trauma into the relationship, the survival part of the brain will send powerful messages which can virtually dictate compliance in the most unimaginable circumstances.

Many of my clients experience a range of feelings, from extreme embarrassment to shame and humiliation when they thoroughly get in touch with what they've put themselves through. I suggest to them that, as an antidote to their shame, they identify with their journey, not each stop along the way. If they, through courageous hard work, transform and get free, then they've successfully changed their narrative from victim and/or survivor to thriver. And that's heroic enough for me.

Posted by: fredlevy | February 6, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I can't understand why Jenny did not dump his sorry arse a long time ago. She has money and does not need him for her financial well being. She doesn't need him for sex, because she can get that without being married and he wasn't providing her with emotional stability or support, so what good was he?

Posted by: shewholives | February 6, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

uh-huhh reminds us that men are male...and yes, not the same as women....Not one of us knows and understands another persons marriage...and not even married couples really understand their own marriages...stop beating up Mrs. Sanford...she did the best with what she had at the time...as Oprah says...when we know better...we do better.
I admit that I threw myself down on my bed the afternoon before I married..I cried my eyes out...felt better and got married in a church garden with 8 onlookers. I even put the record on the record player for music...about 7 years later..at the play, Our Town...when Emily says..in heaven, "Daddy, I don't want to get married." and Daddy says that all of us get nervous...I almost fell out of the top bleachers at Arena Stage...that was it...I cried because I didn't want to get married...Unfortunately, many of my friends have told me the same thing... so sad...never mind for the women, but for the men involved! Best wishes to all the Sanfords...why not?

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | February 6, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

One part of Jenny's story that seems separate from most cheating stories is that Mark Sanford hid behind a smokescreen of ideology. When men echo the rhetoric of 'moral' crusaders and Christian-supremacists while speaking about abstinence and 'family-values,' it is easy for naive people to take them seriously. They are probably perceived as the last people who would be unfaithful (no joke intended). That is probably changing since so many of them have been exposed.

Posted by: revbookburn | February 6, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Who could possibly care about this woman, her sleezeball husband, or this meaningless article????? GOSAINTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TFL, Ken

Posted by: kentigereyes | February 6, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

What she should have done was told him that she had a surprise for him and that he would need to be blindfolded. Then she should have gotten a 10 yard running start before launching a kick into his ball sack.

Posted by: bendan2000 | February 6, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

She went into this marriage with a controlling man and it never changed. He "forced" her to remove the fidelity part from their wedding vows and she agreed. In hindsight this marriage was doomed.

Posted by: rlj1 | February 6, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

You could probably only completely understand this woman IF you had grown up in:
the South or Southwest, and/or
a conservative / fundamentalist / evangelical / woman-hating /woman-fearing / anti-woman type of religion, and
eventually after all the hypocrisy and mendacity (and woman-hating) you finally decided you would
raise / enlighten your consciousness/awareness level by deciding to take off the blinders and question authority at some point in your life.

Then you might 'get it' to some degree.


If not, it's truly difficult to understand why women like Jenny Sanford are born and funneled toward a lifetime of playing the victim role from cradle to birth with a major sociological structure (mainly 'the church' and its adherents) in place to make sure that was her abidling role.


.

Posted by: flacan | February 6, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

"Why would a woman so obviously smart, well-educated, successful and attractive allow herself to be treated so badly for so long?"

It's really quite simple! Because in the Christian House of the GOP, it's what God would want for the respected wife to do.


Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | February 6, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

If not, it's truly difficult to understand why women like Jenny Sanford are born and funneled toward a lifetime of playing the victim role from cradle to birth with a major sociological structure (mainly 'the church' and its adherents) in place to make sure that was her abidling role.

Posted by: flacan
____________

Oh BS. Pure BS. Jenny Sanford was born and raised in Chicago. Is that the south now? Her father was the co-founder of the Skil company. She grew up priviledged. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University. She was vice president of an investment banking firm. Shrinking violets don't get those jobs. She was raised Irish/Catholic, not evangelical.

Where ever did you get the idea Mrs. Sanford is a wilting magnolia from the south?

Posted by: arancia12 | February 6, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

The neoteric theory holds that financial privations induced by the divorce precluded action by Ms. Sanford. Does the book detail these?

Posted by: Martial | February 6, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Why does WaPo continue to offer Ms. Marcus a platform for her outdated views? Ms. Marcus' views seem stuck in the eighties. One can almost see her coming to work with a ruffled shirt and oversized bow.

Ms. Marcus seems very out of touch with the equality women have achieved - both in marriages and the workplace. One can only hope nobody takes her seriously and somehow thinks Jenny Sanford did anything wrong.

Mrs. Sanford did what she thought was best at the time. Congrats to her for having the insight to reflect back and admit she may have made mistakes, but that is what intelligent people do. That's how people learn and grow. Nobody learns or grows from judging others. Why does WaPo seem to endorse and promote that type of thinking?

Posted by: CJKatl | February 6, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

If that's how women think, I am grateful for being single.

Posted by: theFieldMarshall | February 6, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Feminism, if you'll pardon the expression, is the great sacred cow of our time and place.

Arithmetic, though, is timeless and applies everywhere. And last time I checked, for every heterosexual married man who commits adultery, there is a heterosexual female who copulates with him. Blamelessly, I guess.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | February 6, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

What is with conservatives that they feel compelled to be portrayed as victims, from Palin to Sanford to Marcus?

Posted by: Jymn | February 6, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Why is repeated forgiveness so often mistaken for subservience?

Forgiveness is a sign of strength.

However, to our discredit, revenge and punishment are the easy way out.

Posted by: davepenner | February 6, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

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