17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Stand By Your Man

I first had the idea for this post back in July, but Oprah (I know, can I please get my inspiration from somewhere else?), brought it back to my attention on her Tuesday show. [The following should be read in your head with a Nancy Grace-like voice and inflection.]

I know that we try to be covenant-keeping people, and keep our marriages and families together, and hopefully never think long about the "what if's" in life...but these two women and their REactions to their husbands ACTIONS, have my head reeling and my heart rate pumping.

Let's talk first about our Senator Hillary Clinton. I know it takes a city...I mean a village...I read the book, I even lik some of your politics...but come ON. Your husband is the PRESIDENT of the United States, and he has an affair with an intern. I can't decide if staying by his side was helping or hurting the feminist movement. In some ways I think: He totally DISSED (putting it nicely) you in front of the entire Global Population...and you remain by his side. What gives? You don't need him. He obviously does not respect your marriage...

On the other hand, I see that perhaps staying married to the president of the free world is a good strategy to gain political power. Maybe she is a power-monger (is that a real word?) Of course there is speculation about their marriage being a "real" marriage, and I am sure that some marriages are a political/business/whatever arrangement, but since my marriage isn't like that (well 99% of the time it isn't), I just don't get it.

Now let's move on to Dina McGreevey. How in tarnation did you stand there in a baby blue suit, nodding, smiling, and holding the Governor's hand? Not only did he COMPLETELY deceive you by pretending to be heterosexual, having sex with you, and fathering your child. BUT....he also had an affair in YOUR BED while you were recovering from a botched C-section in the HOSPITAL. Just TYPING this gets my heart pumping.

I am sorry, but there is no WAY I would have been at that press conference. I would have had my own, down the street in my favorite Betsey Johnson dress (appropriate cover-up as needed), blurting out "When you______, I felt ________, because _________"...and that would be the extent of my politcal correctness.

I realize that some of the motivation behind their actions was political, and for that I hate politics even more. Are there any happily-ever-afters to these affairs? Is it better to forgive, forget (heaven help me), and move forward? Is it better to try to work it out then have a broken family and grow old with someone else or alone? I do not believe it would be possible for me to have stood by either of these men... Does that make me immature? unforgiving? hateful?

I JUST couldn't do it.


  • It's easy for you to say that now. But this is one of those situations that unless you've been there, you don't really know how you'll react, or what your ultimate decision would be. I've seen it happen enough to people I know to realize this.

    That said, I really couldn't care less about politicians and their marriages. There's always much more at stake in their situations, for both spouses, than just a marriage/family unity. Money, position, career, power, etc.
    posted by Anonymous Susan M at 9/24/2006 07:36:00 PM  

  • I know several people whose marriages have survived infidelity. And they actually have really good relationships now, so....who knows?
    Hillary, I'm not going to be objective, so I won't even try...
    Dina, well, it sounds pretty lousy on the face of it. But I guess she loves her husband, not just as her husband, but as her friend. Maybe she knows this was hard for him and maybe she cares about his happiness AND the well being of her family unit. There ARE relationships out there like this that work....
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 9/24/2006 08:25:00 PM  

  • Ugh, this boils my blood too. With Hillary, the deal-breaker for me would have been when her husband let her go on NATIONAL TV stating that there was a "vast conspiracy" surrounding the accusations of Bill Clinton's perjury, just to have his perjury (never mind the affair!) turn out to be verifiable. That was so scummy. It's not just the cheating that is icky, but the public-ness of it and the position it ends up putting the spouse in.
    posted by Anonymous Idahospud at 9/24/2006 08:32:00 PM  

  • I agree, especially about the NJ govn. There are bits of his book floating around and he speaks of the affair with the man as the first real love making he's known (or something to that effect).

    Yeah. Thanks. What was that whole makin' kids thing?? Just going through the motions?

    Yeah. Bye.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/24/2006 08:43:00 PM  

  • This is an issue that really gets me worked up. I'm not exactly sure why since I've never been personally affected by infidelity. Nevertheless, I subject my DH to nonstop "This is what I would do to you if you cheated" lectures.

    I was borderline obsessed with the whole Clinton/Lewinsky thing. Not interested in the leud details, but rather...why would a strong woman like Hillary put up with this crap? I did a lot of reading....not tabloid reading but biographies. My conclusion (and only Hillary and Bill know the reality) is that it is very complicated, just like any relationship. She really does love him, and suffers a lot of the denials, self-esteem issues of other wives who put up with affairs. I also think that part of the reason she has stayed in the marriage is for political gain.

    I always think I would leave a husband who cheated, until I think about my own marriage and how much I would want to save it if I made the same mistake....its a really complicated personal issue.

    Kage, I totally agree though...that those women who go out and support their husband in public RIGHT after an affair is exposed are totally WHACKED in the head. Kobe Bryant's wife is another example. I think they look weak and pitiful and controlled. And I love your idea of a seperate press conference for the wife.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 9/24/2006 08:59:00 PM  

  • People are so complicated. Like Susan said, until you've been there, who knows how you'd feel. I can guess, that's for sure, but know? I hope I never have to find out.

    As a side note, when politicians do things like this, it does effect the perceptions- we may have voted for some of these creeps, and also feel betrayed, though not on such a personal level. Hmmm....
    posted by Anonymous tracy m at 9/24/2006 09:04:00 PM  

  • I can understand why your blood is boiled - mine was especially over the McGreevy scandal.

    I have friends whose marriages have survived infidelity and friends whose infedelity has ultimately cost them their relationship. I used to stand firmly on the soapbox of "IF MY HUSBAND EVER CHEATED ON ME THAT WOULD BE IT". And yet...it's so complicated. Why does someone cheat on their spouse? There are so many factors and while I would probably still pack up my bags and maybe leave, ultimately, I value my relationship too much to throw in the towel initially. We've been married almost 9 years and together 10 - the longer I'm married and the more kids we have the more invested I am in the relationship. In all honesty, it would be hard to not "stand by my man"...

    Isn't that awful? Is that wrong?
    posted by Blogger chloe at 9/25/2006 12:04:00 AM  

  • I, too, think it's impossible to speculate on what we would do if we aren't in that situation. I'm sure it's very emotional and there are a lot of private histories and conversations we'll never be privvy to. I could stand-by-my-man if he had an affair. i can forgive. He'd pay it. Yeah, but I think I could do it IF he were willing to change and prove it! (Not that DH would EVER!!!!)

    I love Betsey Johnson.
    posted by Anonymous meems at 9/25/2006 12:59:00 AM  

  • Sorry. I need to learn to proofread.
    posted by Anonymous meems at 9/25/2006 01:00:00 AM  

  • My husband had an affair, and I did stand by my man. I doubt I would have been able to stand by him at a press conference, but I'm not trained to be in public world like they are. I've gotten past it now. Forgive is a big word, but I'm getting there. It was not in the past for a long time, it was part of my everyday life, but now it is behind me. But I beat myself up for reasons like were said - how could a strong woman (I am one) stay around? Comments like "She really does love him, and suffers a lot of the denials, self-esteem issues of other wives who put up with affairs" hurt me. I'm not in denial, I am not staying because I'm not worthy of better. I'm staying because I love him, he loves me and he's sorry. We love our children, I want them to have their father around. It was the biggest mistake he's ever made in his life, and he'd tell you that. I'm not to blame, not at fault, but our marriage was not perfect before this all happened, and I have to accept my part in all that. No one but my closest closest girlfriends know, because I don't want others to pity me or hate him, which would obviously be the case if you read this post.
    posted by Anonymous Standing by at 9/25/2006 05:29:00 AM  

  • jen, mrs. bryant...another good example. Just stay out of the public eye and let him take all the heat you know? Her absence would have been far more powerful a statement to me than her presence there holding his hand. Maybe on the second or third one you could come and sit by him..but that first one out....maybe it's shock...maybe that's why they do it. You know me, I would just be sitting there with "that look", shaking my head at him.

    standing by
    I really don't pity or hate these women, I just don't get them. And I agree that if infidelity to were to occur in my marriage there would be a lot of things wrong on both of our parts to get to that point...and if one was guilty of the actual infidelity, the other one was probably guilty of things that were just as bad, and thus we would be on equal ground and maybe able to build our marriage back up again.

    And yes, maybe that was the case with bill and hillary, but the mcgreevey thing was just deceit all around, and I find that to be more unforgivable than the clinton thing.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/25/2006 06:03:00 AM  

  • Dear Standing By,

    I am very sorry to hear about your husband's affair and I am very sorry that my comments were hurtful. That certainly wasn't my intention. I should have clarified this comment a little more....our former president (clinton) has had numerous numerous extramarital affairs that Hillary has endured over the years. These were the women I was profiling when I said they lived with some denial and lacked some self-esteem. Not the wives who have endured a single affair and forgiven their husbands and moved on. You certainly don't sound like the type of woman who would continue in a marriage with a serial adulterer.

    I have nothing but complete respect for you....for your willingness to forgive and save your marriage. I do not think a woman who does this is weak, but rather quite the opposite. A woman who puts up with an unrepentent and frequent adulterer is the one with the self esteem issues, in my opinion.

    I alluded later in that comment to the fact that I would probably stay in my marriage under similar circumstances to you (a one time lapse, regretful husband)...and I certainly pray my husband would do the same if I made a similar mistake.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 9/25/2006 06:09:00 AM  

  • ps...I think b/c these affairs/deceits are so public..that's makes them triply heinous.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/25/2006 06:11:00 AM  

  • I read a book about infidelity by Ira Glass's (of This American Life) mom, Shirley Glass, who is a marriage counselor person, and studies it. It was fascinating. I do think I could forgive, in the right context, but most probably I would insist my husband (I'm single) read that book too, beforehand, realize the warning signs, and have both of us choose up front just not to let it happen. If that sort of commitment isn't there, then I probably would prefer to stay single.

    The truth is that everyone feels attraction for other people besides their spouse. That simply means you're alive and healthy and human. Women can be unfaithful as well as men. According to the book, much infidelity occurs between people who felt totally safe, and sure that they were not in the least danger, that they would never be unfaithful to their spouse. It sneaks up on them, happens gradually over a long period of time, and there are several warning signs or red flags that can be recognized up front, so that any impending problems can be avoided.

    One red flag is opening emotional windows between you and the potential partner, while closing those doors between you and your spouse. If you begin to confide in someone else things that you can't discuss with your spouse, that is an example of this.

    A second big warning sign is not telling your spouse when you spend time with this person. You can go to lunch with someone often, but the point at which you begin neglecting to mention to your spouse that you had lunch with that person, is the point at which there is a danger. These red flags are the "jumping off" points which should be watched for and recognized.

    People who are unfaithful to their spouses, and who get divorced and remarry their partners-in-infidelity overwhelmingly end up divorcing those new spouses too, and on and on. They don't learn to fix the problems that arise in their marriages, in other words, they only know how to bail out and start over. For that reason, it is much wiser to try to heal the first marriage than to end it and move on.

    The book was really interesting to me. It had a number of quizzes to test how likely you were to be the other woman (not likely at all, for me), how close to the danger zone a relationship you have might be, and so on. It was very informative, about the things that actually happen, statistically, to couples experiencing challenges to their marriage from infidelity, and how they can be overcome, and healed.

    After reading that book, I can see how I could forgive a one-time adulterer, if I were convinced he really understood how he went wrong and was truly repentant and willing to change. I can see how it could happen by accident, the gradual erosion of the connection to the spouse, and the formation of the connection to another. And I can see how it can be healed.

    However, once it is understood how those things can happen, then I would expect the warning signs to be recognized, and any impending unfaithfulness to be headed off in advance. If the problem were unwillingness to change, or inability to control impulses, in other words, then there's not much you can do with that. Agency trumps everything.

    There isn't any excuse for infidelity, when you know what to look for and what signs there are that something is beginning to be wrong. However, it is a mistake that people can make, to gradually allow, by imperceptible steps, their loyalties, affections, and feelings to shift, without understanding what is happening until very late. We are required to be vigilant of ourselves, to make sure this doesn't happen. Otherwise we generate a lot of misery, broken families, children who are deeply hurt, and for what? Only to go on and face the same difficulties with the new spouse that we failed to fix with the first.


    There is a link to that book. I highly recommend it.
    posted by Anonymous Tatiana at 9/25/2006 07:37:00 AM  

  • tatiana, thanks for those comments. I have had a few situations in my 8 year marriage where I was becoming closer to a man that I worked with, than with my own husband. This was because I spent FAR more time with these men then my husband, and because we clicked. We just got along, and like you said, emotional windows started opening.

    So, I understand how something like that can start and lucky for me I could look down and see that slippery slope, and in both instances I avoided falling, and closed those windows as abruptly as I could. So, I get that we are human and that it can happen, and if I were clinton or mcgreevey, I wouldn't expect my husband to stand by me either.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/25/2006 07:54:00 AM  

  • I don't think it's a good sampling to use public/political affairs to try to "understand" how people handle this type of situation. The stories are laced with strategy and spin on their side and on the side of the media - something that most personal affairs do not have to deal with (at least not as first priority). These issues are so complicated and I can't imagine having to face them with cameras all around. It's easy to scrutinize and judge, but pointless really because no one really knows what is going on.

    That said, it is disturbing when it seems the person is standing by for reasons other than a joint commitment to make the marriage work.

    I think it is easy to draw a hard line on this topic until the "cheater" is your brother, or sister, or close friend, someone you love and respect. What? Someone I love and respect could never be guilty of something so heinous. Think again. It's complicated and it happens. All of a sudden harsh judgement doesn't come so easily because you actually get a small glimpse of the complexities. And I don't think you can ever understand completely until you are in the situation yourself.

    I have nothing but respect for people who go through this kind of hell and decide to try to work it out. Because depending on the circumstances, it is possible to come out together and committed on the other side. I 've seen it happen. With that possible result, I can understand why someone would choose to stand by their spouse.

    Could I forgive? From a totally outside perspective, it seems impossible. But if it ever actually happened, I hope that circumstances would allow me to make my own decision then. Being forced to throw away a ten+ year marriage would be completely devestating. (I'm with you Chloe).

    I think the stories you represented are again disturbing because they appear to be so one sided. But I don't feel they are a type for all or even most affairs.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 9/25/2006 08:44:00 AM  

  • Guess I was a little quick to go straight to defensive, hope you can understand. Tatiana, I agree with a lot of what you said in your comment - it was painful to learn the connection my husband had with this other woman, perhaps more so than the physical - though that wasn't exactly great news either. I appreciate everyone saying that until you go through it or know someone you love go through it, it's really tough to understand. I certainly would have put myself in the "see ya later" category, until I was looking at, as tfcarrie put it, a 10+ year marriage with a lot of wonderful memories and children and a life, and I wasn't sure I was ready to give up on it yet. At what point do you give up hope? I just have to have faith that I'll know when that time comes, but so far it hasn't.
    posted by Anonymous standing by at 9/25/2006 09:42:00 AM  

  • I know that the post has some muddiness: affairs that are in the public eye vs. affairs that actually happen to us or loved ones.

    I would like to have a discussion on what message these women are sending as they stand by their men. Is it positive or negative? Should we admire them for staying by their sides and showing support? Should we applaud them for in some cases (bryant, clinton) forgiving and moving on?

    I agree that they aren't a type for all affairs (carrie), and there isn't a type for all affairs, but these women are leaders in our country and setting examples through their actions (reactions to their husbands choices), and should we continue to look to them when we (or are loved ones) are faced with such situations? Or b/c it is such an extreme situation (public eye, leader of the free world, nba player), it has no relevance?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/25/2006 10:01:00 AM  

  • Okay, my brain officially hurts.

    Here's the thing - if you believe (as it appears many of the commenters do) that a spouse who stays after infidelity can be seen not as weak for sticking with the betrayer but instead as strong for working through it and finding forgiveness, then why would it be a bad thing for women in the public eye to do it?

    And on the reverse side, a woman who decides to leave behind a long-time spouse could also be seen as having great strength for being able to walk away from the life they had built together, rather than staying because in some ways it would be "easier" . Maybe especially so when we're talking about a rich or powerful spouse.

    I don't know. I guess my gut is to say that with public personalities or anyone who is not directly confiding their motives to you, you have no way of knowing what's going on behind it all, whether this is a choice made out of strength or fear. My logic keeps coming back to the very simple idea that it's not up to us to judge one another's actions, even though it is our human nature to do so. I'm confused when I see Dina McGreevey or Kobe's wife or Hillary standing by, and my heart aches knowing what pain and hurt they must be going through. But they aren't alone - as Standing By illustrates, there are many many many spouses who stay after there's been infidelity - you just don't hear about it as much as you do the ones who leave, because... I don't know. They're afraid of being judged? So I feel awful for these women who have no choice in the matter, who have their most intimate marital issues discussed on nightly talk shows, who not only have to decide what they need to do, but defend that choice as well. So I say leave message out of it - they are just attempting to live their life and do what is best for themselves and their families in a horrible situation. It would be a shame for them to make the choice any other way.
    posted by Blogger marian at 9/25/2006 11:20:00 AM  

  • So I am new to blogging, but I had to comment. I read all the posts and I do believe, don't judge till you have been there. But I also believe just because you forgive doesn't mean you have to stay. To me, infidelty is a deal breaker. I could and would have to eventually forgive. Sure it is a HUGE mistake on their part. But the emotional trust, bond would be gone for me personally. I believe it is a VERY big, HUGE personal decision as to what to do, and for each one of us it is different.
    posted by Anonymous idmumof3 at 9/25/2006 01:05:00 PM  

  • thanks marian - i agree with everything you just said!

    it seems that when you are in the public eye like these women are, you will be criticized no matter what decision you make. in some ways, it is refreshing that a "scandal" happens and the public figure/celebrity keeps their mouth shut about it, declaring that their personal life is just that, especially with something so deeply private as their marriage & infidelity. do we really "deserve" an explanation from any of these women as to why they made the decisions they did? why does an instance in their personal life have to weigh more than political decisions/policies they've made (in hilary's case)? if i had to survive through a situation where my marriage was being publicly scrutinized i think i would just do whatever i had to to keep my spirit alive and hold my head up high. UGH! what a nightmare.

    and on a personal note, i definitely agree with chloe & carrie and others. it is easy to say that infidelity would be a deal breaker (i mean, who is going to say "oh yeah, i would go thru that, no biggie"), but once faced with the reality i would like to think that i would at least CONSIDER learning to trust my dh again (as impossible as that seems when you think about cheating).
    posted by Blogger Beth at 9/25/2006 01:44:00 PM  

  • I have to say that even in my extended family there have been affairs. Both my aunts stayed with their husbands after much greif, counceling, etc... When you have spent 40+ years with someone, children, memories etc.. just walking away from everything you know and love is much harder then said. I,only being married of 1 year, cannot imagine the hurt and sorrow, but they have taught me about forgivness. That alone in my opinion is remarkable that they really could forgive the men that betrayed them. WOW! It took much time, but their relationships are infact stronger then ever.

    My independent personality automatically says..."Oh ya, I am out the door," but watching it thru loved ones changed my opinion.

    This is off the topic but I must ask..

    Kage...Betsey Johnson dresses are my MOST favorite thing in the world to wear. Since I have been married many of them have been sitting in the closet. I have come up with a few shirts and wraps to go over them for church etc.. however, any more suggestions for "cover ups" are desperatly needed! Thanks,

    miss my dresses
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/25/2006 07:05:00 PM  

  • miss my dresses, totally off topic...but I recently wore a rabbit fur bolero over mine to a wedding...got it at Arden B. Beware though, wearing real fur can cause some lipgloss trauma....ie. fur can float and get stuck in your lips!
    but there are the occasional modest bj dress out there, so just keep your eyes peeled.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/26/2006 10:48:00 AM  

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