Dissecting Affairs

The following is one of the responses to the link below about Mark Sanford on Smart Girl Nation.

"It seems to me that if a man can cheat on and lie to his own wife, he certainly isn’t going to be any more loyal to his constituents. It’s not about his affair with another woman, it’s about his honesty and sense of commitment. Obviously, he has none."

This is an extremely narrow-minded and provincial view of morality. To suggest that a person who's been married for 20 years -- with no history of cheating -- and who's been cleared of any political wrongdoing has "no sense of honesty and commitment" is ridiculous. Such a statement can only be made by someone with very little life experience. Marriage is complicated business, and it takes two people to make it work.

What do we know of Mrs. Sanford and her role in her husband's lapse? Why are we so quick to dismiss the other party -- whether male or female -- when it comes to affairs? The assumption is that the "jilted" party is somehow more moral for not having an affair. But what do we know of her as a person? Perhaps she's abusive. Perhaps she refuses to use birth control. Perhaps she's a witch. Perhaps not. The point is...we don't know. We have no idea what the Sanfords' story is: what goes on in their marriage, who's to blame for what, etc.

When I was divorced in 1995, people always asked who divorced whom. This was a silly question, and seeks to blame one party over another. While, technically speaking, I did the divorcing, my ex-husband was the one who was not ready to be married. His actions left me little choice. To the outside observer, the "wife" divorced the "husband" -- making it seem as if I no longer wanted to be married to him. In fact the opposite was true.

Generally speaking, men are of two animals: broken and lost (and thus morally corrupt), like Bill Clinton; or they're good men who've been pushed to the breaking point after years of not getting their needs met. My bet is that Sanford falls under this last category. This doesn't mean what he did was okay -- even he knows that. But to suggest he's dishonest or incapable of commitment smacks of naivete and moral righteousness.

Never judge a book by its cover. Until you know what's between the covers, you can't have an opinion.

1 Response to “Dissecting Affairs”:

  1. KatieJ says:

    Since admitting to this affair, Sanford has admitted to other affairs. I believe that it was naive to assume that he hasn't had other indiscretions. My opinion.