If the man I loved told me he’d slept with a prostitute, or some random woman he met on the road but whom he cared nothing about, I’d be crushed. But with some emotional work shared between us and loads of time to heal, I might be able to get over it.
If the man I loved was a politician, a famous athlete, a movie star or anyone who has access to more than, say, thirty sexy women on any given day, I’d almost expect him to be sleeping around. Smart, handsome, charismatic men working at your local Denny’s have cute gals buzzing around them like bees. Add a couple mil to the guy’s wallet and some paparazzi flash bulbs and he’s got a swarm. I would want my famous man to be faithful, just as I would be to him. I’d expect him to try, but wouldn’t be shocked if he slipped.
Now, if my man was traveling all the way to goddamn Argentina to be with a woman with whom he was sharing “a love story,” well, Houston, we’ve got a flippin’ problem. If he slept with several prostitutes, got busted by the Feds then made me stand next to him on national television while he apologized for his indiscretions? Aw, hell no. Ain’t happenin’.
The first lesson to take from the latest ongoing political sex scandal brought to us by South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, is never, ever marry a politician. Not only may you have to endure his affairs and attempts to get pleasured by cops in bathroom stalls, you’ll have to publicly stroke his back as he begs forgiveness from your country and your Lord. At least if you marry a rock star who cheats, you get your own reality show.
I’ve always assumed most political and celebrity marriages have agreements, in which Hubby gets to do who he wants as long as Wifey gets to keep his heart and his house. My guess is these arrangements center around three rules: Don’t get caught. Don’t embarrass me. Don’t fall in love. Break the rules, and I’m out.
Which is why I dig Mrs. Sanford. She was nowhere in sight when the Governor fessed up to his affair. The Governor broke the rules. Not only did he get caught, but he’s currently embarrassing the bejesus out of her by admitting to loving his mistress and not loving his wife, while airing their dirty laundry on a daily basis to the press.
About time one of these women save themselves and their families before their husband’s egos and careers. If ever my heart was broken by a woman’s public appearance, it was when poor Eliot Spitzer’s beautiful and accomplished wife stood by the putz during his confession, her face drawn and robbed of color as if everything in her soul had collapsed and died. I didn’t despise Spitzer for screwing hookers. I despised him for making his wife prop him up.
The second lesson to take from the scandal is something those of us who don’t marry famous people can take to heart. We all know love and marriage won’t survive if we go hopping into the sack with anyone other than our partners. We know falling in love with someone else threatens a partnership more than anything.
But part of commitment also means being able to say to each other, ‘there are parts of me that are ugly and stupid, selfish and cruel and weak. I’ll share them with you so we can understand and heal each other, and I will do my best to keep them in check. But if they do emerge, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you don’t suffer.’
I saw it in Mrs. Spitzer’s face. ‘You were supposed to protect me from this,’ she seemed to be thinking. ‘You were supposed to protect us.’ Maybe Mrs. Sanford wasn’t ready to publicly defend her marriage since her husband hasn’t done it himself.
Fortunately, most normal folk will never be asked to stand before their peers to announce their spouses’ affairs:
‘Friends, we’ve asked you to this pool party to tell you Judy’s been sleeping with a guy in accounting. But we’ve asked God’s help in healing our marriage, and request that you give us our privacy as we face this difficult challenge.’
Still, these political scandals are an extreme though significant reminder. Love isn’t only about protecting your partnership from other potential lovers. It’s about protecting it from yourself.