Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Sometimes it's hard to be a woman,
Giving all your love to just one man.
You'll have bad times
And he'll have good times
Doing things that you don't understand...
--"Stand by your Man" by Tammy Wynette
At this point, it has become something of a cliché in our cultural imagery: A disgraced male public official at a news conference taking his lumps for a newly unearthed sexual indiscretion while his baffled yet supportive wife stands at his elbow, struggling to put a public face on the many emotions roiling beneath a calm exterior. Many viewers to our latest reality-television episode, starring Eliot Spitzer, no doubt shouted back at the T.V. in sympathetic support to Spitzer's wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, "Leave the bum!"
So why do so many wives of public figures stick it out after infidelity comes to light? Why not skip the news conference and file for D-I-V-O-R-C-E?
In the recent past we've witnessed The Craigs, The Vitters, The Haggards. Each time, a wife has stoically endured the glare of the cameras and held fast to the vows her husband has seen fit to ignore. Often, the sexual compulsion proves so strong for the male that he puts his wife through the ordeal on multiple occasions, as in the case of Bill and Hillary Clinton. No, the symbolic show of support doesn't always work out. Sometimes the hurdles ahead are just too insurmountable, as in the case of The McGreeveys, but it's fascinating to see just how many sullied unions live to see another day.
Is there anything unique about politicians cheating on their spouses? Does the power of elected office make you that much more likely to commit infidelity? Given that many of the men most recently snared in the media nets seem to have sought out what they hoped to be discrete professional services, or anonymous sex with strangers, I'd say that these were not husbands showing off, as much as libidos run amok.
Is there a higher rate of indiscretion among the powerful than the general population? True, when everyone's busy telling you how great you are, it tends to make the possibility of a "Behind the Music" downfall that much more likely. Yet, men everywhere--from every race, class, country, and religion--cheat. If anything, reliable statistics on the number of men (and women) who cheat are pretty much impossible to gather, but I'd argue that the public scrutiny of elected officials makes them more careful than their civilian counterparts. Their fall is just a whole lot louder than what's happening all the time.
Maybe that's the answer to the question of why so many high-profile spouses stick it out. They know it's not any better outside the spotlight of public life. Sing it, Tammy...
Article by: By David Knowles


Bonnie'n'Clyde said...

Mike and I had this EXACT conversation, almost verbatim, about half an hour ago while looking at the picture on the cover of the NY Times. Mike was, I kid you not, even singing "Stand By Your Man".

girl of 1000 blogs said...

when I read about this in the paper I was not at ALL surprised. It's always the ones who are holier than thou, isn't it?

Yoli said...

He has 3 daughters, how degrading an example is this? I would NEVER stand by him and have my daughters for an instant, think this is tolerable.

Rony said...

I don't know what I'd do in that situation. My gut says "run", but the reality is we have kids.