When I first saw Governor Sanford say his mistress was his “soul mate,” I knew that the union between Jenny Sanford and her soon-to-be-ex-husband would not be able to last. I felt the pain of humiliation that she must have experienced in that horribly public moment of admission. As women, we can recover from a sexual liaison with little emotional connection much easier than from an affair of the heart characterized by deep emotional ties.
I always try to champion marriage, especially when children are involved. I watched, as many of us did, when Jenny and her girlfriends moved boxes from the mansion last summer. That was the day I knew Jenny would be able to weather this storm on her own — well, really with the help of good girlfriends. From reading her new memoir, “Staying True,” I think it seems like Jenny gave her marriage all the effort she could, but that it was simply a case of a very self-involved, narcissistic husband being unwilling and unable to understand the ramifications of his behavior.
As a mother of four boys, she is keenly aware of her what her choices mean for them and their futures. Her statements have continually been grounded in her deep desire for the evolution of their characters. Jenny chose to let her husband deal with his own embarrassment and the political fallout from his own despicable actions while she — with strength and grace — focused her efforts on raising her four sons. She did not stand by her spouse’s side, as many women have when philandering husbands have spoken words of contrition. Jenny wanted him to feel the full force of his actions without the protective faÃ§ade of a woman by his side.
Her memoir offers inspiration for anyone struggling with life’s most trying times. Jenny Sanford is an example of a woman and mother facing life with grace and dignity. She also reminds me that sisterhood is alive and well — and desperately needed in order to cope with the many challenges that any one of us could have to face.