Should You Stand By Your Man After An Affair?

We’ve all seen it over and over … politicians (and others who are vocal and visible) preach morality, family and the like, and end up falling victim to an affair. Then, what’s perhaps more surprising to us, is that the spouse (usually the wife) decides to stick it out. To forgive and forget and work through whatever issues have arisen. This decision baffles a lot of us, and it’s one that Governor Mark Sanford’s wife, Jenny, recently tried to explain in a recent interview. She’s the gracious, forgiving woman being called a “role model,”by the Washington Post, and a “media genius” by Newsweek.


Infidelity Is An Addiction

In June, when Gov. Sanford admitted that he had not been traveling along the Appalachian Trail, but in fact, traipsing around Argentina with the mistress he had met eight years ago, Jenny was cool and composed. She and her sons then moved out of the governor’s mansion, but the former investment banker turned stay-at-home mother of four has decided to give her husband another chance, for a reason I completely agree with: Infidelity is an addiction and – just like when someone’s addicted to drugs or alcohol – it becomes nearly impossible to break away.

For this reason, I deem adultery the “forgivable sin” and, in my book Can we Cure and Forgive Adultery, delve into reasons why people need to conquer this biochemical craving for connection and have an affair with their own partner!

As Jenny aptly put it, “Everybody would like an escape sometimes. I’d like somebody 5,000 miles away I could E-mail. It’s not exclusive to men, but I know that isn’t realistic.”

Affairs Are Self-Medicating

Engaging in an affair can provide the desire for an illicit self-medicating, thrill-seeking “high” that many people seek. This can easily become a self-enforcing cycle: politicians and others of us under a lot of stress are looking for a release from this constant pressure. An affair fulfills the biochemical craving for connection, along with that high and thrill of a new romance. But keeping up the charade only causes more pressure. And so the cycle perpetuates itself. In order to re-instate that connection with our partner I suggest taking some time apart and doing what I call a “brush with death,” which Jenny has already done.

More instructions can be found in my book, Make up, Don’t Breakup, but when you do this “break up to make up” correctly, you’re operating from the position that you don’t know what you have till you lose it. This is a technique that jolts most people into getting their feelings back and falling back in love with their partner.

Forgiveness Is Divine

Or, in the words of Jenny Sanford:

“All I can do is forgive. Reconciliation is something else, and that is going to be a harder road. I have put my heart and soul into being a good mother and wife. Now I think it’s up to my husband to do the soul-searching to see if he wants to stay married. The ball is in his court.”


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