COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford said Friday that he is calling off his engagement to Maria Belen Chapur because of the ongoing contention with his ex-wife, Jenny, four years after their divorce.
Sanford, then governor of South Carolina, famously disappeared from the state for five days in 2009, telling aides he was out hiking the Appalachian Trail. He returned to the state and at a tearful news conference confessed he was in Argentina and had been having an affair with Chapur.
Jenny Sanford, who has four children with Sanford, soon sued for divorce, which was granted in 2010.
Later, Sanford and Chapur — whom he once called his "soul mate" — became engaged. But Sanford, in a rambling message posted on his Facebook page Friday, said that he and Chapur are ending their engagement.
"No relationship can stand forever this tension," wrote Sanford, who in a special election last year regained the South Carolina House seat he held for three terms in the 1990s. Chapur was at his side when he was sworn in.
He writes that he'll be forever grateful to Chapur and that if possible "there will be another chapter when waters calm with Jenny."
His Facebook posting comes after attorneys for Jenny Sanford last week asked a family court judge to limit the lawmaker's visitation with his youngest child. They also want Mark Sanford to undergo psychological tests and take anger management and parenting courses.
In his post, Sanford also wrote about Jenny Sanford that "I will never attempt to detract from her or all the positive things she has done in her life, but having to go frequently to ask a former spouse when you can have time with a son is a recipe for conflict."
He added "I hope and believe Jenny and I can find a new way."
There is a hearing in Charleston County Family Court on Monday on Jenny Sanford's latest court motions, one of which is to seal any new filings in the court record.
Mark Sanford, in his own motion filed with the court by his attorneys on Friday, asks for a gag order preventing anyone associated with the case from talking about it. He also wants the record closed.
"It is abundantly clear that the pleadings, motions and affidavits filed by the plaintiff have already been provided to the press and there are stories appearing on the television, in the newspapers and on the internet insinuating that I am an unfit parent and also an unfit congressional representative," Sanford's motion said.
The motion added that Sanford expects his ex-wife "will be filing affidavits, motions and pleadings and derogatory allegations" about his character.
Marie-Louise Ramsdale, Jenny Sanford's attorney, said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday that her client has always put her sons first "and will always stand up for the boys' best interests and safety."
She added that Mark Sanford's Facebook filing contradicts his motion to the court.
"Apparently, he only wants a gag order after he has publicly laid out his position and disparaged my client — what he claimed she would do to him," Ramsdale said.
Associated Press Writer Bruce Smith contributed to this report.