Darlene Ensign's wife wasn't at the press conference when John came clean about his extramarital liaisons, but she issued a statement: "With the help of our family and close friends our marriage has become stronger." Ensign resigned from his leadership position in the Senate, but stayed in his Senate seat. Darlene stuck around.
Larry Craig tendered his resignation from the Senate after he was charged with involvement in a gay sex sting. He walked his wife up to the stage with his hand on her back, and she looked complacent. They’re still married.
Mary Pat Fossella did not stand by Vito when the New York Republican confessed to his affair, but she was present at the press conference. Vito left the House; Mary Pat stayed with Vito.
David Vitter did not need a press conference to apologize when his number was found in the phone book of a D.C. escort. He and his wife, Wendy, are lectors at their local church, and had apparently undergone marriage counseling before the affair was discovered. They’re still a couple.
The examples go on. Over 30 Republican Congressmen have resigned from the House so far over extramarital affairs, and then there are governors and other myriad Republican politicians. Uniformly, their wives remain by their sides. Whether that’s because the wives love the limelight, because of personal devotion, or because of another mitigating factor, one can never presume to know. But what we do know is that they’re all still wedded to the men who made mockeries of their unions.
Jenny Sanford wasn’t at the press conference when Mark confessed to his affair. Two days ago, before we’d heard of the Appalachian Trail hike or Argentinean adventure, a reporter pried a statement out of Jenny at a vacation home: “I have not heard from my husband. I am taking care of my children."
It seemed, then, that she wasn’t following in the footsteps of Republican wives before her. That she wasn’t staying loyal despite the grave betrayal of her loyalty.
Now, she’s released a statement that she’s kicked him out of their house, but that she’s open to eventual reconciliation. Despite initial indications, she’s even not uncertain whether or not she’ll consider staying in the marriage – that possibility is definitely still on the table.
The right course for a marriage is best determined by the couple involved, and certainly not by spectators. But the hesitation Jenny initially expressed was refreshing, and I wonder how much it would've hurt for her to have kept it up a little longer.