Monday, August 31, 2009

The Good Wife

I just finished reading a fiction novel titled "The Good Wife." It was about the wife of a member of Parliament in Britain. It got me to thinking about the "good wives" of our politicians. The ones who have had to face their husband's adultery in the glare of the spotlight. There have been quite a few recently.

Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Edwards, Jenny Sanford, Wendy Vitter, Silda Wall Spitzer,and Dina Matos McGreevey.

All except Dina McGreevey stayed with their husbands. Since her husband's desires were for men, she hardly had a choice.

One wonders why all these women stay. Many argue that Hillary stayed for political reasons. She wanted to be President and she needed the political connections and popularity of Bill to do that. If she were divorced that might hurt her chances.

If that is true, it makes her defeat by Obama even more tragic for her. She endured all that humiliation and still didn't win.

But for the rest, and perhaps for Hillary as well, it seems clear to me why they stayed.

The children.

It's why so women many stay. I can't imagine another reason that would cause strong capable women, who could certainly make it on their own, to stay with men who not only had betrayed them, but did it in the public eye with the world watching. I cannot begin to imagine their pain. Vitter and Spitzer's wives have the added disgust of their husbands cheating with prostitutes. Elizabeth Edwards has to endure a child born to her husband's mistress. Insult to injury. My heart truly goes out to them for what they have suffered. Many women understand the pain of adultery, but imagine if it was done with the whole world knowing the details. These are strong women.

The thing about children is that you can't change who their father is. You can't divorce that. What women see when they look at divorce is that no matter what a scoundrel your husband was or is, most children still look up and love their Dad.

A mother's love cannot be measured. When they think of divorce, they see a life where their children might have to have a trophy step-mother. They see a life of dating again. They see the pain of other children who have gone through divorce.

And they decide to stay.

They touch their children's faces as they lay sleeping, and they know in their heart that if they can forgive their husbands, if they can put away their pain, if they can pick up the pieces of this marriage, then these children can have a mended family. These children can have their mom and dad together.

It's a tough and rough road. It takes a strong woman. It takes an unselfish woman.

I'm not saying that women who have divorced are not all those things, or that they chose wrong. Each marriage has it's own story. I cannot judge those who see a failed marriage as better than what they were living. I've seen too many marriages that were better ended to judge that way.

But you have to admire these women. To put up with so much. To carry on despite it all. In the south we call them "steel magnolias."

Some women might say, "I would never put up with that." But for our children, we will put up with just about anything.

No one can know how it will all turn out for these women. But if I had to guess, I would bet turns out well. Wounds will heal. Scars remain. I think their husbands will realize what incredible women they married. Life goes on, and it is and always has been what we make of it. These women will make it. They will endure. They will learn to love their husbands again and their husbands will embrace it.

Love can make it all happen.