Thursday, January 31, 2008

Should I stay or should I go?

No doubt many a woman has asked herself that in the context of an ailing marriage. Matters of the heart are messy. The reasons that people decide to stay or go are intensely personal. So why are we so hard on women in the public eye who opt to fix broken unions?

File this under yet more strange criteria folks are using to select a Democratic presidential candidate. During this primary season, I've heard several women say, "I just can't forgive Hillary for sticking with Bill after the Monica Lewinsky thing." Carlita Kilpatrick, wife of embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose affair with an administration employee is all over Motor City news and the black blogosphere, has elicited similar disappointment from women. Juanita Jordan...Vanessa Bryant...the list goes on.

Hearing stories about wives done wrong by high-profile husbands angries up a woman's blood. There is an initial tendency to shout a Whitney Houstonesque "Hell to the naw!" and declare that the offending lout be kicked to the nearest curb. But if we are honest with ourselves we know that marriages and their deaths are rarely that simple.

How difficult must it be to be betrayed by a spouse of more than 20 years--the person you made plans and built dreams with...the person who held your hand during labor...the person who stood beside you when you lost your parents...the person who stood behind you when you lost your job...the person whose face you have seen every morning for decades. Even a woman with the most egregious public cheater for a husband must weigh all those things before hopefully calling it quits. And a woman faced with just one illicit affair just might decide to try and salvage the marriage and the life that she has built.

I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying love and marriage are difficult and strange.

I do not care for Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate for a variety of reasons, but I refuse to fault her for being human and making a personal decision that she felt was best for her and her family. It may not be the decision I would make, but it is none of my business.

Lest you think I'm easy on unfaithful spouses, be assured that I am not. I married a man that I believe to be faithful and honest, and who shares my ideas about what is appropriate within a marriage. I trust him implicitly. I cannot imagine, faced with even one incidence of infidelity, that I could conquer my jealousy and hurt to repair our union. But in the end, I don't think anyone knows if they would stay or go. We can only guess, and hope when faced with roiling emotions that we will make the right move. We should all try to love with abandon, while holding fast to our dignity and self-respect. I do find it telling that the woman who is yelling the loudest about what "no man ain't ever gon do" to her, is often the one standing next to the biggest fool. You know I'm not lying.

I think we should cut deceived wives in the public eye some slack, and stop pretending that love is clean and rational.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tami,

Shout out from the real. Are rational women really factoring Hillary's stand by her man stand into a support criterion for her candidacy?

This kind of thing is straight he/she hate fodder. Don't go there.

Listen. Desperate Housewives ain't just a show on TV and those dramas started looong before network portayals. Ask a Mailman, a milkman -hell, I was a paper boy! Old gals were comin after it.

For every do-dirty dude, there's a do-wrong doll. Some cuckolded chumps can't see it when it's in their face and when forced to recognize,they cry, get drunk,throw blows (no, I don't advocate violence) but many hang on in there. If they throw her out, they take her back. If they leave themselves, come crawling back.

That fool O.J.? Don't know if he jumped out the bushes, but he did peep in the window. We've got audio on the aftermath. And I spent a Cali minute around that girl. Please believe.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Tami,

First; I know I'm supposed to be laying off the cynicism and all but...

I don't believe for one minute that Hillary Clinton stayed with Bill because she loves him.

I think she stayed with him because they had a deal. After his political career was over he would help her. And that's what's going on now.

I really don't think Hillary Clinton cares about anything but power.

Was that too cynical? :)

Lisa said...

I don't think that was cynical at all, MDC, but I do think it further validates Tami's point - it's more complicated than "he cheated on me".

Women stay for many reasons. . . whether right or wrong, marriage is just not that cut and dry.

Gorgeous Black Women said...

Americans have an unrealistic view of marriage that leads to high divorce rates. Yes, infidelity is horrible but it happens and it's been happening all through history. Breaking up your family due to you or your spouse's infidelity isn't the best route for most couples.

In reality, people often don't end such a long **partnership** because of infidelity. Remember that "for better or for worse" part of your vows? Certainly, it's the best step for some people. If the infidelity continues or it's a symptom of far deeper issues, it certainly warrants a break up but we shouldn't expect anyone to bounce because their spouse cheated. People continue their partnerships in spite of infidelity and may not be sexually involved at all anymore. You need to know what works for you and ensure that it's worth it.

If there were no children involved and it's early in a marriage, it's certainly easier to leave. The Clintons have been together since they were about 23 or 24. Unlike others, I believe they are very close. She's a woman who probably realized years ago that she married a cheating dog and decided to turn a blind eye. Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy did the same when their men were very clearly cheating. I'm sure it's something she's come to accept. Ideally, it wouldn't happen but if you have a strong bond in the non-romantic parts, it's sometimes not worth it to divorce someone. They've always been close in the non-romantic sense and played huge roles in each others life independent of Chelsea Same goes for Eleanor and FDR but not so much for Jackie and JFK. They might not have had the best traditional marriages ever, but they were definitely... BFFs.

Mrs. Kilpatrick is also a woman who knows she married a dog. The difference is that she doesn't accept it (beating of strippers, etc). She shouldn't and doesn't have to accept it. If she plans on staying with him though, she'll need to at least turn a blind eye because it appears that he cheated with several other women for years and years. He's not going to change now.

Very outdated view of infidelity, I know, but people can have strong, lovingg relationships in spite of it.

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