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.