The media, in its insatiable need to feed the beast, has now grown tired of royal baby stalking and turns its gaze on the marriage of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin.
Anthony D. Weiner, a former congressman from New York, sent sexual messages to women while in office (and a marriage). We learn this after his actions were revealed, and he was forced to resign his seat. His wife, despite the betrayal, has chosen to stay by him, support him and express her love and support publicly.
A recent New York Times article begs the question: Why? As one young woman said, “….no self-respecting woman would stand up there and say that something like that is OK.”
If Weiner’s transgressions indicate that he is not capable of serving the public of New York City or whether “sexting” is considered cheating are subjective talking points. The truth is that perfection is not necessary to make a difference in your own or other people’s lives. We still (as a collective American society) have a clinical pathology of expectation: certain trades can only be worthy of saints (teachers, politicians) and others (actors, singers) are celebrated, not just tolerated, when performed by sinners.
When a spouse cheats in the context of a monogamous relationship there is no scenario by which Huma, or any self-respecting person, smiles, shrugs and just gets on with the washing up.
I used the word “young woman” above with purpose because only the naiveté of inexperience would make the assumption of Ms. Abedin’s choice as one of permission or complacency.
What Ms. Abedin actually said was that, with a lot of work and “a lot of therapy,” she has found forgiveness and still loves and supports her husband.
“When we faced this publicly two years ago, it was beginning of a time in our marriage that was very difficult, and it took us a very long time to get through it. Our marriage, like many others, has had its ups and its downs. It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony. It was not an easy choice in any way, but I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage. That was a decision I made for me, for our son and for our family.
I didn’t know how it would work out, but I did know I wanted to give it a try. Anthony’s made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after, but I do very strongly believe that is between us and our marriage.
We discussed all of this before Anthony decided to run for mayor, so really what I want to say is I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward. Thank you very much.”
As a wife who has also made that choice after my husband did far more than send a few cock shots to a slapper on Twitter, I empathize with Ms. Abedin. I empathize in the way you can after you share a similar pain and understand the inelegant road taken to forgiveness.
Buddha is credited with saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” In many ways, what this young woman, and I am sure many people of varying age, sex and gender are judging is her forgiveness.
When you are betrayed and embarrassed like Ms. Abedin, what we see, as a public, are a few paparazzi shots the day the news breaks of a woman in sunglasses, looking frantic. Cut to the press conference where she states her support and belief in her husband’s ability to do his job with conviction. Actually Ms. Abadin is an outlier; most spouses just stand next to their husband as he apologizes publicly by way of demonstrating what Ms. Abadin gave voice to. What we don’t see is the soul searching that happens in between.
That’s not to say that some spouses probably do stay in it for the American Express Platinum, the kids, their own addictions and codependency. I know that—we all know that. That isn’t the normal reaction from a smart, accomplished, modern woman. Most of us turn inward, protect our assets and cry in public. Some even blog their way through it. The healthiest reaction is to seek out support and ultimately turn towards your partner and say, “Okay, so what the fuck was that about!? Do you want to work on this or are we over?”
It would appear that Ms. Abedin and Mr. Weiner have chosen to stay together for the reasons my husband and I do; we took vows and made the promise to one another that we would. We didn’t promise to be perfect or fully healed individuals, incapable of weakness or irrevocably poor choices, but we did promise to try and do the work of marriage and commitment.
I hope those who judge Weiner’s wife and all of us who stay in our imperfect marriages, still supporting and loving our imperfect spouses, will come to understand that a wedding does not transform your spouse into the version of the person you expect and demand of them to be.
However, when an infidelity is processed and the gut wrenching work is done as a result, what can often happen is that you do emerge a changed man or woman, for better and for worse.
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Asst. Ed: Meagan Edmondson/Ed: B. Bemel