High profile spousal infidelity has been in the news a lot lately. Right now it centers on New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. A short time ago the focus was former Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger. Before them we heard about others, including Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Virginia former Governor Mark Sanford, Prince Charles, President Bill Clinton, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, President John F. Kennedy (not publicized at the time), President Franklin D. Roosevelt (less publicized and a long time ago), and many more. They all had wives.
Publicly most of the men offered apologies. Privately they had to deal with the damage to their marriages. Their wives responded in a variety of ways. Some stayed married. Some didn't. But does a public apology mend a relationship?
Whenever a famous unfaithful husband is exposed publicly, I feel the pain that I assume their wives feel and felt after being betrayed in their relationships. I feel it because it hits me close to home. It happened to me, too, a long time ago. We are a large sisterhood.
Do those men excuse themselves by saying their sexual activities were their wives' fault, or they did things that technically were not sexual intercourse? Are their public apologies designed as attempts to retain their celebrity or power status? Is it all about narcissism?
Now that we have prostitutes (for Eliot Spitzer), oral sex (for Bill Clinton), subsequent death of spouse (for John Edwards), cybersex (for Rep. Weiner), phone sex (for many others), we are aware of the many ways for vulnerable men in high positions to take risks that can lead to their public destruction and the permanent changes to their most intimate relationships.
One televised image that stays with me is of Hillary Clinton, then First Lady, walking near, not with, her husband after his famous speech in which he acknowledged that he had sinned. Her body language said to me that Bill would have to deal with this episode in their lives himself.
Don't these men think about the pain they cause by thinking with a body part other than their brains? Do they think women are playthings to be used? Does power entitle them? Will they ever "get" it?