It’s happened again. Another political sex scandal. This time it’s Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York.
Here's My Issue: Spitzer did what he did – it was like a covert operation because it took lots of planning and premeditation for the governor to arrange his sexual trysts. During that time, he didn’t consult with or have the support of Mrs. Spitzer while he was doing it. Yet Sptizer’s press conference included Mrs. Spritzer, who stood next to her cheating spouse looking sick and devastated. If he didn't need her then, why NOW does he have to drag her into his disgrace?
We’ve seen so much of this: Bill Clinton, Dick Morris, Jim McGreevey, Larry Craig. The list is long. Their behaviors dissed their mates. Then they were sooooo sorry. But let's be honest. They were sorry because they got caught in the act. Worse yet, while they stood before the press feigning an apology to their families, the women they defiled made Tammy Wynette "stand by your man" appearances with them – as though their spouse also did something to deserve the embarrassment.
To Governor Spitzer and the others: Listen boys (you gave up your man card some time ago), when you are standing before those cameras, it isn't because you lost an election or missed achieving a goal that you and your spouse worked toward together. You got caught with your pants down with someone other than your spouse. When you did the deed, you made a decision to put your life and everything in it at risk. While none of us knows what goes on behind the closed doors of your marriage, chances are that your illegal and/or immoral actions were NOT sanctioned by your spouse. So when you have to face the music with the press, act like the all-powerful man you were pretending to be. This isn’t the time to lean on the one person who you dishonored and humiliated the most by your behaviors.
The Bottom line: You should have thought about your spouse when you were fooling around. If you didn’t need her by your side when you were making arrangements to cheat on her, you don’t need her by your side now. You’ve disgraced her enough by your actions. When you trot her out into the public eye, you are adding to her pain. Why?
To The Spouses: Let the dog clean up his own mess. Just because you love him, doesn’t mean you should forget that, all the while you were loving him and taking care of his home and family, he was getting his kicks with someone else.
My Advice: Here are three things you can do instead:
1 - Get angry! Dig down to your deepest places and let the emotion out. Scream it out, journal it out, break things, whatever you need to do to vent that emotion. Don’t be surprised if you need to do it over and over for days or weeks. Those feelings of ‘how dare he?” and “how could he do that to me?” are really strong, especially when you feel you’ve accommodated him in every way you could.
Repressed anger results in depression, which can result in self-destructive and even life-threatening reactions. Why should that happen to you for some behavior you didn’t initiate?
2 - Seek qualified help. Once you start letting go of some of your initial anger, you need to sort out your feelings. If you have children, they need to do the same. Find a qualified therapist and make weekly appointments – more often if they help. The sooner you start making some sense of your feelings, the sooner you will heal. There’s no reason to let this awful thing result in a health issue that destroys your life.
3 - Do it for yourself. Refuse to let yourself be used again by the cad who just took advantage of you. If he’s having issues and feeling alienated, too bad. He obviously needs therapy and he should get it - alone. You can work on your marriage later. You can agree that in three or six months, if you feel like it, you’ll get couples counseling. Right now, you need to work on you.
Final thoughts: It isn't likely that sex scandals are going to stop. However, in the future, my hope is to see fewer and fewer accomplished women like Dana Matos McGreevey and Silda Wall Spitzer standing by the arrogant, self-serving men who wronged them.
It's interesting for us to consider how, when the shoe is on the other foot, that is, when women are caught in sex scandals - for example, teachers Mary Kay Letourneau and Debra LaFave - you are more likely to see them facing the press or interviewing on the talk shows with their attorney, not their spouse. Interesting, eh? Maybe this is the kind of situation when we could learn a lesson or two from the men.