Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why Eliot's Wife Stood By Her Man

I have known more than one woman who married a man knowing full well he didn't love her. It was enough to just be with the man even though it meant, for the rest of his days, that he'd have a missing piece in his life. She didn't care. She wanted him. She used sex to manipulate him. If she could, she got pregnant to trap him.

In all but one case, the man eventually cheated on his wife. One lady just looks the other way as long as he comes home at night. Another lady played the victim and seemed dumb-founded about her sorry lot. Another lady hopes that maybe some day, he'll love her. One woman I know said to her husband,"I thought that once you married me and knew me better, you'd love me." She was partly right. His admiration of her has grown over the years, but there is still no love there. He languishes and she diminishes as time passes.

Anyone who is married knows that it is a mystery between two people. Families, friends, outsiders think they know what's going on behind the scenes but the people involved have a secret dance that only they share. Even in wildly uneven relationships where one partner is a certifiable psychopath, there was something, on some level, that meshed between the couple--a sympathy. They both know this.

When a woman stands by her man, as Eliot Spitzer's wife did literally, or countless of abused, neglected and cheated on women do metaphorically, they stand for themselves. In a sense, they are defending their decision to be with this man. Some women say that they were abused, in a bad mental state and almost fugue-like when in the presence of their man which is why they did something like standing supportive at a press conference. And that is partly true. Powerful guys like Eliot Spitzer hold sway in nearly every room they enter. It might hold for at home, too. Or maybe, home is the one place he feels small and helpless. Even still, the woman denies her power to choose when she plays the victim when making such an empowered choice to do something like stand in front of the world. That Eliot Spitzer or Bill Clinton or Jim McGreevy or any of these guys would be so callous to their wives in even asking that of them demonstrates their narcissism.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger incited the wrath of thousands for suggesting that women might play a part in their husband's cheating. Other women said, "that's like blaming the victim". Please. Are women going to hold forever this passive, babyish view of themselves? They are just along for the ride in their relationship, they have no power or say in how it goes?

I can count off five women I know, just off the top of my head, who might, just might, give their husband sex once a month, if he's lucky. And these same women, after years of this emptiness (for a man) will be able to play the victim when he goes out to fill a need? How is she absolved of responsibility for this act? And, he could divorce her, but often loves the kids. Loves the family life and doesn't want that to end. He just wants sex. Or affection. Or kind words.

Now, there are men, and I know them too, for whom no amount of "filling up" will make a difference. These bottomless wells seek affirmation everywhere and have a hole in their soul that is impossible to fill by anyone, no matter how hard a loving woman might try to fill it. These guys are like spirit-stealing predators conquering women and feeling more empty the longer they do it. They use women like drugs. They get a hit and a high and then crash and go for another one. Most men don't fall in this category but somewhere between neglect and narcissism.

I don't know what kind of man Eliot Spitzer is in his marriage. Is he a psychopathic bottomless well? Maybe. That would fit the profile of most politicians, wouldn't it? Born in privilege and weened on power, Eliot Spitzer believed, somehow, that he was above the law. He can make the law. He can enforce the law. But the law doesn't apply to him. He would be in good company. Bill Clinton went one further than old Eliot, as Dr. Santy notes, and abused his power while impugning the character of his victims. No wonder some Democrats want this whole sordid mess over with.

And what about politician's wives. They are often as smart, dedicated and willing to work for long years waiting for a pay-off for their husband. Far from stupid and weak, these women often demonstrate formidable intelligence and strength. They also seem to share their husband's jaundiced view of things. They are "realistic". It is understood that compromise is a part of life. Maybe some compromises build up and end up crossing a line somewhere. Well, obviously they do. And maybe, Spitzer's wife believed in his mission so much, she was willing to trade his indiscretions for the greater good he'd do.

I don't know Spitzer's wife. We can only surmise by actions what sort of people the Spitzers might be. Right now, she is publicly humiliated and embarrassed. And Spitzer has three daughters who will have a perspective on men formed by this revelation. Although, I'm guessing they've had a idea formed by now, already.

All I'm suggesting here, is that marriage is a complicated mystery. Marriages are contracts between two people and while many of the expectations aren't explicit, they are often understood. Deals are made. Ideals traded for other needs. Is this a bad thing? I don't know. These factors, though, might explain why Ms. Spitzer stood by her man.


Anonymous said...

This is an excellent and very realistic post. We simply don't know. Marriage is indeed a mystery between two people dancing a dance that only they can understand.

I feel bad for both of them but as has been predicted, heads will keep on rolling for this kind of public behavior.

David Marcoe said...

Love always starts with a choice to love. It explains why a would-be mother can abort her child or why a spouse who normally loves the person they are married to can cheat on them.

One of the great ills of Western culture is that malformed modern view of love as some flaccid wavering emotion that comes and goes as it pleases, to be snuffed as easily as a candle wick. The most beautiful of virtues, twisted by narcissism.

The biblical view of love is that it is an inward turning of heart toward the thing to be loved. Sometimes we are inclined and sometimes disinclined. Sometimes it's easy, but many times it's hard, especially in the abject state of humanity's corrupt nature.

Terri Wagner said...

Somehow what you are describing isn't a marriage to me, it's a contract. I enter into this with certain expectations, realistic or not, and only time will tell if you meet them. I guess it's a case of you made this bed lie it in or get out.

Melissa Clouthier said...


I do think marriage is a contract both technically and practically. We start and end a marriage with a piece of paper and the state's involvement.

Ken said...

Thanks for posting of the few reasonable, thoughtful, sane blog entries on this matter.

Spitzer is probably a malignant narcissist, not a good man.

Dr. Laura says that ***IF*** you choose a GOOD man ***AND*** you treat him right, he will not stray. Nowhere does she excuse men for their decisions to commit adultery. However, she recognizes that if a wife isn't living by her marital vows (which are more than just "forsaking all others"), THEN a man is more likely not to live by his, either.

Mickey Addison said...

Melissa, et al.,

Marriage is not a "contract", it is a "covenant"...a "contract" is where there is an exchange of goods and services, a "covenant" is something more.

Regardless of recent thought and practice to the contrary, marriage, by it's very nature is an exchange of persons, "I give you me, you give me you". It's ordered to the good of the persons and the raising of children. Marriage is not a business deal where the the responsibilities are dividied up and I get this because I gave that. We are called to give ourselves completely to our spouse, the "two made one", which is why "domestic partnership", cohabitation, artificial contraception, homosexual pairings, and the like, are harmful to authentic marriage, because these things defeat the purposes of marriage: unity and children.

It is this (quite recent) warped view of marriage as a contract or mere social construct that has weakened marriage and society.

People will do what people will do, and we can find all sort of reasons why men cheat and women enable like you write so well in your article. Abuse of a thing, however, doesn't mean the thing is bad. The fix is not more sex or less enabling, it's recognizing what real marriage is and stop pretending that its something else.

Melissa Clouthier said...


You have an interesting point. Here's the thing, I think a covenant is a contractual agreement. Here's the definition:

cov·e·nant (kv-nnt)
1. A binding agreement; a compact. See Synonyms at bargain.
2. Law
a. A formal sealed agreement or contract.
b. A suit to recover damages for violation of such a contract.
3. In the Bible, God's promise to the human race.

I think there is a legal agreement, and unfortunately, it's not more explicit. There should be contracts involved to make the covert overt. It might stop some of the stupid marriages. What a couple promises before God, is another thing. Now, I happen to believe there is a spiritual element to marriage no matter whether the couple acknowledge it or not.

Perhaps we're arguing semantics here because it doesn't diminish the institution to call it what it is--a binding agreement, a contract, and yes, a covenant.

Anonymous said...

While I usually find her annoying (haven't listened to her in years), I agree with just about everything Dr. Laura said on this matter. She most certainly was NOT saying that it's teh woman's fault. It's rather sad that some people (in this case women) can't have a conversation about a subject without resorting to these all-or-nothing scenarios.

As a man who was married for 20 years, I can tell yout aht Laura speaks for a lot of us "good guys". I did not fool around. I was a good husband and an excellent father to my 3 children. But what started out as a loving, caring relationship wound up being loveless. Once we had children, my wife turned all her attention on them, and left me cold. I know so many men who feel the same way. I could write a book about it, but I'll spare you. ;)

Your post was reasonable and well-measured. Each marriage has some commonalities and some differences. It's very difficult if not impossible to judge from teh outside. I never bother trying - what's the point? Even teh couple themselves sometimes don't know who and what they are, so how would an outsider?

Another thing. I'm so tired of hearing "poor wife Spitzer". Puhlease. Nobody put a gun to her head. She is an adult woman. She made a decision. Let her live by it. I don't see her as a victim at all.

Last, while I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, as a man who used to have much more respect for women than men (raised by a single Mom, etc), over teh past few years I have really changed my view of women. Between teh divorce and teh dating, I've gotten to know quite a few women who are supposed to be adults, but I find they act like children. Literally. You know, girls are more mature than boys at a young age. But something happens when they hit their 30's and 40's: the men mature and stabilize while the women seem to never want to grow up. I'm generalizing, of course, and there are many exceptions (such as yourself). But when I began dating I was really shocked at all these little girls in women bodies. Nice people, and I had a good time, but their view on life and men/relationships was just so childish and based on fantasy rather than reality. What they imagined was far more important to them than what IS. I'm hoping that this will change once I get into my 50's.

Thanks for a terrific post. :)

Mickey Addison said...


I guess my point was this...the contract is a pure business action, where there is consideration given and promises made.

The marriage partnership is more than a mere exchange of is an exchange of vows. That's what the marital act declares, "take me I'm yours".

While the marriage covenant has elements of a contract, in that there are promises made, etc, marriage is the joining of two lives into a single life. It's not a "junior partnership." It's an order of magnitude more intimate and intense than a mere business deal.

The degeneration of our society that leads to situations like the one we're discussing is because too many people have been treating marriage like something less than it is...the union of two people ordered to the betterment and happiness of the couple, and the rearing of children.

Anonymous said...

Since you asked,

I have had sex with my wife 2 times in 18 months, no climax, no spark.

I've tried and tried and now, I'm not interested. I still want sex(Love).

I haven't cheated; physically, that is, I fill hopeless.

Sex was wonderful when we met. We were in love, we wanted each other all the time, me more then her, thats as it should be.

Then it was you only want me for my body. Thats all you care about. I have a headache. The kids will here you. Not at my parents house.

Biblically, we are told not to with hold ourselves from one another. That we should desire the fruit from our own vineyard. These are part of the Christian marriage contract and good advice.

I fill like there is no hope. It won't get better. I've stopped asking, seeking, wanting, but I still want.

Have a nice day!

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