When Elizabeth Edwards married John Edwards in 1977, she had but one request for her husband… that he be faithful to her. This was paramount to Elizabeth from day one. Unfortunately, we all know the outcome. I can only imagine her struggle living life on the fence with whether to stay or leave once she learned of his infidelities. She has recently documented some of those feelings in a new book, “Resilience.”
Let’s be honest, those people buying her memoirs, are probably looking for all the juicy details of her husband’s affair with videographer Rielle Hunter. After all, former presidential candidate John Edwards did not at all seem the cheating type. He, the bright and charismatic possible future president. She, the devoted wife of 30 years who stood by her husband’s side during his entire campaign. Three beautiful children. The picture perfect family man.
But in fact, tragedy struck their family way before John’s betrayal. In 1996, their son Wade died in a car accident. And then years later, her breast cancer diagnosis, which is now in the terminal stage.
To give you a little background on the story, on December 28, 2006, two days after John announced he was running for president in 2008, he told Elizabeth he had broken the vow he made to her on their wedding day almost 30 years ago…. he had been unfaithful. Just imagine Elizabeth at this moment. First losing a child. Then being diagnosed with breast cancer. Then learning her husband had been unfaithful. One event after the next. Talk about finding strength you thought you never had. In fact, “Resilience” couldn’t be a more perfect title for her memoirs.
She describes the feelings that engulfed her body when she first learned of her husband’s affair, “After I cried and screamed, I went to the bathroom and threw up.”
And finally, as if all this wasn’t hurtful and humiliating enough, recently, DNA tests are supposed to show that John Edwards did in fact father a child with Rielle Hunter. After denying it.
So the big “fence” question, one that Hillary Clinton and Governor Eliot Spitzer’s wife faced, is why stay in the marriage? Personally, I feel they stayed for many reasons. But, I can only imagine the incredible pull in two directions. To stay with a man who had shared his bed with another woman time and time again, or leave, and lose your power and status that has come as result of being this couple. Plus, it is a very different thing when one can grieve privately, or when the whole world is watching and judging your every move.
From left, Emma Claire, Elizabeth, Jack, John and Cate Edwards
This all leads me up to one big question: Would you stay with a spouse that cheated on you? Let me tell you, depending on who you ask, you would get a multitude of answers. For me, I have to say, it depends. That’s personal, so no judgement here ladies. I feel that if my husband went on a business trip and had a “slip up” one night, I would be more inclined to work it out, than if he had been having an ongoing love affair with a woman, and had been deliberately lying to me over and over again. This would kill me. This would kill my spirit. But, if it was one night, and he came to me right away, I think I would try and work it out. I don’t know for sure, and thankfully, AT LEAST TO MY KNOWLEDGE, I have not been faced with this dilemma.
So, while there is no right or wrong answer to leaving after a spouse cheats, every situation is different and needs to be assessed on a case by case basis. Experts say a major deciding factor is obviously your partner’s actions. Do you think it’s going to happen again? Is your partner truly sorry and feels remorse for what they’ve done? Have they offered to seek counseling to help them understand why they strayed in the first place? Trust is a major issue. How can Elizabeth Edwards ever trust again?
I will go more in-depth on infidelity and cheating in the future. For now, this was something to get you ladies thinking and talking. And I truly think, no one can sit in judgement of someone else’s life unless they have walked in those shoes. Really. So, we cannot judge Elizabeth Edwards. She is dying, and maybe she compartmentalized this affair to help her get through her final days as a family unit. Maybe she wants to die in peace, not fighting. Irrespective of her decision, I feel tremendous sadness and compassion for this woman. She must sit on that fence every day wondering if she has made the right decision for herself and her happiness. That can’t be a comfortable place to sit.
What are you feelings?
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