Is Governor Mark Sanford heading for divorce court? Will his wife say enough is enough? The speculation over the future of their marriage, after his recently disclosed affair is likely to die off well before the family’s pain. So, too, will the unsolicited lectures — about his hypocrisy, about her obligations, about the dire state of marriage in general.
Innfidelity is one of the most common reasons people divorce. But surveys find the majority of people who discover a cheating spouse remain married to that person for years afterward. Many millions more shrug off, or work through, strong suspicions or evidence of infidelity. And recent trends in marriage suggest that the institution itself has become more resilient in recent years, not less so.
Temptation stalks even close marriages, as researchers have had no trouble documenting it. In one survey, psychologists at the University of Vermont asked 349 men and women in committed relationships about sexual fantasies. Fully 98 percent of the men and 80 percent of the women reported having imagined a sexual encounter with someone other than their partner at least once in the previous two months. The longer couples were together, the more likely both partners were to report such fantasies.
And it’s worth noting that most couples who have been publicly humiliated — the Clintons, the Spitzers, the Edwardses — have so far stayed together.
In a statement last week, Jenny Sanford, Governor Sanford’s wife, said that she had recently asked her husband to leave the house after discovering the affair. She also said that she still believes their relationship can be repaired.
To read more about the institution of marriage read yesterday's New York Times article "Marriage Stands Up For Itself".