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Jenny Sanford: champion of marriage or yet another wife-victim?


She is the granddaughter of Bolton Sullivan, founder of the Skil Corp. of Chicago, which makes electric power tools.

She has a degree in finance from Georgetown University.

She worked on Wall Street for the investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co.

And she managed her husband's campaigns for Congress and the governor's mansion. She even spoke for him in the last days of the 2006 gubernatorial race when South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was sidelined after burning his eyes under the bright stage lights at a groundbreaking ceremony.

But now 46-year-old Jenny Sullivan Sanford -- an outspoken woman who once lashed out at the Legislature for lavish spending while she cut costs at the governor's mansion -- will be remembered for her public response to her husband's private indiscretions.

One day after the governor confessed to having an affair with a woman in Argentina, pundits are having a field day.

Reading the statement she hand-delivered to reporters Wednesday, the one that quotes from Psalms and proclaims "the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage," some praised her stalwart convictions and willingness to forgive.

"Unlike other self-esteem-lacking wives of cheaters, Jenny Sanford shows real courage, class, and dignity in her statement to the press — and in her decision NOT to stand by her adulterous husband at his public confession," wrote conservative columnist Michelle Malkin.

But the Daily Beast's Tina Brown saw it differently. Disappointed that Jenny Sanford did not "set the table for a big-ticket matrimonial lawyer to have a payday on behalf of all the humiliated political wives — ashen Mrs. Eliot Spitzer; pulverized Dina Matos McGreevey; quietly imploding Mrs. Larry Craig; fuming deity Elizabeth Edwards," Brown said the first lady let the governor off the hook.

Belittling Jenny Sanford's offer to forgive her husband if he's willing to work on their relationship -- shades of Hillary Rodham Clinton -- Brown added, "God is great. Roll on the book deal about Resilience, and the date with Oprah."

What do you think?

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo Credit: Reuters photo of the couple arriving at the Obama White House on Feb. 22, 2009, before South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's wife Jenny wife learned that he was having an affair with a woman in Argentina.

Comments () | Archives (17)

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Why should she go to a matirmonial lawyer?? She has the millions...maybe she should use one of those Skil power drills to change the locks on the mansions.

What do I think? I think Tina Brown doesn't know the first thing about our state's first lady. In fact, I doubt she's ever met anyone remotely like Jenny Sanford.

I think people should give them privacy. I feel that may be great if they are able to find the love that built their marriage and let it blossom. I think that the whole situation smells fishy anyhow; And, we just have some politician's, and a newspaper's, word that this mystery woman even exists.

Jenny Sanford comes across as a very impressive person.

Sounds like she should be the governor, maybe President.

I think that it means that people don't know the definition of 'forgive'; it means, 'to give up resentment towards'.

It's something that you do for yourself, not for the other person, in order to get on with your own life.

This could mean repairing the marriage or getting a divorce. First forgive, then...forget.

In our 20th year of marriage, my "devoted" husband went through a similar mid-life crisis, and even fathered a child in the process. After three years, we are separated but not yet divorced. No one should judge Jenny Sanford, who must also think of her four young boys. No one can tell someone else when their marriage is totally beyond repair. Mrs. Sanford is taking the high road, while still standing up for her own self-respect.

Shame on you, Tina Brown. What do you know?

I think Tina Brown has no idea ... Jenny Sanford is very naturally preserving her dignity and protecting her children. She is projecting a much stronger image than the women we have been similarly subjected to who "standing by their men". But Tina wont get this at all, unfortunately for her. Too bad for her !!

Once a cheater always a cheater. She should move on. Let the fool continue. The other woman won't want him if there is no money. Just another public fool who thinks he is something he is not.
Been there done that except my fool was not a public figure. These people who do things like this should not have a suffering wife or husband standing by their side. They should be left alone to suffer through the mess THEY made.

Had he been upfront with the wife, then left. It would be better all the way around. But to have your cake and the frosting is not right. He should have left when the affair started. He has no guts and no respect for his family.

Betrayed wives like Jenny Sanford are faced with the difficult task of trying to decide whether or not to stay with a cheating husband and give him a second chance. It is not an easy decision to make. Some leave. Others choose to stay for some of the reasons listed here Many factors need to be taken into consideration before a final decision is made, including the circumstances of the infidelity, and the attitude of the cheating husband about the affair. Two of the major obstacles facing a wife who decides to stay are mentioned here

According to most marriage and family counselors, it takes at least 2 years to fully recover from the trauma of the affair. It’s even more difficult for a reconciling couple to recover from an emotional affair like Mark Sanford had with his mistress. Whether a wife decides to stay in the marriage or get a divorce, either decision will present its own unique challenges, sometimes for many years to come. More about emotional infidelity, and other observations on the Sanford affair from an infidelity expert’s point of view at

You know what Jenny Sanford has?? Four young sons looking to their mother in developing lasting ideas about women. What's the message? Women are spineless, pathetic hangers-on who sit there and publicly wonder if their husband has a "spirit of reconciliation" even AFTER Ol' Sparky Marky has been caught having an affair, AFTER he books a 10 day trip to see his Latina Lover (even though Jenny 'told' him not to go). The man has disgraced you, given your kids the finger and you want to know IF he has a "spirit of reconciliation"??? Puhhhlleeeeezzzz.

We can condemn Sanford all we want. I am a married man (20 years this year) who was faithful for 19 1/2 years, then in a frenzy, had sex with 4 different women several times over a two month period. I am not proud of it. I just want to explain a few of the processes.
I was not in love with any of the women, and three of them clearly saw me as a meal ticket. The fourth is having her own marital problems.
It was all about sex. The excitement, the horror of what I was doing, but the inability to stop myself... our married sex life has been all but dead, what with raising children, managing careers, and all that responsibility. It was an escape.
I regret it, but marriage is very hard, Very hard. Obama makes it even harder, much as I admire him and his family life.

I hope her husband repents.

"The man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul."
Proverbs 6:32

My heart goes out to Jenny, because I am a newly wed, the third time around. Sanford is despicable and a hypocrite. Him and the other republicans think they are perfect family values people.

Jenny should leave; it appears the husband fell out of love with her and in love with his mistress. It is unfortunate, but it happens all the time. She is still an attractive woman, move on sister!!

The Sanford affair highlights the danger of opposite sex friendships, and how they can undermine a marriage when they cross the line and become emotional infidelity. Details here

The e-mail exchange between Sanford and his mistress show the depth of their feelings for each other and provide valuable insight into how an 8 year friendship eventually led to an extramarital affair. Many people underestimate the danger of close friendships with members of the opposite sex, because they start out innocently, and in the early stages, there is no sex involved. Often, the person involved in this type of friendship does not realize how much of a threat it can be to his or her marriage or relationship.

Left unchecked, strong emotional bonds form, which lead to emotional infidelity, and eventually progress to sexual infidelity. As one blogger put it: He gave away his heart, one piece at a time. It was only a matter of time before the rest of his body would follow. More information about emotional infidelity, and further observations of the Sanford affair from an infidelity expert’s point of view at

Betrayed wives like Jenny Sanford are faced with the decision of whether or not to give the cheating husband a second chance -- not an easy choice to make. Some women leave. Others, like Jenny Sanford choose to stay for some of the reasons listed here Many factors are taken into consideration before a final decision is made. 2 major obstacles facing a wife who decides to stay, are mentioned here

I was very impressed by her honesty and courage. So many other women who are married to men who lead public lives seem to wait for the response of the cheating man and then speak or act. It is seems that it is more important to save or preserve that illusion of their office or career as being more important than their marriage. It is not. When the job is over, they still have the marriage.
I think she has balls and sets a fine example in an extremely difficult situation of how to maintain her dignity and respect even if her partner cannot. It is a shame that he has picked up that skill from her after all those years of marriage.

I think Mark and his mistress are obviously in love from the sounds of it. He even calls her his soulmate. Jenny should move on.

If Mark Sanford had truly been interested in saving his marriage, he would have broken it off (by email or phone - not in person in a 10-day visit) in January when his wife discovered his affair. The fact that he begged to see his mistress, saw her without regard to his office or his family, and continues to spout about his love and regard for her, is proof that he has no interest in protecting the heart of his marriage, his wife, or his four young sons.

Jenny Sanford, an educated woman, knows this. If she believes she can make her husband "behave," then she is just as foolish as he is and deserves him. But those young boys deserve better. Move on Jenny - God does not expect a wife to stay in an abusive marriage.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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