A Word To The Wives

Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.

---Henry David Thoreau

Open your mouth and you're wrong.

---Zen saying

Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.

---Oscar Wilde

Maureen offers 12 Steps~~~

The New York Times
July 1, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist
Maureen Dowd

Rules of the Wronged

Stay focused, ladies. Here is The Practical Guide to Help Spurned Political Wives Survive Old Problems in the Era of New Technology.

1. Skip the press conference, especially when your husband is copping to call girls, gay pickups in airport bathrooms or “tragic” and “forbidden” telenovela-style love stories. Stoicism at the skunk’s side is overrated and, as Larry Craig’s wife learned, sunglasses don’t help.

2. When there’s an Associated Press bulletin quoting your husband saying that he has found his soul mate but he’s going to try to fall back in love with you, change the locks. (At your second home, too.)

3. If you can’t maintain a dignified Silda Spitzer silence; if you can’t find a girlfriend, a shrink, a personal trainer, a hairdresser or a yoga teacher to confide in; if you must unburden yourself of your fury about your loser husband, go to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or even Deepak Chopra before crying to The A.P. A news wire is not a spiritual adviser.

4. When your husband turns into a Harlequin romance, babbling to The A.P. — yes, even The A.P. thought it was T.M.I. — about a magical encounter on an open-air dance floor in Uruguay, “a soul that touches yours in a way that no one’s ever has,” and the “left brain and right brain” compartmentalization of “the world of ideas that impact this country and state” and “the pursuit of happiness, whatever that is,” just beat it.

5. If you think the worst is over, it’s probably only beginning. On Tuesday, after you thought Mark Sanford had already emoted and burbled more than any man in history, he volunteered to The A.P. (again!) that he had “crossed lines” with a handful of women on trips out of the country, but only “crossed the ultimate line” with his enchanting Maria. And just when you thought John Edwards could not sink any lower, there is news of a sex tape, in which Rielle Hunter shows off her skills not only in videography but pornography.

6. No matter how revolting your husband’s behavior is, don’t be passive-aggressive in public. Refrain from making any remarks that have a veneer of dignity but derogatory subtexts that sound like: “We’re trying to reconcile but it’s going to be tough because he has irreparably damaged my children” or “He has no integrity and I want my kids to have integrity” and “Sure, I’d like to give him a chance if he weren’t such a sleazeball.”

7. Don’t bring the children into it. They suffer enough being the kids of politicians. In the era of Facebook, texting, Google and iPhones, calling him out as a bad father will just go viral in the kids’ circles. Don’t trot out the family on “Oprah,” as Elizabeth Edwards did, or weepily show The A.P. the report cards of your two oldest sons from their elite private school in Columbia, S.C., as Jenny Sanford did.

8. Even if you’re a clever, competent woman, you risk sounding like a stereotypical harridan if you use the kids as a bludgeon and tell the press, as Jenny did: “You would think that a father who didn’t have contact with his children, if he wanted those children, he would toe the line a little bit.” When kids are involved, it’s best to chill when dishing out revenge.

9. Don’t slam his girlfriend for lying when you know she’s telling the truth. Don’t refer to the baby your rival had with your husband as “it.” Don’t trash a mistress, as Hillary and Elizabeth did, as a wacky stalker. No one — except the wife — blames the girlfriend as much as they blame the husband. Besides, you invite The Other Woman’s retaliation, as when Rielle decided — after watching Elizabeth spill to Oprah — that she might want that DNA test after all.

10. High-powered women like Hillary, Elizabeth and Jenny who give up their careers to focus on their husbands’ ambitions feel doubly betrayed. But it’s not your husband’s fault if you sacrifice more for the relationship than he does. Like an investor in a down market, you took a risk without a guarantee it would pay off. If you make your husband your career and you lose your husband, you lose your career, too.

11. Cut your losses and keep going. Don’t let yourself get dragged into his drama or your reputation may follow his down the well. Hillary refused to let that happen. She salvaged her long investment in Bill Clinton and turned a profit when she became a senator.

12. As you stay out of the spotlight that singes your husband, listen to whatever messages he is sending you through the press. When your husband says that is a world-class love story, ask him what this is. Just don’t do it through The A.P.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company


  1. Ahhh Jazzolog, you are good, really good, how do you know the questions, the answers and the secrets, especially when you are so deeply connected to everything political and academic...but then again, you have that great big, wide and wonderful jazz heart which allows you to be like a tune never recorded that usually disappears into the rare toxic ether of the night...not so with you; you are a kahoona of the written word on the Internet so I laud you as I dig up my dirty laundry and record a little solo out on the bridge just to keep you interested in the Lady who does not spell correctly but gets her message across.

    Having had the unique opportunity to once upon a time been the wife of an airline captain for a major carrier who believed in leaving the little woman home and living la vida loca, I was chosen to be the "bad girl" when I fell in love with his best friend. Hence, a case that went to the Supreme Court, twice, and came back "moot" when I took the fifth and we reconciled.

    Like Frank Sinatra, when he caught his Wife Ava Gardner, in a compromising position with-of-all-people, Sammy Davis, he forgave Sammy but not his bride, the captain did not forgive me even though there was never a detective report.

    Mr. Innocent stood in front of everyone who would listen, "God forbid, can you imagine, my wife fell in love when all she would have been able to do was pay for it like I did?"

    Steadfast I never bad mouthed Captain Rubber Lips to the children and only said, 'Daddy did not know how to love me"- long before Masters & Johnson; I never let on when I went to the psychiatrist and my first words were "I don't turn my husband on."

    His words, "Your husband has a required physical twice a year with the airlines and, at the age he is, could be in a hotel with two prostitutes and do "quite nicely all day/night, he has the "Madonna Complex" - you don't go to bed with the mother of your children you pay for it and, God forbid, fall in love - I am a survivor.

    My dear flight attendant/stewardess sister, also with the same carrier for 34 years, told me, when he died, and I asked, "Do you think he ever cheated on me?"

    "Are you kidding, of course he did. At first I was proud he was my brother-in-law but then when I saw and heard what he was doing I didn't even admit it?"

    "Why did he want me? Why did he say: "Someday you are going to be in a rocking chair and maybe I didn't hug you enough, maybe I didn't kiss you enough but you are going to know old Joe really loved you?"

    She looked me in the eye and said, "You gave him a family to come home to and a woman to love, the others, they were just nickel beers...but, what you did, you fell in love and found a soul him, that was a "no no."

    When he had cancer I wrote to Yul Brenner and his wife gave me the address of Dr. Hans Nipor in Hanover, West Germany and my new husband said, "Do what you have to do."

    My kids and I went to every radiation while the girlfriend, the one who would fly coach while he flew first class, the one who did not drive and couldn't go to the hospital and, get ready Jazzolog, when he died, 8 women spoke who never even knew he was Catholic, that he was a flying ace in the China theater during World War II, that he flew the first French Carvelle from France to Newark Airport and who said, as my daughter had her arm around her, when she heard I was the 9th woman to speak, "Oh God, what is she going to do now?"

    A wife delivers especially when she is the "EX."

  2. LOL LOL! I think Thoreau also said that "married men often lead lives of quiet desperation," or words to that effect:-)

  3. Unfortunately, old Henry David was referring to the "mass of men" or "mankind...."

    And to edge my quibble an inch further along, psychological studies indicate married men lead healthier fuller lives than bachelors. Well, if you don't have to go out to a bar......

    Of course, there is also that old pro gay marriage saw which claims straights should not be the only ones who suffer in marriage..... which would be better quoted, with the right spin, by Henny Youngman. But who knows what he felt about gay marriage?

    Anyone here a fan of Borscht Belt humor? Great stuff!

    As you can see I may be a little bored which is why I am wasting your tie with these pearls.

    Yes, there can sometimes be lulls at the bar. When the flies demand our attention. And someone is wondering about getting some quarters for the jukebox. And the door opens. And the gloom becomes filled with sunlight because a beautiful woman has just entered. And she's alone. And you begin to wonder......

  4. I'm going to stand up for Sanford here.

    Poor guy, he fell in love. And lost his mind. And went crazy. So no wonder he says silly things like "I'm going to try to fall in love with my wife again."

    In his condition anyone can say that. And no wonder he disappeared for a week. And became irresponsible. The poor guy was/is in love.

    So what do I think? It's up to the people of South Carolina (or whatever his state is) to choose whether to keep him. Or boot him out. A guy that torn up by an emotional storm can do about just anything. And can be forgiven for almost anything. It's up to his constituents to choose.

    Will the Bible thumpers in his state forgive and forget? Those same people whose fears and prejudices he undoubtedly pandered to in order to be elected? Will they view him as a hypocrite? Or as a fallen sinner seeking grace once again? With all this silly talk of his that's just how he may come off.

    No wonder so many twisted people are Republicans. They hate themselves for being human......

  5. Uh guys, no offense and not meaning to be personal here, but BebopAuthor just has poured her heart out---to say nothing of the bottle of Grand Marnier she bought for the table---and we're shedding tears for cuckolds. I propose a toast to the Lady.

    I'm no saint nor recall ever being celebrated as an ideal husband or boyfriend. In fact apparently I'm fucking difficult to live with. But I've been dumped enough---or slighted in favor of a momentary exciting ambiance---to vow every attempt to negotiate difficulties rather than play around. Betrayal is devastating and may require years of limping recovery before trust is attempted again. What happens to a culture in which such pain is rampant?

  6. Yech, I'm sorry for my misuse of "cuckold" just above. That's not the word I wanted at all. I had written the comment but lost it somewhere between preview and submit---and in a hurry to re-post miswrote. I guess the miseries MadMike and Quinty were lamenting is the languishing or dissatisfied spouse, who may or may not wander.

  7. Yes, yes!

    How callous to merely celebrate the roisterer! The betrayed in all this deserves understanding and support. While the sport (husband) has his wild fling.

    But the heart is a dangerous territory. And those lost in its wilds are sinners, saints, and captives too. Whenever anyone steps foot there he or she takes a wild chance. The governor gladly leapt forward, hoping for the miracle.

    But you're absolutely right, the wife deserves our help and sympathy. While the husband, here, reached out for Heaven, he left the family behind. And none of that pain was necessarily their fault.

    Though we really don't know what went on between them. And, truth be told, rampant pain is normal enough to the heart. Look at all the great art which came out of the Italian Renaissance? A time when passion and violence were common. In that culture "selfishness" was rampant.

    But an excellent point, Jazzo......

  8. True, but I fear our beloved BebopAuthor has left us during this sidetrack...probably returning to her faithful Stork Club, where at least she is greeted by management and friends...and her own table awaits. I'll treasure her comment and revelation, because it is not often this classy lady unloads like that.

    As to Sanford, I prefer to wax on wistfully about mysteries of the human heart in some other instance. I suggest you Google this guy up and review his stances and declarations...particularly about impeaching a certain past President. If we weren't dealing with a particularly blowhardy bornagain, I might be in a more forgiving frame of mind.

  9. Betrayal has been defined as "the breaking or violation of a presumptive social contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship amongst individuals, between organizations or between individuals and organizations."

    The institution of marriage definitely qualifies as a "social contract." But what of love, or friendship? Is Love or Friendship a contract? (I feel that, to a certain degree, there is something somewhat antithetical to the notion of "love" and the concept of "marriage.")

    I don't believe Love can be betrayed as such. Love either IS, or it isn't---no middle ground there. It might be there one day and be gone the next day. Or perhaps it never was there in the first place. It might depend on your definition of Love. People "fall" in love (no contract, there.) It is also sometimes said that people "fall out" of love---but do they?---there is a saying which claims that "he was never in love, he who is no longer in love."

    "Trust" is probably more central to the notion of "betrayal." Trust should require no contract (it's the essence of trust), but even a contract, no matter by what measure of control it is enforced, still requires in the end a certain degree of trust.

    It is the belief of some (Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau) that Democracy is a social contract made by the citizens with one another or with a ruler (or some system of governance) to guarantee them certain needs such as peace, safety and justice. If the ruler or government did not meet their part of the contract, then the people had a right to select a new ruler or a new form of governance. This is the basic philosophy upon which our modern republics are based today.

    Most adults living in democracies place trust in the state of which they are a citizen. If this trust is betrayed, at its worst, the individual can suffer psychological betrayal trauma.

    Betrayal trauma has symptoms similar to post traumatic stress disorder. The key difference between traditional post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and betrayal trauma is that the former is historically seen as being caused primarily by fear, whereas betrayal trauma is a response to extreme anger. Fear and anger are the two sides to the fight-flight response, and as such remain mankind strongest and most basic psychological emotions.

    Ultimately, the question, as seen in the U.S.A. or again, just recently, in Honduras, is how does a democracy address deficiencies in a constitution designed to preserve the powers of an oligarchy.

    In ancient Greek political thought, oligarchy and ochlocracy were both considered part of the three "bad" forms of government (tyranny, oligarchy and ochlocracy) as opposed to the three "good" forms of government (monarchy, aristocracy and democracy). The distinction between "good" and "bad" was made according to whether the government form would act in the interest of the whole community ("good") or special interests ("bad").

    At the opposite of that perception of things, the prevalent ideology nowadays in America, as in most of the industrialized world, seems to be that special interests are good, and that if only government could get out of the way, special interests would prosper and their prosperity would "trickle down" to the great benefit of the whole community.

    Some say that the reality is that most governments around the globe actually have no real choice any longer in the matter and that private interests have become so powerful (or that the economy has become so dependent on their good-will and well-being) that none can or dare stand in their way. By Milton Friedman's standards this should be a great point in time to rejoice since, assuredly, as private interests have their ways, it is only a matter of time before we all are living in heaven on Earth.

  10. Has it really gone that far?

    In Europe there is quite an active left ranging from homegrown CPs to democratic Socialists. Though, true enough, the European right has adopted some American ideas, such as "trickle down." (One of those self serving theories which justify greed.)

    I suppose we could have Sarcozy or Berlusconi. And had we not voted in George Bush (well, sort of: he still got nearly half the vote) we could look down upon the Italians with amused amazement. After all, Berlusconi is a crooked clown. And an acquaintance of mine, the granddaughter of a former premier who lives in Paris, detests Sarcozy. Who appears to see labor as a class enemy.

    Now how can any democracy view labor, the working man, as an enemy? Or even as greedy? But many Americans often do.

    A friend belonging to a labor union once sincerely asked me if I thought his union's demands for fifty thousand a year was asking for too much?

    Oh, God forbid, anyone should live half decently.

    We are so brain washed here in this country with our own “conservative” piffle that many of us (among the lower economic classes) actually believe only the rich deserve their comforts. That public servants are somehow leaching off the truly worthy.

    Whenever the French labor unions shut down the country in a general strike, I say: Let 'er roll!!! Even if, as it once did, it mean taking a bus to Brussels in order to fly out.

  11. Ahhh, the life of the rich and famous. The show must go on. Europeans enjoy their soap opera just as much as any American does. They just have a different attitude about it, that's all. As for Berlusconi...hmm...the rest of Europe still has a long way to go to catch up with Italy---Italians do have a certain reputation to keep, if you know what I mean. Though, it would appear that the Italians have begun to become...uh...not exactly prudish about it, that wouldn't be the word), but let say, ah, skittish about, you know, these kind of things---something about the way it impacts the political gravitas of the country on the International scene. Gravitas (specifically dignity, seriousness, and duty) is one of the several virtues that ancient Roman society expected men to possess, along with pietas, dignitas, and iustitia.

  12. And don't get me started about Maria Carfagna, Italy’s Minister for Equal Opportunity (you couldn't make something like that up if you tried).

  13. But they make magnificent pizza in Italy.

    That's for sure. Especially in Naples. Not too much oil or tomato and a rich mozzarella made from buffalo milk. All under the shadow of Vesuvius. The best - in fact, incomparable - I ever had.

    Yes, Italian life appears to be an unending soap opera. And for what must surely be deep reasons they have finally (temporarily?) settled upon Berlusconi., rather than repeat the passion play of a new government every year or so.

    When I visited Rome last {years ago} I happened upon a rally Gianfranco Fini held. All the Roman cab drivers were on strike at the time and I had the opportunity, not far from the Palazzo Venezia, to actually attend a genuine fascist rally. And the cab drivers there wildly cheered. Later on, as you may know, Fini joined Berlusconi.

    I know little, though, about Italian politics. I imagine most countries are as screwed up as we are, in varying degrees, because they are all basically made of the same stuff. Human flesh: with a dash of mind and intelligence. Though we often are sorely lacking.

    I can still remember the cab drivers standing around me, cheering wildly for Fini. And I was afraid they might tear me apart, sensing I wasn’t one of them.

    Nazism, fascism, and the like, may be dead in Europe. But there are still numerous heirs and disciples of the discredited systems. If they had won the war, well, how discredited would decadent democracy be?

    The Socialists (for the moment) have the power in Spain. The PP is hoping for the worst in order to soon take over again. Aznar is the son of a pro Franco loyalist. They may appear reasonably respectable today, but they are still there.

  14. Ben's remarks about social contract are profoundly interesting to me. I studied government theory in college during a semester when the regular prof was off somewhere, and Bates brought in a retired local gentleman who provided a life-changing and unforgettable course. Certainly marriage is a legal and binding contract because a couple presents itself somehow to the community, as State, and announces our intentions. Almost always the State is provided the opportunity to protest the union on the spot. Dissolving this contract, over the past 40 years in the US, has become an easy charade. Too easy.

    Betrayal may be like PTS, as Ben suggests, but for me it went deeper. I describe my divorce in 1968 as the first casualty of the Sexual Revolution. An intimate colleague at a private residential school where we both lived and worked decided on his own that ours must be an open he moved in. At the same time, he and I continued to plan a summer arts program for the school that would have been stupendous. But I discovered he and my wife were making love and, she says, planning marriage if she could get free---which she proceeded to do. He left town.

    Following this I went through 15 years romping through the wildness of the singles world, degenerating with glee, until my "stress disorder" penetrated into the very soul of my own failure to commit to relationship---and I fell apart. Here is where Ben's comment hits home with me: the social contract in friendship and love does not involve the State directly, but rather is a matter of ethics and religion. Of what is one's character made? Clearly the State and civilization itself is affected by the social concensus of what love is supposed to be like---and apparently today it is a veritable twittering machine. I've worked at a middle school for the last 10 years, where "dating" and "going out" is created by each generation of young people. It is fascinating to observe. I should write a book!

  15. Absolutely fascinated on what goes on without that magnificent missing bartender, perhaps he has found a new and more exciting watering hole. After all he is not a new arrival from some far off place, or so I’m told. From what Jazzy told me he learned “fast” who was who and made a career of chronicling it with a published diary on the Internet in Europe. I’ve got to find him, for at least one night, when no one shows up at The Wulfshead.

    Let’s face it, you are all famous. Quinty has political connections in Italy; Ben knows the “best pizza this side of La Fontana de Trivi” and my collegiate buddy Jazzbo was once married to a ballerina. Surely you are all attractive and connected and this will-of-the-wisp-missing bartender has worked some kind of special mental calculus to figure out how to treat you, for your own entertainment and for the pleasure of others – but you sure don’t know how to treat me. I know there are rules. For example, no quiet tables for loudmouths. I’ve never sat at the bar of anyplace before so I called a secret number today for a future reservation. Fortunately I speak many languages so I did not hear, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have a place for you.’ “I have no intention of excessive socializing or walking around the room,” I just want to morph into a night or two at the bar and be a puppeteer and juxtapose a few stories and see what the bartender has to say, not having the VIPS go off on intellectual tangents about trust, love, betrayal and pizza.

    Before I make my great escape, world weary bebopper that I am, probably too old for this “young” crowd, I would like to speak specifically to the two handsome gentlemen, who were here the night I came in; I realize I did not have enough ice cubes in my martini, hence I “gave it up.” You see an Affair is to Remember, as far as Governor Sanford is concerned, because, ever since he got caught at the airport coming home from saying “adios” to his soul mate Maria, he has been talking, talking and confessing with his tan hand held over his heart.

    I’ve always felt New York is for lovers, Really. And it seems like these fellow “Wufffies” would rather speak about statesmen and a starlet I am not. Blasé is not the word, I think I’ll say “invisible” is how I felt to their response to my regurgitating up my comments. God forbid how they treat women in real life. When I read their remarks it reminded me of how blindsided I was when I met the “Prince of Noir” - Robert Mitchum on the first Saturday of 1966 at Nat and Terry Steinberg’s mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, when their son Freddie was having him as his best man for his wedding to beautiful Jan.

    Now why is she telling us this bit of minutia?

    Maybe it was the temperature, the brilliant sun cascading beams of light through the high windows onto sparkling vases filled with fresh flowers as a petite-dressed-in-gray uniform-with-a-little-doily-for-a- hat black woman was bending over to pick up a piece of dust - which created the stillness as I realized it was just the captain, the groom, the movie star and me, waiting for the others.

    As Freddie said, “I’d like you to meet my best man: Robert Mitchum,” it seemed normal to look him straight in the eye as I admired his brown on brown persona while Freddie was in full tails and waistcoat. To this day, over forty years later, I still feel the arrogance and utter disdain for women, sorta-kinda-like here at the bar, when he said, “See that woman over there? I’d like to stick some marigolds up her ass hole.”

    I shan’t be back. Adios. Perhaps the bartender, had he been here, would have been able to have some pithy comment or two and I would still be here talking about when President Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinosa’s Father wrote me a letter.

  16. Speaking on behalf of the Spanish exile community (we live everywhere, Paris, New York...) which originated with the Spanish Civil War I would like to apologize to M. BebopAuthur. No offense was meant.

    Have I been foolish? Probably.

    Can I repent?

    Probably not. Those things are ingrained in the heart and soul. It's not so easy being wise when your worst enemy is yourself.

    As for name dropping.... Well, I remember when I was in high school and in college (Jazzo may remember this) I sometimes boasted Ernest Hemingway was a pal of my father's. I was very impressed. My mother, who was rather selective about the nonsense she would put up with, often reminded me: "The glory belongs to your father. Not to you."

    How true, how true.

    I do hope you will change your mind, though, BebopAuthor, even if it means you have to put up with fools such as myself. Sometimes, drunk, oh my god how drunk, we can truly make great fools of ourselves. And then repent. Though I'll admit being drunk isn't much of an excuse.

    If you leave us, then it won't be hard to understand.