The political limelight bends couples

Our public conversation about politically married women who remain in the marriage after infidelity has remained frozen in place. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, we asked, "Why does Hillary stay with Bill?" And we are still asking essentially the same question. When Anthony Weiner's sexting came to light, we wanted to know what kept Huma in the marriage.

It would take a lot for me to leave my marriage, which I love, but the repeated public humiliations these wives have suffered would have been enough to break me.

So, I wrote a 260-something-page book called "Why They Stay: The Sex Scandals, the Deals and the Hidden Agendas of Nine Political Wives." I concluded that the spotlight changes how these couples react to infidelity. I'm sure you've heard references to politicians living in a bubble or an echo chamber. I feel that applies to their marriages. We can't judge them by normal standards.

For one, they've often lost touch with normal. These couples have learned to perform for the media and, at the same time, to distrust media reports, so that they turn inward toward each other and a few close advisers for counsel. Also, couples in public life fend off repeated political attacks, and the furor over an infidelity can elicit the same defensive crouch. The women who stay in these marriages are often described in the media as loyal, selfless, "a rock" -- which again distorts what's going on. The temptation to buy into that role, and inflate one's already powerful sense of patriotic purpose, must be enormous.


Publishing in March 2017, Why They Stay explores the possible reasoning and motivation behind why political wives stay with their husbands after the husbands cheat. For updates on the book launch, sign up at