Jenny Sanford, scorned wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, has become a heroine, a graceful figure in the face of his tawdry affair with Maria Belen Chapur.
Her public response to her husband’s strange liaison led the Washington Post to call her a “role model,” and Newsweek to deem Mrs. Sanford a “media genius.”
Back in June, when Mark Sanford publicly and tearfully admitted that he had not been traveling along the Appalachian Trail, as he claimed, but in fact traipsing around Argentina with mistress Maria Belen Chapur, Jenny was cool and composed.
Jenny (along with her sons) has since moved out of the governor’s mansion, but the former investment banker and mother of four vows to give Mark a chance.
She recently sat down with Vogue Magazine to talk about being a politician’s wife and how she’s dealing with her husband’s public infidelity. Some excerpts:
On understanding her husband’s affair: “It became clear to me that he was just obsessed with going to see this woman. I have learned that these affairs are almost like an addiction to alcohol or pornography. They just can’t break away.”
“Everybody would like an escape sometimes. I’d like somebody 5,000 miles away I could E-mail. It’s not exclusive to men, but I know that isn’t realistic.”
On Mark’s mistress, Maria Belen Chapur: “I feel sorry for the other woman. I am sure she is a fine person. It can’t be fun for her, though I do sometimes question her judgment. All I can do is pray for her because she made some poor choices.”
On the beginning of her marriage to Mark Sanford: “We weren’t madly in love, but we were compatible and good friends … I like to think we balance each other out. I am a conservative at heart, but I’m not passionate about ideas like he is.”
On the next step: “All I can do is forgive. Reconciliation is going to be a harder road. I have put my heart and soul into being a good mother and wife. Now it’s up to my husband to do the soul-searching to see if he wants to stay married.”
Jenny Sanford, left, and “other woman” Maria Belen Chapur.