Balancing Your Life: What Does it Mean When You Stand by Your Man?

The recent resignation of Senator Larry Craig brings up a lot of questions that are ancillary to his arrest and conviction in an undercover sex sting.
09/03/2007 04:49pm ET | Updated November 17, 2011
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The recent resignation of Senator Larry Craig brings up a lot of questions that are ancillary to his arrest and conviction in an undercover sex sting. Besides the jokes about whether or not you should tap your feet in the stall, or ask for toilet paper by putting your hand underneath the partition, or, in fact, just make sure that no-one is next to your stall, to suggestions that it's best to "just hold it", the truth is there are other victims in this incident. I am talking about the residual effects that untoward actions have on spouses or significant others. As former Senator Craig apologized on a bright sunny morning in the Idaho state capitol of Boise, he said, "Most importantly to my wife and my family, I apologize for what I have caused. I am deeply sorry."

Well, what about that? How do his wife, and children carry on? What do they say? As to how they feel? Crummy, or worse, of course. It was suggested by Congressman Bill Sali that the Senator, his wife, Suzanne, their children and grandchildren are due a measure of respect and dignity and decency. I for one, just hope that it passes quickly--not for the Senator--but for his wife, who will have to endure surreptitious glances, whispers, and inward doubt about a long-standing relationship with her husband.

Which brings up the stand by your man question. When DO you stand by your man and how? Why is Hillary vilified for standing by her man? Why is Linda Lay vilified for standing by Kenny Boy as he went down with no help from his friends in the Oval office?

Dina Matos McGreevey, the former wife of Governor James McGreevey has a book coming out this fall. Titled, Silent Partner, A Memoir of my Marriage, she writes that her former husband offered only an indifferent apology after he appeared on national television to announce that he was a "gay American." She writes that before his TV appearance, McGreevey told her what to wear and say after his admission and that she had to conduct herself like Jackie Kennedy. She said she thought their marriage was solid and had no suspicions of his homosexuality. So, is it okay to stand by your man while he outs himself and leaves you looking like a stooge? Is it okay to write a book about the whole sordid affair afterwards? Does that mean you are no longer standing by your man? Does anyone even care? I think people only are interested in the salacious details. It's like not watching a car crash when you drive by. Some part of us wants to see the blood and guts as long as it's not ours.

So, when is it a virtue and when is it a vice to stand by your man? Are we conflicted, or is there some set of unwritten rules? Like 2 strikes and you're out, or outed?

I remember well the Clinton's appearance on 60 Minutes in 1992 when allegations about Governor Clinton's relationship with Gennifer Flowers surfaced. How Hillary, fresh-faced and so supportive, declared that she stood by Bill, like that Tammy Wynette song. What a backlash! In the interview she said, "I'm not sitting here some little woman standing by her man. I'm sitting here because I love and respect him." Well, the rest, as we know is history. When she stood by him again, she has said she stood by the President of the United States. She said dealing with her husband was another issue, and not a public one. Right on!

In the current issue of Vogue there is a lovely puff piece about Michele Obama. I am a big fan of this accomplished woman but took note when the article claimed she was normal, and she stands by her man. Well, duh? He's running for president. Of course, she stands by her man. I presume given her sensibilities she wouldn't be married to him if he didn't measure up to her high standards.

So, forgive me if I am confused, but why is it ok for Michelle to stand by in style, and not for Hillary or Linda Lay? Did Dina stand by and then let go? Do we have an out clause? All I can say is that Suzanne Craig can write a book make a statement or keep quiet. Personally, I would just play the song and hope it all passes.

The truth is that there is no hard and fast strategy or pat solutions to this question. Love will trump cynicism any day. The reality is that there is one answer. We all have to choose what we believe. And then we have to decide if we can live with it.

It's that simple, and it's that personal.