Jenny Sanford: The Smart Wife

Here's a question for the ages: How is it that high-profile men like John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer don't realize they'll get busted for cheating? Because the instant they're elected to office, their egos go wild, says Jenny Sanford, the (soon-to-be-ex) wife of South Carolina's philandering governor, Mark Sanford.

Ms. Sanford talks about her career, her husband and her life in the March issue of Marie Claire. An investment banker on Wall Street for years, she "saw plenty of men whose egos grew as their income rose." But, she says, "Nothing I saw there...compares to the immediate and transformational stroking that comes as soon as one is elected to a high public office."

This can be bad enough for the families of politicians, of course. But it's also an indictment of the political system. "It is easy for our nation's political leaders to become insulated from the realities of everyday life," Ms. Sanford says in the magazine. 

Ms. Sanford, who has been hailed as a hero for not standing by her man when he confessed his illicit affair with his Argentine mistress, also disagrees with Maureen Dowd's advice in the New York Times that she maintain a "dignified silence" like Silda Spitzer.

"I rarely agree with Maureen Dowd," she tells the magazine, "though I completely respect her right to hold and to share her opinion." Ms. Sanford says she decided to speak out -- and write a book -- in order to "help other women to gracefully find their inner strength as they face difficult situations in their own lives or marriages."

As for whether Ms. Sanford and her four sons have read the racy emails between her husband and his lover that ran in the press, she says, "Sadly, we have all read them." She also addresses her husband's ill-advised public comment that his mistress was his "soul mate."

Mrs. Sanford pulls no punches. She also weighs in on whether her husband should have been impeached for using state funds to fly to Argentina. Read the full interview here.


Abigail Pesta is an award-winning journalist who has lived and worked around the world. Currently she is the editor-at-large of Marie Claire magazine in New York. In Hong Kong, she was a news and features editor for The Wall Street Journal. In London, she ran an editing desk for Dow Jones Newswires. She has also worked at Glamour, where she launched Mariane Pearl's popular column about women who change the world. Abby writes short stories for her website, Fine Words Butter No Parsnips.