American Morning

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July 3rd, 2009
09:18 AM ET

Why Marriage Matters

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford speaks during a press conference at the State Capitol June 24, 2009 in Columbia, South Carolina."]

By Caitlin Flanagan

Around the time of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, I turned to my father at the dinner table one night and said, "It's amazing, Dad — 50 years, and you never once had an affair. How do you account for that?"

He replied simply, "I can't drive."

Watching the governor of South Carolina cry like a little girl because his sexy e-mails got forwarded to his local newspaper, the State, made me wonder whether the real secret to a lasting marriage lies in limiting your means of escape. Whether you're putting the Buick Regal in reverse or hitting "Send" on a love note, you're busting out of your marriage, however temporarily, and soon enough there will be hell to pay.

During the press conference in which he admitted his affair, Mark Sanford warbled that he had broken "God's law," a sentiment that served only to emphasize the narcissism that had gotten him in trouble. Wrestling with God's law had apparently been the subject of many sessions of his Bible-study group, a seminar that may have spent a little too much time on the Song of Solomon, given Sanford's e-mailed encomium of his lover's physique: "I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night's light." Finally a bit of prose that makes us long for the clinical precision of the Starr report. Sanford told reporters the affair had begun "very innocently," which reveals that he still hasn't been honest with himself about the willfulness of his actions. When a married man begins a secret, solicitous correspondence with a beautiful and emotionally needy single woman, he has already begun to cheat on his wife.

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Filed under: Commentary
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Maria Blyden

    I will not stomp on your parade Governor, but I really wish you would stop purring. Take it to the lord in pray. Talk to your wife and family in private and stop involving the press, I really don’t think this is helping.

    July 7, 2009 at 8:56 am |
  2. s

    I feel like this show is a joke and contradicts itself all the time. Nothing on the show is of news worthy .... all i hear is garbage .... and mockeries and thats it? this show gives me a headache.

    July 7, 2009 at 4:44 am |
  3. Greg & Matt in Houston

    Marriage matters for ALL Americans. My parents just celebrated their 50th anniversary in June. They love and care for each other as they always have. All couples deserve a chance to have a legally sanctioned marriage to protect themselves, their children and their assets.

    When I read about protecting the sanctity of marriage as an excuse to deny certain Americans that right it makes me laugh. After all it is the heterosexuals that have cause most counties to install revolving doors on their family court buildings. When I see people like Mark Sanford blathering about what he has done it makes me sick. Sanctity?? Hardly.

    Marriage is important...for everyone. If it is not available for every American, then it should not be available to ANY American.

    July 6, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  4. Jerimiah


    Thank you for writing this article. This is the kind of thing Americans need to hear, but never do. Especially from the media!! Marriage in this country has become a joke. Politicians throw out "God's law" as a catch phrase, but it seems so rare that we hear about politicians doing something for/because of God.

    I'm glad to see someone in the media who is willing to stand firm, and do so publicly, on a topic like this. Congratulations to you for your willingness to speak the truth.

    God Bless,


    July 3, 2009 at 5:35 pm |

    I believe that it has lost its true meaning.M y parents were married for 40 years, . We live in a throw away society and if it doesn't work get rid of it. We as a society just do not want to invest in the time with somebody who no longer makes us happy or it is just easy to have an affair. I think marriage matters , it just takes alot of work to make it work.

    July 3, 2009 at 9:30 am |