August 17th, 2009
06:29 PM ET
5 years ago

Jenny Sanford on her husband: 'The ball is in his court'

Jenny Sanford is interviewed in the upcoming issue of Vogue magazine.
Jenny Sanford is interviewed in the upcoming issue of Vogue magazine.

(CNN) – For the first time in nearly two months, Jenny Sanford is opening up about the affair that turned her life upside down.

"Mark is not a bad person," she says of her husband, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, in an interview with Vogue magazine hitting newsstands this week. "What the world saw in that press conference is someone who is struggling. None of us are perfect. We are all trying to do the best we can."

Despite her acknowledgment of her husband's imperfections, Sanford makes clear in the interview that divorce remains an option. Two weeks ago, she moved out of the governor's mansion with the couple's four boys to spend the upcoming school year in the Charleston area.

"I have put my heart and soul into being a good mother and wife," she says. "Now I think it's up to my husband to do the soul-searching to see if he wants to stay married. The ball is in his court."

She said the man who carried on a year-long affair with Maria Belen Chapur was not the man she married. "It never occurred to me that he would do something like that," she said. "The person I married was centered on a core of morals. The person who did this is not centered on those morals."

Sanford said her husband's relationship with Chapur was almost like an addiction.

"Over the course of both pastoral and marriage counseling, it became clear to me that he was just obsessed with going to see this woman," she told the magazine. "I have learned that these affairs are almost like an addiction to alcohol or pornography. They just can't break away from them."

Sanford says she feels sorry for Chapur. But the Vogue piece also reports that Sanford said of Chapur after looking up a picture of her on the internet: "She's pretty."

"I am sure she is a fine person," she says of Chapur. "It can't be fun for her, though I do sometimes question her judgment. If she knew the newspaper had those e-mails back in December, why did she want him to come in June? But I can't go there too much. All I can do is pray for her because she made some poor choices. Mark made some poor choices. A lot of people were brought down by this, and I am sure that is not what they wanted."

Sanford says her husband - currently on the defensive after reports that he flew in style overseas on the taxpayers' dime and used state aircraft for personal use - "has got some issues that he needs to work on, about happiness and what happiness means."

"You wish it wouldn't come to a crisis like this, but I think when a lot of men get to this midpoint in life, they start asking questions that they probably should have asked a long time ago," she says.

"Midlife aging is different for men than for women," she says. "Mark is worried about what his next job is. He worries about making money, running for office again, his legacy. I know my legacy is my children. I don't worry about that."


Filed under: Jenny Sanford • Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (307 Responses)
  1. Joe

    He will go back to his Soulmate. You have to follow your heart sometimes.

    August 17, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Tania

    No excuses. Keep your dignity. This is not the only time he'll do this to you. Enough!

    August 17, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. piper

    Okay, she's the one with the addiction. Listen to how she speaks of the infidelity. She's the third person, instead of putting herself 1st and moving on. Her addiction is her husband and his addiction is his mistress. You're just as responsible by continuing to lie under the
    radar of his mistake. Move own, you've been granted with license to divorce this cheater and take back your dignity.

    August 17, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. rick

    Jenny Sanford: Classy person. Gov Sanford: Imperfect, like the rest of us. Let's move on and let these two work out their issues whatever way is best for them.

    August 17, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Butch Dillon

    The ball may be in Sanford's court, but it and another will never make it into his pants.

    August 17, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Tom in CA

    CNN has lowered itself to tabloid journalism!

    If I want it, then I can get it at the supermarket.

    CNN – you're stooping into the gutter! Is that where you really want to be?

    August 17, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX, USA

    Mark's addiction will do him no good even if the proverbial BALL is in his court. He should resign and concentrate on home affairs. No pun intended.

    August 17, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. Joe

    No one strays from a perfect marriage. There had to be problems for him to hook up with someone else.

    August 17, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Alex

    What a load of c...p. It does injustice to millions of people in this country who struggle with real addictions. This is the thing that pisses me off the most about these so called 'moral' leaders, whether politicians or religious figures. They want to tell us what is right and what is wrong, pass laws or judgments on us for our imperfections and then go ahead and do precisely the things they preached against. Then they try to tell us that it was just Satan's temptation and they 'prey' for God's and our forgiveness. And guess what, majority of us welcome them back in the fold and some even admire them more as people who withstood a morel crisis and 'came back to God'. Well I'm an atheist and I don't go sc.....ing around, because my wife is a nag and I don't ask God for forgiveness because I don't feel I have ever done anything bad enough to have to bother him. As for Jenny, however strong and high roaded she appears I still look at this as a ploy to have her husband keep his job so she can continue to stay at home. She even states that: my husband has so many things to worry about – his job, money etc....I don't have to worry about any of this.

    August 17, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. DAN

    Sanford will do it again, he'll just make a few adjustments next time.
    He'll be better educated on the do's and don'ts of sneaking around. I did.

    August 17, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Andrew

    Give me a break. The affair is like an addiction? This just sounds like brainwashing from a faith based therapist. Sometimes people just don't love each other anymore because of fundamental changes they have gone through in their lives. Obviously from the information that has come out Sanford has very strong feelings about this woman. I understand Jenny is probably very hurt, but instead of making silly comments like she does in this article, she should be facing the truth of her life. It's harmful to both parties to try to mediate something that is never truly going to go away. He fell for someone else and that's that.

    August 17, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. cgardner

    "Why would anyone stay married to a cheater?" Believe it or not, maybe, because she is not quite the victim she appears to be. Too often men stay married because it is the "right" thing to do. Generally, the wife is well aware of this fact, yet, accepts the pros and cons until it becomes public knowledge. Just one point of view.

    August 17, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. Suzi

    Jenny is obviously whoring, too – for MONEY – that's why her husband's OK to raise 4 sons cause she gets MONEY!!! So whoring is for different reasons, Jenny's for money – Mark's for sex.

    August 17, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. fubarnomo

    Where does his "C" street family fit into this and how do they feel about his immoral acts?

    August 17, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. John

    Evidently the class of Jenny Sanford did not rub off on Mark. Something else must have rubbed off on him, and from all indications it came from a barnyard.

    August 17, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. Carl

    Mrs. Sanford needs to take the ball and run! The man is a loser and he needs to be impeached or resign and she needs to get on with the rest of her life. This is a public spectacle and totally disgusting. His morals did not work for him and he needs to get off the "holier than thou" stand and take another look at his spiritual values. Mrs. Sanford, you are a beautiful woman and deserve to have a happy life without this man. Your children deserve more than this. God Bless you!

    August 17, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Carol

    She mentions morals, but what about LOVE? Does she say that she loves her husband and wants him back? Does he love her?

    August 17, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. KM

    This woman is the epitome of class! I am so glad she had the guts to not stand by his side during the press conference like so many other politican's wives have had to do for good "PR". She is putting her kids and herself first, and good for her for getting as far away from the situation as possible. He is a slime-ball and not deserving of such a devoted wife!

    August 17, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. Hopeful Optimist

    She's a fool to stay with this idiot - not because of his whoring but because he is a pathetic, pitiful excuse for a human.

    Lotsa people mess around, but they're basically good people. This one is bad to the marrow.

    August 17, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  20. keekers

    Jenny,
    "the ball is in his court" is the ultimate passive aggressive, cop-out response.
    He has made his feelings clear. Telling the world that Maria is his "soul-mate" is his cop-out way of hoping you'll dump him so he can go to her.
    Neither of you are willing to take responsibility for moving on.
    I feel sorry for the kids.

    August 17, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. wbn

    This lady is all class; highly intelligent too. She rightly understands sexual addiction (which is as real and powerful as other addictions); she also understands that other wise "good" people (people who work hard, care for family, obey laws, go to church, whatever) can fall into such traps, whether sexual or financial or substance. The governor needs to wake up to all he has that is worth holding on to. Just another reminder to all of us of how quickly and easily immorality, dishonesty, and unadjusted character flaws in even one life can ruin the lives of many others.

    August 17, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. Get Real

    People fall in love with other people, and it can end a marriage. This is a reality. It seems Gov. Sanford is truly in love with the Argetinian woman.
    Sadly, some people pick the wrong spouse, and later meet someone who is their true love. They then have a choice – live without that love forever, or divorce and be with their true love. The fact that the mis-matched couple had children is the only complication – and it is a major one.

    August 17, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. Pat

    CNN will always post things that make the republican party look bad. They always have. Which is why this story is here. I wonder if it was a dem governor if this would be getting as much press?

    Jenny should kick Mark to the curb. Once a cheater always a cheater. The sex of the person doesn't matter. Men and woman cheat.

    August 17, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. DRCinDC

    she is a smart woman. using 'addiction' as an excuse gives her the opportunity to stay in the game if he decides to stay with her. what we have here is a very typical political couple. They have too much to lose over a little fooling around – reference – Bill and Hillary.

    August 17, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. bill

    Mr. Sanford. It's just a a mid-life crisis. get over it. Go back to your wife she is very good for you. You need to talk with Mr Spitzer.

    August 17, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
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