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. Adam

    Anytime our lusts and desires which are propelled by the whisper of the devils takes over our minds.. then it does become an addiction. Not only an addiction but an intoxicant. It's only after the reality of divorce and seperation and hurting others and losing your position in society hits that the intoxication of the devils whispers leave you and you're left alone in the middle of the road stranded. Belonging to neither here nor there.

    August 17, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. carol522

    sounds like an utterly insecure little man.

    August 17, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. Julia

    What a terrifically classy woman. I hope things work out for them in the best possible way. I'm not a fan of Mark Sanford and not a Republican, but there are some great people in that party who are quietly trying to do the best they can to make things better. This lady has been trying to manage a very private matter publicly and raise her children in an atmosphere that shines the worst light on their father. I really hope it works out for them.

    August 17, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Chris

    He may not be a bad person but he appears to be emotionally weak and morally corrupt. He's ties with the C Street bunch make no difference to most of us and will never absolve him of personal responsibility.

    August 17, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Addiction Not

    Addiction! Homeboy just likes the new bootie. She is trying to make seem like his attraction the the other woman is something different. Not.

    August 17, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. Shari, NY

    Wow, this story has no end! I have weighed in on this before and all I have to say is I wish them the best whichever path they choose.

    The problem of today is this poll conducted re stimulus money. If people like Sanford and Jindal turn up their noses at this initiative, are the polls being conducted only in the states where the money is used? If not, then I am not impressed with it.

    August 17, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. Excellent woman and mother

    You serve as an excellent woman and mother. This time in our history some women do not value their worth as they should, The greatest accomplishment for a mother is to see her children a success, children that love God and live according to Godly principles. You are doing just that, rearing your sons to be men of integrity and a solid character. May God bless you as you walk in the light of Christ.

    August 17, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. JA/TN

    it should be ex-governor of South Carolina, where are the other state legislators, are their heads in the sand, stand by unethical behavior

    August 17, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. Bob Dog

    OMG. This Jenny Sanford is amazing. Wow, what a woman. She is totally grounded. She is the kind of woman you hope to wake up to after twenty-five years in a marriage. Her children are very lucky, and so is Mark. That she would take him back is amazing. Her is a woman with the skills to be successful on Wall Street, and she gave it all up for her "legacy," her children. If Mark continues to spiral down into nothing and she gets divorced, I wish for Jenny that she meets a man worthy of her courage, grace and beauty. There may not be a man equal to her on this planet, however.

    August 17, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. OldUncleTom

    Doesn't really matter how old, or what gender, a person is.

    You make a promise, you keep that promise; if you cannot, then the first person you should notify is the person you made the promise to.

    Nobody ever said that personal integrity was a walk in the park. It probably is political suicide, but that matters less.

    August 17, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  11. Debbie

    Jenny, As someone who has experienced your trauma you need to come to grips with what has happened. The man you married is not the man you are trying to work these things out with. He is not ever going to go back and be the old Mark. You need to stop giving him any chances and move on. He is playing on your emotions hoping to have you and his heart will be with his "soulmate." You need to move on for your children. Otherwise, what your boys will come to learn is you are weak and it is ok to cheat. They are young now but they will eventually learn and know the story...its printed and posted everywhere.

    August 17, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. Justin

    He might as well face it.

    August 17, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  13. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    God is first, Spouse is second and children are third.
    If U get your relationship with GOD right, the relationship with oyur spouse becomes perfect. But u can't get right horizontally if u aren't right vertically.
    Seems to me that Gov. Sanford was doing a little too much horizontal work (outside of his marriage no less) vs. vertical work.
    At this point, I think Ms. Sanford is too proud to let some other woman "take" her husband. Most women, at this point, would have gotten rid of the trash.
    Whether you like him or not, his positions or not, his party or not, his wife is the glue on this one.

    August 17, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)

    Will Mark still get his government-backed health insurance after he's booted from office?

    August 17, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  15. Steve (the real one)

    Personally, I wish them well! The Sanfords will do what is right for their family. Everyone who is offering up unsolicited advice would be wise to spend that time and effort on your own families!

    August 17, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  16. Emma

    It is refreshing to hear a wife who has to endure such a lowpoint in her marriage not run away from the truth and refuses to allow herself to be used by her husband for his political purposes. As I have often been told, the grass always look greener on the other side until you have to pick up your underwear, cook or do other things men detest around the house.

    Having an extra marital affair is not having to deal with the day to day issues of married life. Always showing the other the better part of you until you actually become man and wife then truth is out in the open. The same issues pop under with the new relationship and then you look at what it has cost you........your family and sanity!

    August 17, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  17. Denise in MD

    She's a classy woman, and she's right - just because you make a mistake doesn't make you're a bad person. But I fail to see how it means you can keep your job, given the transgressions he committed against the TAXPAYERS of SC in addition to his wife.

    His rationale for staying in office was that David made a mistake, but he didn't have to abdicate his throne because of it. I understand that, but what makes him a David and not a Saul? Just because God forgives doesn't mean that God doesn't still punish or correct. Do the right thing for your family and the state of SC and step down.

    August 17, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  18. Drew, FL

    So the gov needs to answer only one question. How do solve a problem like Maria? ROFL

    August 17, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  19. Gary - Denver, CO

    This is simply a personal matter between two people, one of whom happens to be an elected official.

    August 17, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. Dave C - NJ

    Isn't Sanford the one that wanted to bring Clinton down for having an affair? I'd love to hear his explanation on that.

    August 17, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. Jeff In Ohio

    he wives of the GOP and religious right need to up their bed game.

    August 17, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Florida Dude

    I really feel for Mrs. Sanford. She had nothing to do with any of this. Hopefully she can get some kind of privacy in all of this. As for the Governor, I don't really care what he did in his personal life but if he used public money for his trips, impeach him and have him removed from office. He is such a hypocrite...preaching to Bill Clinton and then goes out and one ups Bill.

    August 17, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. TotallyObjectiveLiberal

    Wow! What a classy lady. I don't care how pretty his mistress is. His wife is a keeper.

    August 17, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Alfred E. Neumann

    Everyone who could care less about this man cheating on his wife please raise your hand.

    Before there was cable television or the Internet there was still is the National Inquirer. And that's were this story rightfully belongs for the housewives to read at the check out counter.

    August 17, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Jenny Sanford on her husband"

    I bet that hasn't been true for months and months.

    August 17, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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