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. Matt

    Lady, he's not in love with you anymore and wants to pursue a relationship with someone else. Its not your fault, its not his fault, its just life. It has nothing to do with addictions or whatever excuse you want to make. Your "pastoral and marriage counselor" should tell you this.

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

    Another hypocritical politician...what else is new?

    August 17, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. cool onlooker

    Way to go Jenny!
    I'd like to give Jenny a lot of credits for what she has stated in the interview. She is a very good role model to her children and perhaps to many other political wives.
    I wish Jenny the best of her life and the children's regardless of a divorce or a reconciliation.

    August 17, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. odysseus14

    Reminds me of a scene in a film about Paul Gaugin played by Donald Sutherland several years back. Riding in a horse drawn cart, sitting stiffly in rows with his wife beside him, others, all pale and stiff, no talking, no expression...Sutherland's face changes, and he jumps off the cart...and heads to the Islands to live a wonderful, dynamic, life.

    Dang it Sanford follow your heart! Get a divorce and be with the one that you love.

    I can see you in a straw hat, with a relaxed and happy grin on your face, living in Argentina with the woman that you love, doing good things for people.

    Go for it Sanford!

    August 17, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. TheFabOne

    Face it, Jenny. You didn't put out enough. Some other woman did. You lose.

    August 17, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. Kat

    Classy lady. She doesn't resort to drama or name-calling even though her husband has proven beyond a doubt through his own actions that he is a selfish, lying, hypocritical narcissist. Lord knows he still deserves to be taken down a few pegs, since he hasn't done a thing to make this up to either his family or the taxpayers of his state. Even worse, he insists on playing victim because he got caught, and refuses to do the decent thing and resign. Talk about eyeroll-worthy behavior.

    He's lucky he doesn't have a vindictive wife. But hey, maybe if he marries that foolish mistress of his, he'll finally get a taste of his own medicine. Once a cheater, always a cheater.

    No, Sanford is not a "good man". Maybe one day he could be if he got over the egotism and REALLY cleaned up his act – but he isn't fooling anyone anymore.

    August 17, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. Balls Over There

    No, actually, his balls are in the other court.

    August 17, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. searrp

    Putting the affair aside for a moment, what struck me in this story is the fundamental difference of midlife crisis for men and women as pointed by Jenny. It is so true that for most married women with kids their sole purpose in life is their kids. They consume the enitre day and night being obsessed about the kids and thereby ignoring their husbands needs. Jenny, I am sure you were equally interested in Mark's career and legacy before the kids arrived. I am sure you enjoyed all the privileges that high office of your husband offered. But as soon as the kids arrived you probably put all his needs in the back burner and pushed him toward this affair. The wives are as much to blame in most affairs. Bill and Hillary are classic examples.

    August 17, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. SC voter

    "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."
    BALONEY! Why would a healthy person of sound mind( and that I question) want to stay in a marriage to a guy like that? SHe is so weak – why give him the power? Why stay with a jerk like that? And this is nothing like the disease of alcoholism . She is making excuse after excuse for him......."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." PULL-EASE!!!!! Both of you should retire from the public forum NOW!

    August 17, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Samantha

    I'm sorry to say, but when a man says his mistress is his soul mate and he would have to learn to love his wife again there has to have been some issues in the marriage for awhile.
    I believe he wife is in denial. I believe she is using her religous beliefs to hold on to this marriage. This man has given his heart to someone else and no amount of counseling and prayer is going to change that. She needs to make a decision to get back together or divorce. The ball is actually in her court because I don't believe he is ever going to stop seeing this woman.

    August 17, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Eric

    This woman has real class. Very sad he couldn't resist the other woman, Jenny too is beautiful and I think he's an idiot for throwing away his life to pursue a fantasy that can never bring true fulfillment.

    August 17, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Lee

    He'll find a new addiction, but he'll always cheat on his wife.

    I'm just glad that another phony "Family Values" republican's political career is over. However, they will fake "reform" him and they will arrange a lobbying job (against health care or something like that) for him. The other normal parachute for scumbags like him, Fox News, might not be available.

    August 17, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Anna

    I greatly respect Jenny Sanford. She offers forgiveness while maintaining her own dignity. I wish her the best.

    August 17, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. SMP

    The ball is in his court? If he were my husband, the only court we would be discussing is divorce court. And, the quicker the better.

    Dump him.

    August 17, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Matt

    While I have different social and political outlook on life than Ms. Sanford, I have to say that she seems to be a very kind person at heart and is presenting herself with as much dignity as one could in a situation like this. She was not thrust into this position and she has carried herself with as much grace as I've seen by a publicly jilted wife.

    August 17, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Eric

    Jenny is a strong woman and I applaud her for handling this the way that she has been.

    August 17, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Mollie

    Jenny Sanford seems like a wonderful person. But I really wish that when this happens to these wives of politicians that one of them would just lambast the man publicly and say, "What a jerk! What a scum bag! I'm moving on to better things." I guess she can't do that because of her children. But I sure wish one of them would.

    August 17, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. EllaD

    An addiction? Has the governor's wife lost HER mind? The man was clearly missing something in their relationship & went outside the marriage to find it. While I applaud her for trying to remain strong, writing this off as being like an addiction is a little far-fetched.

    August 17, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. Laurie in Spokane

    I'm glad Jenny Sanford can be so charitable towards her husband. I don't think I could be, after the damager he's done not only to his wife and 4 sons, but to the State he's supposed to be serving.

    August 17, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. Tyran

    The worst men always have the best women.

    August 17, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Lil Leroy

    I would be addicted to a hottie like that too.

    August 17, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Bill

    It's not an addiction. He simply enjoys being with a woman and not worrying about getting frostbite.

    August 17, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. Emma

    What happens Governor Sanford when the fling becomes old? Trust me, it will.........you never thought you would do this to your wife and look what you have done and are doing to your family.

    If this woman means so much to you, resign the governorship and move to her country to live, after all she is not coming here to live, is she? You can't continue your love life in a long distance relationship so I guess you will need to love since you can't get enough of her! I hope that what she has will more than compensate for the love you will surely lose with your boys and the lawyers are waiting at your door steps ready to pounce.

    Ask yourself one question, "Is she worth giving up your family that you worked years to build?" If the answer is yes, then resign and go to her. Let's talk in a few years and find out if the green goggles have been removed..............this is NOT love, just sex.

    August 17, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. Jason

    Her husband is a repulsive, hypocritical bigot, one who exploited racism, homophobia, and other talking points in the Right Wing Evangelical Republican playbook to stay in power. He didn't make some bad decisions. His entire road to power was paved with reprehensible decisions. And this woman stood by his side, proud of his rather dubious "achievements." Why should anyone feel sorry for this hypocrite, or his wife for that matter?

    August 17, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. Virgo20012

    If I could offer a word of advice. I would suggest that you not wait for him to make up his mind and decide for yourself what your next move should be. After all he didn't consult you before he had his affair. I say, drop the zero and get a hero.

    August 17, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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