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. No More Fear

    That's great, but what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?

    August 17, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. patNY

    Addiction? Give me a break! The fact is he doesn't live you Jenny anymore, you were not his soul mate, and you should both divorce and move on with your lives....him with the Argintine, and you, Jenny, with someone else, or by yourself.

    August 17, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. Ali

    What a strong woman and smart tool 'I know my legacy is my children. I don't worry about that'

    August 17, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. Lisa

    The fact of the matter is, marriages don't fall apart by themselves. And very rarely does a rock-solid marriage fall apart because a third party expressed interest in one of the spouses. It takes two people to make a marriage work. It also takes two people to destroy a marriage: the people married to each other. And despite what a lot of people would like to believe, if everything was being attended to on the homefront by BOTH spouses, the third part of this triangle wouldn't actually have done a lot to bring about it's demise. It sure as hell hurries it along, however. She talks about the poor judgment and mistakes made by her husband and Chapur. What about hers? She sounds like she is the blameless victim in all this. No one is blameless when a marriage fails. It's a rare occurrance indeed when after intense introspection the betrayed party can look at themselves in the mirror and honestly say "I did absolutely everything right. None of this is my fault." It's not impossible for that to be the case but as I say, it's extremely rare.

    August 17, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. carlo

    Wow, and I thought i was a loser when I hung on to a bad relationship for a few months too long.

    August 17, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Liberal4Obama

    Mark Sanford might not be a bad person but he is dishonest, he misled his family and his constituents which makes him pretty much WORTHLESS in my book.

    August 17, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Sandy in Mission Viejo

    I admire the strength in Jenny Sanford. What an incredible woman to see the logic in this tragedy. I have experienced the same infidelity in my own marriage for exactly the same reasons. Men adjust to midlife differently than women. And many time they fall from grace with the poor choices they make. Unfortunately it is a growth experience that we woman have no control over. Stay strong Jenny. Life once again becomes beautiful after the clouds disappear. And they do disappear :)

    August 17, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. tiffany

    She is killing me on this so call "taking the high road" act. I can't help but wonder what dirt he has on her. The calmness and the overwhelming forgivingness is just not believiable.

    August 17, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. Enough

    Imperfections??? I would consider a habitual cheater a little more than imperfect!

    August 17, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. dominican mama 4 Obama

    Well dearie, don't be surprised if that "ball" bounces into a few more courts before he makes up his mind about his marriage to you. Once a sleaze bucket.....

    August 17, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. Sammy

    I just WISH McCain (or maybe Huckabee) had another mistress !!!

    August 17, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. DJW

    Let it go – move on !!!

    August 17, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. JC in SC

    Gov. Sanford
    Just please, we beg you. Don't start talking about it again. You know the saying. "Shut up! Just . . . shut . . . up!" We've heard way too much already. Your job now is to get right with God and your wife and 4 boys. You are supposed to be the spiritual leader of your family and you've left them vulnerable, big time.

    August 17, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  14. Laverne

    Yea and do you think that addiction is just going to go away by itself, I don't think so. Maybe Jenny is the one who is not being realistic about her marriage. It sounds to me he does not want to be married to her any longer, but continues with this charade for everyone elses sake. Release him and see what he does, I think she is afraid of the answer and result.

    August 17, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Former SC citizen

    Mrs. Sanford, the majority of people stand behind you 100 percent. You are a true lady and I do not blame you for walking out of the turmoil. You are to be admired as I would not put up with such in my home either. Hang in there and pay to attention to outside gossip as they are going to talk regardless of anything going on. I always say that while people run their months about somone or something they are letting some other poor soul rest. Happy for you.

    August 17, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Tina

    Jenny, you are a better woman than me. You go, girl. I am proud of you and the way you have conducted yourself in a mess that is not your making.

    August 17, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. Jack in Florida

    If only your husband had a quarter of your maturity, dignity and grace!! Best wishes to you and your sons as you find your way!

    August 17, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. A. Faulkner

    What a devine lady! (Mrs. Sanford, that is)

    August 17, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. sharon

    Jenny Sanford sounds like she has her life in order and it is up to the other to come around or not. Good for her.

    now.............how about all those others in C-Street??????????

    August 17, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. NC Resident

    My husband did they same thing to me and honestly I do not think there is a man alive that has not or will not do the same thing.

    August 17, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Johnson somewhere in FL

    Sorry Ms. Sanford, but from all accounts I've read and seen, your husband is a pathological liar and you need to get away from him or he will keep bringing you down. He was never the man you thought you married, that was just his facade and now he can't keep up appearances anymore. He sounds a bit sociopathic. RUN fast and long!!

    August 17, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  22. Sandra

    Smart woman, although I personally wouldn't say the ball is in Mark's court. It has to be a mutual decision to revive a marriage and the partner who had the affair is definitely not in the driving seat.

    August 17, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. Gary, Indiana

    There's a difference between "love" and being "in love". If you're not "in love" with the person you're with, changes are . . .

    August 17, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. Donald. Cameron, NC

    Enough of this bandering back and forth between the two of them and the State.
    They need to settle this in private and the State (Elected Representatives) need to remove him from office is he won't resign. Charges needs to be initiated where due and those in the 'know' when these action occurred should also be indicted.

    August 17, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. Stephan

    Build a better mouse trap. Free market at play!

    August 17, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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