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. Dan

    It's clear the gov. is thinking with the wrong head.
    that's why he needs to leave office now!!

    August 17, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. B

    CNN Why can’t you try working on some NEWS WORTHY stories, and lay off this OLD news?

    There are so many- legitimate concerns- that most Americans have now, and they really don’t need – Inquirer- type junk..

    August 17, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. Karol

    Total class.

    August 17, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. lmd

    "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."

    She knows her "legacy is her children" because she, personally, is wealthy. Most Middle aged women worry aobut making money and, if they lose their jobs, what the next will be, all the while also being a mother and raising children. Perhaps middle aging is different for men than wealthy women. I think the more accurate statement is that middle aging is different for middle-class and low-income women than for wealthy women. We are most likely more aligned with the middle aging of men.

    August 17, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Cory Newman

    Jenny Sanford's comments reflect an extraordinary combination of self-respect, psychological sophistication, grace under pressure, maintenance of perspective, compassion and understanding, absence of malice, and clear sense of purpose. What a healthy, mature person she is.

    August 17, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Necie in OKC

    My prayers are with you Mrs Sanford. You deserve better, and God Bless& be with you(whatever you decide for your marriage).

    August 17, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. Jim

    Running for office again????? Is he crazy?? He has NO political future!!

    August 17, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  8. Jennifer

    Jenny Sanford is very perceptive, and I respect her entire response to this situation. It must be incredibly difficult to have this very personal family situation played out in public. I pray for and wish the Sanfords the best at this time. Nothing to do with politics, as I'm a democrat. But I wish them time and space for healing and refocusing of attention to take place.

    August 17, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  9. jeff jackson, alabama

    I, at first, thought this guy should resign and disappear
    from politics forever. I even compared what he did to
    going AWOL.
    But our new supreme court associate justice said
    something that made me think about forgiving this pitiful
    easily influenced knuckle head of a jerk.
    She said that Latino women are smarter and stronger willed
    than white men. So according to her, he never had a fighting
    chance. Oh well !!!

    August 17, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. STFU

    hello..............he did say that's my soul mate

    August 17, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. JWN

    Jenny, move on from this man for your sake and the sake of your boys.

    August 17, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. Lee

    She sounds like she has a very sound mind, unlike her husband.

    August 17, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  13. Lori

    My father was like that. He became infatuated with a certain nationality and always was "involved" one way or the other with someone from that area since I was a child. He was a good provider, okay as a father but a really lousy husband once this interest started. My mother died 6 months ago, and now, according to him "he's going to be marrying the love of his life" who he only met once about 2 months ago and is my age! My siblings and I are all grown up, but now we feel like we've lost both of our parents.

    August 17, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  14. JOANIS TAYLOR

    Poor Guy! Poor Ladies! That's all.

    August 17, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  15. SC Business owner

    Mrs. Sanford you are a true lady or quality and admiration. The truth always backfires on the ones that think they can hide everything. Well, we support your decision in what you have done and who is to judge you, as we the people are not GOD and it is no ones business. Kee\p your head up high you are a genuine Lady, your husband will have to learn the hard way when his little mistress walks out on him. It will happen, God will not let this continue going on in this world, he will take care of it all.

    August 17, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. henry

    Mrs. Sanford seems like a very nice woman. Notice I said seems because none of us really knows what she's like behind closed doors. But assuming she is nice she still needs to take her head out of the sand and start seeing her marriage in a real light. Mark Sanford has been "disappearing" for weeks at a time for YEARS!! There are rumors of him and other women. Does she truly think that this past year was the first time that he has strayed? She can't be that naive. She sounds like so many women who are in denial and having a billion dollars or being the Governors wife doesn't change the fact that she's in denial. Her marriage has been broken for a long time. Whether its all his fault or she shares some of the blame she needs to get real and accept the fact that people change. She calls her husband's feelings for Chapur an "addiction" trying to put it in a bad light but like most women in this scenerio she's trying to avoid the worst conclusion possible. That Mark Sanford is in love with the other woman and no longer in love with her.

    August 17, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. joan adamson

    Jenny Sanford deserves better than this man. Their children deserve better than this man. He is not much.

    August 17, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  18. Carol

    Jenny Sanford is a remarkable person, she seems to realize that her husbands problem is not a reflection of her and is not caused by her

    August 17, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  19. Tricia Llanes

    Ah, good old GOP family values...

    August 17, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. Unbelievable

    Mrs. Sanford, run for the hills. Your marriage has come to its end. Leave before you are voted as big an idiot as your husband.

    August 17, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. Jerry

    Women never think their man is going to cheat, but they usually do...and half of them never get caught.

    August 17, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. erikaSF

    Good God, Jenny, still making excuses for your cheating lying husband. Please leave him already, the ball is in YOUR court!

    August 17, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  23. Brad

    Maybe he just loves her.....

    August 17, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. Mauricia

    Thats a strong woman!

    August 17, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. Jeff T

    Mrs. Sanford is a very wise woman and an amazing mother and wife.

    August 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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