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. Big Ed

    Like an addicition? Oh, boy. What next. This guy is a real piece of work. He's darned lucky his wife allowed him to try to repair the marriage. Yeah, Mr. Moral Values! I guess the rules apply to everyone else!

    August 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  2. I can see Canada from my house!

    She's got a lot more class than her husband. Its a pity that he could not confide in her though: it sounds like he was afraid of failing her, and instead of being a man and talking to her, he went after the first skirt that he saw. I have nothing but admiration for her, and feel nothing but contempt for him.

    August 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. deb0155

    And, this is news! We have bigger problems to worry about in this country!

    August 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. elana

    Well, soon Mark won't have his job, that's plain and simple. Then what will he do?????? More than likely he'll contact his "lover" in Argentina AGAIN, find some way to use the taxpayers' money of South Carolina, to get a "free airplaine ticket" and get a job in Argentina! And IF you are then reconcilled because you took the attitude that "midlife aging is different for men than for women", you will be the saddest woman on the planet and very angry at yourself because you chose to "walk right back into the mess that he made"! Stand up to domestic abuse/violence/womanizing men!! Begin a new life with your children, and one day you will look back and be very thankful you did!!

    August 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Enrique

    Where is the outrage from the party of family value?

    August 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Cheryl in Bluffton, SC

    This marriage was over when he publicly called his mistress his soul-mate.

    August 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Annie, Atlanta

    Jenny Sanford, my advice to you for what its worth – take the ball back, sweetie. You and your kids are not a priority, and probably never will be. He was never who you thought he was. That happens alot, sadly.

    August 17, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. serah

    Jenny has been an encouragement to so many married women who are in a similar crises. All i can say to her is to hold on to the core morals she know and keep on talking to Sanford about them too. She has come too far to look back and start life again after divorce. As a christian i believe the bible is the word of God and in Malachi 2:16 "I hate divorce,"Says the Lord God of Israel.........I know it is hard but patience and prayer and persisitance pays in the end. you should not walk away or put divorce on the table as an option. Divorce is as painful experience as what you are currently going through now. And for many married women out there who are in similar situation dont walk away...the other woman is the one to be packing and going for good not you!!!!!Sometimes we give up so easily. But will divorce take the pain away for ever or will it be followed by countless psychotherapies?

    August 17, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. KJL

    I hope Mrs. Sanford has learned that being "religious" does not make a person better than everyone else, even if they themselves think so. I wish her the best and hope she is able to move on to a better life, hopefully without the dishonest, whining windbag who abused his position as governor and embarrassed his family.

    August 17, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  10. Sam

    If only every person who is about to commit adultery thinks for a moment what it does to their marriage, especially if kids are involved, this world would be a different place.

    August 17, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. Independent_me

    Ok.
    The man had some exotic, heady wine and now he cannot settle for cool-aid.
    Sanford and Jenny will end up in divorce court.

    August 17, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. Ron

    I understand......hope they work this out and stay together...life is short.....Mark is lucky to have this woman

    August 17, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. S. Beale

    She seems like a sensible person in all respects except her choice of a hypocrite for a husband.

    August 17, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. Bill Perney

    Very understanding and adult of Mrs. Sanford. Although, honestly, I don't see why she doesn't just drop this guy and move on, she deserves better.

    August 17, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. William in San Jose

    She's a lot kinder than I.
    Another fallible x-tian.............

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

    The guy is in LOVE for crying out loud! Mark met a Latina woman and experienced TRUE LOVE without all the mind games that comes with American women. Seriously,you want to tell me the guy is smart enough to be where he is politically but somehow when it comes to experiencing love he is delusional?
    just goes to show why 53% of American marriages end up in divorce. The wife just afirmed it; "......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" . such as,why am I wasting my life with this person? How long can I stay in this situation? Is this it for me?

    August 17, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. J.L. n MD.

    at least she's realistic about it. More then what most republicans are about anything!

    August 17, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. Debby

    What cares already either ditch the guy or go back with him. I am sick of reading about these people.

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

    Well, *she* at least is clearly a class act.

    August 17, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. gingerpeachy

    I had hoped Jenny Sanford would not follow in her husband's footsteps and give out too much information...we DO NOT need to know personal details about his affair. Enough. Decorum is saying as little as possible and her interview will only serve to set off another fire storm of media rehash.

    What is she thinking? Does she want the salacious affair back in the news to further upset her children? Apparently it's more important for her to vent and publically muse on the subject. Again, it's all them. Impeach him and be done with it. UGH!

    August 17, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  21. Suzi

    Jenny, the 'Wonderful Wife' does NOT want to give up all the money she reaps being the gov's wife. She's in it for the MONEY – that's all!! He has been paying her for work ?positions? for all the years he's been in politics – She is LOVING THE MONEY!!! THAT's why she's HANGING in – not for the Mark – but for his MONEY and the Money she gets from his political Stockpile!!!

    August 17, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. Lisa in Shelton

    as a precursor to this "addiction," he self-admittedly flirted with crossing lines before too – this disappointing hypocrisy should be no surprise; but his lack of respect for his constituency and his family is a hallmark of addiction – it is all about me.

    August 17, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. K

    I think Mrs. Sandford is being a lady about this and doing the best thing for her and their children.

    If he wants the other woman, let him go. Mrs. Sandford has said that she had done her part to save/salvage their marriage, but looks like his heart is somewhere else. No woman can keep a man from being where he wants to be.

    You have to let go and move on. So Mrs. Sandford, as a woman, wife, and mother I salute you for taking the action you did and keeping the focus on the real relationship with your sons.

    August 17, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. Mikey

    Actually– the pictures I've seen of Maria Belen Chapur don't exactly paint her as any kind of ... goddess. At best, she looks like a well-groomed 50-year-old. At worst, she looks like a dude.
    Sanford, what are you thinking?!!

    August 17, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Angela

    One classy LADY!!

    August 17, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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