(CNN) - Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said he could have been on the path to the White House had he not been involved in a scandal that derailed his rising political career two years ago.
"I don't know where my life would have gone, but it could well have been in the presidential mix just because I care deeply about these issues and I've long been talking about them," Sanford said Monday in a live interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
After disappearing on a trip unknown to his staff or family in the summer of 2009, the two-term Republican governor admitted he had gone to Argentina to see his mistress–a woman he called his "soul mate."
Months later, his wife, Jenny Sanford, was granted a divorce. And while the governor fought impeachment battles and received widespread pressure to step down from office, Sanford stayed until the end of his term this January.
Since leaving office, Sanford said he's largely stayed out of public life to spend time with his four sons.
"In the valleys in life, you do a whole lot more soul searching and thinking than when you're going from mountaintop to mountaintop," Sanford said.
He spoke candidly on the reactions from his close friends and family, who were disappointed in him but supported him through "the storm," he said.
And while he's still seeing the Argentinean woman with whom he had an affair, Maria Belen Chapur, Sanford didn't say whether there were any plans for marriage in the works. When asked about a potential wedding, Sanford simply responded: "We'll see."
“Would it be a nice ending to the saga for you?” Morgan asked.
“I think so,” Sanford said.
But the former governor repeatedly insisted he's learned several life lessons, not only in his marriage but also in judging others.
Sanford, who voted as a congressman to impeach former President Bill Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, said he's no longer as quick to call foul.
"Now you look at things, and you say, by the grace of God, I'm going to worry about the log in my own eye before I worry about the splinter in somebody else's," Sanford said. "I've learned a lot about grace."
In terms of marriage advice, Sanford said he's gained a better understanding of what women need in a relationship.
"I didn't properly love my wife," Sanford said, "Fundamental to a woman-and I'm not trying to be a chauvinist, here-is a need for security, whether it's emotional or financial or a nest. And if she gets that, she's happy and playful and encouraging. If she doesn't get that, she can be some other things."
In return, men have a need for respect, and if a husband and wife can meet each other's needs, then "some really great things happen," Sanford said.
At the heart of it, Sanford said he blames himself for the failure of his marriage, but he's now a better person going forward.
"I probably have more to offer a human being than I've ever had in my life," Sanford said. "But I probably have a smaller canvas to paint on, and I accept that as a reality."
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