Good Wife Syndrome; Family Values, or Setback for Women?

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Well, by now you’ve probably heard—it’s happened again. And this time, it’s a doozie! A secret transgression, a loyal wife humiliated, and a secret “love” child kept in the shadows for 14 years. Wow…didn’t see that one coming.

Pivotal Scene Depicting the Tenfold Hurt and Fallout of Good Wife Syndrome, on “The Good Wife”

In truth, we all should have seen it coming because evidently it happens a lot. I believe the Schwarzenegger Scandal has probably topped the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter Debacle, and that’s saying a lot. But really, let’s all grow up a little here. This is nothing new…before them it was, of course, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and before that, JFK was a notorious serial womanizer. I’m sure his dirty laundry would have been out in the open at the time too, had TMZ and the Enquirer been hiding in his and his mistresses’ shrubbery in the 60’s…I bet politicians long for simpler times now, huh? Clearly, this is not a Republican or Democrat thing either—it’s a Man and Woman thing. It’s a marriage thing. It’s a human thing….

In fact, the practice of a politician or political hopeful cheating on his or her spouse and all of us having to hear about it when it finally blows up is an unfortunate trend that is here to stay. So much so, that CBS has turned it into a successful, critically acclaimed drama series, The Good Wife. This show is definitely one of my guilty pleasures on Tuesday nights. Maybe guilty is the wrong word…I don’t really feel guilty about watching it because, although the main character was a scorned political wife who initially stood by her man, that was definitely just the opening scene.

I watch and love The Good Wife because it isn’t just about cheating, or standing by your man, or the ever popular family values. It’s about the complexities of women—our hurts, our marital disasters, our strength, and our choices. And ultimately it’s about what lies beneath when our worlds come crashing down around our ears, and when we lose what is most important to us—what’s left of us? Who are we apart from wife and mother? Should we stay and work to rebuild our marriages, or should we leave and rebuild our lives and ourselves differently this time?

Ahhh, if only real life were like a great television show…sigh. I have no doubt that Maria Shriver will be okay. She’ll be like Alicia in The Good Wife, only better, because she’s real. That’s not what this is about, really. It’s more about a disturbing practice of political wives giving up on themselves, really, and staying in a marriage that perhaps would end if the parties were part of a Hollywood duo, who can milk the scandal for their own doses of publicity, or would probably end even if the married couple were just average, anonymous people.

Cheating happens. Sadly, it just does. And it hurts adults and children, families and societies. But, we can’t pretend it doesn’t happen. So why does it seem to happen so often in political marriages? Frankly, I doubt that politicians cheat any more often than average people. I do think that a couple that has political ambitions will tend to stay in a bad, or even a sham marriage way more often than a couple who is completely out of politics. The same thing may happen when maritial status is at much at issue, such as when the couple is involved in church work, etc.

I think  we need to stop demanding the perfect picture from our political officials—that perfect picture which includes the loving, committed, “perfect” marriage, 2.5 kids, 2 car garage, squeaky clean everything. That’s not always reality, but it seems to always be the electable political official’s reality. Hmmm…what doesn’t add up there? We all need to accept that sometimes an individual who would do an amazing job representing our interests in D.C. was a cheating cad at one point, and had a wife walk out on him. Or, maybe he cheats, and the two of them decided to stay in the marriage to actually work it out and do better next time. The point is, that when we demand that all of our backable politicians be perfect, and have the perfect marriage, we encourage and put our full support behind Good Wife Syndrome. And that hurts women, children, and families.

So, when we have another one of these scandals break, and we will—it’s only a matter of time, maybe then we should ask ourselves if that poor, scorned, humiliated, cheated on “Good Wife” would have suffered so, for so long, if not for us and our unrealistic view of the world, marriage, and family values, and our rigid application of those rigid standards to those we are willing to elect to represent us…

Good Wife Hall of Fame

Mrs. Bill Clinton

Mrs. John F. Kennedy, A Classic, Even on This Unfortunate List…

Mrs. John Edwards

Mrs. Arnold Schwarzenegger

And Mrs. Bare Chest on CraigsList….

2 responses »

  1. Love your commentary on this subject, Lisa! I have to say I feel really bad for Maria. But there’s a big part of me that feels she really wasn’t paying attention on some level. The child had to look like Arnold. Yet, you are right, Maria will be just fine. In fact, she looks “relieved” to me. I think Arnold has a huge ego, and his term as Governor didn’t appease it any. Maria will find someone new. She’s striking and smart and rich. She can’t really go back to Arnold, b/c with the love child at home for the past 10 years and the “other woman” literally living under her nose for 20….well, her marital ship with Arnold has sailed; not to return to harbor. More power to her.

    • To me, that is the only really shocking, and frankly a tad suspicious part of this one…the fact that this young man has now existed for so long, right under everyone’s nose, and nobody had even an inkling. I think I feel the worst for him, because it’s not his fault in any way, and the things that all the internet nuts are writing about him are just awful and hurtful. He’s the real victim here, any way you slice it…

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