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Political wives often stay the course after scandal


huma Credit: Getty Images

In a 2007 Observer profile of Huma Abedin, described as boss Hillary Clinton’s “secret weapon,” her future husband, Rep. Anthony Weiner quipped that “there’s some dispute as to whether Huma’s actually human or not.”

Now, the public is speculating as to Weiner’s humanity, as a pregnant Huma, 35, jetted off with the Secretary of State Tuesday for a weeklong tour of Africa. Huma is a top aid to Clinton.

Born to educated, high-achieving parents – an Indian Muslim dad and Pakistani mother - Abedin married Weiner last July in a ceremony officiated by the nation’s philanderer-in-chief Bill Clinton.

And now Abedin joins the long list of accomplished women — Silda Wall Spitzer, Maria Shriver, Wendy Vitter and her own boss, Hillary Clinton — who are powerhouse women hitched to world-class jerks.

More often than not, the women stay. Why?

A woman is more likely to stay and work things out with a man who has “money, power or status,” because she doesn’t want to lose the benefits of the relationship, observed Sandra Davis, the owner of Shady Side Psychotherapy Associates in Pittsburgh, Pa.

And the benefits can be substantial: “Look at Hillary Clinton: She stayed with Bill and then ran for president,” Davis noted.

Men are much more intolerant of infidelity in their female partners than females are in their male partners, in part because they can be: Women – the child bearers — are more likely to be economically dependent on their male partners.

Women define themselves through their romantic relationships to a greater degree than men and may have a co-dependent attachment to their partner. Regardless of how successful a woman may be professionally, she can be “very conflicted about being independent,” and afraid to be alone, Davis said.

Political wives also may have a public conscience, and a sophisticated understanding of strategy and timing.

“Women in the public eye have an extra hurdle because their decision gets so much exposure,” said Sam Alibrando, a sex addiction specialist in Los Angeles.

Announcing a decision to dump or divorce a partner “is like sending a mass email you can’t unsend. Shriver didn’t leave Schwarzenegger until after he finished his governorship. She did that for the citizens of California so it wouldn’t be a distraction,” Alibrando noted.

Moreover, Manhattan psychotherapist and sex therapist Sharon Nathan said that “many times these women love their husbands and their husbands love them.”

Sexual indiscretions may occur in a context of many other good things in the relationship. “Often, the men love their wives and find their wives sexy: They just have this parallel track of acting out sexually to answer their other needs,” that may include salving feelings of inadequacy or coping with anxiety, Nathan explained.

However, the likelihood of the wife staying is greatly increased if the husband comes clean, acknowledges the harm he has caused “and makes a serious effort to remedy the harm,” via a 12-step program or therapy and mending his ways, said Nathan.

When a woman does dump a husband over such a disclosure, it’s likely there were other problems in the relationship as well.

Experts all agree that it’s never, ever a good idea to end a marriage in a fit of pique. If Davis was treating Abedin, she’d tell her, “Ride the tide. Let the publicity die down. Take your time deciding what you want to do.”

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