The good wife

What is it about women that they will forgive their husbands any peccadillo? According to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, the reason Huma Abedin continues to support and remain with Internet sleaze Andrew Weiner is that she was raised in Saudi Arabia where women are taught to toe the line. But that doesn’t explain why Ms. Abedin’s former boss, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, stayed with Bill, her serial philandering husband. Hilary was born and raised in Chicago.

Chicago is also the setting for The Good Wife, the popular evening soap starring Julianna Margulies, who stood by her man, even though he dallied with a prostitute. After living apart, and having an affair, the character she plays, Alicia Florrick, agreed this past season to renew her vows with her errant husband. Real life copies art in the case of Silda Spitzer, wife of Eliot. According to the New York Post, Silda is tired of it all and will divorce Eliot after the New York City elections are over in November. That’s what Alicia said, too.

Maybe the explanation why women will put up with such behaviour is low self-esteem. They think if they lose the man they’ve got, there isn’t another one out there for them. All I know is this: the problem has been around for a long while. One of my favorite pieces of sculpture is the tomb of Ilaria del Carretto in the Cathedral of St. Martin in Lucca, Italy. The fifteenth-century work shows her lying with a dog at her feet, a symbol of Ilaria’s conjugal fidelity. I think it’s safe to say that there are no monuments to Italian males, or males in any other country, accompanied by a dog to demonstrate loyalty to a wife. More typical is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial in Washington, D.C., which shows the president with a bronze version of Fala, his Scottish terrier. Wife Eleanor is portrayed elsewhere on the site, standing alone. There is no statue of FDR’s mistress, Lucy Mercer, who was with him when he died.

Lots of women marry bad men and stay with them because they think they can change them. If they could, half the country and western hurtin’ music would never have been written. As Willie Nelson warbles in To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before, “The winds of change continue blowing/And they just carry me away.” Amy Dalley confirmed the truth in her hit, Men Don’t Change.

You can’t make sweeping pronouncements about anyone’s reason for wanting to remain in a relationship or wanting to leave one. But I think we can all agree that there are more male bounders than female. And too many women who fall for lines, such as the one Jack Nicholson rolled to Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets on his way to winning an Oscar, “You make me wanna be a better man.” It worked for Jack; every man jack thinks it will work for him. All too often, it does.

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