Now that Congressman Anthony Weiner has admitted to sending inappropriate photos and messages to other women, he has to deal with a new set of issues in the aftermath of his confession.
In an emotional press conference Monday, Weiner tearfully apologized to his wife Huma, saying, and “My primary sense of regret, my apology, goes to my wife I should not have done this, especially, since I was married.”
Public admissions are not only hard for the individual caught in the middle of controversy, but equally as difficult for a spouse, children or family members.
In recent years, sex scandals have impacted politicians on both sides of the aisle and how they handled the situation with their spouses has varied greatly.
In 2008, then New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned after becoming embroiled in an investigation into a high-end prostitution ring. Spitzer resigned, is still married and is now a commentator on CNN.
The next year, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford admitted to an affair with an Argentine woman after going missing for seven days. Sanford and his wife, Jenny, separated and later divorced. The following year, Jenny Sanford published a tell-all book, entitled Staying True, where she described her relationship with the governor and how she discovered the affair.
Sanford remained in office and completed his term in January of this year.
In the case of public and elected officials, there is a constituent base they must deal with – and then there are political colleagues who will weigh in.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whom Weiner said he called prior to his press conference, advised him she was “not happy” and was “very disappointed.” Pelosi later called for the House Ethics Committee to investigate if Weiner violated House rules.
Today, House Majority Leader Eric Candor called on Rep. Weiner to resign, saying in a statement, “I don’t condone his activity. And I think he should resign,” Cantor said after an event in his Virginia district.
Weiner has said he never met or engaged in any physical relations with the women he contacted or communicated with.
Larry Watkins is an ordained minister and a licensed Christian counselor in Franklin, Tenn., who sees plenty of troubled marriages.
“By the time couples meet with counselors, there is an 80 percent probability they are headed for divorce,” Watkins said.
“The one thing that has to occur is complete disclosure to ourselves and to a spouse. Then, a person must own their own choices and finally, do what is required to put their marriage back together. In the congressman’s case, his only hope is to acknowledge his sin, ask for forgiveness from God and those he offended, and seek counseling.”
“Adultery takes place in many forms and starts long before it turns physical. Contrary to what most people believe, emotional affairs are far more damaging than physical affairs,” said Watkins.
“We tend to downplay emotional affairs and elevate physical affairs. Emotional affairs are easier to get into and harder to get out of.”
Watkins said the offended spouse has an early and difficult decision to make – whether to stand by their spouse or leave them. While the Bible says adultery is grounds for divorce, Scripture does not mandate divorce when adultery occurs.
Sources say Weiner’s wife, Huma, a former aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is “standing by him.”