As we say at FWW, you have to love your kids more than you hate your spouse after divorce. Now Elizabeth Edwards has applied the same logic to why she is staying in her marriage following the admission of her husband’s infidelity.
In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Edwards acknowledged that rebuilding trust "is probably the most difficult hurdle” to overcome following John Edwards’s affair with Rielle Hunter.
But there are reasons to clear that hurdle: the children.
As a woman living with stage four cancer, she knows in the back of her mind that her husband will be the children’s caretaker. She says that she wants the kids to look at their father as “an advocate for poverty, not for this current picture of him, to be the one they carry with them ... I need to create the picture for them that I want them to have."
Edwards is now applying her crayons to all the ambiguous blanks in their life’s coloring book, trying to shade in the blanks that exist and make an enduring family picture. By sticking it out with her husband, who has been shamed and is also in need of forgiveness, she is teaching her children acceptance and resilience and making the best out of a bad situation.
At those moments when the hurt sucks the color from her face, looking at her children, Cate, 26, Emma Claire, 10, and Jack, 8, must fortify her, and stir those feelings that she must keep her family life intact. The alternative, leaving him, pales in comparison to having him for whatever time they have left.
As our blogger Gi Gi once wrote, you are never mad 24 hours a day. Gi Gi is most forgiving of her husband when she sees him be loving to her children.
It is no secret that many who divorce make certain mathematical calculations. If I have 10 good years left, do I want to be with this guy? Maybe not.
But if I have less, the decision may tilt another way. It is a discussion that has been debated here at FWW.
As always, divorcing is a very personal decision. No one makes it cavalierly.
There are many tipping points where people choose to leave. Infidelity is one, but not the only one.
Many times, spouses weren’t serial cheaters but had a bad moment. According to one study, 80 percent of those who have cheated did it only once. As I wrote in a previous article, infidelity can happen for many reasons and couples find ways to live together and work through it.
As Edwards said, "People had this idea that we represented, as a couple, some sort of perfection ... There is no perfection out there."
Edwards concluded that, for now, she is just trying to find the good in life.
We wish her well.