The Art of Wooing, Sanford Style
“Soon after I returned from South Carolina, Mark visited New York for a job interview and left flowers with my apartment doorman with a cute note asking me out for dinner that evening. Surprises can backfire! I already had dinner plans with another man that night, so Mark and I didn’t connect on that visit. Thereafter, Mark became more focused in his efforts to woo me, sending regular notes and calling to pin my schedule down before he arrived in the city.”
The Fake Prenup that Wasn’t So Fake
“He had pulled a fast one on me, a hard person to fool. This fake prenup was filled with outlandish things a chauvinistic, selfish, and single-minded husband might desire of a wife and Mark was none of those things. Today I wonder at some of the clauses that have proven true over time, despite the fact that we never signed the silly thing.”
View a clip of Jenny Sanford’s revealing interview with Barbara Walters
Warning Sign No. 1
“A short while before the wedding, when Mark and I were picking readings and vows, Mark told me that he didn’t want to use a wedding vow that included the promise to be faithful. He was worried in some odd nagging way, he said, that he might not be able to remain true to that vow. In retrospect, I suppose I might have seen this as a sign that Mark wasn’t fully committed to me, and with the benefit of the knowledge I have about Mark now, I could point to this moment as a clear sign of things to come.”
Wife and Campaign Manager
I was in the hospital recovering from Landon’s delivery when Mark formalized something that by then I’d known he was seriously considering. He announced he’d decided to run for Congress. He said that the decision felt right and that he felt compelled to run in this particular race. Then, he dropped another bombshell:
“And, Jenny, you are going to run my campaign.”
“Me? You have got to be kidding! I’ve never even volunteered on anyone’s campaign!”
“But you’re free,” he continued.
“Free? I think my plate is pretty full right now!” I said. I was still in the hospital bed, after all.
Clearly he meant a different kind of free.
A Time of Reckoning
“What we did say led to tears—mine—and to a soul search about whether we should even stay married. I know many marriages weather similar discussions, sometimes with one spouse threatening to leave. Neither Mark nor I threatened to leave, but we were both working hard to be understood and falling short. Our geographic distance was yielding a real emotional distance as well. I questioned then whether he really understood me. I assume he questioned that about me as well. His seeming inability to understand my needs and my worries also made me question if he truly loved me. I don’t know if he could say the same, but in many ways I think we were discovering things about our marriage that made us each afraid for the future of it.”
Family Values, Sanford Style
“Mark took it upon himself to create what he called the Sanford Family Constitution. When he read it to us over dinner one evening, I nodded in agreement. Everything in it described my own belief system as well. I was impressed that Mark had found time to create the statement, but I shouldn’t really have been: The process of quantifying his beliefs and goals was reminiscent of the goal itemization he’d introduced to me all those years before. This document described a vision for our family in which “God is glorified and the communities each of our lives touches are better because of the lives we live. Toward that end, our mission is to be a nurturing, loving and fun safe harbor and home place—where each member is loved unconditionally for who they are, where values are instilled, and where each person is encouraged to develop their talents, find their passion and pursue it with excellence to indeed glorify God and make the world a better place.” The family constitution also talked about the things we value: love, faith, passion and excellence, hard work, appreciation, honor and integrity, fun and stewardship and responsibility. I have a difficult time now looking at this family doctrine in light of Mark’s recent actions. That summer, though, I wanted to think of the good times we had and the better times that were to come.”
Problems at the Polls
“Tuesday morning we all went together to cast our votes for Mark at our home precinct, but because Mark had with him only his driver’s license, which had a Columbia address, and no registration card, a woman in charge there wouldn’t let Mark vote. Clearly either she was not his biggest fan or she was a real stickler for rules. By this time I was thinking Lord, what are you telling us? Is this a sign of things to come?”
“I began the summer of 2008 at the beach with the boys, as usual, while Mark finished off state business in Columbia. In late June, he went on a business trip to South America with the state’s commerce department, and as I later came to learn, he completed the trip with a rendezvous with a woman he knew in Argentina. After his return, we spent a busy two weeks of work and fun at Coosaw, though I shiver when I think that while I was cleaning up after a delicious family meal with the boys and their cousins, he was emailing his “soul mate” with visions of her tan lines.”
Mark’s New York Adventure
“Mark and I traveled to Miami for a Republican Governors Association conference in November 2008, where he was elected chairman of that organization. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to Ireland to shoot birds with other RGA contacts. At the end of the trip to Ireland, he disappeared. He had stopped calling home, and I called his staff to find out what was going on. They said he had flown to New York, but they were unclear on the purpose of the visit. I didn’t know either, but I would soon come to know that this trip to New York was for a rendezvous with his mistress. When he finally called, I asked him what he was doing in New York and who he was with. He told me he was alone. I said that I didn’t believe him. The pressure had been getting to him, he said, and, unbelievably, he was also upset about the bald spot that was forming at the back of his head. He just needed some time away from all of the stress and his worries. I cut him some slack. I can’t say I completely bought the line he was selling me, but I put the unaccounted-for time out of my head. I chose to ignore my doubts.”
Making Up For Lost Time?
“My mind raced, looking for an explanation better than the one he was providing. Mark had abstained from sex and drinking during college while his dad was so sick. Having gotten a few things out of my own system in college, I could appreciate that he had long wondered what, if anything, he had missed by not experimenting in those years.”