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The Case of Eliot Spitzer

Why did former New York governor Eliot Spitzer enlist the services of prostitutes? Since the beginning of time, society has been more preoccupied with a person’s misbehavior rather than the consequential damages on those affected. In the case of Eliot Spitzer, those directly affected are his daughters. Spitzer is a big boy who will be able to face the consequences of his actions. His wife is also an adult who will make the decision that is right for her. However, what has happened to the children is not a private matter where we as civilized society, should leave it up to the parents alone to fix. It requires further discussion because the solution may not be available to them.

As the wife stood beside her husband where he shamefully faced the media to tell us that he was stepping down as Governor, the talk suddenly became about the supportive wife and how humiliating if not demeaning it must be for her to stand there and skillfully perform the role of the victim-wife. Some admired her show of support and many condemned her for standing there in utter humiliation.

Show of support and strength or sheer humiliation; so what was it for Lady Spitzer?

To answer this question correctly, the context in which it was asked has to be revealed for what it truly is. The feminist reaction is one of anger and rage in not wanting one of our sisters to be demeaned and humiliated by a husband who is incapable of keeping his private needs zipped up. The other side, the one referred to as “old-school-thinking,” where a woman has to stand by her man in times of hardship, was glorifying the strength that Mrs. Spitzer showed by throwing her full support behind her husband despite what he did. So who is right? The answer is simple: neither.

The reason that none of the two assessments is correct is that each viewpoint takes Mrs. Spitzer’s presence at the time of the press conference out of context. The media would have us believe that she was standing there as a victim-wife, while others refuted such comment by stating that she showed strength by standing there as a supportive wife.

The first view is misguided because it portrays Mrs. Spitzer as a victim. She is not a victim because she has nothing to do with whatever mess her husband (acting on his own) has caused; it really has nothing to do with her. To speak of victimhood is to place her in an inferior position in the marriage. Such a view also makes the subtle but very critical mistake in portraying Mrs. Spitzer as a wife and not the mother of the three forgotten children (who are desperately awaiting explanation as to how they are implicated in this debacle).

Mrs. Spitzer wears two hats: one as a mother who is head of the household and; and two as a wife to her husband. As husband and wife, there is a mutual consent to marry, and, through that agreement, they promised each other on how they were to perform under the contract of marriage. What business is it of ours whether the contractual agreement between two private people has been breached or not? If Eliot Spitzer breached the agreement he had with his wife, then he has to explain himself to his wife in the privacy of their home.

About the author

Dr. Tseday is a clinical psychologist and one of the country's leading experts in marriage, relationships, and self development. She advocates a unique and at times controversial approach to the dynamics of marriage and personal development, the necessary element for a successful relationship. Read more »

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