If Elections Have Consequences, Then Marriage Matters
On October 3rd, President & Michelle Obama will celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary. While I am a registered independent, did not vote for President Obama, and am not a fan of his job performance, I find him to be an outstanding man, husband, and father. I feel the First Lady has done a wonderful job and in she too I see an outstanding woman, wife and mother. They and their marriage are great role models!
On the contrary, neither major party presidential candidate can be seen as who we aspire to be in marriage. Both do however provide us with insight into a problem affecting over half our nation’s children which has never truly been discussed on the campaign trail – divorce!
I listened to Donald Trump’s (third) wife introduce him at the republican convention and while it was lovely, it didn’t wow. Then, his son from this marriage came on stage to be with mom and dad. After an awkward pause, the kids from the other two marriages joined them. As Donald stood there with his five children from three marriages, I couldn’t help but remember not what he has said about other people, but rather, what he said about himself.
Regarding his marital history, he claimed he had been a lousy husband but a great father. Yes, his kids appear to have turned out fine. Never the less, while plenty of children of divorce do good in school and have successful careers, universally, the effects of divorce play out in their adult relationships. Therefore, it’s possible that we really don’t know yet if Trump’s kids have turned out as well as they appear to have?
With a divorce rate still hovering around fifty percent, this notion of being a lousy spouse but a good parent is an often used rationalization, however, it’s an oxymoron and physically impossible, especially where cheaters are concerned. Time spent in an affair is time that should have been spent with one’s kid(s). That doesn’t mean a cheater can’t be a good father or mother but the term great father or mother is reserved for great parents who put their kids ahead of themselves and who start by being great spouses!
Ultimately, Donald Trump sends the same dangerous message all celebrities do when they divorce. Not that divorce for these people doesn’t have pain, but generally speaking, both parties end up with lots of money and suitors lined up by the hundred. Simply put, while getting over a divorce is painful for anyone, it’s a lot less painful for these people because of the ease with which they can build new lives - which also affects how well their kids do.
Ironically, Hilary Clinton also sends a dangerous message by having stayed in her marriage.
When I watched Bill introduce Hilary at the democratic convention, I immediately noticed how different the introduction by a first spouse was to that of a third spouse. There was an awe inspiring history of a life built together. There was a gaping hole in the story though. Serial cheating was the elephant in the room not mentioned! Never the less, there was a daughter who by all accounts is a wonderful young woman proud of her parent’s marriage.
It’s not for me to speculate why Hillary stayed with Bill. Many opine theirs is a relationship based on political ambition. I don’t care why they have stayed married. It’s none of my business why any couple get or stay married along with how they conduct their relationship. What is my business are spouses honoring the lifelong commitment that separates marriage from other forms of relationships because divorce breeds more divorce.
Take Hilary’s close friend Huma Abadeen for instance. Most were appalled she didn’t dump her husband, Anthony Weiner. I’m guessing her friend Hilary having stayed in her marriage, working through humiliating problems, had a lot to do with Ms. Abadeen’s decision, which I believe was an admirable one. Unfortunately, in this case the problems worsened and Ms. Abadeen has now wisely separated from Mr. Weiner.
There’s always a fine line celebrating reconciliation where infidelity has occurred. On one hand it sends a message that you can overcome even the most hurtful of acts. On the other hand, it sends a message that you can cheat and you won’t necessarily lose your marriage. I always choose to applaud the former while never forgetting the latter.
Nowhere is that fine line better illustrated then in the Abadeen / Weiner marriage. It was none other than Bill Clinton who officiated their wedding ceremony. Now I’m certainly not saying President Clinton bears any responsibility for Mr. Weiner’s behavior but if the person marrying you has practiced deviant behavior and not lost his marriage, then someone such as Mr. Weiner, consciously or subconsciously, can see a path where no consequences exist for crossing a line. I don’t know if President Clinton ever counseled Mr. Weiner, however, officiants along with guests should take some measure of responsibility toward helping marriages they witness!
Fellow citizens, this election will have a consequence. The percentage of married people recently fell below fifty percent for the first time ever and is trending downward at warp speed. Come January, we will have a President who cannot be considered a role model in marriage which will only accelerate the downfall of marriage in our culture. Interestingly, both Vice-Presidential candidates are on first marriages with no cheating scandals. I hope our new one will see fixing the state of marriage as a national priority.
In closing, I want to wish the Obama’s a very happy anniversary and thank them for their service to our country. As they leave office on Inauguration Day, they will be in their 25th year of marriage to one another. Thank you for keeping hope alive. Thank you also to Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden. Their first year out of office will include their 40th wedding anniversary. Two more great role models!