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Lifelong Consequences of Love Storm

June 29, 2009

By Anne Badgley, MEd

The love triangle involving SC’s First Lady Jenny Sanford, her husband Mark Sanford and his Argentine mistress reveal grief that is hard to bear, even from a distance. Just the thought of the Sanford boys during these last few days is painful.

At the first of last week, media across the country kept asking, “Where’s the governor?” Who knew the answer was not necessarily a place, but a state of mind. Mark Sanford was on a “love high”. In essence, doped up on infatuation.

Many asked, “Has Mark Sanford lost his mind?” Well, yes.

His uncharacteristically disoriented news-conference confession was a sure sign of his physiological condition. Anthropologist Helen Fisher describes well what happens during romantic love. The most primitive regions of the brain are activated in a way similar to, but even more powerful than, a cocaine high. Obsession blurs the lines of what is important, and if sex becomes involved the effects multiply.

The Governor’s lack of ability to put the priorities of life into perspective was confirmed as Jenny Sanford told the AP that her husband repeatedly asked her permission to visit his Argentine lover after the affair came to light. When Mark Sanford packed a bag, turned off his cell phone, and jetted to Argentina, emotionally and physiologically he was anywhere but in his “right mind”.

Through it all, on the other hand, Jenny Sanford has displayed the characteristics of love that hold families and cultures together – a love that provides the satisfaction that the human soul longs for in the long run.

She apparently cares enough about herself and her children to not allow her husband to continue to live at home, but she also cares enough about him to be willing to work on saving their family.

Her written statement, in response to her husband’s actions, expresses a love that is real:

“I would like to start by saying I love my husband…I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage…We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago…I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal…I believe Mark has earned a chance to resurrect our marriage….Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions and to welcome him back, in time, if he continues to work toward reconciliation with a true spirit of humility and repentance.”

There is a lesson to be learned from this sad situation. Our culture has abandoned standards – boundaries – for human relationships and sexual activity. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, “innocent relationships” can easily go awry. Infatuation can set in, leading a person to an obsession, almost an addiction, to “being in love”. But, infatuation generally wears off within a year or two, and if sex has become part of the picture, the consequences could last a lifetime.

As we have seen played out, time and again, the ramifications of sex outside of marriage are far beyond what contraception can fix. Families, school, jobs, friends… even an entire state… can be affected.

That’s why we’ve devoted our lives’ energies to helping teens in this state know and understand the difference between love, lust and infatuation – the essence of abstinence outside of marriage. When they know what they’re facing, they have the ability to stay in their “right mind” and make choices that are ultimately best for them.

Anne Badgley, founder and CEO of Heritage Community Services, is author of Heritage Keepers® Abstinence Education. Research indicates that a year after the program, students initiated sex at a rate half that of similar non-program students.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Adrian M. Grimes permalink
    July 2, 2009 7:36 PM

    Very insightful article on human emotions with the science to prove these unique dynamics.

  2. Hattie Gambrell permalink
    July 4, 2009 3:58 PM

    Dear first lady, the way you have handled this whole thing has inspired me to me a more forgiving person. You and your family are in my prayers.

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