Jenny Sanford to Vogue: Husband's Trysts Were 'Punches to the Gut'

Jenny Sanford, the first lady of South Carolina, has been lauded for her grace, honesty and composure in the face of every political wife's worst nightmare.

Her husband, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford set off a media maelstrom when he admitted in June that he had been secretly visiting his mistress in Argentina instead of hiking the Appalachian Trail, as he had told his family and aides.

Since then, Jenny Sanford, the mother of four sons, has remained dignified and fairly quiet as details of the affair emerged -- through lusty e-mails, online pictures of the other woman, and the governor's tearful explanations.

But in an interview with Vogue magazine, Sanford has gone public with her side of the story.

Sanford said she was shocked when she found evidence of her husband's affair last January "in a stack of papers."

"It never occurred to me that he would do something like that. The person I married was centered on a core of morals. The person who did this is not centered on those morals," she told the magazine.

She called additional revelations of rendezvous with other women "punches to the gut."

Nonetheless, Sanford spoke of her husband in compassionate terms, comparing her husband's behavior to that of someone addicted to a substance.

"Over the course of both pastoral and marriage counseling, it became clear to me that he was just obsessed with going to see this woman. I have learned that these affairs are almost like an addiction to alcohol or pornography. They just can't break away from them," she explained.

Sanford, a devout Christian, described her husband as a person who has sinned, but is not evil.

Jenny Sanford Says Cheating Husband 'Not a Bad Person'

"Mark is not a bad person," Jenny Sanford said. "What the world saw in that press conference is someone who is struggling. None of us are perfect. We are all trying to do the best we can. It's up to my husband to do the soul-searching to see if he wants to stay married. The ball is in his court."

She even extended compassion to the other woman, Maria Belen Chapur, a 43-year-old Argentine businesswoman.

According to a friend of Jenny Sanford's also interviewed in the Vogue article, the governor's wife confesses she has "Google-d" the mistress and described her as "pretty."

"I also feel sorry for the other woman," Sanford said. "I am sure she is a fine person. It can't be fun for her, though I do sometimes question her judgment. If she knew the newspaper had those e-mails back in December, why did she want him to come in June? But I can't go there too much. All I can do is pray for her, because she made some poor choices."

For now, Sanford said she is doing all she can to forgive. Revenge, she said, was out of her hands.

"If you don't forgive, you become angry and bitter," she said. "I don't want to become that. I am not in charge of revenge. That's not up to me. That's for the Lord to decide, and it's important for me to teach that to my boys. All I can do is forgive."

She has moved out of the governor's mansion in Columbia, S.C., however. She and her four sons are relocating back to the Sanford family home in Charleston, where she said the boys will be enrolled in school.

"From there, we will work to continue the process of healing our family," she said in a statement she released announcing the move.

"While we will be leaving Columbia, we will return often, and I will remain engaged in activities in my role as first lady, acknowledging that my responsibilities to my family come first," her statement said. "Once again, when it comes to personal family matters like this, I respectfully ask that members of the media allow us to go on with our lives in peace."

Read the full Vogue article HERE.

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