Elizabeth Edwards Stands by Her Man

Elizabeth Edwards becomes the latest political wife to brave an affair publicly.

Aug. 10, 2008 — -- When Elizabeth Edwards released a statement online saying she would support her husband, following his public admission of an extra martial affair, she was added to the list of women who have decided to stay with their husbands, despite adultery.

"Although John believes he should stand alone and take the consequences of his action now," Elizabeth Edwards wrote about former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, "when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him."

"There is obviously a great love and devotion that she has or that they have for each other," said psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert.

Elizabeth Edwards has become the latest political wife to publicly support her husband following accusations of marital infidelity. Silda Spitzer stood beside then-New York Governor Elliot Spitzer as he admitted to cavorting with a prostitute, and Idaho Sen. Larry Craig and his wife Suzanne dealt with allegations that he solicited sex with a man in an airport bathroom.

Even Sen. Hillary Clinton had to deal with infidelity scandals multiple times with her husband, including allegations involving Monica Lewinsky.

"I'm not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette," Hillary Clinton said in January 1992 following Bill Clinton's scandal with Gennifer Flowers.

Statistics show these political spouses are not alone. In fact, 13 percent of women and 22 percent of men have cheated on their spouses while married, according to the University of Chicago.

And many, like Elizabeth Edwards, decide to stay in their marriages and work them out.

"Woman stay to maintain the family. It's a whole lot easier then having to explain to the child what's happened why Mommy and Daddy are splitting up," Alpert said.

Anthropologist Helen Fisher, who has spent the last 30 years studying the science behind human intimacy, said spouses may have the added component of not letting their dreams go.

"You've been working for that dream for years and years. There's so much more to the marriage. Every couple that's married is working toward their dream. They've made all kinds of compromises," she said on "Good Morning America" today. "They've got networks in the community, children, memories, much more than the adultery. I don't want to minimize it. Marriage is built on many different kinds of compromises and goals."

Fisher, who wasn't surprised when breast cancer-stricken Elizabeth Edwards decided to remain with her husband, said there's also a biological attachment in the brain that is hard to sever, even if your partner has had an affair.

"We are a creature that forms bonds, forms attachment. This circuitry for attachment is very strong, it doesn't stop pumping out its chemicals just because there's a big problem in the relationship," she said.

And while some may view the act of standing by your man after an affair as weak, Fisher said that isn't the case.

"It can be a sign of tremendous power. Your husband [or your wife] just came in with their tail between their legs. They're so sorry. You're suddenly often in a time of tremendous power to make all kinds of deals," Fisher said.

Fisher added that, even when spouses decide to rebuild their marriages and stay together, the union will never be the same as it was before the infidelity.

"I think you forgive but don't forget. Perhaps we're probably built to not forget. So, maybe it can make the marriage stronger," she said. "Some people are adulterous in order to get caught. So they can make the marriage stronger. There's many reasons for adultery."

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