June 27, 2009 in City

Governor’s infidelity provides teachable moment for men

By The Spokesman-Review

Gather round, fellow husbands.

It’s time once again to have a little talk about how not to be a complete jerk. The following is “The Gov. Mark Sanford Guide to How to Be a Good Husband.” Let’s all study the South Carolina governor’s techniques, and then do the opposite.

Do not say you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail when you are, in fact, exploring the exotic Argentine highlands.

Gentlemen, as lies go, this one is nearly impossible to pull off. Any sharp-eyed observer, such as, for instance, your wife, will immediately notice that you are not wearing hiking boots, not toting a backpack and not grasping a topo map. Instead, you are wearing wingtips, toting a bottle of champagne, and grasping an airline ticket to Buenos Aires in your extra-sweaty palm.

Here’s an idea. Try not to invent any grandiose, bogus story at all. The next time you are tempted to fly off and meet your South American mistress (or your Tekoa tootsie) take a second and think, “Should I make up a story about how I am bicycling across the U.S. to raise money for Promise Keepers? Or should I just stay home and mow the lawn?”

Do not disappear from your job for days at a time and hope no one notices.

This, of course, was an especially tough trick to pull off for a man who runs a state. After a couple of days, someone was bound to say, “Anybody seen the guv’nor? Tall guy? Dark suit?”

Yet it’s not much easier for a regular guy. Let’s say you are on the building maintenance staff and you disappear to your Washtucna love nest for a week. Don’t you think someone is eventually going to say, “Anybody seen Fred? Been gone since Wednesday. Seems like a pretty long lunch. I’ve got an idea. Let’s call his wife.”

When you are confronted with your infidelity, don’t get all weepy and ramble on about how you spent the weekend “crying in Argentina.”

Self-pity, as a defensive strategy, is an exceptionally lousy one. It made Sanford look like a buffoon, or possibly someone who smoked too much Argentine pampas grass.

It probably won’t work for you, either. The only thing more pathetic than a weak husband is a weepy husband.

When you issue your standard abject, cringing apology, don’t follow it with something like, “So, we all good?”

Gov. Sanford said, “I hurt her. I hurt you all. I hurt my wife. I hurt my boys. And all I can say is that I apologize.”

Well, far be it from me to lecture a family-values politician about morality, but the fact is, it took him way, way too long to figure that out.

Gentlemen, the gist of today’s lesson is not all that complicated:

Never do anything that will hurt your wife and your family.

It’s simple human decency. A good person does nothing to hurt the people who count on him the most. It’s called being a “mensch” – being a man.

Apply that simple test to whether you should jet off to Buenos Aires, and you’ll be surprised at how that clarifies the decision.

Unless, of course, you’re a family-values politician.

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