Boundaries and Connectedness after Infidelity

I admire Jenny Sandford, Mark Sandford’s wife. Mark Sandford is the governor of South Carolina. Mark Sandford’s infidelity with an ongoing relationship with another woman was splashed across the headlines is the last few weeks. She lets us in enough to know that in private is dealing with the devastating effects of her husband’s infidelity, but she is publicly being admired all over the country for her approach to how she is relating to her husband. Watch:

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She is able to extend grace and understanding, without excusing or dismissing his actions, and her own pain and anger (that’s right, women–she is angry and is OK with having the world know about it!) She made a statement, that said in part:

There is no question that Mark’s behavior is inexcusable. Actions
have consequences and he will be dealing with those consequences for a
long while. Trust has been broken and will need to be rebuilt. Mark
will need to earn back that trust, first and foremost with his family,
and also with the people of South Carolina.

The real issue now is one of forgiveness. I am willing to forgive
Mark for his actions. We have been deeply disappointed in and even
angry at Mark. The Bible says, “In your anger do not sin.“ (Psalm 4:4)
In this situation, this speaks to the essence of forgiveness and the
critical need to channel one’s energy into positive steps that uphold
the dignity of marriage and the family, and lead to reconciliation over
time. My forgiveness is essential for us both to move on with our
lives, with peace, in whatever direction that may take us.

Desmond Tutu said “forgiveness is the grace by which you enable the
other person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew.“
Forgiveness opens the door for Mark to begin to work privately, humbly
and respectfully toward reconciliation with me. However, to achieve
true reconciliation will take time, involve repentance, and will not be

She seems to have a handle on the challenging road that needs to happen ahead, as she and her husband, Mark, work through the yuck of his actions, and as they confront the marriage that set the stage for his actions. The ability to be in tune with her own self, and operate from a position of confidence, letting her husband’s issues remain his, but being supportive and connecting in ways that make sense to her are remarkable. So often in times of crisis (see earlier posts on anxiety) people swing to an extreme–pretending it’s not such a big deal and moving forward without properly aknowledging the devastation OR cutting off all possibility of reconciliation, not able to hear the partner’s bids for the marital relationship, and dismissing the partner’s pain and guilt as irrelevant. I’d like to meet her!


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