Fashionably dressed and smoothly coiffed, New York first lady Silda Spitzer's expression seemed to convey a mixture of sadness and rage during the Monday press conference where her husband, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, publicly apologized over his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring.
The news videos headlining the alleged infidelity of a powerful man brought up other similar images of late -- Bill and Hillary Clinton, former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey and his wife, Dina, and Idaho Sen. Larry Craig and his wife, Suzanne.
By Virginia Sole-Smith
Nothing makes me feel more overtly "married" than when I open up my wallet to pay at Home Depot and pull out the shiny blue debit card labeled, in big block type, SHARED. My husband, Dan, broke out the label maker two months after we got married to distinguish the cards linked to our joint account from the identical blue debit cards we use for our separate personal checking accounts. (And in the rush of newlywed excitement, it didn't occur to him to use a more discreet...
In each case, the man was allegedly not faithful. And in each case, the wife stood by her man -- at least temporarily.
The latest case, as the others, brings up a host of questions for most of us: What are the cheated-on spouses feeling? Why do they stand by their partners? Why do they stay?
Experts consulted by WebMD say they don't know enough about the Spitzer case to comment directly on it, but through their years of experience working with unfaithful couples or researching fidelity, can suggest dynamics that might be occurring.
"The immediate reaction to the news of infidelity is a profound trauma for people," says Don-David Lusterman, PhD, a psychologist in Baldwin, N.Y., who is well known for his expertise in treating couples with infidelity issues.
"Men and women [both] are very traumatized," he says of the cheated-on spouse. "They really enter marriage thinking they are going to live happily ever after."
Terror can be the next emotion, after digesting the news, Lusterman tells WebMD. The spouse may ask herself or himself: "What else do I believe [besides thinking he was faithful] that I shouldn't have?" They may experience the anxiety of wondering what part of their life is as they perceive it and what part is not.
The immediate reactions to infidelity are "primal," says Marion Rudin Frank, PhD, a Philadelphia psychologist who works often with couples. "The green-eyed monster is there," she says. Cheated-on spouses typically are also fuming and grieving for the marriage they thought they had and the investment they have made.