Huma Abedin’s decision to stand by her husband Anthony Weiner in the wake of his second sexting scandal has been labeled lots of things: Sad, pathetic, strategic. Certainly she cannot really want to stay there. With him. Again.
This tells us the most important thing you and I can know about Huma at this point: That she cares more about her marriage and her decision than she does about what you or I think of it. And if that isn’t strength, I don’t know what is. But if we’re going to believe what she said in that press conference (and what else do we have to go by), it’s that they’ve already been through this, it wasn’t easy, she forgave him, and has decided to stay. This issue is between them, she says, and no one else.
There’s a lot of pressure, on all of us, to make sure our relationships meet or exceed others’ expectations of them. Think of the anxiety you feel about bringing your new boyfriend to an upcoming family event, because your dad may not like him. Or how careful you are not to mention something your partner did recently, because then your sister will use it to lobby against him.
Now multiply that pressure times a million. And then make a decision to stay.
Not that Huma’s decision came easily. It’s written all over her face that she’s been through the wringer. But who are we to tell her it’s not worth it, or that it’ll only get worse? No one knows this man better than she does. And it’s not our decision to make.
While I’m not pardoning Weiner his flaws, are you going to tell me that no other husbands have done this and that no marriages have or should survive it? That this is the first time a husband has engaged in questionable online activities or made a series of regrettable mistakes? It’s happening as we speak! In the house next door to you. It just won’t ever make headlines because no one cares.
Huma says she loves her husband, her son, and her life, and she’s not interested in throwing that away because Something Bad Happened. If you’re going to dump an entire relationship and life anytime something goes wrong, then you don’t want a real relationship. You want an IDEAL relationship. Good luck with that.
There’s this persistent notion that if someone loves us, We Should Never Be Hurt. Well, sorry, that’s not how it works. You and I would feel temporarily avenged if Huma stormed out (“Serves him right!”), and then we’d turn back to our own flawed lives and forget about it until the next scandal erupts. But you don’t get to impose your own values on her—and you don’t get to make her do what you think People Should Do. (Read why You Go Girl Advice is the worst.)
I’m not married, but I know that the people who really believe in marriage know you don’t just end it the moment shit goes sour. In fact, that’s the point of committing to someone for the long haul—so that it’s not so easy to opt out when your feelings get hurt. It’s a piece of cake to be in a relationship when it’s going great (see: the first six months of ANY RELATIONSHIP). It’s when things get really tough that the hard work comes in—and sometimes, pays off.
The fact that Huma can work toward forgiveness speaks not to her weakness, but to her strength, and to her ability to make an unpopular choice because of what she wants, and not anyone else.