Stylelistran this piecein honor of Bill Clinton’s sixty-sixth birthday, this past Sunday.
The article questions if the seventeen-year-old Clinton knew he would someday follow in the footsteps of JFK, when he met him at the White House in 1963.
And according to his memoir, My Life, Clinton does state he knew he was destined to a life in politics by the age of sixteen.
I must say, though, that more than his life of politics, or the birthday ticker, what I pondered as I scanned those youthful photos was the fact that his and Hillary’s marriage survived the stresses of infidelity and major political fallout.
This October, the political duo will celebrate thirty-seven years of marriage.
That knowledge brings me peace and inspires me.
Wow. Sixteen years have passed since the stained-blue dress scandal. That doesn’t seem possible, does it?
And yet, in some ways it seems like eons ago, given the fact that the affair took place one year before Princess Diana died in that tragic accident.
During those years, the former president and Madame Secretary have gone on to see their daughter married, continue in their political endeavors, and find a way to resolve their individual and combined conflicts.
For him, to reconcile the turmoil that allowed him to act so inappropriately, both in the line of duty and within the boundaries of his wedding vows.
And for Hillary, to overcome the burdens of doubt, insecurity, and hurt.
In a world where divorce rates run about fifty percent and celebrity scrutiny can be both all-consuming and insidious, the odds were definitely against them.
Despite those harsh statistics, this About.com pieceis a reflection of a love that persists, a bond that transcends barriers of epic proportion.
I doubt that adultery was anywhere on the horizon the day Clinton purchased the house he planned for the two to settle.
I doubt that adultery was anywhere on the horizon the day Hillary accepted his marriage proposal.
When I put it into perspective, my situation pales in comparison to the ordeal these to lovebirds overcame. My situations were private, unless I chose to share my woes.
Oh, there turned out to be a couple of people who had heard rumor of our separation through their children, but no one seemed to know why, or at least they weren’t admitting to it.
I was able to raise my children and work on resolve without headlining every form of media known to man. Neither my likeness, nor that of Warren’s, were used as comic relief.
I wonder how Hillary came out on the other side of it all, with grace and poise and confidence…
I wonder how Bill came out on the other side of it all, with grace and poise and confidence…
Despite the differences, I surmise our processes were much the same, ours and the Clinton’s. I surmise that the numbers of relationships that do overcome infidelity follow much the same paths as well.
Here are the traits that I believe are essential to reestablishing the marriage bonds after trust has been violated.
Both partners should be willing to participate in counseling, be it individually, as a couple, or both.
The hurt partner needs to be able to answer this question affirmatively: Do I believe, mistakes aside, that he/she loves me?
The cheating spouse must ultimately claim responsibility for his/her actions, and be willing to delve into the insecurities that allowed him to betray the person he loves and to compromise the sanctity of the marriage vows.
The hurt partner needs to be able to voice his/her feelings and fears: Fears about health concerns, and to request the partner be tested for STDs. Fears about lack of trust. Feelings of rejection and sadness and anger.
The cheating spouse needs to be able to articulate any issues in the marriage—without casting blame or shirking accountability (a fine line)—that contributed to his insecurities. Some of these could be that a partner is an enabler, is controlling, is hostile, is non-committal or unenthusiastic…
The hurt partner needs to recognize that, though they may have contributed to insecurities, they are in no way to blame for the other person’s actions; each of us can only control our own response to external stimuli.
The adulterer needs to employ strategies that will help minimize, if not alleviate, doubts about his whereabouts, in an effort to reestablish trust with the partner.
The hurt partner must employ strategies to overcome feelings of bitterness, to pay attention to and to recognize the partner’s genuine attempts to make amends and to, hopefully, prevent further offenses…
And as I say that, the question arises what happens when there is a second offense?
I’m guessing that Bill and Hillary and all those before me will say much the same: Rinse. Repeat.
If the above strategies continue to produce honest, positive results, then the chances are good that we’ll end up like the former First Couple: walking confidently, hand in hand with our best friend, engaged and inspired by our partner, and a little wiser and stronger having experienced the evolution of a marriage that transcends infidelity…