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Are There No Victims in Unhappy Marriages?

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of perennial presidential candidate John Edwards, has endured a PR crisis since publishing her book, Resilience, last year. Gone is the saintly image of the woman who does nothing but give and gets nothing but the death of a child, cancer, and a philandering husband in return. In its place are accusations that's she's a crazy fame seeker with the grossest disparity between her public and private image.

Now a new book about the 2008 presidential election is slamming her, calling her “an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazywoman,” who regularly puts down her husband, calling him a "hick" and his parents "rednecks" in public. While this may not leave her innocent, does it make her any less a victim when her husband cheated on her? "In unhappy marriages," wrote Judith Warner in Sunday's New York Times, "there are rarely pure victims — even if one spouse’s behavior is grossly more offensive than the other’s."

That's like saying that a nagging woman is asking to be cheated on, which hardly seems fair since you never know what came first — the paranoia or the cheating. We can hardly say if they are happy or not, but, like all couples, they both have the choice of leaving or to staying. Maybe they deserve each other?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
mrsld mrsld 7 years
Studio- It is never that cut and dry.People in happy marriages don't cheat. So why did he cheat? In marriage there is never a true victim. (OK maybe there is 1 saint in the world)
boredgourdless boredgourdless 7 years
I think, as in all things, it's a mix of both sides. Surely dealing with a terminal diagnosis, and the loss of a child, would strain anyone. And perhaps she doesn't have that angelic of a personality. What makes a marriage dissolve (beyond the obvious) is only known between the two people in the matter how much the public thinks it knows.
janneth janneth 7 years
Poor Elizabeth Edwards.
Studio16 Studio16 7 years
When someone cheats on his or her spouse, the person who was cheated on is the victim. If he cheated on her and she was just straight up crazy, there's no victim.
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
I agree with GlowingMoon. If the accusations are true, then she's certainly not a completely innocent victim. I always wonder why people who treat their partners like complete crap expect any sympathy when the partner runs elsewhere. Then again, I'd leave a relationship before I resorted to cheating.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
If the accusations about Elizabeth Edwards are true, then I am inclined to think that they deserve each other. Psychologically abusing one's spouse is breaking the marriage vows, as is having an affair. JMHO.
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