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Elizabeth Edwards: Staying Married for the Kids

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Is staying together for the children wise? Take our survey.


According to recent news reports, Elizabeth Edwards made the decision to stick by husband John Edwards despite his public confession of having an affair with Rielle Hunter.

Elizabeth is said to be devastated by the news--however, she is staying with John in part because she has terminal cancer, and also because she is worried about the welfare of her two young children, Emma Claire, 10, and Jack, 8.

"It's just tragic. That's all I can say about it," Hargrave McElroy, Elizabeth's best friend and North Carolina teacher, told the New York Daily News.

People magazine reported that John Edwards didn't confess his affair with Hunter until after he announced his presidential run in December 2006, and that after he did so, Elizabeth had to decide to stay with him or leave.

"There was anguish--excruciating anguish--for her in dealing with this. She couldn't say, 'Well, maybe we'll work through this for years, or maybe we should separate for two years,'" McElroy told the magazine. "[Cancer] forced her to choose whether to move forward."

By staying in her marriage, Elizabeth Edwards hoped to paint a positive picture of John to her two young children particularly because he will be their only role model when she is gone.

However, keeping his reputation intact has been increasingly difficult after his televised confession last Friday and rumors that the affair is still going on. Also, there may be a 5-month-old child involved, whose paternity is still a mystery.

"It's so painful for her to see the father of her children become a pariah," McElroy mourned.

There's no doubt that Elizabeth's desire to protect her children is admirable--especially during a time when she has her own issues to grapple with.

But how common is it to stay with your husband for the children's sake--and is this a good idea? Experts estimate only about 35 percent of marriages survive an affair--and they point to growing evidence that adultery among parents profoundly affects kids when they reach adulthood. So by staying together, do you teach your kids to weather through marital strife together, or do you just set a bad example?

Are you a child of divorce? Take our survey on how divorces affect the kids. See the results, personal stories and expert opinion on whether staying together for the sake of the kids helps or hinders kids' emotional development...coming soon.

next: ML Obsession for August 18th
15 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jade August 14, 2008, 4:07 PM

I feel so sorry for Elizabeth…John is a cowardly a$$hole!

How low can you be to kick someone when they’re fighting for their life…someone you claim to love?

He makes me sick…

sunny August 14, 2008, 4:27 PM

I am heart broken for her, as well as her children. Especially thier eldest daughter. I hope she is getting support from family and friends, because if I were her i would not want him anywhere neer me. Elizabeth you and your family are in my heart, thoughts and prayers.

Mandy August 14, 2008, 4:29 PM

I believe Elizabeth Edwards did the right thing. Your children’s stability is more important—especially in this situation. In general, I think you owe it to your children to try and work through adultery before deciding to leave. We can move on, but children are affected for a lifetime. And I speak from experience. My husband cheated.

Rose August 14, 2008, 4:37 PM

Why did Elizabeth support John during the recent election when she knew that Rielle Hunter was most likely carrying John’s baby? Elizabeth Edwards knew Rielle Hunter was John’s girlfriend since 2006.

Kathie August 14, 2008, 4:51 PM

Either way the trust that was once there has been broken.

I know one thing, calling John Edward’s names only makes the hurt worse for the ones that truly love him, have a long history with him, depended on him and believed in the better side of him.

Rose August 14, 2008, 7:34 PM

Ode to a Cheat

John Edwards talked about Dad’s mill,
While sleeping with a chick off the pill,
He lied and fibbed to the MS press,
And, awoke early to preen and dress.

His wife, Elizabeth, knew the lie in 2006,
But supported John in Iowa while sick,
They stole Hillary’s honest votes daily,
And laughed on cue, and hiding Rielle.

Why did John lie like a cheatin’ rat ?
No “New Deal” for the average Democrat,
While Obama and Hillary fought on the stump,
John Edwards watched Rielle grow a bump.

Now John’s love child is common news,
And Fred Baron has money to lose,
Rielle, now nursing, has jetted away,
Even Geraldo has joined the fray!

John’s affair has hurt his poor kids,
More than Clinton’s cigars ever did,
A sordid tale that some call a crock,
The only winner, a loser named Barack!

Like dogs in heat, Edwards did pant,
Defined forever, just like Hugh Grant,
Tabloids paid to get the sleeze,
Is it John’s baby, mister please?

See Barack in Hawaii like Bobby Vinton,
Unaware the DNC plans to elect a Clinton,
Edwards may face time from the tax man,
But not if a pardon is part of Obama’s plan.

While Elizabeth cries over her brood,
Baby mama with John was not a prude,
Gone the innocent days of Tom Sawyer,
John gettin’ love like a real trial lawyer.

Patty H August 14, 2008, 10:52 PM

I married my childs father when she was 10 and we became the whole family picture, now she’s 20, I’m getting divorce. It was harder on her and I with her father. He gave her more attention on the every other weekend then he did when we were married. My worst regret. Sometimes being together is so much harder for the children. I wish I had known that earlier.

Lesa August 15, 2008, 7:25 AM

She has to be giving him hell at every private turn. I would.

At least she has a good support system around her that isn’t him. I wouldn’t want to look at him all the time.

I feel so bad for the kids too.

Jaclyn August 15, 2008, 8:44 AM

I think she should leave him. let her die with some dignity. f him seriously what a p o s !! poor poor lady. did you see his 99 interview about clinton? lol he out clintoned clinton!!

human August 15, 2008, 9:24 AM

i think she’s staying with him for the money and the better health care she’ll get while she’s fighting her ca ;i think she should get it while she can less stress on her possibly and she’ll need all the support she can get to fight it and then when and if she does overcome this she’ll have the strenght to fight it. just think how karma is going to kick the other woman in the butt. it’s really sad to think that child will carry this with her/him all their life!

Jackie August 15, 2008, 1:19 PM

correct me if i’m wrong but she is the one one came from money, she does not need to stay with him for money or insurance. and not to mention break him of any money he might have. and that is what i would do before i let him take another dime from my kid and give it to his girlfriend. if the child is his he needs to get a reg. job and support it, while he is paying support on he first ones. maybe he will learn to keep it in his pants..

elizabeth edgley August 15, 2008, 1:59 PM

I admire Elizabeth for the sake of her young kids. If the kids were older and own their own it would be a different story. However, this does not make it easy for her to live with him. What if it was the other way around. Lives are damaged and hurt deeply. It is better that he dropped out of the presidental race. It is better for women to be in the high political offices. How many times do you hear of the women in office cheating . Men cannot think but with one head. That is the very reason God gave him a wife. Not to go out and fornicate and even worse bring another life into the world while married to Elizabeth. I will give him hell while I stuck it out with him and then let him go. because it is a very unhappy situation.

Liz on August 15, 2008,

elizabeth edgley August 15, 2008, 2:04 PM

This is the time to not stand by your man. It seems as if he is not your man, he is every body else man. So let him go and be happy for a change. Once a cheater is always a cheater. and let your children know that also.

Wilma on August 15, 2008.

Sweetie February 5, 2009, 8:08 AM

No Jackie, you are wrong; neither Elizabeth or John came from money. Her family was career military, very comfortable but never wealthy. He came from a working class, probably struggling most of the time.

yorkiedad April 30, 2009, 8:29 AM

John Edwars is an example of the political arrogance so typical of Democrats. He’s a liar, a cheat, an arrogant SOB, and has the morals of a pig. What is sad is that the American electorate is so STUPID, he will be re-elected to political office. Maybe not right away, but it will happen. John Edwards is an example of why this country is in decline, and why our days as a great nation are numbered. It sort of reminds one of the Decline of the Roman Empire, with all the political morality of pigs.

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