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Standing by her man

So Eliot Spitzer's wife is standing by him, at least for the moment. What surprises me is why is anyone surprised about this.

From what I understand, about two thirds of marriages suffer an infidelity on someone's part. Infidelity is something men and women have been weathering in one another since the dawn of time and only about half of those marriages collapse as a result. Many people pick up the pieces and move on. A lot depends on people's private attitudes to fidelity and marriage in the first place as to whether or not they feel betrayed.

It's all-American, this furore, of course. The French wouldn't bat an eyelid . One of Chirac's mistresses had an apartment in the Elysee Palace, and generally speaking, sexual matters, along with contraception and pregnancy are simply thought of as a private matter.

After all, it's not as if human beings are designed to be monogamous. Monogamy may be desirable from the point of view of organised society that benefits from stable environments for children to be raised to adulthood, but biologically speaking, human beings are inherently promiscuous. While men's genes benefit from mating with every available female they encounter, women's genes too benefit from variety - many psychologists believe it's the reason for the three-year itch, as if a man sticks around for three years, the child is out of the danger zone, and the woman can (biologically speaking) move on and find a new partner to father the next offspring. Better to have a different father for each child and then your genes have more of a fighting chance.

None of this is very much help to Silda Wall Spitzer, of course. Her husband has been caught in flagrante in a particularly humiliating manner - not shagging his 35-year-old secretary on the side, but paying for (possibly unsafe) sex with a hooker easily young enough to be his daughter, and probably doing it with public funds. It is the kind of thing that makes everyone wince - dirty old man combines with unfaithful spouse combines with prostitute's client combines with bent public official. A quadruple whammy. No wonder Wall looked like a beaten dog at the conference where she was wheeled out to support her erring husband like so many British Tory wives were back in the 90s.

Oh well, it is a private tragedy, but it would be a big thing to end a 26-year relationship, even if she does decide to stop working with her husband, in whose building she has an office. With her children getting older, perhaps Ms Wall would find a boost to her self-esteem in going back to her old job as a crackerjack corporate lawyer, or in continuing to run her charity Children for Children, which aims to involve young people in community service. Or running for President in a few years time.

She is only 50 and has a hell of a lot going for her. There's more to women like this than just the weasels they marry, and success is the best revenge...

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