Jenny Sanford: “I am willing to forgive Mark”

In a statement, the first lady of South Carolina says she's willing to open to trying to save her marriage

Topics: Mark Sanford, War Room,

Jenny Sanford, whose husband is South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, has put out another statement about the governor’s affair and the state of their marriage. In this one, though she still sounds angry — understandably so, of course — she also says she’s willing to forgive, and to work with her husband to try and save their marriage. She makes clear, however, that there’ll be a lot of work involved.

The full statement:

The last week has been very painful for me, my family and for the people of South Carolina. However, throughout this terrible ordeal, the incredible outpouring of kindness, support, and prayer I’ve received from countless friends and folks I have never even met has been truly uplifting. I appreciate that more than I can say. Please know that my sons and I are doing fine, given the circumstances. We are surrounded by friends and family, and we will make it through this. I believe it is how we respond to the challenges we face in life, and what we learn from them, that is most telling about who we truly are.

There is no question that Mark’s behavior is inexcusable. Actions have consequences and he will be dealing with those consequences for a long while. Trust has been broken and will need to be rebuilt. Mark will need to earn back that trust, first and foremost with his family, and also with the people of South Carolina.

The real issue now is one of forgiveness. I am willing to forgive Mark for his actions. We have been deeply disappointed in and even angry at Mark. The Bible says, “In your anger do not sin.” (Psalm 4:4) In this situation, this speaks to the essence of forgiveness and the critical need to channel one’s energy into positive steps that uphold the dignity of marriage and the family, and lead to reconciliation over time. My forgiveness is essential for us both to move on with our lives, with peace, in whatever direction that may take us.

Desmond Tutu said “forgiveness is the grace by which you enable the other person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew.” Forgiveness opens the door for Mark to begin to work privately, humbly and respectfully toward reconciliation with me. However, to achieve true reconciliation will take time, involve repentance, and will not be easy.

Mark showed a lack of judgment in his recent actions as governor. However, his far more egregious offenses were committed against God, the institutions of marriage and family, our boys and me. Mark has stated that his intent and determination is to save our marriage, and to make amends to the people of South Carolina. I hope he can make good on those intentions, and for the sake of our boys I leave the door open to it. In that spirit of forgiveness, it is up to the people and elected officials of South Carolina to decide whether they will give Mark another chance as well.

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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