by Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil

Continuing the trend of politicians caught with their pants down – literally and figuratively – is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Closely on the heels of Sanford’s news came the revelation that Senator John Ensign was also admitting infidelity. Politician cheating is nothing new, and I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that politicians have a higher instances of affairs because they’re under intense stress on a daily basis. Psychologically, they’re more prone toward a self-medicated high to temporarily cancel out the stressful emotions they feel, as I explain in “Adultery the Forgivable Sin.”

Of course, I’m not suggesting that this can excuse his actions – rather it’s a reason why news of politicians engaging in affairs is, sadly, relatively common. This type of behavior is becoming an epidemic and is a disease similar to alcoholism – and it’s time to stop it. We need to stop glamorizing it, or – alternatively – bastardizing it, accept that it happens and move on. I believe that we CAN cure and forgive adultery (an idea I go into in-depth in my book by the same name.) Politicians have high burn out rate and they’re looking to alleviate the pressure and stress – what I call the biochemical craving for connection.

This can easily become a self-enforcing cycle: politicians and others of us under a lot of tress (and let’s face it, nowadays who ISN’T under a lot of stress!?) are looking for a release from this constant pressure. An illicit affair provides the biochemical connection we’re craving, along with that high and thrill of a new romance. But keeping up the charade only causes more pressure. And so the cycle perpetuates itself.

What can we learn from Sanford (and others like him)?

1). The behaviors that stimulate these feelings can easily become addictive.

For instance, for any addict, the choice to self-medicate in any number of ways—with alcohol, medications, sex, or money—can begin with a desire to relieve stress or mute depression. The addiction then progresses to a
preoccupation with where their next “fix” will come from, and often involves a strong desire to create rituals
around obtaining the “high.” This preoccupation becomes a compulsion—to use drugs or alcohol, or to have
sex, or to shop—followed by depression and despair as the effects wear off, leading to the start of the cycle
all over again.

2). It’s a way of over-riding true emotions by opting for a “high” instead.

Sanford’s wife stated that she was aware of the affair and the couple was undergoing a trial separation as a way to SAVE their marriage (I call this the “brush with death” and it can be quite effective if both people are on the same page, although in this situation that doesn’t appear to be the case.)

3). Learn what your subconscious is telling you before it’s too late.

It’s likely that Sanford subconsciously couldn’t handle the idea of losing his wife and so he sought a way to cancel out that fear by deciding to have an affair. It’s a way of acting out – not talking out – extreme feelings in a person’s life. Don’t make the mistake of acting and not talking – it’s impossible to take back such a decision.


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