Why Breaking Up Is Harder Than You Think: The Plight Of Huma Abedin

Giving up on someone when you've invested so much isn't easy under any circumstances.

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Kathy Willens / AP

From left: New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner listens as his wife, Huma Abedin, speaks during a news conference at the Gay Men's Health Crisis headquarters in New York City, on July 23, 2013.

For a few minutes yesterday, the public got to laugh with Anthony Weiner instead of at him. At a mayoral forum in the Bronx, the contenders were asked whether they preferred Facebook or Twitter. After a collective intake of breath, it was Weiner’s turn to answer. He looked out at the crowd, bowed his head a little bit, then peeked out from under his brow in a bashful, aw shucks way. The crowd began to giggle with him at the absurdity of it all.

But his smirk just added to the impression that Weiner is oblivious to the profound damage that he’s done to his bid for a political comeback, much less his marriage.  It was, after all, less than 24 hours after he stood behind his elegant and accomplished wife who declared her love and support for him, visibly pained at having to speak in public as the sad, sordid details of his repeat behavior were exposed yet again. She was a ‘Huma shield,’ as the tabloids dubbed her. The next day, when Weiner was asked how he was doing after that brutal media encounter, Weiner responded almost boastfully, that he was doing just fine: “I’ve got an amazing wife and child upstairs. I’ve got a comfortable life. This is not about me.”

(MORE: Weiner and Spitzer Hope to Turn Misdeeds into Selling Points)

Putting aside that bit of theater from someone who is notoriously focused on himself, he’s almost right. Because really, the question we’re all asking is, how does he still have that amazing wife?  You can hear women all over country saying:  “If he were my husband, I’d be out of there so fast. Or, “I’d [revenge fantasy of choice].” Behavior like Weiner’s seems like it would put most people with financial means on the fast track to divorce court. But Abedin’s determination to keep trying despite the seemingly unforgivable behavior isn’t so unusual.

Here’s why: Divorce is rarer than you might think in more affluent demographics. There is gap in divorce rates between those who are highly-educated like Abedin and Weiner (with a B.A. or more) and those without college degrees, according to a 2010 study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Among college educated couples, rates of divorce or separation within the first ten years of marriage are lower now then they were 40 years ago, dropping from 15 percent to 11, even as rates for other demographics rise. The same report concludes that for couples who have the economic benefits of a college degree or above, and who come from intact families, are religious, and marry after age 25 without having a baby first, the chances of divorce are even lower.

And as a 2011 article in the New York Times points out, divorce can still be stigmatizing in some social circles where parents are particularly ambitious about providing the absolute best environment for their children. One mother, a professor, quoted in the piece says that divorcing made her feel “like the ultimate bad mom.” So when Huma Abedin says that her answer to her husband’s horrific behavior is to keep trying, it’s not that surprising. Nobody wants their child to be one of only one or two kids on the kindergarten class list who have two separate parental homes. The language that Abedin used in People in 2012 is telling:  “It took a lot of work to get to where are today, but I want people to know we’re a normal family,” she said.

(MORE: In Defense of Huma Abedin’s Decision to Forgive Weiner)

That urge to get back to “normal” when you have a child a powerful one. Abedin’s statements on Tuesday stressing that she made her decision to stay for her son, for her family, are in keeping with the somewhat traditional views of highly educated women. According to a 2010 Pew report, college graduates are among the most likely to reject the notion that marriage is becoming obsolete: only 27% agree, while 71% disagree. (Opinions were split more evenly in the general population.)And when it comes to qualities we want in a mate, being a good parent trumps everything by huge margins in almost all demographics according to Pew. More than 90 percent of women thought that being a good father was a very important quality in a husband while around half thought that  being a good sexual partner was very important. Meanwhile, the question of when bad sexual behavior permanently damages the ability to be a good parent is sometimes hard to answer.

Then there’s love. Abedin declared that she loves this guy despite it all. Giving up on someone when you’ve invested so much, or just saying you’ve made a mistake by marrying them when you’ve taken vows and established yourself as a family before your entire community isn’t easy under any circumstances, never mind when a former president officiated at your nuptials, as was the case with Weiner and Abedin. Of course, if Weiner does have an unmanageable compulsion to engage in risky sexual exploits, it’s hard to see how they ever find normal again, or how the marriage will last.  But it’s not hard to see why Abedin isn’t ready to stop trying.

106 comments
BEWILDERED
BEWILDERED

IS ANY ONE CONCERNED, IN A STATE JOB SHE WAS PAID WELL OVER 100 GRAND FOR BEING AN AIDE, ALLOWED TO WORK FROM HOME....IM AN ENGINEER WITH 10 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN A STATE JOB MAKING LESS THAN 50 WHERE ARE THESE INFLATED SALARIES COMING FROM ?

HumphryWalker
HumphryWalker

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lesane123
lesane123


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Ebullient
Ebullient

Huma's way cute.  I'd totally hang with her.

lesane123
lesane123

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renfieldc
renfieldc

It couldn't be a more opportune time for Mr Weiner to change his name to Mr Whiner. To "whine" is to sort of be "peed off".

united_we_stand
united_we_stand

It is interesting how highly educated woman are more likely to put up with serial philandering. Now I understand better how politicians like Clinton and Weiner always going on about college educated woman acting if they are so much better. Average men would rather have a faithful spouse then one willing to put up with cheating, but for powerful men it is different. College is sold to men as a way to get more skills to earn more money or for pure academic curiosity. For woman college is sold as 'empowerment'. This apparently means the opportunity to meet powerful men and put up with anything to increase your position in life. These woman received an education which made them feel their children have a better chance in life raised in an affluent home then raised in an average one with a strong family that presents better values to their children. This, IMO, is a failure of a myopic education system focused on modern wealth. The foundation of humanity has always been based on strong families. It is not necessarily smarter for women to give this up for materialism and consumerism.

shpeterman
shpeterman

Huma's declaration to stay in the marriage is likely a product of political pressure and being in the media. I'm sure she is ambivalent as would be any woman whose spouse is guilty of infidelities, whether anonymous or not. The ambivalence is one of many emotions when processing the shock of marital infidelity. He clearly has a compulsive, addictive habit. I suspect once the election if over (and he loses of course), she will eventually leave him. With respect to the comment, "how does bad sexual behavior damage the ability to be a good parent?" Every day in every way - qualitatively and quantitatively. The addiction robs the family of quality time spent with the spouse and child(ren) while the addict is engaging in lewd activities. Also, it is likely the addict's narcissistic tendencies, denial of responsibility and poor impulse control permeate all his behavior toward his family members 

JWB
JWB

The issue is that this man has not earned and is not qualified for one of the most prestigious and complicated positions in public service.  It speaks to his ridiculous level of narcissism that he even had the gall to run.  Neither of these two seem to grasp that.  Huma is welcome to be a doormat on her own private time, but I'm a New Yorker and I'm really disgusted with how selfish they both are, subjecting the city to having a really empty jerk as mayor.

arvay
arvay

First of all, all the fuss over this activity on his part is ridiculous, and useful to the right-wing forces who want another collaborator like Bloomberg in the mayoral post.

Second, maybe his wife doesn't really disapprove. Many couples have open marriages and many women like sexual exploration. 

Grow up, America!

eagle11772
eagle11772

Her "plight" was marrying this BUM in the first place !

GolemKokhba
GolemKokhba

What can we learn about Marriage through Huma Abedin is that it is a politcal tool meant to further her goals. She and Weiner have absolutely no affection for each other and never did. This was a political arrangement set up by Hillary Clinton, meant to tamp down the  rumors  of a relationship between her and Abedin in Clinton's 08 presidential run.. Weiner, a jew agreed to marry a women whose entire family are Islamist fanatics who all work as high level officials in the Muslim Brotherhood for the prospect of Political backing by Clinton in his future mayoral run. Abedin,  who also worked for the Muslim Brotherhood from college till 2003,agreed to this sham marriage in order to both placate Clinton's wishes  and maintain influence and set up her own political goals by benefiting from a future mayoral run. This allowed her to influence American foreign policy in numerous startling ways. Since 08 the US has given the MB almost unprecedented support. Both Weiner and Abedin are snakes and driven by a  fervent ideology, Weiner's is narcissism and Abedin's is Power and Islam

RonNapurano
RonNapurano

This marriage and ensuing circus act has everything to do with power and politics then it does about socioeconomic factors. This guy and his wife are an embarrassment to New Yorkers who care about who are next mayor will be. Weiner's 15minutes of fame are over.

tricia.cate
tricia.cate

We are forgetting the fact that Huma is Muslim, which would cause her to feel duty-bound to stay with and support her husband regardless of everything else.

wbcoleman
wbcoleman

Doesn't everybody think that Huma is sticking with Weiner for the same reason that her mentor, Hillary, stuck with Bill?

GayleLoveland
GayleLoveland

---Time and Huffpost---The only two publications (that I am aware of) that have been bending over backwards to find excuses for Abedin sticking with the Weiner....I'm thinking (cynically, I'm sure) that they are counting on a "Hillary 2016" win, and want to stay on her "good side".........This article is so silly as to be truly inexplicable (i.e. Stay with your pervert, it's better for your kid?").....

treesaree
treesaree

When your kid's father is a perverted mental case who shows off his penis like a baby showing mommy a poo, you are not doing the kid any favors by sticking it out. These puns write themselves.

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

What can we learn about Huma Abedin (daughter of a leading MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD Pakistani woman) standing by her serial cheating highly influential JEWISH  husband, or Mr. Fareed Zakaria (a COVERT Islamist) staying on in his troubled marriage with a again a well known JEWISH women, or Pakistan's radical supporter/politician marrying a glamorous JEWISH baroness  is this.

THEY ALL HAVE A HUGE ISLAMIC AGENDA AND NO SACRIFICE IS TOO SMALL IN ACHEVING THEIR RELIGION/POLITICS INSPIRED ASPIRATIONS.....

And,

What better way to achieve that than FLAUNTING their credentials by having a JEWISH SPOUSE alongside!

isis5632
isis5632

My ex husband was a horrible cheater, but he is a very good doctor and I have never questioned his devotion to his children.  Over the years I have known my father, uncles and brothers to cheat and their wives chose to stay.  I chose to leave, but my children do suffer for it, and no one can deny it is easier to build a legacy as two than support two separate households.  I wonder how we would have responded to leaders in years past in the age of Twitter.  JFK and MLK were notorious philanderers.  Strom Thurman was a rabid ssegregationist with a huge following...who ended up having a mixed race child.  Bush Jr was a drunk in his teenage years ala Paris Hilton et al.  Even King David, who wrote the book of Psalms in the Bible, cheated with a married woman then killed her husband.  I am not saying his actions are right or wrong, but who are we to judge, particularly regarding his potential strength as a leader or when it comes to their marriage. 

woman6
woman6

Why do you believe Huma is good?  Are  you taken in by her exotic good looks?  Does she really think it is good for the child to stay with someone like that?  I think she is not what she appears to be:  deliberately dressing in a dowdy fashion for this press conference, acting shy (compare this to the spread in Vogue magazine).  The reporters are saying she is very private, yet she dated famous men like Lance Armstrong.  The whole thing is a fiction:  look how famous people are begging her to run for office.  Don't be fooled by looks again! 

jj.wyndham
jj.wyndham

"Here’s why: Divorce is rarer than you might think in more affluent demographics. There is gap [sic] in divorce rates between those who are highly-educated like Abedin and Weiner (with a B.A. or more) and those without college degrees..."

Ergo, if you would not stay with the Weiner despite his inability to keep it in his pants and off the Internet, you must be poor and stupid.  

This is where I stopped reading.  TIME magazine used to be a publication one could take seriously.


stewart0602
stewart0602

She may stick for the sake of her child, understandable, but you can forget real marital intimacy or sexual comfort, unless she secretly gets off on his obsessions (unlikely, to say the least).  The idea that he'd be Mayor of NY, and the electorate would spend the next 4 years being treated to whatever tabloid garbage can be dredged up about this guy, true or not, always sensationalized, is almost farcical.  My cynical side assumes he is calculating his wife's long association with HRC, who will likely begin running for president next year, can somehow dampen or obscure his sexual pecadilloes with the Democrat electorate in NYC, not the most discerning group of voters on the planet, let's face it, and who are gaga for Hillary and like Weiner's rhetoric.  The cohort of more critical, highly educated Democrats who sympathize with Abedin, mostly female, may somewhat offset those who are willing to turn a blind eye toward his shenanigans, but they're a comparatively smaller group of elites; I'd bet a large swath of Democrat voters still don't fully understand what this guy has done, let alone done wrong.

jackiew
jackiew

The main reason that I am disappointed in Huma is not because Weiner deserves to be left (which he does) but instead because she needs to stand strong and become an example of what smart independent woman should do. She is a well educated woman as stated in the article, so she should show woman around the country that his actions are unacceptable because no woman should be treated as such, and that is not what true marriage is. By leaving her husband, she is saying that she deserves better, that marriage should be worth more, and love should have a higher value in society.

sensibleguy
sensibleguy

Its not like the woman can use his position to further her ambitions like Hillary. She needs to kick his lecherous and stupid butt to the curb

Ahu
Ahu

I like how everyone commenting here just assumes she is only doing this for money or political leverage. Don't understand why someone does something? They must be corrupt!!!!

Gadsden
Gadsden

They both represent radical minority belief systems. Their selfishness came about and has exploded because of it.

Gadsden
Gadsden

Why do you blame America when this article is obviously posted by a for profit media company who I am sure only employs the most entitled sheep of rhetoric?

united_we_stand
united_we_stand

@arvay bloomberg is a leftwing socialist who wants to take our guns away and control the food supply. To say right wing forces want a big government shill like that is absurd.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@arvay Could be right, Maybe she likes to watch who knows, that is her business, But he would be a joke and laughing stock of New York and new yorkers he does not belong in office other then maybe head dog catcher. as for Bloomberg he is a moron too but he will be out too so hopefully they come up with someone who has a little class and less penis exposure.

GolemKokhba
GolemKokhba

if anybody is interested in a primer of Abedin and her well connected radical Islamist ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, Andrew McCarthy from National review has an excellent article out today about this issue titled : 

    The Huma unmentionables 

 This women should have never gotten within 500 feet of a govt agency, especially one that deals with foreign policy

Openminded1
Openminded1

@tricia.cate I doubt that a true muslim would not have married him i do not think she follows the muslim way of life to closely. she married him because muslim men think of woman as 2nd class citizens and are very male chovanistic .

Openminded1
Openminded1

@wbcoleman could be but I doubt it , Clinton was President and Hillary wants to be President this nut Weiner has no chance of that and she knows it. She may have invested so much time with little penis and wanted to be first lady of New York so she stuck by him .

mikeinlv
mikeinlv

@wbcoleman If not, we should.  The question is, which state will she move to to run for a senate seat on the sympathy ticket.

IrishinToronto
IrishinToronto

Ms Bachman, will you please stop it with the propaganda.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@isis5632 I think we can question is leadership and sense or lack of sense in the decisions he makes. his lying to his wife his his business. but lying to the public openly causes reason to question him. Everyone lies and most certainly all politicians do but most are smart enough not to get caught specially twice for the same thing. he is a sick guy that needs some mental professional help.

ArielTheBaller
ArielTheBaller

@jackiew she wasn't trying to really show that. She was doing what was right for her children and family as a whole, and knowing how a divorce would impact her children's lives as well. This is a highly unselfish act on her part, and I respect it. 

Gadsden
Gadsden

I like how you generalize...

Gadsden
Gadsden

Ad hominem attack vs. constructive thought is very disappointing. America has given up to much of itself for the interests of minorities and foreign nationals. Both Weiner and Abedina represent minority causes. I wonder if that's the reason for their selfishness and moral dilemma

Gadsden
Gadsden

Last I checked Time is published in the USA. Seems evident to me who is espousing propaganda.

danzzing
danzzing

@ArielTheBaller  I have to agree with Jackie. While many respect an intact family, that respect is often associated with the parents behaviors and how they respect one another.  By Huma staying, what message does that send to a child about self-respect.  One might wonder why she would not want to remove her children from an unhealthy environment while Anthony seeks some serious treatment to deal with his obsessions.  

Ahu
Ahu

@Gadsden  

It's called reading the comments and looking for a trend.

moyni0421
moyni0421

@danzzing@ArielTheBaller The message is clear: Political aspirations, particularly Abedin's, supersede self-respect, particularly Abedin's and her child's.