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December 14th, 2009
11:15 AM ET

Jenny Sanford: The Savviest Spurned Woman in History

Jenny Sanford did not stand beside her husband when he publicly admitted to having an affair.

Jenny Sanford did not stand beside her husband when he publicly admitted to having an affair.

Belinda Luscombe
Time

The cheated-upon spouses of the world have a new hero and her name is Jenny Sanford. The wife of the governor of South Carolina, who announced on Dec. 11 that she is filing for divorce, has handled the denouement of her marriage in a way that makes losing a husband to an affair almost look like a shrewd career move.

Perhaps Elin Nordegren Woods, the newest member of the Spurned Sisterhood, could take a few pages from the soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Sanford's playbook. Nordic silence has its place, but there's a lot to admire in how Sanford deftly and subtly grasped her part of the narrative and spun it. Hers is not the story of a dull wife who was passed over for an exotic soul mate in Argentina, but rather the tale of the true captain of a family ship, unbowed by the squalls.

For starters, this summer when her husband held the customary I-have-disappointed-my-family press conference, she did not appear alongside him. This was a doubly wise move, since the governor apparently chose to make the most emotional and difficult announcement of his life without a script. Not only did Mrs. Sanford avoid looking like a fool for literally standing by her man, she didn't have to be associated with what quickly devolved into a p.r. trainwreck. (His rambling 18-minute press conference included weeping, mention of his life-long love of camping and a "surreal" conversation he'd had recently with his father-in-law.)

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