Huma’s first job was as Hilary Clinton’s assistant when she was First Lady. Huma has been with Hilary ever since, and she has risen to the top of Hilary’s circle. You seldom see a photo of Hilary in a room where Huma is not close by.
In a Vogue interview Huma was smart and powerful and married to a fun guy and she just really was a dream. And she was beautiful while she was pregnant, as rather than giving up State Department duties, she let out waistlines.
Then Anthony Weiner got caught sending photos of his penis to random women. And women he had a long-standing penis-photo-sharing relationship with.
Huma stood by him. After all, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t figure out how to stop texting photos of himself or at least start sending more discreetly.
Unemployed, he became a stay-at-home dad — a perfect fit for Huma’s huge career but not a good fit for Weiner’s huge ego, so he ran for mayor of NYC.
Smart people forgive stupidity in marriage
New Yorkers are forgiving, and anyway, this was when Eliot Spitzer, who was thrown out of office for hiring call girls, was running for comptroller. So things seemed fine in the Weiner-Abedin household until, while running for office on a platform on contrition, he sent more photos of his penis to random women.
Abedin said nothing.
Now that there’s a kid, Huma can never get Weiner out of her life. He’ll be there for all the significant events in her child’s life. She will have to co-parent with him. She will have to pay alimony and child support because she’s the breadwinner.
Divorce is a career killer
There’s a reason that only 3% of college educated couples get divorced – because it just makes you poor. Hedge fund king Paul Tudor Jones says divorce is so destabilizing to a career that he stops giving people money to manage when they are going through a divorce. Oscar winner Robin Williams just announced he is going back to sit-coms to pay for his two divorces. It’s hard to argue that divorce will ever help your career when your income is split in half. And your career flexibility disappears when your earning flexibility disappears.
So I understood completely why she wasn’t filing for divorce. It would accomplish nothing.
But now it’s different. The Washington Post reports that Hilary has all but announced her 2016 presidential campaign, and she told Huma to choose between Weiner and Hilary.
This makes sense. Marriages scandals for Gary Hart and John Edwards killed presidential campaigns. And Hilary has been through hell with Bill’s cheating scandals. There’s no way she’d make her campaign vulnerable to Weiner’s antics.
Most people overestimate how limiting their marriage is
People come to me for help with lots of work/life choices. In general, people completely overestimate how much their marriage is hurting them. In the equation they look only at the benefits of divorce and not all the new problems. Imagine this: your vacation schedule has to operate around your ex spouse’s new spouse’s ex’s schedule. And you have to pay for your spouse’s vacation that is impeding your own. It’s a scenario that is so common yet no one thinks it will happen to them. And of course, the more common scenario is there’s no money for vacations because you’re supporting two households on one household’s income.
So you have to weigh how annoying your spouse is vs how annoying it will be to have to run your life around your spouse’s spouse while you raise the kids. With no money. The reason smart people don’t get divorced is that it’s a squandering of resources, and most things we want out of life we can get without a divorce. And, most marriages get much better after 5 years, if you just stay.
Most people underestimate how limited their career options are
The other thing I hear from lots of people is that they are stressed that they have to pick between career and home life. But they are delusional about what their career prospects are. For one thing, most people with huge career prospects give very little thought to what they have to give up at home – they just don’t care. But also, for most of you, moving up three or four levels in your career will not affect your home life. For the most part, it’s only when you are running a startup or running a large company that your home life goes to shit. Or doing major travel for a job.
So very few people are faced with a true decision between work and family. And seeing Huma’s situation shows you just how far you are from having to make that sort of decision. So don’t tell yourself your family holds back your carer. It doesn’t. Your lack of drive to be at the very, very top holds back your career. It’s okay. Most people don’t have it. Ramit Sethi makes more than a million dollars a year with his online business. But he wrote a post about how you are not going to be able to do that because it has required an insane amount of work that most people won’t do.
And Todd Buchholz writes that being great requires nonstop work and people who are great actually like it. Malcolm Gladwell talks about how greatness requires 10,000 hours of practice at that one thing. People who have huge careers love, love, love their work.
Those are the types of people who end up having to choose.
Huma Abedin puts a very stark light on the issue of work/life choices
So I look at Huma’s decision, and I wonder: What do you guys think? What should she choose?
How can she tell her kid that she got a divorce from the kid’s dad so she could run a political campaign? It’s sad. Really. Because it devalues her child’s family. Anthony loves Huma. He’s a fuckup, but he loves her. And he loves the kid. And he’s not directly hurting them, he’s hurting himself. Most men could send photos of their penis with impunity – it’s only one step further than risking semen on the keyboard every week, which most husbands have done at least a few times.
I confess that if I were Huma I think I’d choose to do the campaign. I’d divorce Weiner. I feel bad. It’s not good for her kid. It’s not the parent I want to be. And I want to be someone who values marriage more than that. I would tell myself I can’t support the family with a husband like Weiner. It’s not true. But if I were Huma that’s what I’d tell myself.