Is your marriage ruining your career?

I’ve been a huge fan of Huma Abedin ever since she married Anthony Weiner, the smart, liberal politician who made C-SPAN an entertainment channel.

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.

98 replies
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  1. Allison Williams
    Allison Williams says:

    I would choose the campaign. I believe part of the lesson of growing up, for a child, is that Mommy is also a human being who is able and entitled to seek personal fulfillment as well as doing what’s best for the family.

  2. Elisa Restea
    Elisa Restea says:

    If what Hillary says about her is true, I am sure she will make the best possible decision considering the circumstances: “Huma Abedin has the energy of a woman in her 20s, the confidence of a woman in her 30s, the experience of a woman in her 40s, and the grace of a woman in her 50s. She is timeless, her combination of poise, kindness, and intelligence are matchless.”

    • Sadya
      Sadya says:

      Huma Abedin, a south-asian born , brought up in Saudi Arabia and married to a white democrat who in effect cheated on her.

      Hilary hung on to her marriage because as a divorced woman , voters would not choose her. So now if Huma chooses Hilary, and Hilary loses or once is done with her presidency, Huma will be a South Asian descent divorced woman- with no chance at a political office (once Hilary retires)

  3. Razwana
    Razwana says:

    Perhaps as a woman who is yet to be a mother, I don’t understand the intricacies of the responsibility it brings.

    But if I were in the place of Huma, I would look at what I have to gain from the campaign, vs. what I would gain from a staying with a man who doesn’t appear to respect me as his wife.

  4. Maureen Tripp
    Maureen Tripp says:

    I think she should divorce him, and run the campaign. Her son needs to learn that love is not something you say, it’s behavior. Day after day. Also, that marriage is a contract, and it has terms, and if you break them, the contract is broken. And it’s over.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think every marriage that lasts is a marriage where each person, at one point or another, broke the contract. That’s how hard marriage is.


      • Dana
        Dana says:

        It is possible that you are right about this. Keep in mind however, that there are many of us that don’t see marriage as ‘hard’. Some of us see marriage as the best thing that ever happened to us. That’s how I feel about my marriage after 8 years. Just a thought.

        • Guest
          Guest says:

          You’re inviting responses from people like me who felt as you do at year 8, but by year 17 know exactly what PT is talking about. With luck you never will; most people aren’t that lucky.

      • Emma
        Emma says:

        Penelope says this because she is in an abusive marriage. And despite what she’d like people to believe, she is the abuser, not her husband. This is how she rationalizes to herself her horrific treatment of her husband.

        • s allen
          s allen says:

          She probably said it because it happens all the time. I’ve been married for 19 years and because people are fallible, the “contract” often gets broken – one way or another.

  5. Reid Yamamoto
    Reid Yamamoto says:

    I agree with your view that most people won’t put in the work. You obviously are no stranger to putting in the work–your amazing content is proof.

    Working extremely hard at something like what you and Ramit Sethi have done takes a unique form of perseverance and discipline that most people don’t have. For the few that make it the rewards are great.

  6. Marie Nicole
    Marie Nicole says:

    I agree with your reply: don’t ever let the truth ruin a good story. Ever. (That’s a quote from my husband, and I wonder how he’s ruining my career?)

    Do men ever wonder the same thing? “To further my career, do I need to leave my wife?” What year is this? 1938? I hate that we are still having these discussions, yet they are so true. I know my career would be entirely different had I not… and then the sentence can go flying in so many different directions.

    If I were Huma? I’d divorce him (and then most likely beg to remain on his email and text address book, she’s most likely hooked on him).

  7. Kara
    Kara says:

    The logical faults in this piece as well as the sexist assumptions are stunning.

    You have no proof that Hilary has asked anything of the sort. What you have is random speculation from an unnamed source that is being reported as “fact” – the worst kind of journalism.

    Also you have no idea if she’d have to pay him alimony or child support. Just because he’s a currently unemployed politician doesn’t make you privy to any of their other financial details or any knowledge of why they did or didn’t divorce other than anything they’ve publicly stated.

    Next: Repeatedly texting photos of your junk to random women is not being “an annoying spouse”. It’s being a no-good, cheating, asshat of a husband. Her husband has already devalued their family – her decisions about their marriage, related to her career or not, are the least of that equation.

    There are some good points in the article, but you’ve eclipsed them with faulty logic and speculation in your choice of example subjects.

  8. Gary Sarratt
    Gary Sarratt says:

    True dat, P. If she loses this opportunity, she’d be in a very tough spot, due to his unlikelihood of ever starting a decent career again. She also has moral and biblical grounds, and that matters to many, many people. She’s stuck. She has no choice but to split; as you said, living expenses, children and alimony are her lot in life now.

  9. Karen
    Karen says:

    I’m absolutely blown away that Hillary Clinton of all people would ask this of one of her employees. She stayed with a man who has been credibly accused of rape but Huma has to leave her husband over sexting or find herself out of a job. I hope Huma tells her to shove it.

  10. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Huma should divorce him and do the campaign. She’s ‘been with’ Hilary longer, and Hilary is the more reliable ‘partner’. But this is an exceptional case, regarding exceptional women. I’m not sure if I’d say the same in a more conventional relationship. I think the article points out good concrete reasons for why divorces suck. As a mom debating the leave/stay conundrum, I have to say the economic realities of divorce for most normal families looks pretty harsh.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I thought about that, too — that Hilary has been a more reliable partner for Huma than Weiner has. Also, Huma was at Chelsea Cinton’s wedding, so she is part of the family as well.

      But then I think that all the women I know who put their work before having a significant other end up disappointed. They have great careers but they are lonely. And look, don’t tell me this is sexist, okay? It’s well established that having a spouse helps men get to the top and being single helps women get to the top. So it’s always the women who give up having a spouse in order to have a great career.

      I also think about this a lot because I’m better at work relationships than personal relationships, but intellectually I know it’s messed up – not fulfilling. I just can’t stop myself.


      • sx
        sx says:

        Sorry, but this isn’t just “pasring statistics.” There’s a pretty massive difference between “x% chance” and “x% chance per year.”

        It’s just posting false facts, backed up by a link that you don’t expect anyone to bother checking. Most people see a link and assume that you did your homework.

        • sx
          sx says:

          Oops, sorry for replying in the wrong spot. This obviously is meant for the discussion about the 3% divorce rate point.

          • Guest
            Guest says:

            Thanks for posting that — I knew 3% had to be wrong but didn’t have the energy to figure out how she got that.

      • Morgan Campbell
        Morgan Campbell says:

        I’m 23 and I’m glad I know now that women can’t have it all. So I’m not even going to try. I am however going to focus my attention on paying off all of my credit card & student loan debt along with looking my best so that I can get a high earning, high achieving much older husband and stay home. You can only be young and naturally perky and firm once in your life. Maximum on your potential.

  11. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    If only it weren’t such a potentially historical campaign. If only…. Is history bigger than her marriage? Could it be so big that your child would find pride in the tough decision? Whether Hilary asked this of her or not…..what tough questions to contemplate….

    • Lindsey
      Lindsey says:

      On one hand, it seems so clear that divorce is the right decision. But, nobody else but Huma has to look her child in the face and try to explain. Kids don’t care why, they just know that it makes their life so much harder and more complicated.

      • K
        K says:

        “kids don’t care why”

        this is not true. In the cases of domestic abuse, kids care and understand. Also, constantly cheating on your wife is a form of abuse.

        I am divorced (thank God), and I’m raising 3 kids by myself — and our lives are MUCH better than they ever were before. Let’s not forget that once you have an idiot out of your household, and you are able to make smart decisions about your resources, that it is very possible that you and the kids will be better off.
        So there are no good blanket statements to be made on this.

        In Huma’s case, I would dump that idiot like a steaming load of dung and YES, I could look my child in the face. Because I would not want my son to turn out like Anthony, and the chances of that are higher if Anthony’s the biggest daily influence in the kid’s life.

        • j
          j says:

          Thank you! Such good points. Agree 100%. I usually feel like Penelope’s posts are well-rounded and consider many viewpoints, but this post is so biased and does not consider all the factors that lead to divorce. Divorce can be the happiest/best decision you ever made.

        • Karen
          Karen says:

          I agree with K. I KNOW that getting a divorce killed my career. But now my girls have a chance to learn how to build a career without a man. If I had to do it over again, I would establish my career. A woman can find a lover, adopt a child, but if she can’t stand on her own financially, she does not really have a life. I learned the hard way, but my daughters will know this.

  12. Katybeth Jensen
    Katybeth Jensen says:

    Hillary gave Bill a second chance, I’m guessing, she believed her marriage out weighed his stupidity of the moment. Bill rose to the occasion (in a meaningful way) and became an asset to her. Weiner is an ongoing idiot. His behavior doesn’t hurt his children? There dad is sending pictures of his penis to women around the country. Yep, lets, let him drive car pool. My kid and his teen friends have more sense–at least they know use snap chat. I am good for second chances, but the man is an idiot.
    I think, I like Hilary even more for offering Huma this ultimatum.

  13. Jake Karger
    Jake Karger says:

    Everything you said is true about not blaming others for lack of success. AND what’s also true is that when you fundamentally feel bad about yourself that deeply affects your parenting. Anger, regret, low self esteem…these are all bad messages to send kids and a regrettable way to live life.
    So the challenge is choosing between the lesser of two lousy choices. She should choose to save herself, her career and her kid. Don’t save the marriage.

  14. Erika
    Erika says:

    You indicate that the WaPo is reporting this–but your link goes to the Washington Times, which is a VERY different paper. The Times is extremely right wing–and if they can find something negative to report about either Clinton, they will.

    Good post, but I’ll believe the ultimatum when I see it in a reputable source.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh. That’s true. It’s reported in a wide range of places, though. The Week is the place I first read it. I know I always say how much I like The Week, but I really do love it.

      Just google Hilary, Huma, Anthony and you’ll find tons of reports on the topic of the potential run for the White House.


      • says:

        I love The Week too! And I tell everyone how much I love The Week. We fight over it every Saturday when it comes. I think someone has pointed this out but how can Hilary ask her to pick when Hillary herself stayed with a cheating spouse, to no effect on Hillary’s career? But HIllary is a demanding boss, and much more interesting then Weiner I bet. He will want a lot of money from Huma which will be even more annoying. This is quite a quandary. Choose your spouse wisely.

    • Gary
      Gary says:

      Erika, why should we believe the very liberal WaPo is any more credible than the conservative Times? There are a few impartial journalists on the national level out there, but the great majority seem to be mere foot soldiers for the two parties. It’s a huge racket, reminiscent of TV wrestlers “hating” each other at work, collecting their paychecks, and going home with nary a thought of their “enemy” until the next match. We’re puppets, hun.

  15. linda clark
    linda clark says:

    isn’t this choice hillary is offering a bit unreal?

    bill clinton, elliott spitzer, and weiner are all brilliant; and all three are clearly sex addicts. as with other behavioral addictions (compulsive eating, compulsive gambling), they can join sexaholics annonymous and work the 12 steps. no human being is trash to be discarded. it was never about huma or mrs spitzer or hillary.

    when my husband got his first real job, and baby 1 arrived, i gave up my full time teaching career. we realized our resources could support 1 stellar career–and it would be his. we have 3 daughters. i taught part time, earned a masters degree. continued teaching part time 20 more years. volunteered and served in my local community.

    i don’t miss the status, money, or schedule. i have never felt that ANY time/effort spent on mothering was ill used. i have found numerous other ways to contribute to my community. that has worked for me.

  16. Scritch
    Scritch says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while and this article makes me ask the question:

    If marriages have a 50% failure rate, and divorce is deeply financially problematic, especially with the divorce law in America/Canada, then why are sensible intelligent Americans opting to get married?

    It just seems like a sure way to get poorer. What’s the reasoning? Is it social pressure/ social conditioning? All the Hollywood movies about women getting married? (and there are a LOT)I don’t understand it at all. It’s just baffling.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      The failure rate of divorce is demographically drive. For college educated people the failure rate is 3% — per that Wikipedida link above. And I’m sure it’s because it’s so obviously better for the kids for the parents to stay married. And it’s so obvious that most marriages have huge problems at some point, and educated people can tell that if you stick it out, the problems go away.

      What I find so interesting about this situation is that the problem is so NOW. There is not time to wait it out, even though I’m sure that’s what Huma’s strategy was going to be.


      • Petra
        Petra says:

        P – You didn’t totally answer the question of, “why get married at all?”

        I’m 25. I’ve been in a relationship for 1 year. I’m INFJ, he’s ISFP. He still has some growing up to do (mostly around his finances). I am leaning towards not wanting to have children, so I’m not in a rush to settle down. (I went to a top school but became disabled while there, so I’m not certain of my ability to run a household)

        If you don’t want kids, is there a compelling reason why you should get married at all? I do want to own a home — that and the tax benefits are the biggest reasons I see to do it.

        • Guest
          Guest says:

          Is it possible that we don’t know what Huma gets out of the marriage? People act like Weiner is just her baby daddy and someone to share expenses with. Granted, he’s no longer the political asset he once was. But the romantic in me thinks it’s possible that Huma and Weiner have a real connection, and that if she stays it’s because he makes her laugh, he makes her happy in bed, and she wants to grow old with him, rather than because she doesn’t want to deal with the hassles of divorce.

      • Nicole
        Nicole says:

        I disagree. The divorce rate is lower among educated couples because they have more money, and therefore they have a lot more to lose-not because they somehow know better.

        Divorce for the middle class a lot of times means giving up being in the middle class, and having to accept a lower status in the social hierarchy. (one of our most terrifying and primitive fears) The working class and the poor don’t have this problem.

        • karelys
          karelys says:

          Honestly, I think that the marrying priorities of the wealthier are different than those of the poor. We (the poor) tend to think romantically first and then pragmatically. At least when young.

          When you are wealthy you are trying to find a mate that can provide a connection, love, etc. but also someone to build life with. And since your life is a big castle by now then you really are playing an interesting game of chess. And sometimes in the game certain pawns have to die to save the queen and win the game.

          I don’t think poor people have much of a game going on. They are just surviving. Living for the moment.

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            You can love such a wide range of people. And it is truly impossible to know how a marriage will unfold. So given that, why not look to marry someone who will be a good partner for creating the life you want?


  17. sx
    sx says:

    “There’s a reason that only 3% of college educated couples get divorced”
    Your wikipedia source link doesn’t mention this.

    However, it says:
    “In 2009, 2.9% of adults 35–39 without a college degree were divorced, compared with 1.6% with a college education.”

    So about half as many people with college degrees get divorced in this very narrow age bracket, but that’s 1.6% per year, not overall.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Okay. So we can parse statistics forever, and there’s probably no clear answer, but what I know is that educated people don’t get divorced at nearly the rate of everyone else. And it’s just a cop-out for people to say “everyone gets divorced”. It’s more accurate to say everyone who is married is having trouble staying married because marriage is hard for everyone.

      But divorce is, in most cases, harder when you factor in financial damage and damage to the kids.


    • Steve
      Steve says:

      Penelope there is a clear answer. The statistic you posted isn’t true. Changing it to this has close to the same meaning but matches the citation:

      “There’s a reason that adults aged 35-39 got divorced in 2009 at about half the rate as those without college degrees – because it makes you poor.”

      After learning that one of the citations listed was incorrect and you knew it and didn’t fix it, I’m less likely to trust the rest of the material in your posts.

      Also, you probably shouldn’t link to Wikipedia because it’s not an original source and the content is always changing. Follow the citation and link to the original source. If you decide to link to Wikipedia you can get a link to a specific version by clicking on history and then clicking on the date. For example:

      Other than this though, you are doing a great job with the blog.

  18. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Anthony Weiner is a sex addict. I am coming to this conclusion because only addicts torpedo their ambitions, work, loved ones and careers, and still persist in building and detonating more torpedoes in the face of the damage they’ve already done. Nobody who isn’t an addict wakes up in the morning and says, “Gee, I think I’ll persist in doing this thing that is ripping the heart out of my family and my reputation,” except an addict.

    Unless he gets treatment and commits to staying abstinent, his addiction will escalate, because that’s what all addictions do.

    This isn’t a choice between doing the campaign or staying in the marriage. It’s a choice between keeping her child (and herself) away from a sex addict. Or not.

    • ecconobiker
      ecconobiker says:

      And Bill Clinton isn’t?

      The only difference is that Bill is like most of his age bracket – not used to having technology to further his addition…

  19. Jen
    Jen says:

    It’s one thing to wait out through the rough patch and forgive the first time he broke the contract, but to continue to wait it out while he shits all over the marriage repeatedly – now that’s just stupid.

  20. Ali
    Ali says:

    Is it a bad sign that when you posed the question Weiner or Hilary my first thought was ‘damn, that’s going to be an expensive divorce. . .’. It would never occur to me to give up my career because my husband was a dick. . .perhaps I shouldn’t follow through on that plan to have kids!

    • Thirtysomething
      Thirtysomething says:

      Thank you. This seems like such an artificial debate to me. And no, I’m not married, but financial difficulties for professionals with student loan debt, etc. are just as daunting when you’ve never been married as they are when you’re contemplating the change from a dual-income household to a single-income one. Staying in a relationship with a dick (of either sex) just doesn’t add up for me. Of course, my attitude on this might be a good reason why I’m single and 30-ish…

  21. Saul Glazer
    Saul Glazer says:

    I always thought the Weiner marriage was a sham to begin with, so I am not sure it works for your example. But I do agree that divorce is usually an incredibly stupid option unless there is abuse.

  22. redrock
    redrock says:

    I am pretty sure their income bracket allows a comfortable even luxurious life even if it is divided evenly among the partners after a divorce. The alimony makes you poor argument in all likelihood does not hold. Maybe she did not get divorced during the first scandal because he promised not to do it again? That situation might have changed…. there is no way he will stop sending around photos….I am also pretty sure that any of Weiner’s kids will be teased mercilessly at school, sports, playground – especially if it is clear that he is the stay-at-home dad taking care of them. So, maybe divorce is actually better for the kids in this case?

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    You are divorced yourself and you are not actually married (legally) to the farmer, so who are you to dish out advice on the subject?

  24. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    Why does the decision have to be so black and white? If it’s true that Hilary has given Huma an ultimatum like that – I’d be very skeptical. Ultimatums are manipulative.

    If Huma’s smart, she won’t limit herself with “a or b” thinking. How will she know if Clinton is going to even win the race? What if Clinton loses, is Huma going to run back to Weiner? And if so, why should Weiner take her back after she’s clearly chosen her priority.

    Weiner might have messed up and been a real prick but he hasn’t ended the marriage for his career.

    Even Hilary hasn’t divorced Bill for what he did – which was just as humiliating – so why should Huma? Why can’t Huma also be the wise woman who saves her marriage and goes on a political crusade?

    If you ask me, Hilary is playing a huge power move over Huma. Huma should not have to sacrifice her marriage to work for Hilary. Huma’s work and personality should speak for itself, irrelevant of who she sleeps with at night.

  25. joyce
    joyce says:

    She should divorce him. It will be expensive, but I suspect she has enough income to take the hit. Breakups are sad, but I don’t see how that outweighs historically important work.

    And seriously, why wouldn’t a divorce look pragmatic to a pair of political operators in this situation? Surely Abedin and Weiner both see how important the campaign is? Isn’t there a way for such accomplished people to divorce amicably and co-parent rationally? Maybe?

  26. Matt
    Matt says:

    Interesting twist. Usually you hear about the career killing the marriage like police “married to the job” and having a high divorce rate.

  27. Amy K.
    Amy K. says:

    If I was Hillary I’d steer clear of Huma. She came off very badly in the second round of sexting. When it seemed that Weiner was still a viable candidate, she did the “stand by your man” bit. But when he tanked in the polls, she was nowhere to be seen just a few months later. She hasn’t learned from her mentor on this. Hillary and Bill get credit simply for sticking it out all these years. Even Al and Tipper are divorced now.

  28. Chris
    Chris says:

    I’d take a time-out from the marriage if I was Huma. I’d want to live apart. I’d want to see if my husband was still misbehaving. I’d want to see if he was serious about attending therapy for sexual addiction. I’d want him to complete the course of treatment and see if he seemed any more sincere. I’d be afraid to leave my child in his care, at some point.

    I might also take time out from the campaign, and not allow myself to be pressured from any quarter. I’d want to be sure of what is the most important thing to me: family or career.

    If I was myself, not Huma, it would be family, without a doubt.

    I have divorced. I set myself adrift with 5 kids, and was so poor, I had to be on welfare for a while. I knew I had to do it when I lost hope of being happy. And “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy”.

  29. Tim Chan
    Tim Chan says:

    Hey Penelope,
    Interesting thoughts. I’m looking at the source link for your quote “only 3% of college educated couples get divorced” and can’t seem to find where this is originally quoted.

    The only thing I found in that article was “81% of college graduates, over 26 years of age, who wed in the 1980s, were still married 20 years later.”

    I’d be really interested in reading the source study for the 3% statistic, because that seems so much lower than the norms for divorce rates.


  30. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    This is a fascinating argument and interesting post. From someone who was from a broken family from the get-go (I was 2 when my parents divorced) I think divorce is right around the corner for these two. Once adultery or infidelity enters the picture and there is forgiveness, there is so much–years, really– to work through to make the marriage work and build back up that trust. Again, a short while later? It doesn’t look good.

    Divorce kept my mom more sane and gave me a life without constantly hearing arguments, being manipulated to take sides, and grow up in relative peace surrounded by a caring mom, neighbors, and extended family members. That stability wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

    I am not someone who is motivated by money so it’s hard for me to see the statistics and apply them in this situation for Huma’s best interests (et al). Infidelity can only be forgiven so many times before it makes the spouse insane. And at that point, who cares if you’re making less money?

    Sarah M

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up around a lot of kids with divorced parents but every time someone says that divorce is bad for the kids I wonder if they are really taking into consideration the deep sadness and instability of a household where parents constantly fight, obviously do not love each other, the yelling and disrespect.

      Not only does it show the kid that mom and dad are hopeless but that maybe the mom doesn’t respect herself enough to quit putting up with the disrespect. How do you teach the kid by example to stand up for themselves?

  31. David
    David says:

    Why is marriage so coveted?

    Historically marriage was designed specifically to protect long term wealth and designate bloodlines over generations mostly for the wealthy and royalty. The poor didn’t marry. Read – Mating in Captivity by Esther Pearl.

    IMO children would be as affected by divorce if American society wasn’t so steeped in envy, vanity and fear of what other people with think. Somehow children learn that if your parents aren’t together that they live in a “broken home” and somehow this infers that they grew up as less of a person because of that. When many times it’s better off if the parents didn’t live together.

    All this is caused by the constant barrage of daily marketing through many religions and almost all sources of media making people feel bad because they are not living up to an imaginary dream world where golden retrievers are running in slow mo with their perfect female specimen of a mother with that amazing ass jog-pushing her sleek European made stroller holding a constantly bright-eyed smiling baby…while her wealthy and healthy banker executive husband is bringing home a six-figure salary driving that black CL class Mercedes.

    The sad part is most people put up with shitty relationships where children see all kinds of abuse, physical, sexual, emotional because the smarter parent isn’t brave enough to take them away from that, worried that they can’t make it without the support of the piece of shit they married. So they live on and on making excuses, lying to themselves and bottling up their misery.

    The real problem is fear…
    – Fear of being alone
    – Fear of what others think
    – Fear of fucking up our children

    Our society uses marriage as a badge of conformity…some of us advertise that it is so important because we like to show off what we have (or think we have).

    Don’t get me wrong here there are marriages that work, but for most of us we don’t find that true mate because we were in such a hurry to make a choice to fit in the statistics, feed our fear of loneliness, or marry an easy paycheck.

    As for cheating…when are we going to let this go? Why are we denying our humanity. Try reading – Opening Up by Tristan Tarmino. Honestly, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Huma hanging around. She knew what she was buying into when she married a politician. Seriously people, it’s only humiliating if you let it be that way. It’s laughable that the morality police (who have their own dirty secrets) have all these comments about her, but actually suffer from a selfish desire that she should think like they do because it is so important to them!

    She’s living the good life, I promise you that…hob-nobbing with the top 2% of wealthy Americans. The antics of her husband are and can easily be ignored because she is connected and wealthy enough not to care about it. As for the plebeians who think she’s an idiot…you are not and never will be at that level.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Oh my gosh! you’re so smart!

      First this:
      “The sad part is most people put up with shitty relationships where children see all kinds of abuse, physical, sexual, emotional because the smarter parent isn’t brave enough to take them away from that, worried that they can’t make it without the support of the piece of shit they married. So they live on and on making excuses, lying to themselves and bottling up their misery.”

      Um…seriously! If I had a daughter and my marriage was going nowhere how would I be teaching her self respect?

      Anyway, for twosies, Huma may very well have a love-of-her-life on the side and nobody cares because in the top 2% everyone knows what marriage is for and how people have to work around everything to have everything they want.

  32. Michael Feeley
    Michael Feeley says:

    Your article got me stirred up Penelope…as your writing always does, so — thank you for asking important questions and presenting material that gets me thinking in raw, immediate ways.

    It’s nearly 24 hrs. since I’ve lived with this matter. I put it aside but it keeps coming back and I’m glad of that because I think this is not about divorce and career and the effect that will have on families and children, which is vital to consider. But — Life happens. Divorce happens. We find our way and live life as best as we can. The deeper matter is happiness.

    – How do you want to be happy?

    – What CHOICES will you make for your own personal happiness?

    That certainly includes your family and career but go after finding out: What do you really, really want for your life? And — If you go after what you want, will it enhance your life or ruin it?

    This is really Huma’s business and we’re in Huma’s business right now…so I’ll keep going.

    How happy is she with her life and marriage? I don’t know. Who does?

    Would it be my choice for happiness? Absolutely not! I would have divorced weiner (small letters on purpose) immediately and moved on with my life and career; raising my child as a single parent with all the divorce details and life events she and he will be living with.

    (weiner’s choices have certainly not enhanced his life, career or happiness. And I ask — What effect does he have on his wife and child daily?)

    The choice for divorce is often based on the emotional fact that someone is not happy in their marriage. Something went wrong for someone. They want a change. They want more — want to end unhappiness, to have real love in their lives or to live their career more fully…any number of elements are involved, and that definitely includes your children 100%.

    Again, I have no idea what Huma feels but I’m confident that I would not have made the choice to continue to live with the insult she, her family and career experienced and…continue to live with. I think about this from your article:

    – What message is Huma giving to her child and the world in the midst of this mess?

    – What kind of leader does she want to be?

    – What kind of leader do you hope she will be?

    Personally – I would love to see someone NOT – ‘Stand By Their Man’. What a personal and social revolution that would be.


    – What if Hillary had walked away and asked for a divorce? There sure would have been a ‘news event’ at the White House. And — We all would have gotten through it.

    – What if Silda had slapped spitzer’s face (small letters again by choice) and walked off stage the night he publically resigned? What would that have done to New York, the country, the world? What message would it have sent about the integrity of love, marriage and personal happiness? What would it have said about Silda as a leader and her choices?

    Yes, people forget and forgive and forgiveness is important and individual and…(that’s another Blog entirely and I look forward to your writing on that subject.)

    But Yes. I hope Huma will make the choice to get out of her marriage because she is a very smart woman who can have a large and good effect on the lives of thousands of people in America and the world. This is where her destiny has brought her so far, along with the good work she too has done.

    My hope? – I encourage her to make a choice for her own true happiness. I’m eager for her to show the world more of her leadership as a woman, mother, maybe prominent – future – single mother, political and social figure that she is.

    Maybe she has already made that choice and I just don’t agree with it and that’s fine. It’s her life but…I seem to want more for her. More from her!

    I believe there are bigger, more empowering and ethical choices she can make for her own happiness and others and I firmly believe her child will feel fully loved and live through a divorce, if she chooses to go that way with regards to her job and Hillary’s possible Presidential Candidacy.

    Huma is living through large social and personal shame. And as I thought about this painful circumstance I imagined her saying —

    ‘I’ve decided anthony. I’m out of here because I will no longer tolerate your disrespect! You’ve insulted our marriage and our family. You insult yourself but I will not be part of that ill will and cheapness. I want to and it’s my honest intention, so listen well – I will raise my family in a home based on respect and love and happiness, even if it’s by myself. I will continue on with my career based on truth and the highest ethical standards I can muster.’

    (Imagine that at a press conference!)

    Ok…I’m out on the limb and it’s fine…because this comes from my gut — mind and heart. I’m passionate about people living the happiest lives they possibly can. Sure it takes work and there are lots of speed bumps and dark, painful holes to find your way out of but the choices you make in how you life your life, moment by moment, either help to destroy and ruin your life or support and give you strength, peace and happiness.

    The questions you raise Penelope are tremendous; thought provoking, challenging and good. Thank you for putting them out there and having many of us learn about ourselves and how we want to live…Choose to live.

    Finding my way as well…Michael

  33. GingerR
    GingerR says:

    I’d say Huma should take the hit and get rid of Weiner. He’s a liability. If anyone can see that it’s Hillary Clinton who is experienced in dealing with husbands who aren’t loyal. He can be a good father, perhaps his tendency to tweet intimate photos will diminish when baby gets big enough to says, “oooh Daddy, that’s gross!”

    As you’ve pointed out in prior posts, your choice of spouse is very important. If one is teamed with a spouse who shares your vision and supports your career the sky is the limit. You can’t hire the kind of support that a spouse who believes in you can bring. If the spouse gains the freedom to stay home and raise a family or pursue a career that is risky or ultra-competitive (think starving artist) everybody benefits. It’s all about finding the right person.

  34. Kelly Chason
    Kelly Chason says:

    Did Hillary really give the ultimatum?

    The source for the Washington Times article is a short quote in a New York Magazine story: “‘Huma has a choice to make,’ says a close associate of hers. ‘Does she go with Anthony, or does she go with Hillary?'” (see pg 5)

    The topic (career vs marriage) is relevant. But this is an unfortunate example of how “news” is often manufactured out of distortions and conjecture.

  35. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    I think if somebody is truly great, nothing is going to stop them from being great. Not a bad marriage, not a sex scandal, not a family, and not getting fired by Hillary Clinton. She should do whatever she wants to do. Who knows, maybe being fired by Hillary Clinton is just what she needs? Maybe she can do better than being at the top of Hillary’s inner circle? Maybe she can’t? I don’t know. What I do know is that if she can do better she will, and if she can’t she won’t.

    I don’t think Divorce can ruin a career any more than having a baby ruins a career. I think if your career stalls or takes a nose dive after a divorce then it’s because of you, not your divorce. It’s easier to blame the divorce, because then you don’t have to admit that maybe you weren’t all that to begin with. And, maybe the reason you weren’t all that to begin with, and perhaps also why you are getting a Divorce, is because you aren’t the kind of person who can be honest with themselves and learn from their personal failures and bad decisions? –Which is, in my opinion one of the things that distinguishes those who can from those who can’t.

    Divorce is emotionally traumatizing. And you’re right, It makes you poor, and it can have a negative impact on your career. However, those are all just setbacks for successful people, not insurmountable obstacles.

  36. Gary
    Gary says:

    If a marriage is done right, and is to be happy and harmonious, then the couple are, at least initially, honest with one another, and they show each other their inner selves, that the world is not allowed to see. Their home is a refuge from the world, and all of their vulnerabilities fears and all their inner shit is shared with their spouse. I don’t care what kind of amicable split it may be, there is a tremendous tearing and bruising of emotions, the egos, things we can’t see. I divorced eight years ago, and I did lose a lot of what Little wealth I had, it did take a long time to recover. The bigger damage was done inside me, and I’m not sure I’m over that yet or ever will be, 100%. I don’t know about my ex-wife, I suppose knowing her before that she has similar problems as well. I guess I used that to make a larger point, I don’t know about everyone who gets a divorce but I think there are a lots of damaged people out there who have divorced even if they have had a long long happy relationship with their subsequent spouse for spouses. Yes, we should worry about the children, try to make it easy for them, but they are a lot more elastic than we are adults are. So it bothers me that all these comments, and this is the longest thread for a post being up one day that I have ever seen on your blog by the way, but these comments are about a simple contract transaction. But these are real emotional people inside of these bodies whether they are rich or virtuous or filthy or smart or powerful. I don’t know about the utility of my comment, but I’ve vented a little bit, you made me think and made me look inside at what divorce has done, and I appreciate it. For what it’s worth, I’m just sayin.

    • Lauren
      Lauren says:

      Gary – I LOVE your comment. Best one I’ve seen on this thread so far. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

      • Gary Sarratt
        Gary Sarratt says:

        Thank you, Lauren. If I have any wisdom, it is due to a lot of disappointment, loss, emotional stress and growing up. Victory, of sorts, came with self-honesty, realizing there are no throw away days (each one counts BIG time, and is full of life changing opportunities, be they large or small), and countless other things that lead to self-discipline, which must be consciously maintained. There are no throw-away people, either, every one matters. We have the gall to sit back and make our observations and recommendations, as we would while watching a ball game or a chess match. I did it too with my first comment, oops, that’s how easy it is.

  37. Guest
    Guest says:

    (Reposted from above where I stuck it in the wrong place): Is it possible that we don’t know what Huma gets out of the marriage? People act like Weiner is just her baby daddy and someone to share expenses with. Granted, he’s no longer the political asset he once was. But the romantic in me thinks it’s possible that Huma and Weiner have a real connection, and that if she stays it’s because he makes her laugh, he makes her happy in bed, and she wants to grow old with him, rather than because she doesn’t want to deal with the hassles of divorce.

  38. Jack
    Jack says:

    Two words for you: prenuptial agreement.

    It doesn’t solve all the problems, but at the very least it limits the impact of long term spousal support, not to mention isolating any assets you earned prior to your marriage.

    It’s not perfect, but like car insurance protects you from the financial impact of bad drivers, a prenuptial agreement is the marriage insurance that protects you from the financial impact of a bad spouse.

  39. Nan
    Nan says:

    It was NOT the Washington Post; it was the Washington Times.

    Are you okay, Penelope? You don’t usually get your facts wrong, at least not that I am aware of.

  40. ntjpc
    ntjpc says:

    Why does Huma have only two choices, Anthony or Clinton? I assume she is smart, insightful, etc. I would think there are tons of important companies with important jobs in NYC that would love to have her on staff. At a very high salary. This takes her out of the public eye and lets her work on her marriage, make money, and be a mom. The only thing missing is the intoxicating effect of being in the bubble of the presidency (the motorcades, air force one, secret service). I am sure this is a powerful draw, but if one is weighing all the pros and cons of her situation, being in the bubble seems to be the most shallow. A lot of folks have a very profound impact on the country and they are not “in the bubble.”

  41. Mike Smith
    Mike Smith says:

    Regardless if Huma does or does not join Hilary campaign, she should dump him. How could she be happy with such a double crossing husband? I would agree with Hillary Clinton that if she does run, she needs to know her back is covered, and no scandal is going to put her out of the race.

  42. Carol Williams
    Carol Williams says:

    It’s so unbelievable when two individuals can synch their lives and help one another. With the right accomplice you can overcome and manage anything. I didn’t work until I was more senior – and after that my profession surpassed my spouse. It was testing for us both – however at long last we were both pleased. He was equipped to resign early and I am working doing something I want to do. Provided that he had not been supportive, I couldn’t have done this.

  43. ecconobiker
    ecconobiker says:

    “Huma Abedin puts a very stark light on the issue of work/life choices”

    Not a problem if you are on the gov’t payroll as a consultant for $135,000 year (even though said position is supposed to only last 60 days before a review) and on a political payroll for $400,000 at the same time all while you are OUT ON MATERNITY LEAVE FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR!!!

    It is good inside the top… and I bet Hillary Clinton would say the same right now.

    Even while her “husband” Bill gallivants around doing speaking engagements (and whatever ladies who happen to be available) Hillary is probably very happy with her girl Huma being close…

  44. avant garde designer
    avant garde designer says:

    If Weiner were a decent guy, yes, I’d choose him. But then if he were a decent guy, there would be no having to choose, now would there? I’d choose Hillary.

    And if Hillary doesn’t win, well, so what? Huma still has her career credentials and can do anything she wants. Including finding a decent guy.

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