As is the custom of many foreigners in China, I was stuck on the john, contemplating which oily or spicy dish it was that sent me there. I picked up a year-old issue of Time Magazine to pass the time. And I was astonished in that secular rag to find an article truly worth reading. A writer named Caitlin Flanagan raged like a present-day prophet against our modern selfishness in marriage and the ruin it brings our children.
The article was excellent, but it was the last paragraph comparing a governor Sanford and his wife that stuck with me and made me look at life with a clearer perspective.
"Who is left to ensure that these kids grow up into estimable people once the Mark Sanfords and other marital frauds and casual sadists have jumped ship? The good among us, the ones who are willing to sacrifice the thrill of a love letter for the betterment of their children. "His career is not a concern of mine," says Jenny Sanford. "He'll be worrying about that, and I'll be worrying about my family and the character of my children." ...
I sat there, thinking. Jenny and Mark Sanford met, married, and rode the stars to governorship. Can you imagine yourself as the governor of a state, or married to one? But this woman of character effortlessly makes governorhood look like small potatoes compared to faithfully raising your children. She's not caught up in all the hoopla of how marvelous it is to be rich and powerful. Being faithful to your spouse, self-sacrificing for your family, self-giving to those around you--those are the weighty roles, the overlooked chores that will headline in eternity. Governorship is a smaller matter than I had thought. Or at least daily life is a much bigger matter.
p.s. "Is There Hope for the American Marriage" by Caitlin Flanagan http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1908243,00.html