As women began coming forward last week in increasing numbers to detail vivid incidents of the alleged sexual harassment experienced by them during their dealings with movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, one woman, Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, remained silent. Until yesterday. Chapman revealed she is, in fact, filing for divorce. In a statement to People, she said:
“My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions. I have chosen to leave my husband. Caring for my young children is my first priority and I ask the media for privacy at this time.”
When The New York Times first broke the story nearly a week ago, it seemed as though Chapman would follow in the footsteps of Huma Abedin, now soon-to-be ex-wife of former New York congressman, Anthony Weiner, and stand by her man. Or Eliot Spitzer’s now ex, Silda, who, at first, did the same. At least that seemed to be the initial plan when Weinstein spoke of his wife to the New York Post, saying, “She stands 100 percent behind me. Georgina and I have talked about this at length.”
But, as often happens, plans change. Enough was enough a lot sooner than for Chapman’s peer group of jilted wives similarly subjected to sex scandals resulting from their husbands’ unscrupulous, sometimes illegal, behavior. Now we are left questioning how far, in the face of public humiliation and disgrace, must loyalty to a spouse go? In other words, at what point is it time to part ways with a husband or wife who has betrayed us and file for divorce?
The answer is, it depends. Though I counsel clients about how to dissolve a marriage, I also educate couples on how to build and sustain a healthy one. For a union to last a lifetime, it’s imperative that a husband and wife each maintain independence within their relationship. The ability to remain independent while devoting our life to someone else, however, is a delicate balance to achieve, especially when having our needs met continually requires us to compromise.
As I detail in my newest book, The Pre-Marital Planner (to stay happily married), compromise may come in the form of a financial give and take where partners should consider checking in with one another about purchases that will impact their bottom line. Or defining boundaries when wounds from past relationships threaten their new one and then being proactive about respecting those boundaries. What my clients and readers will never hear from me is that they should sacrifice their dignity or values to appease or please their partner. Based on her message of support to the emerging victims, we can infer Chapman feels the same.
A partnership is only as strong as the sum of its parts. When staying with a spouse will cause continued pain and suffering or a loss of self for one or both of the parties involved, it becomes time to choose: you or them. Once upon a time, you may have loved your spouse. You still may. But unless you love and care for yourself first, you will never have the marriage you want or deserve. Remember, divorce isn’t for the weak; it’s for the strong. Today, I applaud Georgina Chapman’s courage as she speaks up for herself and others during this difficult time.