Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Weiner's wife: Should Huma stand by her man?

By Kelly Wallace, CNN
updated 11:02 AM EDT, Thu July 25, 2013
Huma Abedin stood beside her husband, Anthony Weiner, on Tuesday, July 23, as he once again addressed issues surrounding sending explicit messages over the Internet. At times she smiled, other times she appeared solemn, but her message was clear: She is standing by her husband. Abedin has worked for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for more than a decade, and while she's known for shying away from the spotlight, she can often be seen just offstage. Huma Abedin stood beside her husband, Anthony Weiner, on Tuesday, July 23, as he once again addressed issues surrounding sending explicit messages over the Internet. At times she smiled, other times she appeared solemn, but her message was clear: She is standing by her husband. Abedin has worked for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for more than a decade, and while she's known for shying away from the spotlight, she can often be seen just offstage.
HIDE CAPTION
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
Who is Weiner's wife?
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Women have dramatically different reactions about Huma Abedin's decision
  • Some think Abedin is doing the right thing, others think she is making a bad mistake
  • One feminist argued that women should be focusing on Weiner, not Abedin
  • Women also debate the impact of Abedin's background as a top Clinton adviser

Editor's note: Kelly Wallace is CNN's digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. She's a mom of two girls and lives in Manhattan. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

(CNN) -- Just about any woman who watched Huma Abedin publicly declare her decision to stick with her husband, embattled New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, had to feel sympathy for her. How could you not?

No wife, already facing her husband's sexually explicit digital relationship with another woman (yet again!), wants to face the prying eyes of the public, too. But while women pretty unanimously feel for her, they have dramatically different reactions about whether she's doing the right thing, judging from the responses of several women I interviewed from across the country Wednesday.

"I think she's a good wife ... and she's a loyal wife," said Lydia Montgomery, a married mom with two grown sons in Chanute, Kansas. "I think it's great that she's backing him."

"These days it has become too easy to just walk away when someone shows their character flaws or doesn't live up to their end of the marriage contract," said Dee, a married mom with one son who only wanted to use her first name. "I think she's decided that keeping her family intact and holding up her (end) of the marriage is worth the pain she's facing right now."

Opinion: The public humiliation of Huma Abedin

On the other side are women who think Abedin is making a terrible mistake, women like Andrea Kristina, a divorced mother with a teenage son who says she put up with "bad behavior" from her ex-husband for years. "Standing by your man when he repeatedly humiliates you by getting himself into trouble doesn't make you a strong woman," she said. "Leaving him and respecting yourself will."

Pam Selker Rak, a married public relations professional in Pittsburgh, said while she believes the decision to stay or leave is a personal one that only Abedin can make, she doesn't think the former aide to Hillary Clinton should have backed Weiner publicly. "I'm not convinced she is projecting the best message by standing behind someone who hasn't earned her confidence and loyalty," Rak said.

Anthony Weiner's wife goes 'all in'
Analysis: Huma not a victim
Who is Huma Abedin?

In the middle of the "Is Abedin doing the right or wrong thing?" debate are women who say we simply don't know what is going on in their relationship, so who are we to judge? "We have no idea what transpired," said Rebecca, a single woman without children who asked to be identified by her first name. "I know Huma is a smart woman and hasn't made this decision lightly, especially with a child in the mix."

All the criticism, especially from women who argue she is not standing up for herself and not asserting her power, really struck a chord with some women.

"I've seen people online call her a chump and call her desperate and (ask) what's her problem," said Jessica Dukes, a freelance writer in New York and mom of two young children. "I don't see the course that she's taking as weak and capitulating. I see it as taking the harder path that requires even more strength."

Why we act on stupid impulses

"I understand from a political perspective that you should be looking at (Weiner's) qualifications for a job, but I don't feel that anybody should be judging a woman based on how she handles infidelity in her marriage," said Meg Watt, a married mom with two teenage daughters in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Imani Gandy, a senior legal analyst with RH Reality Check, a reproductive and sexual health website, and editor of This Week in Blackness, thinks the focus -- for women -- should not be on Abedin, but on Weiner. "I would like to see feminist women focusing on the fact that his behavior is inappropriate and not on the fact that she's being strong enough or being feminist enough by deciding to take her marriage vow seriously."

As women debated, online and off, about whether Abedin is making the right move, the conversation moved to "What would you do if you were in her shoes?"

"I always think that if that were me, I could never stand by him, but when it came down to it, who knows?" said Jennifer Merritt, a married digital editor in New York.

Women who know what Abedin is going through said no one can know how they would react. A woman who wanted to remain anonymous said she learned her boyfriend was sending naked pictures of himself to random women who were soliciting sex. She broke up with him, and after he sought professional therapy, gave him another chance, but ultimately the "trust was gone" and the relationship ended.

Opinion: Why does Abedin put up with Weiner?

"I will say that people are very quick to judge those women who choose to stay in relationships with men suffering from this disgusting habit, which clearly is the result of a deeper issue," she said. "I hope for Huma's sake that Anthony has stopped his habit, but I do not think he deserves to be mayor."

Another woman, who also did not want to be identified, told CNN her sexting and infidelity nearly broke up her marriage: "I hurt my husband very badly. I can never undo it but I can stand by his side now and not screw it up again."

Abedin's background as a top adviser to former Secretary of State Clinton also became a point of discussion among women. Abedin certainly watched Clinton, her mentor, deal with sexual allegations against her husband, former President Clinton.

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

"I imagine she certainly has a lot of experience in navigating these sorts of situations regarding infidelity," said Gandy.

Montgomery said Abedin's critics might speculate that she has political motives, but she disagrees.

"She's got a family now and her career is on the back burner somewhat, and it's all about her love and supporting her husband, and building and keeping that family," she said.

Follow Kelly Wallace on Twitter and on Google+ and like CNN Living on Facebook.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:54 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
If it hasn't happened already, it likely will at some point: the moment you don't like one of your child's friends. What do you do?
updated 6:50 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
They say the first step to overcoming a problem is realizing you have one in the first place. An online quiz can help you determine whether you are over-reliant on your cell phone.
updated 9:52 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Options for meat substitutes have come a long way since Seth Tibbott's first few Thanksgivings as a vegetarian in the 1970s.
updated 4:12 PM EST, Sat November 22, 2014
Students unhappy with school meals are taking it out on the first lady by sharing images on social media of lunches sarcastically tagged #ThanksMichelleObama.
updated 9:55 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
A Louisiana family is fighting to protect its beloved pit bull from a "vicious dogs" ordinance.
updated 5:20 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. CNN's Michaela Pereira grew up in a family of five adopted girls in Canada and eventually reunited with her biological half-sister.
updated 2:39 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
It began for Nickolay Lamm as a question: What would Barbie look like if she had the dimensions of an average woman?
updated 9:16 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Bill Cosby was thought of as a perceptive comedian and genial father figure. Now, that persona pairs with another, much darker image.
updated 12:35 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
If you think 'my teen would never sext,' you might be mistaken. Recent studies suggest it's more common than many parents might want to admit.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
I pictured myself graduating from college, getting a cool job and even having a cute place of my own. Instead, I wake to the early-morning sounds of my family dog barking and my parents making coffee downstairs.
updated 12:38 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier tease, poke and prod each other like they've grown up together, but they didn't. Neither woman knew she had an identical twin sister until less than two years ago.
updated 9:02 AM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
A school district in Maryland has decided to remove all references to religious holidays from its school calendar, leaving some in the community frustrated.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
Female veterans often have a harder time finding employment than their male counterparts. But why?
updated 3:19 PM EST, Fri November 14, 2014
I simply couldn't believe my eyes. At a children's party this year, I witnessed full-on "mean girl" behavior.
updated 12:24 PM EST, Mon November 10, 2014
Several children were sent to the hospital after being sickened by ingesting detergent pods.
updated 9:46 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
There are plenty of times when I literally wish I could take a hammer to the portrayal of girls and women in the media. In a new ad, a little girl gets to do just that.
updated 10:09 AM EST, Sat November 8, 2014
"Playing doctor" and "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" are common rites of passage in childhood sexual behavior, according to the experts.
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 6, 2014
A tech startup claims credit for making Alex from Target go viral, but there's skepticism about how involved it was, if at all.
updated 5:47 PM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
A soft toy for cribs lets babies post pictures of themselves to social media.
updated 11:55 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Schools are increasingly confronting a controversial question: Should they do more to monitor students' online interactions off-campus to keep them safe?
updated 11:56 AM EST, Thu November 6, 2014
The National Toy Hall of Fame recently inducted three new favorites into its hallowed halls. What's your favorite?
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
We don't know, and may never know, what led to the Washington school shooting, but we have to ask ourselves, following this tragedy, if we are doing enough to help our boys deal with difficult emotions without resorting to violence.
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
The viral video of a New York woman being catcalled on the street has men asking, "So, what should I do?" The answer starts with respect.
updated 2:40 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Trick-or-treating and dressing in costume have been Halloween traditions for a good long time now, but it seems we're still struggling to get it right.
updated 4:38 PM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Yes, there's actually corn in it. Corn syrup, if that counts.
updated 2:28 PM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Walmart found itself sending apology tweet after apology tweet after the Twitterverse raked it over the coals for a major goof on its website.
updated 4:02 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
There aren't too many times when I'm speechless about what I consider an outrageous example of parenting. This is one of those times.
updated 7:57 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Holy crap, LeVar Burton.
updated 5:38 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Critics pounced on supermodel Gisele Bundchen for advocating a little mommy "me time" recently. When did it become a crime to admit that you -- as a parent -- put yourself first?
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Not again.
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
"Breaking Bad's" drug-dealing chemistry teacher Walter White will have to stop making the sale at Toys R Us.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
I happen to agree with Renee Zellweger that all the chatter about her face is "silly." But I, and many other women I talked with via email Wednesday, would add some other choice words to the mix to describe the non-stop attention about her appearance: nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
I have long thought millennials, who expect flexibility in the workplace, would be the group that would bring an end to the stigma that is too often associated with flex time -- the belief that wanting a flexible work arrangement means you aren't willing to work as hard. But now I'm thinking it's going to be men who will get us there.
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Say it with us: Kids today have it sooooo easy.
updated 2:29 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
An Atlanta judge reportedly reprimanded an immigration attorney for bringing her 4-week-old to court for a hearing -- a hearing she asked the judge to reschedule because she was on her six-week maternity leave.
updated 11:04 AM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Monica Lewinsky tweeted for the first time. She called herself "patient zero" of cyber-bullying.
updated 3:43 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Meet Shyanne Roberts, a 10-year-old competitive shooter with something to prove: "Kids and guns don't always mean bad things happen."
updated 9:50 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
strawberry ghosts
We love Halloween season. Sweets. Sweaters. Sipping hot cider (maybe spiked). Halloween can certainly get you in the spirit, and nothing warms our hearts like these healthy Halloween treats that help you stay energized instead of stuck in a sugar coma.
updated 3:23 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Does your baby cry during long flights, causing you to want to disappear from the glares of fellow passengers?
updated 4:14 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Ask any teen if they suffer from social media anxiety and they would probably tell you no. But the truth is getting "likes" and the fear of missing out are adding stress to teens' lives.
updated 9:13 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Many photographers have taken it upon themselves to document stillborn and terminal babies' precious moments after birth.
updated 3:46 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
As part of the insurance coverage offered to its female employees, Facebook is paying to freeze their eggs.
updated 2:15 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Amal Alamuddin was well-known in many important circles long before she snagged the world's most eligible bachelor. But Amal Alamuddin is now Amal Clooney, according to her law firm's website.
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Trends in young adult fiction have shifted from wizards to glittering vampires to bloodthirsty "Hunger Games" and now, to teens coping with illnesses and realistic issues.
updated 8:56 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Before he died this year, 14-year-old Martin Romero wanted to do something for his community.
cnn, parents, parenting, logo
Get the latest kid-related buzz, confessions from imperfect parents and the download on the digital life of families here at CNN Parents.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT