Photo Credit: CBS
"Why didn't you divorce him?"
Finally. Last night, on The Good Wife someone asked Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) the question on everyone's mind. In the half dozen episodes since her husband, State's Attorney Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), was caught in a salacious sex scandal involving prostitutes, why has Alicia soldiered on as breadwinner, single mother and stoic wife? Why not dump the guy?
Alicia, of course, is a fictional stand-in for all the good wives out there, political spouses who have endured the high-profile humiliation of powerful, philandering men. Again and again, politicians cheat -- with prostitutes (New York Governor Eliot Spitzer), with campaign film producers (John Edwards), with gay lovers on the payroll (New Jersey Governor James McGreevey), or with interns (Bill Clinton). Again and again, their wives stand up (straight-backed and smiling rigidly) alongside their apologetic husbands at their embarrassing press conferences. Why not dump the guy?
"Because I didn't want to," Alicia answers, when a new colleague lobs the question at her. He presses her for a better answer, to no avail. Eventually, she tells him, "I've got two teen-aged kids and a to-do list you wouldn't believe." There's much more to it, obviously, but Alicia's not going to open up to this random meddler (who's not even a regular character).
Silda Spitzer, the disgraced political spouse who inspired The Good Wife, got just that advice from friends, according to the New York Daily News. "Said one friend, 'If I were her, I would call my mother or my best friend and pack my bags and go someplace far away for six months and take my daughters with me.'"
She didn't heed this counsel; the Spitzers are still together. Some say that political wives like Silda have invested too much time and effort into their husbands' careers. Their man's demise would bring them down, too. In Dina McGreevey's case, she appeared at the press conference just one hour after learning that her husband, then the Governor of New Jersey, was having an affair with a man working in his administration (a man who was now trying to extort money from him). Sideswiped, stunned, and clearly under duress, she stood by her man that day, and divorced him -- cantankerously -- later.
On last night's episode, Alicia never offers any details about her decision to stay married. So the new colleague offers his own take on it. "You're a rule follower," he says. "The way you dress. The way you act. But there's this part of you that wants freedom, rule-breaking. You like people who scare you."
A flicker of emotion passes over Alicia's face. But she says nothing.
Why do you think these wives stay with their cheating husbands? Chime in below!