3 Lessons from John and Elizabeth Edwards's Divorce

The somber takeaways from a sordid affair

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Elizabeth Edwards has legally separated from John Edwards, who admitted last week to fathering a daughter with his mistress Rielle Hunter in 2008. The very public dissolution of their marriage has been covered relentlessly by tabloids and celebrity gossip magazines. But what are the takeaways from this sordid affair? A trio of writers offer their take on the lessons learned:

  • If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Is, writes Margery Eagan at The Boston Herald: "Watching Edwards in action, looking every bit the unctuous operator, some of us were suspicious. But how comforting if all this were real? The 'Breck Boy' actually finds happiness with his everywoman wife because he loves her deeper qualities: bravery, perseverance, mothering, etc....The larger lessons here? I can only offer these. Don’t trust 'Breck Boys' and remember why impossible couples seem impossible: They are."
  • Without Trust, Marriage Can't Survive, writes Belinda Luscombe in Time: "Sources suggest that even three years after she discovered the affair, Elizabeth never quite found a way to trust John again, checked up on him constantly, and that the strain proved too much for both of them. As the old marriage saying goes: The problem is not who you lie with. It's who you lie to."
  • Deceit Creates a Trail of Victims, writes the Houston Chronicle editorial board: "The John Edwards story is modern political farce morphed into a personal and family tragedy of Edwards' own making... Among the victims of this sorry melodrama we count all of Edwards' immediate family, especially his wife, Elizabeth, ill with incurable breast cancer. But our sincerest and deepest sympathies are reserved for the most innocent victim of all, little Frances Quinn, the daughter of Edwards' ill-advised union with videographer Rielle Hunter."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.