Avoiding Cain’s Pain
Living daily life in the awareness that marriage matters


Kathryn Jean Lopez

The enduring image of Herman Cain’s campaign may have been provided by a woman’s account of what allegedly happened in a car in 1997. Her response to Cain’s advances, repeated constantly for a few days by our insatiable media, was a snapshot of our confused culture, in which supposedly liberated women send ridiculously inconsistent signals to men. The obvious question: If she hadn’t had a boyfriend, would a grope in a car be acceptable — even welcome? As sexual-revolution nemesis Mona Charen tweeted while watching feminist attorney Gloria Allred stand by the woman’s side as she made her accusation, wouldn’t the proper response have been, “Back off, you creep!”?

The alleged encounter says a lot about what a mess we’ve made of the relationship between men and women. Mars and Venus are having an identity crisis; they should be complementary, but are now too often hostile. As much in need of the connections of nature and tradition as ever, they are now independent and individualistic. Knowing there are differences, but beguiled by decades of lies about balancing the uneven biological playing field. 

Cain may be guilty as charged, or he may be an innocent man wronged by politics and the media. Either way, his story is a cautionary tale for every man with a ring on his finger and time on his hands. And for every woman in the same situation.

Cain has admitted to having what appears to have been at least an emotionally intimate relationship with a woman who was not his wife, and of whom his wife was not aware. Alarm bells should go off here. 

Nancy and David French write honestly in their book Home and Away about the strains placed on a marriage when husband and wife are apart — and particularly when the man is in a war zone 8,000 miles away. David heartbreakingly recounts: “Men were coming home on leave to find their wives gone from their houses. Other men were getting the modern equivalent of the ‘Dear John’ letter via Facebook message or e-mail. Some guys discovered wives or girlfriends were pregnant, and still others were finding that their bank accounts had been looted by the very people they most trusted with their financial affairs.” 

Before David left for Iraq, he and Nancy put together rules, in a painfully honest conversation about human frailty. There would be no drinking during the year of separation. Nancy would not “have phone conversations with men, or meaningful e-mail exchanges about politics or any other subject.” Nor would she be on Facebook, where “the ghosts of boyfriends past” could contact her. When Nancy innocently started e-mailing about faith with a man associated with a radio show she was on, she told David about it, and he asked her to end the relationship. David knew, with his “stomach clenching,” that “the most intimate conversations a person has are about life and faith” — and that “spiritual and emotional intimacy frequently leads to physical intimacy.”