Courtesy ABC

Felicity Huffman and Kellyanne Conway and the Strain of ‘For Better or Worse’

Infidelity isn’t the only thing that forces spouses to consider whether they’ll stick together no matter what

“For better or worse.” Many couples don’t utter those exact words as they state their wedding vows nowadays, but even if they aren’t spoken the expectation is that spouses will stick with each other no matter what. They’ll have each other’s back. That’s commitment. But as we’ve seen in the past few weeks, two high-profile couples — Kellyanne and George Conway and Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy — have put “for better or worse” under the microscope. Their “worse” is a lot worse than may have been expected, and they are struggling.

Many ways parents can disagree

Well, welcome to the imperfect world of being a couple, especially when you have kids. Because no one quite factors in all the ways that two people can vastly disagree on what they want to happen in their marriage and for their children, even if they have come to some sort of an understanding (parenting prenup or not) about it. As much as I am a fan of relationship contracts, let’s face it — agreements about gaming the system to advance your child wouldn’t necessarily be among the topics most potential parents would discuss.

Commitment, and where to draw the line

Be that as it may, I look at the Huffman-Macy and Conway marriages and want to explore the idea of commitment — where does a couple draw the line on the “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health” thing?

What about the kids?

Not just for me. But for my kids. I didn’t want my boys to be raised in a family in which a woman was not respected.

Perhaps the couple is playing a competitive political game, with neither caring enough about the real-world impact of the actions they so strenuously defend or condemn to erode their love for each other. But that’s still a dangerous script for a marriage. And either way, it sends an even more dangerous message to their four children about prioritizing power, fame and money over shared core values in their future relationships.

Of course, Huffman’s scandal proves she also isn’t being respectful — not of her husband, but of her child. By allegedly paying $15,000 so her daughter’s SAT score could be boosted, she was basically saying she had little faith in her daughter’s abilities. That’s a hurtful breach of trust her daughter will have to deal with for the rest of her life.

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women