On August 8, former Senator John Edwards admitted to having an affair. Rabbi Shmuley says the reason people are disturbed by the news is because John built his image so consistently around being a deeply devoted father and husband and had repeatedly denied the affair. Another important factor is that the affair took place while John's wife, Elizabeth, was in remission from battling cancer.
But Rabbi Shmuley says John's affair was more about issues with himself rather than his relationship with his wife. "Men who cheat do not do so because they don’t love their wives, but because they hate themselves—not because their wives are not caring, but because their perforated sense of self is immune to affection," Rabbi Shmuley says. When men are immersed in a hypercompetitive culture, it makes them feel as though their value comes only from external acheievement, he says.
It was John's need for public validation that became his addiction, Rabbi Shmuley says. "It took the adoration of the crowds and the compliments of complete strangers to make him feel unique," he says. "It is specifically the woman to whom he is not married, the one that has not been devalued through a merger with a failure, that can make him feel consequential."
"Men who cheat do not do so because they don't love their wives, but because they don't love themselves, and they turn to strangers to make them feel good about themselves. The salvation of the American male and his dedication will come when men discover a moral vision of themselves and when our country formulates a new definition of success revolving not around quantity in bank accounts but quality of relationships."