Rarely am I disappointed in an article in Essence Magazine. I’ve subscribed for years and look forward to reading the magazine each month. But Essence has me feeling some type of way about Christine Beatty’s glamour shot and essay in the November issue. Beatty talks about the lessons learned from her affair with former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. In fact, Beatty and Kilpatrick served time in jail for perjury after lying about their affair under oath during a whistle-blower lawsuit.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to believe Beatty regrets her actions and I pray she can forgive herself. Along with Kilpatrick, they let down their spouses, her daughters and his sons. The affair and coverup were exposed in a big way when hundreds of text messages, some of them explicit, were revealed to the public during the lawsuit. The text messages were fair game because they were exchanged on city-issued cell phones. Without question, taxpayers in Detroit paid for some elements of the affair since Beatty was Kilpatrick’s chief of staff and some of their fooling around happened on the city’s time.
There may be some value in hearing from the other woman, though I’m struggling to see it. Since Essence gave Beatty three pages to tell her story, equal time should have been give to Carlita Kilpatrick to tell hers. After reading Beatty’s essay, I came away thinking she was in some way rationalizing the affair. She’d known and loved him since high school, her marriage was sinking and she and Kilpatrick worked so closely together that one thing led to another. But here’s the thing: Many people feel attraction to someone they work closely with or have had a crush on since high school. As adults, it’s our responsibility not only to honor our marriage vows but to think about the collateral damage caused by affairs. Marriage is a covenant between two people and God. Too often, people act first and think later. By then, the damage is done.
A few years ago I watched helplessly as someone I love was destroyed by a woman who inserted herself into her marriage, which was already struggling. I listened to her as she describe this woman’s actions toward her and her husband, who vehemently denied his wife’s suspicions. Trust and believe we women know when our husbands’ heads have been turned by another woman. There is always someone younger, prettier and more interesting, especially when you’ve been married for a time. And this goes both ways. Women aren’t exempt from cheating on their husbands. Perhaps the marriage I watched implode could have been saved with a lot of hard work. The couple shared similar values and had a lot of history together. Their children struggled mightily when their parents divorced. But when three and four people are involved in a marriage, there is no way it can survive.
Divorce is a serious step that should not be made lightly. Some couples decide that despite the infidelity they will stay together and try to rebuild the house that was once on solid ground. Christine Beatty says in her essay that she and her husband are now divorced but are successful co-parents. The Kilpatricks have endured the mayor’s multiple affairs and his conviction on corruption charges. He will be serving his 28-year prison sentence close to his family’s home in Texas.
Here’s hoping the next time Essence editors decide to run an article by the other woman, they let the wife give her perspective. She’s the one who held it down for their kids and stood by her man when he was carrying on with his mistress.