Island Life by David Slack

Staying on the porch

That’s all? No Goats? No rent-boys? Perhaps the secrets too-awful-to-reveal are yet to come. If they do, I daresay we’ll read them first on Sydney indymedia who wrote on this very day one year ago:

Rumours have been rife in the New Zealand media that National party leader and contender for the office Prime Minister, Dr Don Brash, has been having another affair, this time with the Deputy Chair of the influential right-wing think tank the Business Roundtable Diane Foreman. Although it’s common knowledge in NZ media circles, journalists have been too worried of the possible consequences to raise the matter.

I have anniversaries on my mind; on this very day fifteen years ago I became a married man. Last night I did a quick calculation. There were sixty or so couples at our wedding; all but three of them are still together today. That doesn’t quite chime with the reputation of our neighborhood, or at least the one that was retold to us. Devonport offers a choice of four primary schools, including the one in our street. We think very highly of it, but we’ve heard that an acquaintance of ours begs to differ. “You don’t want to send your kids to that school” she has reportedly said, “The mothers are all skinny blondes who have affairs.”

Which brings me to my point, namely: infidelity. It’s not unknown. For that reason, it remains to be seen whether – should the rumours be substantiated - Don Brash will have alienated himself from New Zealanders, mainstream or otherwise, to an irreparable degree.

A starting point might be to assess what women make of this, because Dr Brash won proportionately less support from them in the last election.

Weddings get a photo album, but divorces mostly have nothing but a paper trail. I remember the letters we got, in each case from the wife, after those three marriages came undone. They were documents of raw grief and bewilderment. They also described the humiliations exacted: the insistence that the errant partner be tested for STDs; the banishments; the screaming matches in public places. It can be a long and horrible business. For the most part, the husbands have ended up with the better end of the deal, and tend to be living lives not much burdened by anguish. The wives still carry clear scars.

Three marriages do not make a scientific study, but they bear out the familiar refrain: the woman is often left more damaged than the man. Every woman who stands with a marker pen in her hand will know this when she decides whether to vote for Don Brash at the next election, and that may prove to be his greatest obstacle to overcome.

My wife of fifteen years thinks this: (and again, assuming all the rumor is substantiated) Dr Brash may get an ultimatum from his wife: politics or the marriage. If it should come to that, it would be instructive indeed to know what choice he would make.