Pregnant and probably feeling nauseated even before her husband hit the headlines, Huma Abedin finds herself in the kind of quandary right now that requires strategic thinking of the type she probably usually reserves for her work at the State Department: Should she stay or go?
Abedin, who’s elected not to go by the name Mrs. Weiner, recently discovered that her husband, New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, is not exactly the kind of guy she thought he was. (We’re assuming, for the sake of argument, she didn’t intend to marry a guy who sends unsolicited photos of his junk to women who note his attractiveness on Twitter.)
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Prior to that, she discovered she’s pregnant. The two events may not be unconnected. Weiner’s recent recklessness, sending a photo of his bulging undershorts to all his Twitter followers instead of just one, may be a byproduct of the news of his impending fatherhood. Studies have shown that few things have as big an impact on marriage as children.
Usually that impact is strongest after the child is born, but for some guys, especially those who have been long used to their independence or who had less happy childhoods, the specter of an infant — a big bundle of needs and vampire of a time-suck — can be unsteadying.
But there’s a bit of a gap between being unsteady and being spectacularly reckless, and it’s clear Weiner liked to play pass-the-package before he knew that he’d have to make some adjustments to his health insurance.
So nobody would blame Abedin if she dumped him. She has wisely chosen to keep silent about her feelings on the matter. But there are some practical considerations. And there’s now a third human to consider. Studies have suggested that children are happiest when raised by two parents in a functional and committed relationship. But clearly divorce is more damaging to a child if he or she has to witness it or if it represents a huge change in his or her life, than if the child is born into a family in which Mom and Dad already live in different houses.
(More on TIME.com: In a Way, Haven’t We All Been a Weiner Online?)
So she could cut and run now before the child is born. Or she could give the Congressman the benefit of the doubt, and stick around hoping that his behavior was either a blip or a Ph.D.’s worth of teachable moments.
In the “Stay” column is the is the mammoth drag of raising a child alone, even for part of the time. One of the biggest reasons women have not achieved gender wage equality is that corporate life and parenthood don’t play well together, and that women still do the bulk of the child-rearing. A single mother in a high-powered job such as Huma’s is walking into a stiff breeze career- and family-wise.
In the “Go” column is, well, this.
And then there’s money. If either Abedin or Weiner has any assets, their lawyers will be wanting them to hammer out a postnuptial or marital agreement about now. “This is one of the classic cases of when people come to us for a postnup,” says Norman S. Heller, a partner at Blank Rome, who specializes in matrimonial law. “The woman feels insecure about her future and she says, ‘I want the marital residence in my name.'” Lawyers then draw up an agreement stipulating if the marriage does end in divorce, the wife will get the house. Cheated-upon spouses often request cash in their name too, especially if they’re not earning. But since Weiner has been in public office for some time, he may not have enough moolah to make it worthwhile.
(More on TIME.com: The Weiner Case: When Is Tweeting Cheating?)
Finally, Abedin may want to consider running for office herself. She now has the profile, and the public sympathy, and some of the hard lessons are already under her belt. One of the early lessons of motherhood is that if somebody drops the egg carton, you might as well have an omelet for dinner.