WASHINGTON/PARIS: The Sarkozy "French-Style" Divorce: Why Obama would self-destruct if he divorced Michelle and what it means, if anything, for your marriage

The French seem to have a laissez faire attitude to marriage and divorce. Statistics show that the marriage rate in France is falling while the rate of people shacking up together and raising families is rising. That is in contrast to the United States where the marriage rate is rising, as is the rate of people shacking up. And so too, is the rate of divorce. But we could never handle the president doing it.
Ironically, even though the United States has a higher rate of divorce than France, Americans are more puritanical about marriage, and divorce is still a greater stigma here, especially for elected leaders, than it is for the French.
For example, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy divorced his wife Cecelia  while in office (Cecelia admitted to a few extramarital affairs that she had had), the French people barely batted an eyelash. They were reportedly slightly “amused by the whole thing.” That they both had children from previous marriages was totally a non-issue for the French people.When Sarkozy took up with former model and pop artist Carla Bruni, and was romancing her on the people’s watch, the French similarly turned a blind eye. They were more concerned with his political decisions that with his personal life.
By contrast, no American president has ever gotten a divorce while in office. Ronald Reagan had been married once before he married Nancy. But that divorce occurred years before he sought the presidency. Recent GOP candidate John McCain also was married before, but that marriage was decades before he ran for office.
But if, god forbid, President Barack Obama were to seek a divorce from his wife Michelle Obama (or if she sought one from him) it would likely be the end of his political career. Not that I think that could happen because I have not personally seen such a strong chemistry between political partners in a long time. Have you? I mean, he looks at her as if he wants to… well, maybe I shouldn’t go there. It’s unpresidential. But there is great chemistry there.
But I think it is safe to say that it would be the end of his political career.  In Susan Donaldson James’ article on ABCNews.com, she writes, “Americans hold their presidents to a much higher ethical standard, according to presidential scholar Russell Riley, who teaches at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. ‘The big difference between us and most European countries is that we look to the president to be a kind of moral leader,’ Riley said.”
What does this mean for you? Probably nothing. Americans, it seems, have a double standard with this issue. We are a country with the highest divorce rate in the world. We have no issues with, say, a one day marriage by our most famous pop stars. Some Americans are lobbying hard for the definition of marriage to be extended to a gender-neutral institution. In states such as Massachusetts which did extend marriage rights to same-gender couples, the divorce rate is not exactly “encouraging” and does not augur well for the stability of these unions. Yet, Americans believe in marriage and continue to do it at an almost alarming rate. Still, as a nation, we can’t handle the notion of our President getting a divorce while in office.
Writes Douglason James, “‘we have a problem,’ said Catherine Allgor, political scientist at the University of California Riverside and an expert on first ladies. ‘We expect our leaders not to live the lives we do.’
‘We know a lot of people who are divorced, we ourselves are divorced, but when it comes to our leaders, Americans are like children and we like our big daddies,’ she said. ‘We want them to be nostalgic, old-fashioned and family oriented.'”
I know there will be no French-Style divorce for the Obamas. But what about you and your situation? Are you and your hubby like Sarkozy and Cecelia? Are you in the public eye? If so, just remember that the trick is to change the conversation as quickly as possible, by replacing the lost spouse with someone like Bruni.  The public likes that.