"I think the gutsiest thing I've ever done, well, personally, [is] make the decision to stay in my marriage," she said on Good Morning America

By Adam Carlson
October 03, 2019 09:36 AM

Promoting a new book about “gutsy women” that she wrote with daughter Chelsea, Hillary Clinton has been asked about how the topic relates to her own life — her own gutsiest moments.

As she told Good Morning America on Tuesday, in an interview with Chelsea, “I think the gutsiest thing I’ve ever done, well, personally, [is] make the decision to stay in my marriage.”

It was a brief sentiment belying the decades of love, controversy and healing bound up in the union of former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, a former first lady and secretary of state.

Their marriage — and the accounts of cheating and impropriety that swirled around President Clinton in the ’90s, with accompanying questions about Mrs. Clinton’s real feelings on the matter — made headlines well into the most recent decade. While she was running for president in 2016 against Donald Trump, he invoked those long-ago stories (despite his own notorious history of infidelity).

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In her 2003 memoir, Living History, Mrs. Clinton detailed the pain of her husband’s most infamous misconduct: having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky when she was a White House intern.

“I could hardly breathe. Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, ‘What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?’ ” Mrs. Clinton recalled of her reaction upon learning the truth from the former president.

“He just stood there saying over and over, ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was trying to protect you and Chelsea.’ I was dumbfounded, heartbroken and outraged that I’d believed him at all,” she wrote.

But she did not leave him.

From left: Hillary and Bill Clinton in 1995
LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty
From left: Hillary and Bill Clinton in 2016
Seth Wenig/AP

“The most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate from New York,” she wrote in Living History. “By now I knew I wanted our marriage to last if it could because I loved Bill and I realized how much I cherished the years we had spent together. I knew that I could not have parented Chelsea alone as well as we had together.”

“I hoped Bill and I could grow old together,” she continued. “We were both committed to rebuilding out marriage with the tools of our faith, love and shared past.”

Elsewhere in the book, Mrs. Clinton wrote of first encountering her future husband while both were law students at Yale University — him with “a vitality that seemed to shoot out of his pores.” Later, during a trip to England, he proposed and she said no. For the moment.

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“Looking back, I realize how scared I was of commitment in general and of Bill’s intensity in particular,” she wrote in her memoir. “I thought of him as a force of nature and wondered whether I’d be up to the task of living through his seasons.”

Two years later, they married in their living room.

“After all that has happened since, I’m often asked why Bill and I have stayed together,” she wrote in Living History. “What can I say to explain a love that has persisted for decades? All I know is that no one understands me better and no one can make me laugh the way Bill does. Even after all these years, he is still the most interesting, energizing and fully alive person I have ever met.”

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