As speculation over David French's potential third-party presidential bid stirs, reports on everything from his lack of experience to his stance on abortion have accompanied the media furor. Amidst the feeding frenzy, Politico writer Kevin Robillard tweeted about an alleged contract French had with his wife prior to his deployment in Iraq which has got spectators wondering. Did French ban his wife from emailing other men while he was in Iraq? Bustle has reached out to French for comment, but hasn't received a response.
The answer has a different spin, depending on who you ask. The quote Robillard referenced in his tweet was from a 2011 article in National Review, French's employer, in which writer Kathryn Jean Lopez quotes French's book Home and Away, which he co-authored with his wife, Nancy. Lopez discusses the ground rules the couple supposedly arranged before French left for Iraq. Reportedly, she was not to talk on the phone with other men, have "meaningful email exchanges" about politics or anything else with other men, or use Facebook (a purported graveyard for "the ghosts of boyfriends past").
Lopez went on to discuss an anecdote from the book in which Nancy began emailing another man about faith, and David knew from his "stomach clenching" that conversations about faith can be incredibly intimate. Because, you know, everybody gets turned on by talking about God.
While the quotes themselves are enough to give many readers pause, others criticized Robillard for skewing the context in an attempt to criticize French, making it seem "as if the Iraq War veteran ruled over his wife with an iron fist." The critics at the right-leaning Washington Examiner said that Robillard spun the story of a couple coping with a long-distance relationship during wartime by alleging that French was controlling his wife.
Religious blogger and author Denny Burk denounced the French criticism, saying "spouses who make concrete plans for fidelity to their marriage covenant ought to be admired and emulated, not attacked and caricatured," though what the opinions on marriage from an author whose bestseller is titled Transforming Homosexuality are worth is debatable.
Still other commentators pointed out that there's no mention in the initial National Review article about whether or not French abided by similar rules, placing the onus on his wife to "not cheat." Others didn't mince words, alleging that French "doesn't trust his wife."
To many spectators, myself included, it seems strange that a couple would engage in this kind of restrictive contract for any length of time, but every relationship is different. Relationship contracts and ground rules can be a positive step for couples looking to make it work, and I can only hope that, if it was real, the couple's agreement worked for them.