COLUMBIA, S.C. — The wife of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford moved out of the official governor's residence with their four sons Friday, a little more than a month after he admitted to a yearlong affair with an Argentine woman he called his "soul mate."
First lady Jenny Sanford and several other women removed bags of clothes, a suitcase and armloads of suits and dresses on hangers from the governor's mansion in Columbia before departing in a caravan of sport utility vehicles. Three of the four boys were present, carrying tote and duffel bags.
Before departing, she hugged several of the women who had helped her carry the belongings out. In a statement, Jenny Sanford said she was heading to the family residence on Sullivan's Island, about 120 miles southeast, for the upcoming school year.
"From there, we will work to continue the process of healing our family," she said. "While we will be leaving Columbia, we will return often, and I will remain engaged in activities in my role as first lady, acknowledging that my responsibilities to my family come first."
The governor, who spoke to reporters elsewhere in the state later Friday, termed the reconciliation "a day at a time process" and said the move was a mutual decision.
"It's been brewing for a while and something we've been back and forth on and kicked around at length. It was not entered into lightly but with a whole lot of thought and prayer," he said.
Mark Sanford, 49, disappeared for nearly a week in late June to see his Argentine lover, Maria Belen Chapur, leaving his staff, his wife and the rest of the state in the dark about his whereabouts. Initially, his office told reporters that Sanford was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
Jenny Sanford told the Associated Press that she learned about the affair in January when she came across a copy of a letter her husband had written to his mistress. In later months, her husband asked several times to visit the other woman, requests she denied, the first lady said.