Opposites in Many Ways, but Seemingly Melded Well

June 9, 2011 by  


By Ashley Parker

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When Bill Clinton officiated at the Gatsbyesque wedding of Representative Anthony D. Weiner and Huma Abedin at Oheka Castle on Long Island last summer, the former president reportedly joked that marrying a politician can be difficult, because it is “easy to distrust them, whatever their religion.”

Less than a year later, Mr. Clinton’s warning has proved to be prescient.

Mr. Weiner’s admission Monday that he had conducted sexually charged online correspondence with six women over the last few years — even after his wedding — shocked those who knew him as a doting and adoring newlywed.

But it seemed all the more striking, given the congressman’s elaborate courtship of Ms. Abedin and her Muslim family, whose blessing he sought when he proposed marriage.

During his press conference Monday, Mr. Weiner seemed most choked up as he apologized to Ms. Abedin, 35, a deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose own marriage has been rocked by her husband’s sexual peccadilloes.

Ms. Abedin did not appear alongside Mr. Weiner, 46, during his news conference; instead, she put in a full day of work for the State Department.

“My wife is a remarkable woman,” Mr. Weiner said. “She’s not responsible for any of this. This was visited upon her. She’s getting back — getting back to work. And I apologize to her very deeply.”

Mr. Weiner and Ms. Abedin have seemed an unlikely couple from the start. They come from very different backgrounds — he is a Jewish man from Brooklyn, she a Michigan-born Muslim-American raised in Saudi Arabia by an Indian father and a Pakistani mother. And Mr. Weiner and Ms. Abedin have very different personalities.

He is a fiery, publicity-craving wisecracker with a reputation as a Romeo and a habit of turning up in the tabloids. He can be overbearing and intense and pushes his staff and himself unrelentingly.

She is calm, private and glamorous, with a sense of elegance that has earned her attention from fashion magazines. Her close friend Oscar de La Renta designed her chiffon wedding gown, likening her to Scheherazade, the beautiful queen from “One Thousand and One Nights.”

But they complement each other well, said friends of the couple, who described Mr. Weiner as a sweet, supportive partner. Ms. Abedin, a practicing Muslim who speaks fluent Arabic, does not drink, and Mr. Weiner has given up alcohol in solidarity with her, they said. He sometimes fasts with her during Ramadan, and often meets her at the airport when she returns from long trips, even in the early morning hours.

Friends say that Ms. Abedin had been courted by “a lot of very successful, important people,” but it was Mr. Weiner’s persistence and tenacity, as well as his confidence and sense of humor, that eventually won her over.

“I kept on hearing stories of how adoring he was of her and how much he cared about her, and over time it became clear that this was something he was focused on, and it was for real,” said a friend of Ms. Abedin, who asked to remain anonymous because he was commenting on a personal matter. Ms. Abedin got her start in politics in 1996 as an intern in Ms. Clinton’s White House office, and has been her aide since. She and Mr. Weiner met when Ms. Clinton ran for the Senate in 2000, but did not start dating until Ms. Clinton ran for president 2008.

At their wedding, Mr. Weiner’s robust premarital dating life was the subject of considerable roasting, and Mr. Weiner made it clear Monday that Ms. Abedin knew about his rakish past, including his use of social media for sexual communication.

A version of this article appeared in print on June 7, 2011, on page A28 of the New York edition with the headline: Opposites in Many Ways, But Seemingly in Sync.

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