A little more than a week removed from his now-infamous one-car crash on Thanksgiving night, golf legend Tiger Woods remains front page news, but for all the wrong and sad reasons.
Like most of you, I’m not one to follow the latest Hollywood gossip or eagerly peel through the pages of People Magazine. But it’s hard to miss hearing about the sordid details and accusations surrounding the alleged infidelity of the golfing great. Earlier this week, in an attempt to quell the rumors, Tiger released a statement acknowledging personal “transgressions” but didn’t elaborate and pleaded for privacy.
Without trying to pile on or point fingers, a few thoughts—but only for purposes of instruction, not exploitation.
As someone who has read the mail here at Focus on the Family for over twenty years, the news from Orlando is all too familiar. Rarely do we hear from someone as high profile as Tiger Woods, but the grief and pain that falls upon broken families knows no economic or social boundary. When the vows of marriage are broken, heartache follows just as surely as the sun will set tonight.
Over these last few years, Tiger Woods did an excellent job shielding his wife and young children from the media spotlight. In fact, it appeared to be a top priority. Had he been as equally vigilant in protecting his marriage, he would have stood the best chance of avoiding the grievous strife that has apparently enveloped his home.
But now what? What is a couple to do behind closed doors? If the trust in a marriage is violated, how can it be restored? What is the best path towards reconciliation?
Infidelity is not a simple problem and it cannot be fixed with a simple cure, though that is what often seems most desirable. For over twenty-five years, Focus on the Family’s founder, Dr. James Dobson, has advised victims of infidelity to take a “tough love” approach when considering the path toward reconciliation. His classic book, Love Must Be Tough, remains a signature resource for those dealing with a partner who has violated their trust.
“What you can do is make it clear to your husband (or wife) that he can’t have you and a harem too,” Dr. Dobson has written, “and that he must make a choice between his lust and his love.” To those who counsel a softer line, he pleads caution. “Panic often leads to appeasement, which is virtually never successful in seeking to control the behavior of others.”
Dr. Dobson continued, “If stripping one of dignity would preserve a marriage, I would enthusiastically endorse the behavior. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Nothing destroys a romantic relationship more quickly than for a person to throw himself, weeping and clinging, on the back of the cool partner to beg for mercy. That infuses the wayward spouse with an even greater desire to escape from the leech that threatens to suck his life’s blood.”
We would be wise to examine our own lives and make adjustments where necessary—and pray for those, like the Woods, who are hurting. The sacrament of marriage is the Lord’s idea, and for those of us blessed to be joined together with a spouse, preserving and protecting our union is not only in our family’s best interest, but in society’s as well.