Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great Marriages

Karen and I have been married for over 48 years. That is a very long time to live with one person. It has had its ups and downs. Differences! that's what causes couples to fight. It is well known that the main cause of divorce is the inability to deal with differences.

And, there are no greater differences than those of men and women. Just imagine that every marriage is joining two people into holy matrimony who are almost wholly incompatible and who need a miracle to stay together.

It takes a lot of compromise, forgiveness, patience, sacrifice and patience to survive marriage. But here is the good news. Marriage changes from surviving to thriving as we learn how to trust each other. I suppose it is trust that makes the difference. When one partner develops a lack of trust for the other a downward spiral of hurt, anger and bitterness is kicked off that can be hard to heal. If healing fails or isn't attempted, divorce occurs.

I am often amazed when I speak with people who assume that every time a spouse fails to remember an important event, read his/her mind or doesn't speak softly it is taken as an intentional, premeditated hostile take over. These couples are so emotionally enmeshed that despite a legal divorce, they cannot be separated.

Divorce is easy but separation is impossible.

Marriage counseling is often focused on helping the couple realize that they did not marry each other because they were motivated by hate. Nobody on their wedding day thinks their marriage should be painful and destructive. But it doesn't take long for mistrust to develop and the trouble begins.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Is Tiger or Elin to Blame?

Iran is building nuclear weapons, North Korea is threatening war, wars are intense in the Middle East and the economy while Obama is trying to give us socialized medicine. But hold the presses! Headline News Now! Tiger and Elin are fussing.

Let's face it. We do not know the truth about the accidental wreck with a Caddie or the intentional wrecks he has had with a lassie. It is all rumor, gossip and hear say. But it is delicious anyway.

I saw Joy Behar on her show and one of her guests was telling everyone how shocked she was that a man with Tiger's integrity would mess around with other women. Joy and the other women said that promiscuous sex was natural, normal and the thing all guys should be doing. If Tiger did not do it with a lot of women he needed a psychological exam.

They are saying, "The norm is promiscuity. Only sick people honor their marriage vows." (Do they still vow to remain true to each other now days?)

But what was Tiger's expectations with Elin? They lived together before marriage so why would he assume it would be different after marriage? Why would a "Piece of paper" really mean anything? When people start off by living together without "benefit of clergy" they are much more likely to have severe conflict in marriage and find themselves unable to resolve those conflicts. Divorce is much more likely for couples who co-habit before marriage.

I don't know why. However, I have counseled many couples who had severe conflict and were able to trace some of it back to pre marital cohabitation. Even when the couple had no high levels of moral qualms about sex outside of marriage the often had an intuitive sense of doing wrong. They often felt angry and guilty and worked it out by punishing their mate. There are other reasons but we know the Stuttgart's but not all the reasons.

Woods plays a game based on acting with integrity. The focus is so much on Honor and being a gentleman that we are expected to add a stroke to the score even when no one but us saw the misplacement of a ball. But here he is, married with two children placing his _____ all over the place with no thought of ethics, honor, standards and being a gentleman? Can it be so clearly differentiated?

Tiger is a smart billionaire who acted very stupidly. He left names and numbers of sexual partners on his telephone. He had sex with all kinds of poor women who needed money. Many years ago I read a short story about "A $100.00 Misunderstanding". It was the story of a young, wealthy man who narcissistic assumed he did not need to pay a prostitute the $100 she charged for sex. Why? No woman would charge such a wonderful man for sex.

Elin grew up in Sweden where the Bible is taught in all the public schools. She must have heard the Ten Commandments. Despite the universality of prohibition against sex outside wedlock she agreed to live with Tiger. He was undoubtedly living then like a rich bachelor. She had to know what he was like. But, she chose to marry a philanderer anyway.

Is anything more destructive to the human spirit, the souls of men and women and the soul of a nation than sex outside of marriage?