The latest Tiger Woods headline is that his wife is not leaving…yet.
Would you stay or go? My girlfriends and I have debated that question quite a bit since this whole Tiger Woods fiasco. I have always been firmly in the go camp. But I have a short foolishness fuse. My more longsuffering sisters always leave me dumbfounded. It never ceases to amaze—wrong word —astound me what other women put up with. My visceral reaction is so strong that even my husband, Tim, is taken aback.
Dearly Beloved, we are gathered together in the sight of God…
I made a lot of promises 17 years ago framed amidst a great deal of fanfare. I chose a dress as close to Princess Di’s as I could afford. I invited friends and magnanimously included a few enemies. I made vows to my husband and God in front of my family and friends. I poured over the Book of Common Prayer because I wanted to use vows that had stood the test of time. I would have repeated the vows word for word from the time-honored book, if my dad didn’t temper me. And that’s saying something. I was not a hasty bride. I had been counseled well. I knew that I was floating on cloud of romance and high hopes. I was not naïve enough to believe that our love would not be tested by the realities of life. I just couldn’t anticipate how much.
Wilt thou love, honor, and keep him…
I remember when Tim and I were engaged, my siblings tested him, “So, what is it about Gail?” “She’s meek,” he answered, looking at me. I wish you could have heard the earnestness in his voice. The siblings raised their eyebrows and looked at me hard. “Really, Tim? You think, Gail is meek?” They looked at me now with concern. Tim still insisted. It was truly touching. Today, I asked Tim if he still thinks I’m meek:
“What makes you ask that?”
“Tim, it was once a significant point.”
“I heard something in a message by Swindoll or someone about meekness.”
“So there was something that was said that made you think of me?”
“What was it?”
“I don’t remember.”
“So, you weren’t bamboozled. I was meek in some sense based on that message.”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
In all fairness, I intended to keep those vows when I made them. The truth is that my love is a frail thing indeed. It gets bored, annoyed, fretful, and stressed. It heats, cools, freezes, and boils. It is clingy, indifferent, possessive and nonchalant. It stalks out the door and returns humbled and repentant. I fail in a million ways to live up to my own best self.
Forsaking all others…
My fear has always been that I wouldn’t be enough. No one is more obsessed with their flaws than me. I am painfully aware of all them. I also know that I am a truly kind person. I am generous and empathetic. I am thoughtful and loyal. I have a sincere heart for God. I am a good woman. I could be a great one. If there was someone out there who would hang in there with me. And I think that gets to the heart of it. When we get married, we are hoping against hope that this one person will hang in there with us. Through anger and grief. Depression and ecstasy. Through the painful and mundane. We say our vows, get naked and trust that this one person won’t turn away from us in our vulnerability. Hang in there. That’s all I ask. I know it’s a lot. I know it’s not always a fair exchange, but I have nothing else to offer than myself, and that has to be enough.
“The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
That is why I don’t care if the other woman never meant anything or if the two were in love or in lust or in whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s over. I believe that God hates divorce. I believe that divorce affects children profoundly, and if people can make it work they should try. Can God restore? I wouldn’t be a Christian if I didn’t firmly believe that God was in the business of mending hearts and lives. I have heard great testimonies about couples whose marriages not only survived, but even thrived after infidelity. God bless them. I am old enough to have learned the lesson, “Never say never.” One never knows what they will do in a given situation until they are in it. But, from what I know about myself, I can say with near certainty that infidelity is a deal breaker for me.
Why is infidelity the ultimate deal breaker for me? I don’t fully know. I understand the sanctity of sex, but truthfully it does not always feel sacred. Sometimes it feels like a duty. I heard one of Tiger’s mistresses bragging to the interviewer that sex for them was exciting, not like married sex. A young friend once asked me whether she is just saving herself for boring sex. I had to laugh. It was such an honest, intelligent question. The truth is that sometimes it might seem routine. That can be a blessing. There is a lot to be said for a sure thing. Other times, when you are trying to make a baby, it becomes almost holy. In the course of a marriage there is such a range. But, yes, life is mostly predictable, and so is married sex.
Marriage is two people plowing through life together. The exclusivity of sex means that we are still hanging in there together. Two flawed people with challenges that seem almost insurmountable. Showing up for each other day in and day out. Building a life out of joy, pain, hard work, and a very sacred promise.
The last I heard, Elin spent the holidays in Sweden and Tiger who was supposed to be saving his marriage is having trouble staying focused. When the priceless glass breaks, sometimes it is irretrievably broken, and the most one can hope is somehow to find the grace needed to give to the one who broke it. Elin will have to find grace for Tiger whether or not they stay married for her own sake and her childrens’. I pray that in the New Year both Tiger and Elin will have an encounter with the Prince of Peace. They and every married couple on the planet desperately need it.
Poem was an excerpt from “The Life That I Have” by Leo Marks