Tiger Tale - Part 2

As depicted in my last post, "Tiger Tale," Earl Woods missed a great opportunity to teach his son what it means to be a man and a husband. An article in the New York Times on Saturday shows Earl to be more than negligent, he actually taught him to de-value marriage. According to the author, one year at the Masters, Earl Woods said “I’ve told Tiger that marriage is unnecessary in a mobile society like ours.”

Even though Tiger talks with great fondness about his children, his view of marriage must have terribly tainted by his father.

I wonder how often we de-value our marriages to our children? Maybe a derogatory remark about a spouse or ignoring our marriages or pouring our energies into our children while disregarding the feeling of our spouse .... all of these actions and more show that we do not value marriage in general and our own marriage in particular. What are we teaching our children by what we say and do?

Tiger Tale

Our daughter was at work on Thanksgiving day; she was working the golf shop at a country club. They keep a TV on with sports playing all day long. That morning she texted us that "tiger hurt in wreck." Being LSU alumni, our first thought was that LSU's mascot Mike the Tiger had been hurt. Nooooo .... we all now know which Tiger was wrecked.

I have been trying to avoid writing about Tiger wrecking his life and the life of his wife and children. But the time has come. I just read an article by Mike Wise in the Washington Post. It is definintley worth the time to read it.

He had the courage to admit publicly, in print, that he once had the same problem with women that Tiger has. He describes the problem, "this is really about a man who has everything and nothing at the same time, a guy medicating with women to fill emotional gaps -- the way some people use food, alcohol, drugs, work and golf on television."

As we have taught and counseled on marriage for over 20 years, in several countries, we know that this kind of sexual compulsion is common and accepted in much of the world. Does that make it right or good or benign?

Tiger Woods is well-know in the golf world for his extreme ability to focus and concentrate. His dad/coach would purposefully make distracting noises and motions while Tiger practiced to teach him to focus. Tiger is the most recognized and disciplined athlete of our day. His father spent countless hours developing a talent in a very young boy.

Earl Woods spent a lot of time teaching his son to be a professional golfer but what did he teach him about being a man? Earl was unfaithful to his own wife when Tiger was a teenager, which supposedly "devastated" Tiger. The father wasted a wonderful opportunity to teach his son how to be a real man, husband, and father. He taught him physical discipline and focus, but nothing about emotional or spiritual discipline and focus.

With what is Tiger left? Lots of money. No respect as a man. Rumors of his wife and children leaving him.

He will always be able to find women who will fall for him, for his celebrity, for his wealth and fame, but none will ever be able to trust him. None will see him as a suitable, lifetime partner or father to their children.

Proverbs 5 was written thousands of years ago but could have been written today for all the Tiger Woods out there today:
3 For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
and her mouth is smoother than oil.
4 But in the end she is as bitter as poison,
as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
7 So now, my sons, listen to me.
Never stray from what I am about to say:
8 Stay away from her!
Don’t go near the door of her house!
9 If you do, you will lose your honor
and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved.
10 Strangers will consume your wealth,
and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
11 In the end you will groan in anguish
when disease consumes your body.
12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin,
and now I must face public disgrace.”
Is Tiger sick? Yes. As Mike Wise ended his article (again speaking from his own experience) "I can only hope that he realizes he's sick and takes steps to get better."
But even an emotional sickness starts in the heart.
When my husband teaches other men about being faithful, he knows that every man is susceptible to the lure of lust. His message comes from Proverbs 4:23, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Tiger knows a lot about guarding his mind while playing golf but nothing about guarding his heart while living life.

Memorable Christmas

As I think back over my lifetime, I have had some great Christmas's with my family as I was growing up, a magical Christmas in the Swiss Alps while in college. But as I think of Christmas since I have been married, what is the most memorable? We have had some wonderful, idyllic times. However, 29 years ago, I approached the holidays while being pregnant with my first child, he was born 10 days before Christmas. When you have a baby this time of year, a woman has an incredible identification with Mary, the mother of Jesus - the hopes and fears for your baby child.

That year, we had been having a hard time financially. We were living in the mountains of Colorado - an absolutely magnificent place. We had a construction business but the recession of the early '80's had hit Colorado. Business was drying up and we were anticipating a move back to the homeland in the heartland.

Because of the impending birth and lack of resources, we decided to make something for our family members for Christmas. Ed went out and cut up one of our fallen aspen trees. He bored out the middle and made it into a candle. Suddenly Christmas had real meaning!

We were attending a very small church with a few families with big hearts. Just before Christmas, a couple came over to see us. They said that they knew that we probably were not giving each other gifts that year, so they wanted to fill the gap for us. It was a very touching moment. We weren't used to being on the receiving end.

In the years to come, we had so many great memories with our kids at Christmas, but that one is tucked away into a holy place in my heart.

In Sickness and in Health

How often are we really tested on that vow?

We have been married for 36 years. We have each had a few illnesses but nothing life-threatening, nothing really serious.

Until two weeks ago. I had a sudden abdominal pain; the pain was so severe that I couldn't even straighten up. Ed and Jacque rushed me to the emergency room. They did emergency abdominal surgery at midnight.

During the next week, my husband only left my side when he knew our daughter or a friend was there to take care of me. He slept there, he skipped meals, he got up with me all night.

After a week, we came home ... he continued the routine. I have been recuperating at home for 10 days now. He brings me breakfast, my coffee, and the newspaper in bed. I could get used to this. He cooks for all of our meals, even asks for special requests. He shops, cleans, and does the laundery.

He does all of the giving. I do all of the receiving. What does he got out of the deal? Nothing, except the joy he gets from seeing me comforted.

What does he have to look forward to? At least two more weeks of serving selflessly, maybe longer. A few more weeks of continued giving without receiving anything but appreciation.

There will be an end to my convalescence, I hope. But what if there wasn't, what if I remained an invalid for the rest of our married life? Would he quit serving selflessly? I don't think so, it's not consistent his character.

Why does he serve selflessly? He loves me, yes. But he also gave his word ..... in sickness and in health. He keeps his word - to me and to God.

How much is our commitment tested in health? How much is our faithfulness tested in health?

For some men, the health of their wife is irrelevant to their own desire to get their needs met. They are unfaithful. Or they turn to work, to drinking, to separate leisure activities. Not to their Lord or to their wife. Their vow becomes trivial.

In sickness and in health. Unconditional, unending, unlimited. Just like God's love for us.

Investments in Your Marriage

What investments can you make now in your marriage to receive a long-term pay-off?

1. TIME The first one and maybe the most important one is the time we invest in our marriage. What does that look like?

We highly advocate a daily, weekly, and yearly time investment. Daily: at least 15 minutes each day for eye-to-eye, undivided attention to each other, sharing about your day or something on your heart. For people with small children or for those who have different work/school schedules, even 15 minutes may be a real challenge. But it is vital to the health of the marriage and to the emotional health of each spouse.

Weekly: a “date” night, at least three hours of only the two of you doing something fun together - no friends or family, no heavy discussions, no talk about finances or other problems - the kind of dating you did before you got married.

Yearly: time away from home for at least 3 days without children or friends or other family members. This time doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is a time to be together without interruptions, no work, not being constantly accessible to others.

2. GRATITUDE The importance of communicating gratitude and appreciation to your spouse cannot be emphasized too much.

Showing appreciation to our spouse for who he is in his character is part of gratitude. And thanking your spouse for what she has done for you specifically throughout the day communicates to her that you notice what she does, what she does is important, and that are glad that she does it.

3. EMOTIONS We are all connected emotionally to our marriage whether we recognize it or not. But does everyone invest emotionally into the marriage? What does it mean to invest emotionally?

Emotional investment means that I am willing to be vulnerable emotionally; I am willing to risk hurt. I will take risks in expressing my emotions to my spouse. I will take the time to listen to the heart of the emotions of my spouse, even if it means that it is painful to me.

Emotional investment also means that I try to understand how my words and actions affect my spouse emotionally. Also, I am sensitive to how he/she is feeling.

4. MONEY Many of the previous points contain parts that can cost money (e.g. - a long weekend away). Are you willing to make your marriage a priority financially?


What are the potential risks and what is the possible return if I invest in my marriage?

The risks are greater for not investing in your marriage than they are for investing. To ignore the principle of making investments in your marriage can lead to drifting apart, vulnerability to the attention of others, escapes into alcohol, spending too much money, a hard heart, and even divorce.

Most people want to know “what’s in it for me?”

Many people invest in their marriage for the purpose of getting their spouse to change. But the investment can have a personal pay-off whether the other person changes or not. Jesus said that it is better to give than to receive. The practice of giving brings personal joy, regardless of the response from the other person.

Rare is the person who does not draw closer to a spouse who invests time, gratitude, emotions, and money into the marriage. The pay-off is a long-term marriage, full of love, satisfaction, and joy.

The Price of Premarital Counseling

Recently, an associate pastor who does premarital counseling asked, on his blog, what the value of premarital counseling is.

He and his wife meet with couples 8-10 times for 60-90 minutes each time. They use an assessment and workbook as they counsel. He has always done the premarital counseling at no charge, as part of his ministry. He was wondering what the value would be if he charged.

One reader of his blog made this reply:
Priceless, priceless, priceless. I think that it is a great investment. I understand that for couples starting out any cost can be prohibitive, but there are some creative ways to work it out. I liked the way that our church promoted it and supported it. They told us it was part of their prep program (which we read as requirements) and told us the cost. Then quickly added that they would provide matching funds for the cost. That helped us invest in the process because we had some literal investment and because our church family had invested in us. We have often referred to our marriage prepwork in the last 6 years. The only time I have “referred” to the white dress that cost more than the marriage prep, is when I need room in my closet…although, it is a pretty dress!:)

What do you think? For those who had premarital counseling and/or class, what was the value of it to you?

Obama and Defense of Marriage Act by Donna Edwards

Yesterday, President Barack Obama made a commitment at the The Human Rights Campaign's Dinner. He committed to repeal "the so-called Defense of Marriage Act." In a transcript of his message, he said:
"Will we uphold the ideals on which this nation was founded: that all of us are equal, that all of us deserve the same opportunity to live our lives freely and pursue our chance at happiness? I believe we can; I believe we will. And that is why -- that's why I support ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country. I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights to gay couples. I've required all agencies in the federal government to extend as many federal benefits as possible to LGBT families as the current law allows. And I've called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and to pass the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act."

President Obama seems to be intent on redefining marriage and it's importance in the U.S. I find this value to be especially disconcerting and contradictory from a man who loves and cares for his wife and their marriage. No matter what a person's politics are, it is easy to see Obama's dedication to his family.

If you aren't sure what the Defense of Marriage Act is, read all of it here. The meat of it is:

`No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.'.

Definition of `marriage' and `spouse'

`In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.'.

Does repealing the DOMA affect me if I am not gay? I believe that values portrayed by our government usually become our cultural norm. In the years to come, most people of our country will believe that same-sex marriage is a right guaranteed by the constitution, even though it is not. When marriage opens up to any lifestyle, then it devalues it for all. When laws signed in the "60's allowed "no fault" divorce, it devalued marriage. We still deal with the fall-out of those state decrees.

As the same-sex marriage supporters push the legality of "one man, one woman" marriage, the issue will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the next few years, we will see same-sex marriage legalized through the judiciary, not through legislation.

When that day comes, how will the church respond?
How will we define marriage?
Will we recognize same-sex couples who are legally married?
Will we let the government determine what constitutes a legal marriage?

Issues such as same-sex marriage are relavant to all of us. The Church must look at how we are going to value marriage. Are we going to follow the culture or are we going to change the culture?

How do you measure marriage in America?

How do we know the state of marriages in America today?
How do we measure it?

  • Do we ask people how happy they are?
  • Do we look at how many divorces there are?
  • Or how many are getting married?
  • Or how many kids are living with parents or how many births have married parents?

The Institute for American Values has colloborated with bi-partisan groups to come up with a marriage index which will give us an objective, realistic look at the state of marriage in America.

The Glue that Bonds a Marriage

We usually see adversity in our life as a bad thing. None of us like adversity .... in fact we would probably think people are odd if they do like it.

Adversity in life can bring a husband and wife closer together. If the adversity is conflict between a husband and wife, how well they are able to work through and talk about the conflict determines their level of marital satisfaction, not the conflict issue itself.

If the adversity is a circumstance in their lives (job loss, illness, etc.), it can draw them closer together or make them feel isolated. The adversity can draw them closer if they face it together, talk about it, not blame. When they are able to work together as a team, the oneness develops. If they aren't able to work together, then the circumstance drives a wedge between them.

The day-to-day difficulties that a couple faces produce opportunities for a couple to apply some glue to their relationship. The glue takes some time to set up, but it will. And the couple will bond, the oneness grows stronger. This process doesn't happen overnight, it takes years.

"We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:1-5

Jon & Kate - What happened?

If you have had a TV on at all in the last week, you have probably seen Jon and/or Kate Gosselin. They have had one of the most public divorces and quarrels of any public couple in a long time.

What began with a fascination over this delightful set of kids has deterioriated to voyeurism by the American public. What happened to the marriage in the wake of chronicling two sets of multiples????

I remember the first time I saw Jon & Kate Plus Eight. My daughter was watching it every week and drew me in. The story of a Christian couple who worked hard to bear children and refused to abort when faced with the reality of raising 8 kids - what an inspiring story.

The Gosselins seemed to have pitched the idea of making a documentary/reality show of their brood in order to have a means of supporting that many kids. Both parents were intelligent adults with professional careers. Kate quit nursing in order to stay home with the kids. After a couple of years on TV, Jon quit his job to help at home too. Both admirable moves.

Part of my first viewing of the series was significant discomfort as I saw the way Kate talked to Jon. As one who has worked in the marriage field for over 20 years, the dialogue was an example of what not to say to your spouse, especially in front of other people, especially to a man. Kate showed her perfectionism in many ways on the show. She didn't understand the concept of "there is more than one right way to do something."

I can't imagine what it would be like to have six kids at one time or to raise sextuplets and twins, at the same time. The kids alone were enough to put an extreme stress on Jon & Kate's marriage. I am sure that most of us wouldn't have done as well as Jon & Kate in raising the kids. I don't say any of this from a self-righteous viewpoint, because I am sure I would have been more on edge and more critical than Kate.

Jon chose women and things over his relationship to his wife and over what is best for his kids. The sudden wealth and notoriety steared him off course. What has happened to their faith?

For all of us who can learn from their mistakes - has it been worth it financially to lose the marriage? Would the marriage have fallen apart without the TV show? Maybe, but being in the lens eye has hastened the dissolution.

Most marriages do not survive in the long term without respect and gratitude. They can, but they usually don't. The couple communicated little or no appreciation or respect between them. That lack of nurturing between the husband and wife stiffles growth and oneness.

For most marriages, the essential element of time spent alone, with each other, brings a bond that no one can stand against. This oneness comes from talking through the hard times and having fun together in the good times.

Most of all, marriage takes a commitment to each other, no matter what. A person can keep that kind of commitment to a person if he has that same commitment to the Lord. With His presence in a person's life, he can live that commitment with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness - essentials to commitment.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Laughing Bride Tells All

About a month ago, a YouTube video went viral after showing up on the MSN homepage. The groom mispronounced some of his vows and his bride started laughing and couldn't stop - one of those moments many fear but few experience.

The great part is that they interviewed with Stronger Families (a marriage initiative in the Pacific Northwest). Andrew and Melissa Engstrom shared the way the dated and the joy that came with their wedding day (and night).

You have to hear the bride share it herself to really get the impact. The story is very touching and encouraging; every teenager would benefit from watching it. What an encouragement to those other young people who are committed to purity and those who have raised and taught them!

David Lettermen and Sex and Marriage

David Lettermen, on his late night talk-show, revealed that he has recently been blackmailed about "some creepy things" he had done. He started this segment of the show by saying, "Do you want to hear a story?" Of course, the audience was delighted to hear David Letterman tell a story.

As he went through his story, the audience kept laughing and seemed to be waiting for the punch line. At one point, Letterman even asked why it was funny. He finally revealed what the "creepy things" were that he had done. He admitted that he had sex with some women who worked for him. The audience applauded him when he confessed.

Letterman explained that the blackmailer had been arrested that day. It was if the audience saw the blackmailer as the bad guy and Letterman was the good guy.

I had been flipping through the stations earlier in the evening, I stopped on CNN as they announced "breaking news" that was just being reported for the first time. The "breaking news" was about Letterman's story, which would be told on his show that night. I stayed up and watched it. As I watched him finally come out with the "creepy things," I kept thinking the audience would fall into a silence appropriate to the conversation. When they kept laughing and applauding, my thoughts ran to "where are we in our culture that sexual immorality is applauded?"

Letterman never disclosed who the women were or when the incidents occurred or who initiated them. Regardless of whether they were before his marriage or after, they were committed outside of marriage, on more than one occassion. Were they situations of "to get ahead or keep your job, you have to sleep with the boss?" or were they initiated by the women who were open to having sex without commitment? We don't know and that is not the real issue to me.

Even though I have enjoyed many aspects of Dave's humor, he has continually degraded women and focused on their sexuality above all else. I am reminded of Scott Stanley's statement that commitment to one person in marriage means that you are saying "yes" to that person and "no" to all others.

Dave, just say "no."

ABC Nightline Addresses Adultery

Cynthian McFadden brings four people together to discuss whether humans are "born to cheat." Two people present their view from each side, but the kids from the audience, who ask questions, says it all.