Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Tiger on Trial

Wow, the media is having a scandalous blast with the marriage infidelities of Tiger Woods. I flipped through the pages of a recent US Weekly whose headlines pointed to Elin Nordegren's distress and confusion over what to do next. Did they have any quotes from the source? No, of course not.

Now I read that she's moving out, and hear that he's taking at least a year off of the golf circuit... honestly, I just wish the media would lay the hell off and give this couple a chance to work things out together - whichever way they choose to go.

Truthfully, I feel sorry for them both. In my opinion, nether one is the bad-guy in this situation. Admittedly, I have no idea what went on in the privacy of their home and hearts - AND NEITHER DO YOU. It's easy to project our own history and experiences, to fill in what we don't know with what we suspect, or with what makes sense given the little that we've heard, but we don't know the full truth, neither does ANYONE at this point, and I think the popular media is giving them the short end of the stick... and beating them with it.

End tirade. Begin sensible feedback. If they were my clients, here's where we'd start...

There's a lot of cleaning up to do here. Lies have been told, expectations unfulfilled, agreements broken, and the word "betrayed" likely applies to Elin's emotional perception. First, I think that Tiger needs to come clean with Elin and tell her the whole truth - every ugly, hurtful, unpleasant kernel. The more details that remain to show up unexpectedly and surprise her, the worse it gets for them both. Coughing it up now is the best thing he can do.

The hardest part (or one of them) would be for Elin to listen to what he has to say without storming out of the room in a backlash of emotion. How many women; who they are/were; what he did with them; what he told them about her/about his feelings; whether or not he used condoms and/or other measures to avoid pregnancy; what he told himself to justify his actions; how he felt each time he came home/spoke with her on the phone/lied; etc... she needs to know it all. But once she knows it all, she knows it all, and there's no longer anything else to fear. That is a very powerful place to stand, and I'd suggest that she grab it.

Additionally, I would remind Elin that Tiger's actions have nothing to do with HER, his actions are about HIM. Easily said, right? But that's true for all of us, all of the time. I am a fully-functioning, adult human being, and I bear ultimate responsibility for my actions because I have something called Choice and an ability called impulse control. Tiger chose to cheat and to hide (I SO wish he hadn't), and actions have consequences. But they are his choices and his actions, and as a sane adult, he doesn't get to blame them on her, and neither should she.

Look, I don't know what went on in their home... How was their sex life? Has parenting changed their desires? How long was he gone at a stretch? How did they connect intimately over the distance? Was he happy in their monogamous relationship when they got married, or did he agree because it was expected of him? Did they ever discuss other options? We just don't know, so I'd advise everyone who's not them to stop blaming and get a grip.

Oops, I slipped into the tirade again... back to the matter at hand.

But on that note, while it's supportive to have a family that's always on your side, I'd advise Elin not to buy into the story that she married a monster who should be punished, no matter what her family and friends say. Theirs are not the voices of reason, and may not lead to her ultimate happiness.

And now it's Elin's turn to say everything that there is for her to say at this point -- how she's felt over the last many months (did she suspect?) and since finding out; her thoughts; her feelings; her fears; Everything. It doesn't have to be pretty or nice, or even responsible. She can blame and name-call and say whatever's on her mind until she's said it all.

In hearing this, I'd ask Tiger to put aside all defense and listen from the perspective that this is what's true for her right now. Listening to her possibly hurtful comments doesn't mean that they're True, it means that this is how she feels right now, and that's valid. Our actions have impacts on others, and it's time to find out what he's wrought. The biggest gift you can give someone is to hear them, and she deserves that, particularly right now.

So let's assume that Tiger has now told the truth and that Elin has allowed herself to hear it without taking it personally. He's heard her thoughts and feelings about the matter, and nothing remains unsaid between them. He did what he did, and didn't do what he didn't do. The same goes for her, and there's no changing the past. It might take some time and a lot of work to get there, but let's assume that they've stuck it out to this point.

The next question in my mind becomes, are they willing to consider building a new relationship that honors them BOTH? Is the love they've shared worth that consideration? It may or may not be. Being willing doesn't mean that they promise to stay together, only that they're willing to look newly, to ask and answer the hard questions, and then to choose whether they are ultimately compatible as life partners. They may not be, or they could create a relationships that far exceeds what they ever dreamt was possible. Only they can make that determination.

Now, every individual is different, and coaching always follows the client's agenda, so it's unlikely that my conversations with them would directly follow the path I've laid out above. Nonetheless, as a specialist in non-traditional relationships, here are some of the questions I'd love to pose to them separately...
  • Is sex with only one partner a concept that feels right to you? Deeply fulfilling and grounding?
  • If you were able to know that you would never lose the love and lifetime commitment of your partner No Matter What, would monogamy still be your first choice?
  • Have you ever fantasized about adding a third person or another couple to your sexual escapades?
  • How about falling in love with another person and still having an incredible marriage with your life-partner?
  • How often do you want to have sex, ideally?
  • Do you enjoy sex with your spouse?
  • When you and your spouse are sexually intimate, do you feel that your needs get met?
  • What about your need for emotionally intimacy?
  • What about your needs for companionship?
  • Do you feel that your spouse really gets you? Understands and supports who you are and who your want to be in this lifetime?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and have any kind of relationship structure, and live any kind of lifestyle, with NO concerns or repercussions, what would you choose?
  • Why did you fall in love with this person in the first place? What are their traits that you love/hate? Etc.
Once they'd told the truth to themselves, I'd ask them to share their desires with each other. Maybe they'd create a relationships that inspires them both, or maybe they'd divorce. Either way, they both deserve a loving relationship with a partner who wants, and chooses to live, a lifestyle that leaves them both fulfilled!

Besides the possible long-term impact on their children, the saddest thing is that it didn't have to go down this way. Why didn't Tiger tell her from the start that he wanted more, or call her when he noticed that he was considering acting on his impulses to see other women on the road?

Because our society makes that Wrong -- God forbid you tell the truth to your spouse if you're not saying the Right thing. Better you should lie about it, but when you get caught, we'll victimize you. Or maybe he just wanted what he wanted and stupidly thought that he could get away with it, or didn't care if he got found out... I'll not make him into a martyr here.

Either way, there's no room in our society to tell your spouse that you want to have additional relationships
on the side, be it sexual or romantic, after you get married if you didn't mention it before the wedding bells rang. That mind-set has run it's course, and it's days are numbered. That's why I'm here.

I wish them the very best of luck in healing the hurts that brought about this break in communication and honor, and I hope they have the courage to create the relationships of their dreams... together or apart.

M. Makael Newby, 2009 - All Rights Reserved -


  1. Let me start by saying that I agree with near all of what you say... but... we ARE talking about Tiger Wood's and his wife Elin Nordegren-Woods not a hypothetical celebrity couple.

    It's a fact that Elin was one of Tiger's model conquests, without that what was the likelihood that Elin would have ever met him in the first place? Was she really naive enough to think that her pussy alone would tame his uber-biological drive? Did she really think that becoming a mother and the subsequent responsibilities which lead to the slowing of the "fuck" within her marital bed keep him subdued?

    Obviously, at some point they fell in love to the point they decided to marry, but that does not change the inherent behavior of Tiger. I cannot help but mention that Elin simply had to know "who" she was marrying and I feel that IF she truly thought he would "change" she was failing herself from the start (and I am having a hard time swallowing that self-directed naivety for her (let me state I originally penned that line to use the word "stupidity" but to be more delicate changed it to the phrase "self-directed naivety)).

    My surprise comes with what appears to me to be Elin's "over-reaction" to what is obviously an innate behaviorism for Tiger, and I am NOT saying she doesn't have room to be hurt, she does, I am just confused why she didn't go in feeling totally informed (sure he lied and kept secrets, but she could have predicted ALL of this - she knew the history going in...)

    I mean come on, he's a celebrity, there are societies of women that stalk and throw their pussies at that -- it's a "benefit" of being a very (let me say it again "VERY") successful star. I just think that knowing this and his history she would have gone into the marriage with eye-wide open (yeh, "I" would think). (Sheesh, I am starting to repeat/restate myself - how droll).

    I myself just keep wondering, given her mode of introduction to Tiger in the first place, knowing what she simply MUST have known going in to a marital arrangement with him (denial set aside), why on earth isn't she working this "super-stud" angle to advance the celebrity status with the bulk-consumer, the men-at-large, of the man she vested her long-term life with? Could you imagine the sort of precedence she would set... the sheer power for her behind that boggles my mind.

    I could go on and on with my train of thought, but I think the foundation for the masses to get irate over my point of view is laid -- so let the Puritanisms begin (*wink*).

  2. I agree completely! Having not done the research myself (I don't watch TV news at all), I decided to start from a neutral position in approaching how I'd work with them.

    But hell yeah - if she wasn't wearing blinders, she had to know going in that he could have almost ANY pussy as often as he chose to have it. If she were wise, she'd have brought that topic up for discussion before getting married.

    It seems to me that he'd be happiest with a wife at home to care for the kids, and lots of women on the road who genuinely care for him but don't expect him to leave his wife. And he can totally have that, if he finds the right wife, and if he's willing to let Her do whatever She needs to get her needs met while he's traveling.

    As for Elin's over-reaction - again, total agreement here - I hadn't considered her option to endorse him and bolster his status with the male consumer. Indeed a powerful position, BUT, the average male consumer, no matter what they think inside their minds, must publicly decry Tiger's actions or themselves be shunned from "normal" society.

    The safest action is to go into counseling and HIDE together for a while, then emerge repaired or ready to divorce. But her response of shock and dismay rings of self-denial and naivete beyond comprehension.

    Thanks for the awesome dialogue!

  3. As to Elin's response to Tiger's behavior, I offer the possibility that she is responding as she feels she is expected to. In other words, there is nothing genuine about it. Add to this the media's and mass culture's inherited bias toward infidelity, and what could have been merely a very intense situation becomes a total meltdown in the relationship. My point is that everyone I mentioned is trapped by the inherited conversations about marriage, sex, and infidelity. A truly open discussion in this relationship would require that there be a recognition of this fact. I truly appreciate that there are people willing to challenge "the way things are." Thanks Makael.