With Tiger Woods giving up golf for at least a year the question everyone is asking since the sordid details of his extra-marital affairs have become public is whether giving up golf is enough and should his wife Elin pursue a divorce?
The divide is in two camps-- those that think she should leave him and those that think she should stay. Having worked in the mental health field with families before I began my talk radio career, I have seen many people going through this upheaval after martial infidelity and substance abuse as well as other addictions but without the celebrity element.
Women see the martial dilemma differently than men. Young people I have talked to are in the "leave him" camp while older folks are not so sure. Women who are divorced and have remarried successfully seem to be in the leave him camp while older women and men who have children and have seen the ups and downs of marriage seem to be in the "stay" category. I am in the "stay with Tiger" camp.
One famous adage from family therapy is that a whole world exists between two people. It is impossible to know what goes on within a family and a marriage from the outside looking in. Bill and Hillary Clinton had marriage counseling in the White House after the Monica Lewinsky incident and -- despite the gossip about their relationship being a "merger not a marriage" -- the Clintons now vacation together. Many people have described the genuine affection that exists between them.
There are two main reasons people stray in a marriage: loneliness and addiction. Addiction is to the process of mood change and the addiction can be a behavior such as sexual promiscuity, or abuse of a substance such as alcohol, drugs or food. The loneliness that comes from a partner traveling, working too much or paying undue attention to children and taking a spouse for granted can also be at the root of infidelity.
In the Tiger Woods situation with the sheer number of partners he is alleged to have had, he would most likely fall in the addiction category. His wife may have also shifted some of her attention from a very needy husband to the children. Without any realistic discussion about the impact of travel and golf on a relationship, as well as young children, the give and take that is necessary for a good marriage between Tiger and Elin most likely did not occur.
Leaving the marriage solves nothing. This is a time to get real, intensive help. Tiger Woods needs to explore his inner demons so he does not continue his compulsive, destructive sexual behavior. The marriage needs intensive therapy to open communication and get back to the cherishing behaviors that existed at the time of courtship.
If, after therapy, hard work on communication and a sincere attempt by Tiger to root out the inner demons of his psyche, he still is catting around then the time will come to leave.
Marriage vows are for the rough times or else they would not be needed. This is a time for healing, reflection and forgiveness in the Woods' marriage -- not a time for the divorce attorneys.
Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor.
Ellen Ratner joined FOX News Channel as a contributor in October 1997.