Tiger & Elin Woods greatest asset is not their money. While yes they are both now multi-millionaires, money is not what they should be protecting. They have more than enough money to live comfortably the rest of their lives and frankly in very short order they will be making more, much more.
Tiger’s career is not his greatest asset. When they work through this season of their lives and Tiger ventures back into golf, it will be with a laser sharp focus that all but guarantees he will obliterate Jack’s record for Majors. No his golf skills will remain intact.
Some will say that Tiger and Elin should be working on ways to protect their children as their greatest asset, NO. While their kids will have to live with the memory of this incident the rest of their lives, they are Tiger and Elin’s legacy, not their greatest asset.
Simply put Tiger and Elin’s greatest asset is their marriage. Save the marriage and you save everything else. Their fame will return to greater heights. The money will return in even greater quantities. His golfing prowess will escalate to levels never seen before. And most importantly they will save their kids and preserve the legacy of their names.
So how do Tiger and Elin save their marriage and subsequently save “their” world? It won’t be easy but it will be amazing to see the transformation that can take place in their lives. The road to recovery will essentially be as long as the road to disaster. Tiger needs to confess just how long (in months and years) he has been unfaithful and together they need to realize it will take at least that long to repair and rebuild the trust. The following are some steps to lead them down the road to health.
Step One: Decide!
Tiger and Elin must take a long hard look at their marriage and decide if they think it is worth saving. It is their greatest asset and it is the key to the success of every other area of their lives but if they are not willing to do the hard work it is going to take to be healthy they might as well not even start. The task they are about to undertake is serious business. They can rest assured that others before them have navigated this way and come out stronger and more committed for their effort.
Step Two: Don’t leave.
One of the easiest choices for couples in crisis to make is to separate from each other. The distance created by that separation makes it difficult to reunite. I am not saying they should be sleeping in the same bed or even on the same floor of the house, but they should be co-existing as they walk through this problem together. At this point there appears to be no abuse involved. If no one is in danger they should stay in the same house.
Down the road, they need to travel together. It’s obvious that Tiger can’t be trusted alone on the road. It’s also obvious that a family with small children cannot travel as much as Tiger currently does. Tiger and Elin together must look at his golf schedule, his endorsement schedule and all of his other obligations and determine an acceptable amount of time to have a young family on the road. Even if they determine that they will only travel to “X” number of golf tournaments a year and NO other travel, he will still be able to achieve his golfing goals and provide a wonderful life for his family.
Tiger and Elin have an incredible opportunity that few couples can enjoy. In the book I co-authored with my wife entitled The Spark – Igniting Passion, Mystery and Romance in your Marriage, we share that the purpose of marriage is to be ONE. It is not to have a feeling of “oneness”. The purpose of marriage is to think and act as ONE unit, two people inextricably bound as one. When Tiger and Elin begin to live and act making decisions together, they will discover the joy that comes from deep commitment.
Step Three: Get away.
There are a myriad of people that the Woods need to distance themselves from at this point. Without doubt Tiger MUST distance himself from each and every person who was associated with his affairs. This includes close friends, other athletes and business associates with whom he may have partied or who were helping him keep his secrets. The separation from these people will be painful and the cost may be high but not in comparison to the pain and cost of divorce. Write out a list, give it to Elin so she knows and then give a copy to a trusted friend who will inform these people that Tiger will no longer associate with them.
The second group of people the Woods need to distance themselves from AT THIS POINT is their extended family, particularly their mothers. I know this sounds harsh and I’m sure both moms are offering a great deal of comfort and assistance right now, but they are still moms and will be giving advice that at this point may not be healthy. The Woods are adults and this is their problem, even the best intentions of well meaning family can derail the repair needed.
Step Four: Forgive.
This is not some trite answer with the implication that I am asking Elin to forgive and forget. No forgiveness is a process and the process will take time. Similarly, forgiveness walks on two legs, repentance and grace. One without the other and forgiveness falls short.
Repentance. It appears that Tiger has a repentant heart. He has stated publically that he is sorry for his actions and that he wants to change. Grace however, is a strange creature. By definition grace is: freely given unmerited favor. That’s quite a gift and it is to be unwrapped very slowly. For Elin to offer grace to Tiger will take months if not years to fully unwrap and in the process Tiger will similarly have to offer Elin grace as she can only unwrap the gift as she feels ready to do so.
Forgiveness will take every ounce of patience the Woods have to grant time for the scars to heal.
Step Five: Communicate
It is obvious to this writer that the Woods have not truly communicated for months or perhaps years. In our latest book He Said She Said my wife Laura and I detail how differently men and women communicate. After surveying over 1,000 married couples we were able to zero in on key phrases that husbands and wives need to hear from each other.
What most men don’t understand is that for a woman, communication is as important to her as sex is to him. Men connect with their wives through the process of sexual intercourse. A woman connects with her husband when she feels she is communicating with him.
For a woman, communication is not just sharing facts about the day or detailing the kid’s latest accomplishments. Communication occurs when she feels that he is not only listening, but understanding and most importantly CARING about what she has to say. Only then does she feel she can open up her body to him without reservation, only then can she truly love him as he needs to be loved.
This is the key step to recovery for Tiger and Elin. They need to communicate about everything at this point. Her hurt, his lack of control, their sex life and the future they would like to see together. Communication on this level while difficult for a man is essential to a healthy marriage and the key to unlocking a vibrant life together both in and out of the bedroom.
Where these steps might lead?
Tiger’s father Earl once stated that his son would not only change golf but would change the world. If Tiger and Elin can work through this devastating season of their lives and come out the other side healthy and intact, they will save their marriage and their family and everything else in “their” world. Equally as important may be the fact that they will give countless marriages HOPE that they too can overcome infidelity and pain. That would truly change the world!
Jay Laffoon and his wife Laura are authors and speakers on marriage and family topics. From 2005 – 2008 Jay served as a Chaplain to PGA tour pro’s on the Nationwide Tour and hosted numerous prayer breakfasts at PGA tournaments including The Masters, The Players Championship and The Buick Open. Their latest book He Said She Said (Baker Publishing) will be released in January 2010.
Read more from Jay and Laura at Celebrate Ministries