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Laura Trice

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Tiger Woods, why he might have done it?

Posted: 12/02/09 04:44 PM ET

One of my areas of interests is looking to understand why people do certain behaviors, especially in the area of relationships and parenting. This post is based on internet research that varied in facts so what I propose is a possibility. Only those who were there know all the pieces. If the stories of his infidelity are true, here are some thoughts as to what can lead to this type of behavior and choices and some resources that can maybe cast a different perspective.  I am going to write this more about Tiger Woods as a regular married guy with a wife, two small children, a toddler and infant, and a career.  

There has been a long history of talent and passion for sports in the Woods family starting with Tiger's grandfather, Miles. Miles had epilepsy, loved baseball and was a care taker and street cleaner.  Miles had 5 children by his first wife and 6 with his second wife, Maude. Maude was college educated and committed to her children becoming educated.  Tiger's dad, Earl, was born March 3, 1932 in Kansas and Earl's Dad died when he was 11 and his mom died when he was 15.  "Earl left Manhattan High School in 1949, went on to Kansas State University, apparently on some kind of sporting scholarship, and in 1951 became the first black baseball player in "the Big Seven" group of midwestern colleges. As such, he was obliged to eat and sleep separately from his fellow players during away games.  Bright, and faithful to his mother's priorities, Earl Woods emerged from university with a degree in Sociology. His hopes of a glamorous career in baseball faded after he failed to secure terms from any club save the Kansas City Monarchs, a black team which played in a minor league." Telegraph 

Earl was a talented baseball player however racial issues of the time appeared to have possibly limited his ability to go as far as he wanted. At age 22, on May 18, 1954 in Kansas, Earl married Barbara (author of At All Costs - My life with the man behind Tiger, 2000), a woman who appears African American in a photo, and Earl was a mix of several ethnicities. Three years later, when Earl was 25, Earl Jr was born, at age 27, Kevin was born and at age 28, Royce, Earl's one daughter, was born. So in 1960, at age 28, Earl and Barbara had three small children under the age of 4.  In 1961, he was posted to Korea and the subsequent year to Vietnam. In 1966 or 1967, Earl volunteered for the Green Berets and goes to Vietnam on a 1 year tour and is appointed to be in charge of recreation, rest and relaxation in either Vietnam or Thailand. He has now been married for 13 years. He returns in 1968. Earl is 37, still married with an 11, 9 and 8-year-old. At some point in Thailand or Vietnam, he met Lutilda, also know as "Tida", a Thai women who helped with entertainment and recreation, who was 13 years younger than Earl. Earl returned from Vietnam, divorced Barbara in 1968 in Juarez, Mexico and married Tida July 11, 1969 and then got his divorce in the US from Barbara in 1972. (Do US marriages that result in divorce in Juarez count as legal in the US or was he married to both women for 4 years?) He does another tour in Vietnam 1972-1973.

On December 30, 1975 "Tiger" Woods was born Eldrick Tont Woods. Tont being a Thai name. I found two versions. Once was that Tiger loved golf on his own and was playing with a putter before he could walk. The other story was that his dad was putting a putter in his hand before he could walk.  Earl used psychological warfare as part of Tiger's training.  Tiger's first public girlfriend was Joanna Jagoda, now a lawyer. They were both 22 and the relationship dates vary from 1998 to 2001, having it end when they were about 25 or before. One quote said that it ended because Earl Woods didn't like Joanna, another quote was that his father and mother had never warmed to any girlfriend.

(I break here to touch base on nuclear versus cellular family styles, and it is not the normal way we think of them. This nuclear does not mean married, it means extended family. Nuclear families were built for stability and financial survival and center around a dominant person. "We have to go every Sunday for family dinner or else my Mother will be furious." What is gotten in stability and financial benefits is also often sacrificed in individualism. Families often determine children's careers and vote on spouses. A spouse that inspires the nuclear family member to individuate and become his or her own person is perceived as a threat. The dominant central figure will often "disapprove" of the person or relationship therefore placing the man or woman in the position of "Do I date and marry who I want and risk losing my family's approval and support?" Often intimidation or seduction, packaged as acceptance, guilt, money or approval strongly influence behavior in this system. Without the children and others doing what is expected of them, the system will fail. Cellular is people pairing off with their spouse and getting together with their extended family for a cause. A wedding. They have less stability but have more opportunity to be themselves and make their own choices.  I also want to introduce the idea that growing up, a boy looks to his father as what is called a demonstrator model, or how to be a man.  This shows a boy how to relate to the world in work and how to relate to, protect, provide for and cherish a woman, by watching his dad.  The boy's relationship with his mother is equally important as she is the first woman he meets and how she respects or disrespects her son and his father impact how he will relate to women in the future.  There is a quote that I like but I do not know where it comes from that the best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.  If a parent is physically absent, as when they die or travel or emotionally absent, as with extra marital affairs, mental illness or addiction, a child can struggle with the loss even if they find other parent figures to love and teach them.) My other favorite quote and I do not know who said it is "Children are better imitators than listeners.

An Earl quote was that he did want Tiger to marry and have kids but not until Tiger was 30. Earl said something about a wife complaining about wanting quality time, wanting a pro golfer to stay home and that it could negatively influence Tiger's golf career. In 2001, Tiger was supposedly introduced to Elin, who was 21 and he was 26. The relationship appears to have gone public in 2002 and they married in October 2004, 2 months shy of Tiger's 30th birthday. According to the current media, his affair with Jaimee Grubbs started in April 2007, just months before his wife gave birth to Sam, his first child. Sam is born when Tiger is 32 and Elin is 27.  Tiger chooses to miss Sam's christening and play at a Chsirity event instead.  Charlie, Tiger's son, is born when they are 34 and 29.

In Jungian thinking, if a man has not gone through and made peace with his Fisher-King wound and transformed from boy to man, he is unable to give, protect and cherish his wife and expects, instead, nurturing and mothering from a woman. When she is about to become a mother, he will look elsewhere to get his mothering needs met. It is worth mentioning that nuclear families do not generally want their children, boys or girls, to become emotionally mature because that only happens through individuation. That means they unconsciously stay overly enmeshed with their children to prevent them from becoming and developing into the individuals they are to maintain control of them and to keep the system stable. The Fisher King wound and healing can occur anytime in childhood if the parents, particularly the mother, is aware enough to the let the boy go. Or, the maturing into a full man can happen in a crisis or crucible state, as described by Warren Benniss, in his Becoming a Leader book. Honor is doing the right thing no matter how a man feels. Doing what one feels like doing without honor is boy behavior.

A few other quotes and possible pieces of the unraveling puzzle. Tiger combines golf with girls and gambling. Some Tida quotes from Tiger mother on the internet are "He kills David's heart". "Tiger steals his heart." She embraces Buddhism, never forgets, never forgives and revels in payback. European Press quote when seeing the US golfers "How is it possible they all married the same cocktail waitress? In Chasing Tiger it reads that Tiger visits his golf school in Vegas, he combines golf, girls and gambling.

Agassi's book of how he did not choose tennis but did it because his Dad wanted him to play and then went through a self-destructive period until he could be his own man makes me wonder if this could be a common theme in many fields where a child was pushed to possibly be someone he or she is not. Agassi appears to be happily married and now at peace.

The pain any couple feels going through this type of crisis is enormous.  His Needs her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Dr. Harley states that the number one need most women have is for openness and honesty from their husband, so lies make most women feel upset, off balance, crazy and sometimes ill. (In fact, Dr. Harley's formula for recovering from an affair by a husband includes total transparency with everything to restore safety and stability.) For a man to not be able to be who he wants to be and not be able to do what he wants to do is also painful.

Dr. Pat Allen, a Los Angeles based psychologist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy, marital and family counseling and the author of multiple books, including Staying Married and Loving It, often states pain is only an indicator of change needed or change in progress.

I hope that this very difficult experience results in a more authentically content life from this point forward for Tiger, Elin and their children. If the rumors of his affairs turn out to be true, hopefully Tiger and Elin will reach out to some good marriage experts, like Dr. Harley or Dr. Pat Allen, for help healing and growing from this.

Question: Can someone truly flourish long-term (health, relationships and career) if it is not really who he or she is? What do you think?

 

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