That was the first near-collision with a married man. There were others. "Scotty" (not his real name) was another married man who half-pleaded with me at a company outing to be open to having a relationship. He insisted that his marriage with his wife was more like "brother and sister" and if I didn't say yes, someone else would. He had children with her. Appalled, I firmly told him he needed to talk things over with his wife, get counseling if needed, and if not - it would definitely be someone else because I didn't fool around with married men.
"Sean" was the toughest. When I worked at an insurance brokerage firm, Sean would visit frequently, wooing me with his dark Irish good looks and alluring Irish accent. He was also married. His co-worker, who often accompanied Sean on these visits, tantalized me with these words, "Sean is quite fond of you, you know..." I was very, very glad when work-related developments took him elsewhere.
Finally, there was "Mike," the cop. My girlfriend was a city police officer at the time and we would usually hit the downtown popular bars and dance spots on the weekends. Although she was off duty, she would immediately chat up the many police officers who would patrol the area, either driving slowly in their police cruisers or walking the beat. Mike was one of the regulars on patrol. My girlfriend told me how he thought I was cute and wanted to get to know me better, but admitted he was married.
"Married? Ack! Why on earth would I want to be with him?" I was both shocked and annoyed that my friend thought this was okay.
"He's a nice guy. Besides, you're not dating anyone else, I mean, he's somebody..." She trailed off, thinking that was all the justification I needed.
I told her under no circumstances would I be fooling around with a married guy. And didn't. Although tempted many times, I never went through with doing anything with a married man. There were several reasons for this. First, it's a well-known fact that when you're "The Other Woman," you will never have the full attention of your guy. Secrecy is paramount. No showing up at public events canoodling with each other. No romantic, intimate dinners in local restaurants. It's always about keeping the secret.
Second, I have a true-believer solidarity with women. Although I'm not a feminist (I prefer to define myself as "pro-woman"), I have a deep kinship with other women and could only imagine how I'd feel if as a married woman, found out another woman was sleeping with my husband. In fact, if faced with such a scenario, I'd probably go after the woman first.
When I think of my responses to each of those circumstances; and then think of what women did when offered the opportunity to sleep with Tiger Woods, I wonder why I chose to do one thing and they, another. What is it that persuades a woman sleep with a married man?
Hence, the "fear and loathing." My girlfriend nailed it when she pointed out that because I was single and with no romantic prospects, being with a married man would be better than being alone. Many women fear being alone. One of the strongest status symbols in our culture (and many cultures) is to be involved in a romantic relationship and most women will do whatever it takes to have it. This includes putting up with jerks, abusers, weirdos, and all manner of ill-matched men. It also is why bookstores will never run out of How to Make a Man Fall In Love With You and Declare You His Goddess manuals.
The loathing part may go even deeper. My theory is that when a woman fools around with a married man, deep inside she doesn't think she's worthy of being loved fully by an unmarried man. This could also be part of the mix when women stay in abusive relationships. It's an interesting twist that some women who fool with married men turn the tables on their accusers and say, "You're just jealous," as the porn star Joslyn James claims. (Scarlet Woman #10)
The reason this sordid tale of Woods cheating on his wife got my attention is because it reminded me once again about the truth and sustainability of God's purpose for women. When I was eleven-years-old, I asked my parents for a Bible that I could understand as part of my Christmas gifts. In fact, it was a Bible and small TV, to be specific. (Interesting combo, no?) I received both and was thrilled to have "my own" Bible. It was the Catholic English version, "The Way." One of the first passages I read that I felt was given to me by the Holy Spirit was this:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands,like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (1 Pet. 3:3-6 NIV)
From that point onward, I was determined to cultivate the kind of beauty that pleased God. I'm certainly not claiming to have achieved it, but I realize that this proved to be a pivotal point in my life, setting my internal compass of principle toward the kingdom of God. I don't think anyone would say cheating is okay, no matter how much it looks like "true love." I personally boycotted the movie "The Bridges of Madison County" because it showed a married woman having an affair with a man while her husband and kids were away. What was worse (in my eyes) was how the audience was swayed toward desiring that the woman abandon her family so she could embrace her "true love," the wandering photographer. I hate having my emotions manipulated by movies, especially when they trash my values. Most of my co-workers thought I was being too harsh. I didn't care. If you fall asleep at the wheel, don't be surprised when you crash.
It saddens me that so many in our society have abdicated their roles as honorable, self-assured women who would as soon sleep with a married man as they would throw themselves in front of an oncoming train. Because in essence, that's what has happened. When you become a citizen of Bimboland, you might as well paint a big "L" on your forehead for "Loser." Bimbos lose respect, lose friends, lose trust, and frequently lose themselves. It's a huge lie to think "this isn't hurting anyone." Everyone gets hurt when someone cheats - the wronged spouse, the cheater who doesn't want to admit there's a problem, and "the other woman" who is lying to herself that it's acceptable.
When you think of what God calls women to be (and there is so much), the perfection of it becomes more and more evident. Women are the keepers of civility in our society. When they live according to God's purpose for them, they hold others accountable for loutish, selfish behavior - whether it's their children or their men. They are the soft places to land, the compassionate, the generous watchers who notice when someone is feeling excluded or unloved. We as women have a high calling upon our lives and relinquishing it for a few minutes of cheap, phony intimacy is not a good trade. Not only do we deserve better, we're capable of better.
If I could wish for anything in the soap opera world of Tiger Woods, I would first wish for all the women who fooled around with him to repent, go to confession, and then start to go to church on a regular basis and read the Bible. I wish wholeness and healing for them. But if one is blind, they usually continue to stumble in the darkness, making the same mistakes again. For Tiger, I hope this is his "bottom." It would be good to know he's been given a huge wake-up call and has an opportunity to straighten himself out. I doubt his wife will continue the journey with him but he can make the choice to change. Everyone can. The question is, will they?