Elin Nordegren speaks about her marriage

The August 26 New York Post has lengthy excerpts from Elin Nordegren’s silence-breaking interview with People magazine which was published immediately after the announcement of her divorce from Tiger Woods. It’s worth reading. While I had trouble at first believing her claim that she had absolutely no idea of her husband’s industrial-scale infidelities, she repeatedly says how embarrassed she is that she had no idea, and finally one must give her the benefit of the doubt. Also, when we remember that each of Woods’s myriad girlfriends believed that she was the only one he really cared for, we realize that Woods had an exceptionable ability to compartmentalize himself and convince whichever woman he with of his sincerity, and this makes it more believable that he could have fooled his wife as well.

The impact of the interview is desolating. Nordegren thought she had a husband, a marriage, and a family, and found out she didn’t: “It seemed that my world as I thought it was had never existed.” She says that “we tried for months and months” to salvage the marriage, before she finally realized that a marriage “without trust and love” wouldn’t work out. The impression you get of Woods is of a man without a soul.

Tiger’s wife: I was fooled on sex romps
By Dan Mangan
August 26, 2010

Elin Nordegren insists she never had a clue.

Tiger Woods’ now-ex-wife is breaking nine months of silence to tell the world that the superstar golfer managed to bed a bevy of busty young women without her ever knowing it during years of marriage.

“I’m so embarrassed that I never suspected—not a one,” Nordegren said in an exclusive interview with People magazine.

“For the last 3 1/2 years, when all this was going on, I was home a lot more with pregnancies, then the children and my school.” Nordegren, 30, said she learned that Woods had wandered with other women only last Thanksgiving, after the news broke that he was involved with Manhattan party girl Rachel Uchitel.

“Absolute shock and disbelief,” said the blond Swedish stunner when People asked how she felt after hearing of Tiger’s infidelity, which led to their divorce Monday, a reported $100 million payout to her, and shared custody of their children.

“I felt stupid as more things were revealed—how could I not have known anything?

“The word ‘betrayal’ isn’t strong enough. I felt like my whole world had fallen apart. It seemed that my world as I thought it was had never existed. I felt embarrassed for having been so deceived. I felt betrayed by many people around me.”

“I’ve been through hell,” said Elin, who has two kids, Sam, 3, and Charlie, 1, with Tiger.

“But I survived. It was hard, but it didn’t kill me,” said Nordegren, who suffered insomnia as well as hair and weight loss from the stress.

Still, she said, “I never cry. Unfortunately, I wish I could bring up my emotions more at the time, but it usually comes afterward. That’s one of my flaws.”

“I still have a lot of healing to do. I have been through the stages of disbelief and shock, to anger and ultimately grief over the loss of the family I so badly wanted for my children.

“And I am still working on the last stage: forgiveness and/or acceptance.”

Elin said the breakup “has been hard” on her two kids.

“There was one time when I was sitting at a table in the rented house we had just moved into. We had all our things in boxes on the floor, but somehow managed to put a Christmas tree up, to feel somewhat at home,” Elin said.

“I wasn’t crying, but I was thinking and was sad. Sam came up to me, put her hand on my cheek and said in Swedish, ‘Mommy, where is your boo-boo?’ “

“I smiled at her and said, ‘Mommy’s boo-boo is in her heart right now, but it will be better,’ ” Elin recalled. “She looked at me and said: ‘Can Sam kiss and make it better? Or maybe popcorn will.’ “

Easing her struggle is the huge amount of money Elin got.

“Money doesn’t make you happy, but I have to be honest—it is making some things easier,” Nordegren said. “I have the opportunity to be with my children as much as I want, and I am able to travel to see my family, and also have them come here as often as I like.”

Elin said, “The children are the reason I am getting through this. I try to shield them from everything as much as I possibly can, but of course they feel something is going on, even though they are so young. But just to have them around, hugging me, kissing me, gives me the strength to get through every day.”

Nordegren had been sphinx-like for months since Woods’ Thanksgiving-weekend car crash unleashed a torrent of revelations about Uchitel and more than a dozen other affairs.

But she said she now is speaking out, in part, to dispute claims that the smashup occurred after she chased him out of their Florida home in a rage while waving a golf club after discovering text messages from Uchitel.

“There was never any violence inside or outside our home,” Elin told People. “The speculation that I would have used a golf club to hit him is just truly ridiculous.”

“Tiger left the house that night, and after a while, when he didn’t return, I got worried and decided to go look for him. That’s when I found him in the car. I did everything I could to get him out of the locked car. To think anything else is absolutely wrong.”

Still, Elin admitted that she found the “Saturday Night Live” and “South Park” parodies of her as a golf-club-wielding wild woman “pretty hysterical, even if they were totally untrue.”

Nordegren said that at first, she had thought their massively messed-up marriage could be salvaged.

“You think of every way you can save a marriage when it is in a crisis, and I think even harder when you have children,” Nordegren said.

“So yes, initially, I thought we had a chance, and we tried really hard. I don’t want to go into details of why I didn’t think it was possible.”

But, she noted, “we tried for months and months” before she realized that a marriage “without trust and love” wouldn’t work out.

Asked if she had forgiven Tiger—or ever could—Elin said, “Forgiveness takes time … I am going to be completely honest, and tell you that I am working on it. I know I will have to come to forgiveness and acceptance of what has happened for me to go on and be happy in the future. And I know I will get there eventually.”

As for her own future, she said, “It’s going to take time for me to start dating again … It’s going to be just me and the kids for a little while. But I believe in love, because I’ve seen it. I’ve been there.”

And for her kids, “I am going to do my very best to show them that alone and happy is better than being in a relationship where there is no trust.”

Asked if she has any regrets, Elin said, “Not a single one. I have two beautiful children … I am excited to start the next chapter of my life.”

[end of Post article]

- end of initial entry -

Stephen T. writes:

Am I the only one who doesn’t feel sorry for her? This beautiful, blonde “Swedish stunner” went out looking to hook up with a mega-wealthy, powerful, husband/celebrity and she found one. I’d like to see the list of decent, respectful non-famous guys she probably looked right through until she laid her status-seeking eyes on Tiger. Also, the naivete of (many) white women, in particular, about such things has become tiresome and predictable to the point where I’m really just sick of hearing about them. They are an embarrassment.

Larry T. writes:

The Elin Nordegren article mentions the South Park parody.

Regarding Steven T’s comment:

This beautiful, blonde “Swedish stunner” went out looking to hook up with a mega-wealthy, powerful, husband/celebrity and she found one.

There isn’t any evidence that is true. She was working in the home of another golfer as an au pair, taking care of his kids, when she met Woods. Working as an au pair seems like an unlikely career path for someone trying to meet rich celebrities. She seems like a really straight, traditional person who was fooled by someone she trusted. She should get the benefit of the doubt.

Lois W. writes:

I’m not buying it. She walks away with a cool $100 million. Of course, she wants to preserve her innocent reputation, and play up the wronged wife whine. She did pretty well for herself, from au pair to millionaire. I say she knew the score, and knew when it was time to fold. Good for her.

Graye writes:

Stephen T. says about that unlucky young wife of Tiger Woods: “I’d like to see the list of decent, respectful non-famous guys she probably looked right through until she laid her status-seeking eyes on Tiger.” That is cynical and presumptive. It seems to be a strange quirk of the American character to assume that the last reason for a white woman to marry a black man will be affection. I may be wrong, but that is how it comes across to me.

By the way, I think that young woman is far from a stunner, just an averagely pretty blonde, if that. [LA replies: I agree, and have said so several times; I think that the constant reference to her “stunning” looks is an example of how a certain phrase gets planted in the collective mind, and then everyone just keeps mechanically repeating it without thought. Another example is the saying that Al Gore is “boring,” when in reality he is a fascinating head case.] Granted there is no accounting for taste, I can’t help feeling that the reason for grossly exaggerating her looks seems to be in line with the insinuation that she is a gold digger. Both suggest a perverted base for this relationship right from the start. He was dazzled by her stunning (and of course blonde) beauty, she was looking for money and fame. Any possibility that it may have just started as a normal, loving relationship is thus safely out of the question. The topos of the beautiful blonde and the Negro has a nasty sexual and racial overtone which makes me feel uncomfortable. No need to say that this doesn’t make Tiger Woods a better man or her less silly.

Lydia McGrew writes:

I thought Stephen T.’s comment about Tiger Woods’s wife was out of line. He implies that if a woman is beautiful and is married to a rich and famous black man, she deserves no pity when her husband is wildly promiscuous and deceptive, because she may be presumed to be a shallow, status-seeking fool. This betrays small-mindedness and envy verging on misogyny. Fold into the mix the fact that she has two small children whom she apparently loves and whom she is trying to shield as much as she can from the consequences of their father’s horribly bad behavior and his comment becomes outright caddish. If a woman in Elin Nordegren’s position doesn’t get Stephen T.’s pity merely because she is beautiful and Tiger Woods is rich, maybe it isn’t worth having.

Laura Wood writes:

Elin’s sob story is difficult to bear. To air her family’s business in this way is insensitive to her children (particularly her son), to her former in-laws and, yes, to her husband, whom she freely chose. Why doesn’t she assign any blame to herself, for her poor judgment in marrying him? At the very least, she was stupid. Her claim that she was shocked by the infidelities of a celebrity husband who was hardly ever home is difficult to swallow. Tiger wronged her, but he is paying her $100 million and he lost his family, as he arguably deserved. She took her chances with a powerful man. She should remain silent. I find it hard to weep for either of them.

Van Wijk writes:

Larry T. wrote: “She seems like a really straight, traditional person who was fooled by someone she trusted. She should get the benefit of the doubt.”

By marrying a black man and producing black children, Elin Nordegren turned her back on her own people, and I turn my back on her. Any pain she is currently feeling is poetic justice.

LA replies:

Van Wijk is assuming that there is some commonly shared understanding in our society that interracial marriage is wrong, and that Elin violated this rule. But that’s not true. The common understanding of modern, liberal society is that race doesn’t matter. It is wrong to condemn Elin for simply being a product of her society. Those who believe as a general proposition that interracial marriage is not a good thing (and I am one of them) should blame the liberal ideology which tells people that race doesn’t matter and that interracial marriage is desirable, not the individuals who are simply following the overwhelming promptings of our society.

William R. writes:

Larry T. has beaten me to it, but comments like Stephen T.’s are more common on conservative websites than I would have expected—enough that I looked into the back-story to see if there was something about Nordegren that I’d been missing.

Nordegren comes from an upper class, though certainly not mega-wealthy, background herself. She does a couple of cheesecake bikini spreads in her late teens, but doesn’t seem to have much interest in modeling as a career. While she is working at a retail job and attending college, a Swedish golfer’s wife offers her a nanny position. This is how she comes into contact with that set. She puts Tiger off for a year or so because she’s seeing someone else. She’s about 22 when they become an item. Tiger’s reputation is sterling at this time.

They’re engaged a year later, and then married a year after that. She bears her husband two children, and by all accounts conducts herself with as much class and poise as a man in Tiger Woods’s position could ask for. Unfortunately, it turns out that Tiger is bedding every tramp from sea to shining sea. She gets wind of some portion of this and goes after him with a golf club. [LA replies: you didn’t read the interview; she strongly denies that she attacked him.]

Dismissing her as a vapid gold-digger is at odds with how she’s actually conducted herself. Hypergamy is as natural for women as a preference for women who look like Elin Nordegren is for men. Society’s job is to channel these realities productively. She was looking for a serious relationship early, married before 25, has had children within her marriage, and has shown fine public deportment. This is the larger part of what traditionalists want women’s priorities to return to, with the swimsuit spreads as an outlier.

While Stephen T. doesn’t explicitly say this, his comment points toward a standard where a woman can have no expectations of her husband if he’s wealthy or wealthier than her. Apparently, white women who have these expectations are an embarrassment to the race.

Laura Wood writes:

Elin may have conducted herself “with class and poise” when she was married, but she is not conducting herself with class and poise now. The graceful thing to do, in deference to her children, is to refuse comment on her marriage.

“I am going to do my very best to show them that alone and happy is better than being in a relationship where there is no trust.”

Better for her, not for them. Why would a woman tell the entire world that she can never trust the father of her children? Why would a mother so callously destroy her children’s prospects of trusting him?

LA replies:

I think you are being very hard on Elin. She remained completely silent for the last nine months, and when the divorce went through, she finally gave her side of things. You would have her not say anything. You would have her be mute as a stone. Why? She’s a human being too, you know. Why can’t she speak?

And what kind of trust is possible with Woods? She’s dealing with reality.

August 29

Josh F. writes:

I would tend to agree with Mrs. Wood. We already knew Elin didn’t trust Tiger. How could she after such a betrayal? So she is telling us nothing new. What she is doing is to proclaim very publicly that her children ought not be trusting of their father (or any father). And no matter how truthful she may think it is to tell her children not to trust their father because he has betrayed the family through infidelity, the only plausible result of such a bold assertion is a perpetually fractured relationship between father and children. The act of infidelity does not justify the complete destruction of the father/child relationship. Elin, whether conscious or unconscious of the effect of her public statement, has, on top of Tiger’s great betrayal, decided that a fractured father/child relationship is best.

Laura Wood replies to LA:
You wrote:

“You would have her be mute as a stone. Why?”

She is a mother and not just an aggrieved wife. Unfortunately, what Elin has done here is far too common and this is what is so disturbing. Feminism has brought women to a terrible juncture, a place where they are routinely damaging the father-child bond with a callousness that is breathtaking and borders on sadism. Even when they receive full custody of their children and handsome financial compensation, a surprising number of women then set about deliberately to undermine the father’s role. For $100 million, you would think Woods might have forged some kind of agreement that neither of them would speak about the matter in public. Is it such a cross for her to bear to remain silent? I mean honestly, doesn’t she have friends she can speak to instead?

Elin’s protestations that she never suspected Woods infidelities are suspicious because she is so insistent on the point. Why does she say this repeatedly? Why is she so adamant about it? Perhaps because if she did in fact know anything about Woods’s habits, that might draw into question her own decision to marry him. She might then be a little less the victim. In any event, she has a great deal of interest in clarifying this point and it is reasonable to be skeptical. Also, her claim that she tried and tried to rescue the marriage is simply false. How can one try and try in only a few months? It used to be impossible to get a divorce so quickly and now it’s considered normal. She has married and divorced Woods with her youth intact.

Woods has shown a habit of outrageous infidelity; this does not mean he cannot be a father. Yes, he has violated that relationship to his children by being unfaithful to their mother and possibly he has no interest in them anyway, a not unreasonable assumption given his apparent narcissism. But still children need to form some trust in their fathers or they themselves cannot develop. He may change and his children will need him for a long time. Elin will move on; they will not.

LA replies:

Just replying to one point for the moment: I came down on the side of believing her statements that she had had no idea what was going on, for the reasons I gave, but I also acknowledge that it is reasonable for people not to believe her.

August 29, 5:30 p.m.

Lydia McGrew writes:

It seems to me that Laura W.’s perspective on Elin Nordegren fails to take a couple of things into account. First of all, even if it were desirable to keep (permanently?) from Woods’s children the truth about his wildly promiscuous behavior and his utter treachery to his marriage, it is not possible. Woods is a public figure, and they will have access to the Internet when they are older. So it is difficult to see what end is served in terms of fostering trust between the children and Woods for Nordegren not to confirm what all the world knows—that he is not trustworthy.

Second, whether or not the children “need” him depends in part on who he is, on his actual character. It is not a tautology that all children need a relationship with their actual fathers as those fathers actually are. We should not confuse the generalization, “All children need a father” with the specific statement, “Child A needs a relationship with his own father, given his own father’s actual character.” Some fathers are bad people and are likely to be harmful to their children. Presumably this is obvious in the case of fathers who are physically dangerous or molesters, but considerations of character are relevant even in less extreme cases of marital breakup. Is it really going to be best as Tiger Woods’s children get older for their mother to tell them that they should trust their father when, in fact, she knows him to be narcissistic, manipulative, and untrustworthy? Are not those facts about his character relevant to whether she should encourage them to trust him? It seems to me that such facts are relevant and that a mother in Nordegren’s position is obligated to take them into account in making the many delicate decisions about how to guide and raise her children in the years to come.

In any event, it is extremely misguided to suggest, as Laura W. appears to suggest, that Nordegren should attempt to hide Tiger’s untrustworthiness from his children because she has received a large sum of money! (She says, “Even when they receive full custody of their children and handsome financial compensation, a surprising number of women then set about deliberately to undermine the father’s role. For $100 million, you would think Woods might have forged some kind of agreement that neither of them would speak about the matter in public.”) The money should have nothing to do with it. I suspect that Laura and I would disagree about what is in the best interests of children in such a situation as the one Woods has created, but surely we should be able to agree that it is their best interests that should be paramount. Their mother should not accept money in return for giving them a particular image of their father!

Graye writes:

Thank you, Mr. Auster! Just let me go on a little bit more. One of your commenters says: “Hypergamy is as natural for women as a preference for women who look like Elin Nordegren (see?) is for men.” I am sure you realize that this is the common outlook of the pathetic “Gamers.” Not in my youth and not now, as a widower not yet past his best years, I have ever come across this “hypergamy.” Not that women do not have inherent faults, but to me all this seems like the last straw to which male losers are clinging.

The mixture of jealousy and racialism the Tiger Woods case seems to bring to the fore is rather unappetizing.

I think it was the same commenter who said that Nordegren was upper class. She most definitely is not. From Wikipedia: “Nordegren was born in Stockholm, Sweden. Her mother, Barbro Holmberg, is a politician and former Swedish migration and asylum policy minister. Her father, Thomas Nordegren, is a radio journalist who served as a bureau chief in Washington, D.C. She has an older brother, Axel, and a twin sister, Josefin. Nordegren and her sister worked odd summer jobs and as cashiers in supermarkets to finance their studies. She started modeling in 2000, and appeared on the cover of Cafe Sport magazine in the summer of 2000.” That is straight middle middle class and light years removed from any upper class. I’m not 100 percent sure what passes as upper class in America, but would that be compatible with the CV of a young woman from the Rockefeller or Roosevelt families of from the Mayflower set? At the end of the day, I fail to understand what her class has to do with anything.

And about her lack of “class and poise”: That is a female trait and encouraged by the media. Better (in the social meaning of the word) women than her have behaved worse. The then Princess of Wales is a notable example.

Laura Wood writes:

With respect, Lydia has failed to grasp my point. Obviously, the Woods children will know of Tiger’s treachery. But they do not need to read on the public record their mother’s maudlin statements about her “boo-boos,” about how hurt and victimized she was. Better for them to think she was strong as it will only further damage their already horrendous image of their father to know that their mother has been so injured. If he is the total narcissist he seems to be, they will find out in good time. But let their childhood contain some illusions. Parents owe their children a sense of safety and if they cannot provide that safety by remaining together, they should provide it by maintaining relative, outward harmony.

Lydia wrote:

Second, whether or not the children “need” him depends in part on who he is, on his actual character.

I entirely disagree. Children are entitled to their fathers even when their fathers are no good. Children love their fathers even when their fathers are losers. Children are almost universally guaranteed steady contact with their mothers even when their mothers are wicked and selfish. If we’re going to start rescinding parental rights on the basis of who deserves them, many parents will be disqualified.

Elin should remain discreet, not because she has received a large amount of money, but because of her natural obligations. Tiger should have asked her to remain silent in light of his substantial support of her. The money is not insignificant. He is fulfilling some of his natural obligations by supporting her.

Josh F. writes:

It seems Lydia McGrew is assuming that Tiger was the original sinner and that somehow Elin now gets to dictate the nature of the father/ child relationship. Although Lydia probably attempts to be equally trustworthy to all, it does in no way mean that she has equally truthworthy relationships with all. The idea that infidelity to wife equals untrustworthy father to children is a stretch. And if the one making this judgement is a modern liberal female then it is grotesque as the modern liberal female is inherently unfaithful. Marrying young and having children with a fabulous black millionaire who has an unusual aversion to non-white females does not make one an autonomatic traditionalist woman.

James P. writes:

Graye writes:

One of your commenters says: “Hypergamy is as natural for women as a preference for women who look like Elin Nordegren (see?) is for men.” I am sure you realize that this is the common outlook of the pathetic “Gamers.” Not in my youth and not now, as a widower not yet past his best years, I have ever come across this “hypergamy.”

He hasn’t? Hypergamy simply means women try to marry someone of equal or higher socioeconomic status. This tendency is true of all women, regardless of whether they look like Nordegren or not, but someone who looks like Nordegren can of course set her sights a lot higher. In its extreme form, this tendency means the woman is a “gold digger.” I had certainly heard of the idea of “women marrying up”—and seen it in action—long before I heard the word hypergamy.

William R. writes:

I did read the interview. Forgetting to note her denial in my comment was an oversight, but the “official” story of the SUV accident is so ridiculous that it made no impression on me.

A couple of additional points after reading Laura Wood’s comments:

Laura asks why Elin doesn’t assign any blame to herself—that “at the very least, she was stupid.” Elin says in the interview that she felt stupid.

The interview is straight out of Oprah, and Laura is right to say that the best move would have been to avoid the Confessional Culture entirely. She is very insistent that Elin’s comments in this interview will damage her children by preventing them from being able to trust their father, but I think the risk is exaggerated. Over any appreciable length of time, the combination of modern media’s reach and the Woods’s fame will make it impossible to shield the children from this story. The impact to her children will be no different than if she hadn’t given this interview, if for no other reason than because they will have been living with her the entire time. Reading this interview, in what will most likely be years from now, if ever, their opinion of their parents will have been set by their experiences living with them, altered somewhat by the brunt of the media assault. Her comments in this interview won’t matter much; they’re very mild.

Tiger’s actions, not hers, guaranteed negative impact to their children. It’s bizarre to fault her for being stupid because she didn’t anticipate Tiger’s infidelity and then to criticize her for saying he’s not trustworthy. The first is a criticism of Elin’s adult decision, while the second is made with the children’s interest in mind, but the combination is still jarring.

Laura says “[Elin’s] claim that she was shocked by the infidelities of a celebrity husband who was hardly ever home is difficult to swallow…. She took her chances with a powerful man. She should remain silent.” I don’t like what falls out of this, namely: a man should be expected to cheat in proportion to his opportunities; marrying a man who is rich and/or famous is stupid; marrying a man who travels often is stupid; marrying a rich man who travels compounds the error. If a man should be expected to have sex whenever the opportunity presents itself such that a woman who expects otherwise is stupid, why bother including promises of fidelity in marital vows? What is recommended for accomplished men who travel often? Do we expect that society’s leaders will be bachelors or that their wives are to expect infidelity? This is starting to sound very continental. If we’re just talking about the hard realities of life, dirty laundry in the press is one of them.

Tiger has bridged the gap between tragedy and comedy. He’s fabulously wealthy because of his great skill at golf, something that probably half of the white collar men I know would make their life’s pursuit if they were able. Beyond that, he was very well regarded by the great majority of the population, and had a solid family. The price of his being able to live this fantasy life was to restrict his sexual dealings to a Swedish bikini model. Not only couldn’t he manage that, he couldn’t even screw it up properly. He didn’t have a one night stand with a cute sportscaster or a juicy affair with a famous actress. He just compulsively rutted with every dime store tramp he could get his hands on. [LA adds: and made every one of them (or at least quite a few of them) believe that she was the only one he really loved, which makes him seem, not a mere rutter, but a Don Juan.]

Tut-tutting Elin over how she handled this or that piece of the resulting train wreck ignores the central story.

In reply to Mr. Graye:

For the record, I’m not a Gamer. Observations about women and hypergamy are much older than Roissy. Also, I didn’t say hypergamy was a fault.

Nordegren’s mother held a cabinet level position in the national government and is now governor of a county, Sweden’s equivalent of a state. Her father was a foreign correspondent for the Swedish equivalent of the BBC and now has his own radio show. Having parents who are national figures is not “straight middle class.” I stand by my characterization of her background as upper class.

Ron K. writes:

This is a minor point in the Elin/Tiger discussion, so I see why you let it pass, but it would be a major point in other contexts.

William R. says Elin’s mother is “now governor of a county, Sweden’s equivalent of a state.”

Sweden has a unitary system, not a federal one, so there is no equivalent of a U.S. (or Australian, German, Mexican or Brazilian) state. Their counties are equivalent to our counties, even if they may have “governors.” (Many of ours have “executives.”) Though many such divisions are ancient, e.g. Cornwall or Tuscany, and have much more cultural standing than federal units in the New World do, nevertheless they have less status politically.

It’s shocking to see how many Americans make the elementary mistake of equating foreign counties, departments, prefectures and provinces (outside of Canada’s) in unitary states with the consituent units of a federation like ours.

Also, William and “Graye” shouldn’t be arguing over her class status without researching the place. Yes, her family is elite in some sense. But Olof Palme was the most powerful Swede of the last century while living a solidly middle-class life in a spare apartment. We just don’t know.

Given the country’s relative economic homogeneity, class is likely to be more social and genealogical than wealth-based. One good marker of upper-class status anywhere in Scandinavia is a German surname, especially one carrying a “von.” Many talented Germans were imported to serve the monarchs.

Vivek G. writes:

In this post and the ensuing discussions, various verdicts are being discussed whether Elin deserves sympathy or not, whether Elin should speak out about her experience or not, and so on. I see them as a post-mortem, which is valuable in itself but can hardly undo the death, though, of course, I am not in a position to undo it either. Moreover, the fact is that in most civilized societies divorce rates are increasing.

I think that marriages are supposed to be serious matters, and that is why they cause serious problems when they break down. Now comes the main point. Despite the seriousness of the matter, the amount of home-work that people do these days (by home-work I am alluding to the home-work/preparation a good student does/makes before an important examination) seems to be grossly lacking. In my opinion, it is this lack of seriousness with which people approach a serious issue like marriage, which is the cause of more frequent break-downs of marriages. To most people the understanding of the seriousness of marriage dawns only when it is on the verge of divorce! I have many friends who are divorced (I am a bachelor, and an old bachelor at that, and you are welcome to make fun!:-)), and when we discuss about some of the relevant issues, they would always say “Well, I never thought it would matter so much!” And later comes the painful realization, that it does matter so much! And notwithstanding the increased instances of divorces, the newer people who are going in for marriage, continue with the same perilous levity! It looks as if marriages mean a lot less to us. What surprises me is that if it really means a lot less to us, why does it perturb us so much when it breaks down? It must be because the preliminary perception that “it doesn’t mean much” is a false perception.

Similarly we need to address the question: “What is the home-work that is lacking?” It is the home-work of having honest and sufficient understanding of oneself and the other, and genuinely assessing the viability of the relationship, including a realistic understanding of male-female differences. It is not that women should not look for rich or successful men, or that men should not look for curvaceous blondes or brunettes. But it is the skipping of home-work, in favor of the flippant assumption that richness/success/curvaceousness will suffice, which is the main defect. Social education (both media and social circles) often encourages this levity, and yet wants to make out every marriage as that made-in-the-heavens. Should such break-downs come as any surprise afterwards?

In this particular case, shouldn’t it have occurred to Elin that her dream-husband could turn out to be too-good-to-be-true? I am not talking about race or any such things, though they may too be relevant at some level. For example, a simple question is: What percentage of multi-millionaire husbands never stray? These types of things are known in society, aren’t they? If the chances of never-straying are, say, only 20 percent, then a woman who marries a multi-millionaire must understand that there is an 80 percent chance that the husband will stray! Going by what the celebrity tabloids keep telling us, the chances of straying will have to be put as high as 99 percent! Then why should Elin be surprised if her husband turned out to be a strayer?

I am not saying that any of these persons who have undergone this pain deserve any less sympathy. I am merely saying that the “element of surprise” that they are exhibiting is difficult to digest. I sympathize with Elin, but I pity the ten-year-ago Elin (including her family and friends perhaps) more for having skipped the home-work. I am not claiming that she did skip, as of now I do not know, all I am saying is that in most likelihood she skipped, and if she (and her company) so did, that was sadder than this present divorce.

May I surmise that for a genuine understanding of the seriousness of marriage, there is hardly a recourse other than a traditional perspective, should I go on to say, a spiritual perspective? The eventual outcome of any false social idea is not just more divorces, it is the end of marriage as a social institution. After subscribing to liberalism, therefore, where is the room for surprise at such things? Though, unfortunately of course, there will be increasing room for showing sympathy!

LA replies:

Excellent comment. Many people today seem to marry with less thought, preparation, and research than that with which they purchase a smartphone.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 28, 2010 11:22 AM | Send

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