It is pretty hard to ignore the firestorm surrounding Tiger Woods, and I won't, but maybe we can all take some positives from his situation. Here are some lessons that we can all try to remember and apply if we ever get into a family crisis. I'm not here to defend one side or the other, or to determine exactly what the facts were. Instead, I suggest that we use this as an opportunity to learn and to think about how we might act if faced with any crisis.
Lesson 1: If you realize you are involved in a seriously escalating argument, leaving is often the best strategy. Let both sides cool off. Avoid physical contact or threats. Let a little time pass before you re-contact the person. If you leave, drive carefully.
Lesson 2: Apologies may help. A sincere acknowledgement of fault and request for forgiveness may help avoid escalation. It's not a free pass, but it can help minimize the damage. Lesson 3: Practice forgiveness. If you think you are the victim, at some point you have to decide whether to wipe out a relationship or salvage it. You should think carefully about it. If you see reasons to continue a relationship, then you may need to be forgiving. That doesn't mean there are no consequences for bad behavior. It just means that there are limits to the consequences. Lesson 4: Remember there are always at least two sides to every story and every argument. It's very rare that all the fault lies on one side of the issue. Be ready to accept some responsibility. It helps to try to put yourself in the other person's shoes for a while to try to understand their point of view.
Lesson 5: Think carefully before you start telling the world, or the local police or press about what is going on in your personal life. Even a dull story may become prominent on a slow news day. Think before you speak. No matter how bad the other person has been, you may gain more by keeping control over the dissemination of news. If it is a serious situation, it would be a good time to consult with an experienced lawyer for evaluation and advice. Don't try to do everything on your own. With all the new media outlets, news can spread unbelievably fast. Get some advice before you go public.
People in difficult relationships probably spent a lot of time thinking how they would react if they had been in a situation similar to the one faced by Tiger and his wife. If you might get caught up in something like that, it would be a good idea to try to think ahead to the various consequences of your behavior and to consider your options. Better safe than sorry!