(Once more, something written in the good old days when I really thought I could share my man with golf. Later I decided to forget that idea!)
What do you do when the "other woman" is Golf?
Count your blessings, bite your tongue and build on just what you have as lovers.
More than 15 years ago I was up bright and early after a first date with my husband-to-be. I walked with him as he played 18 holes of golf.
Little did I know those neat little 18 holes would gang up on our family life years later --- that someday I would have to confront a faceless mistress --- an Old Bag (full of woods and irons) as my husband's demanding lover.
Fifteen years ago I would have laughed at the title "golf widow."
Why, Ron's golf habit was good to him. His rich tan contrasted so well with my rosey sunburn. We both loved the outdoors --- Ron, the perfectly manicured greens; me, the woodsy out-of-bounds areas.
Slowly though, as three children entered the picture (none of them conceived in the golf season), another Golf Widow was added to the ranks.
First, there was that "tied down" syndrome.
I tried to make my husband feel guilty. It didn't work.
When I later took on a fulltime job, I demanded that we share responsibilities --- golf or not.
Ron agreed. But qualifying and weekend tournaments came up. His putting game needed work. Tournaments became as regular for him as Saturday laundry for me. Only he would get trophies. (He was good!) I got more dirty clothes.
A few years ago, after a Marriage Encounter, I was finally forced to accept Golf as Ron's other lover.
She was as important to him as I was --- no more, no less. And Golf didn't nag, talk back, sulk or have bad breath.
I immediately immersed myself into an "if you can't fight' em, join 'em" effort. Once again, we walked the local courses hand-in-hand.
But the effort was doomed. The "country club set" and I came from different molds, and our kids were starting to call the babysitter "Mom."
Back to square one again. One evening I was so angry --- after Ron played golf everyday that week --- I slept on the sofa.
The next morning, as he was leaving for another round of golf, he woke me to say the bed was available. He was his usual sweet self --- no bitterness in him ever!
When he saw that I wasn't about to get up, he covered me with a blanket, left a five-dollar bill in my purse and open the Bible to II Peter, which instructs wives to be submissive to their husbands.
That afternoon I left a note for him apologizing for being so anti-golf. I had to write it, because the words just wouldn't form in my mouth.
I stressed the apology was coming from my mind. My heart was still full of bitterness.
The letter worked and that evening we jumped into bed as lovers.
But the mood didn't last long.
Ron started to talk golf again. After a few minutes, he asked, "Why are you so quiet?"
I don't have anything to say," I answered.
He rolled over and continued his monologue. He preached on my attitude, and once more, I found myself on the defensive and on the verge of another argument.
"Stop it!" I shouted. "Let's forget it. For just one week --- just one --- let's try harder to commit ourselves to one another, if only for the heck of it."
We didn't make love that night. The pain of the disagreement was still too fresh in our minds.
But the next day's sunshine seems to bring a healing process.
I rose early to make biscuits and gravy, a southern favorite, for Sunday morning breakfast.
And after church, Ron helped prepare lunch. Afterwards he stuck around and played with the kids.
And I tried to be cheerful. My nagging, I found out the night before, had driven my husband to the golf course more, instead of keeping him home.
Our week of renewed commitment turned out to be an oasis.
Ron continued to play golf regularly. Again I bit my lip so I wouldn't have to eat my words later. But I smiled when Ron came home, and he seemed to make a definite effort to be home more often.
He dried dishes a couple times and gave me tender kissses frequently.
Tension definitely eased because both of us worked at it. Neither had the humility to do it alone.
I finally accepted the fact that I couldn't re-make Ron. He would never give up is "other woman." And he realized I would never be a fan of his "mistress."
We proceeded from these truths. As Ron said, "We had to go on from there to concentrate on the positive, rather than the negative."
The first week was such an improvement that we decided to extend our efforts for another week.
The weeks have since dissolved into months --- hot summer nights into invigorating autumn mornings.
Being a sports editor, Ron's Golf Goofiness later became Football Fever, which developed into a Basketball Binge, just before Track Thirst.
But the mistress of them all will always be Ms. Golf.
And me, I just try to remember what another golf widow once said:
"Count your blessings! The other woman could be made of flesh, rather than an Old Bag of iron and wood."