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A Tiger Woods lesson for the public: Infidelity hurts

The moral of the Tiger Woods story is that adultery leaves a trail of destruction. It can be avoided. 

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The cascade of news about Tiger Woods since his Escalade escapade has largely been driven by the public’s interest in celebrity, mystery, and often pure salaciousness. Only lately has the negative fallout from his secret infidelity begun to hit home: lost corporate sponsors, a stunning golf career on hold, and most of all, a marriage and family in jeopardy.

Perhaps more than other recent cases of adultery by prominent figures, the case of Mr. Woods is a sober reminder of how unfaithfulness in matrimony can leave behind a swath of personal despair and destruction. If he can now reform himself and earn the forgiveness necessary to save his marriage, then this real-life script will offer a redemptive lesson for a society increasingly jaded to such dalliances.

Adultery should not be taken lightly, although Hollywood and other media often do so. It is not a comedy. Nor is it a game. As Jenny Sanford said so plainly and poignantly last week, “it hurt” when her husband, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, described his Argentine girlfriend as his “soul mate.” Ms. Sanford is filing for divorce after a failed attempt at reconciliation.

Among other things, 2009 may go down as the year of celebrity infidelity. But affairs also afflict the common man and woman. Various studies show a range in the number of married men who will cheat (15 to 40 percent) and of married women who will (5 to 25 percent).

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