Mention “Ted Haggard” to most people and what leaps into mind is likely a sordid story pulled from 2006 tabloid headlines: Famous TV Evangelist Caught in Scandalous Web of Drugs, Prostitution, Adultery, and Disgrace.
Yet beneath this feeding frenzy, there is another story that needs to be told; a story that is certainly less sensational, but one that is arguably more meaningful — possibly even profound. It’s the story of Ted and Gayle Haggard, married in 1978, and how their marriage survived – and still endures – the nightmare of events that has followed them for years, and will probably linger into the future.
Judge Lynn Toler of “Divorce Court” fame, and regular contributor to DivorceMagazine.com, recently taped an interview with Ted and Gayle Haggard to talk about their remarkable marriage. We asked Judge Toler to share with our readers some of her impressions and insights.
|Divorce Magazine:||Why did you choose to interview the Haggards?|
|Judge Toler:||To be honest, at first I didn’t want to. One of my producers came up with the idea and I couldn’t imagine that I could get anything new that hadn’t already been covered by Oprah and Larry King – two people who interview for a living. Moreover, I felt badly for Gayle. As if having a cheating husband wasn’t enough, now she was being dragged from one show to another to share her pain. Lastly, I felt the show would only have value if it went beyond the sordid details and provided useful information. But I was afraid that if I were to ask them how they got through it they would simply say “we prayed and turned everything over to God.” That makes for a short show.
What changed my mind was a pre-interview conversation with Gayle in which she talked about why she didn’t want to come on the show. She didn’t want to go through the sordid details again without something positive to share. That told me two things: she had a mind of her own and was not simply being dragged around and that she was going to speak openly and on a practical level about what they went through and how they handled it. That new angle on it made it worthwhile.
|Divorce Magazine:||What was your reaction to the interview?|
|Judge Toler:||I was pleased with their candor. They spoke openly about how bad it got. They also discussed some of the specific measures Ted took to regain Gayle’s trust. That was all good. However, I was a little disappointed with the answers I got from Ted regarding some of the religious aspects of what he did. He could not adequately reconcile his religious stance on homosexuality and his actions. Nor could he explain how he could still preach, guide and counsel people while he was doing what he was doing. I don’t know, maybe there isn’t a satisfactory answer to that.|
|Divorce Magazine:||If there was one piece of advice you would give people considering divorce, what would that be?|
|Judge Toler:||Talk to someone who is older, wiser and been through a few things who is not biased towards either spouse. If you haven’t got that in your life you can do counseling. But get fresh eyes on it then talk, talk, and then talk some more.|
|Divorce Magazine:||What would you like the legal system to do to make divorce more civil?|
|Judge Toler:||I am a huge fan of mediation, collaborative divorce and the like. The more we use those systems for workable situations, the more time courts will have to deal effectively with divorces in which there is a gross disparity of power between the parties, or where there is an abusive or mental health situation involved.|
Judge Toler’s fascinating interview with the Haggards airs on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 in syndication. Check your local listings or visit www.DivorceCourt.com for details.
You can read more about Judge Toler’s view on mediation and collaborative divorce here: www.divorcemag.com/articles/i-may-not-be-the-answer.