Gore Divorce

The calls started coming as soon as the Al and Tipper Gore divorce was announced, reporters, editors asking, “What is it that causes a couple to give up on a 44 year marriage?” Obviously the Gore’s answer to that question hasn’t been enough when they said: “we grew apart.” To head off speculation relating to a pattern which seems to have evolved in the media these days, the Gores also said “there is no affair.” Even though they get points off for originality, 80% of couples say they divorced because they grew apart, I have to admit there is something refreshing about a couple making a proactive announcement without having to be outed by the tabloids and mainstream media. It seems quite civilized and grown up; although the announcement was a shock to millions of us because their screaming matches hadn’t been written about in books or secret liaisons hadn’t gone viral on YouTube.

The first call in which I was asked to speculate about what possibly could be the “real” reason they divorced and two calls which wanted me to join forces with “don’t you think they could have fought harder to save a marriage after all those years not to mention the children?” left me feeling smarmy and much like a Peeping Tom/Pat. Let’s get real. The life span is now 120, this doesn’t mean we are all going to reach that age but the subgroup of people passing 100 is growing yearly. We’re living longer; and the longer you live, the longer you live. This means, every decade you conquer—especially without a life-threatening illness, increases the probability you’ll reach the next decade. Yay! So forever after is longer than it used to be.

Secondly, in 2007 the Pew Research Center came out with a study that basically said 2/3 of Americans no longer believe that marriage is for the bearing and raising of children but for the purpose of personal fulfillment. I’m not saying that is right or correct, but that’s what the majority of the U.S. believes. So my hunch is the Gores fit into this category; that they have taken a long hard look at the next several decades and believe that they will each be more personally fulfilled going their separate ways. They’ve raised their children; stayed together through thick and thin; made it far longer than most couples and are now taking the liberty of moving on in a different manner. I hope it is as mutual as it appears to be.

Before a final comment, based upon my thirty years of working with couples, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that growing apart is a common phenomenon in marriage as well as any long term relationship, and can be addressed and alleviated if both parties are willing (I’ve helped countless couples do just this), but I also recognize that there are irreconcilable differences that most people would not choose to live with if they had the means and support to move on without catastrophic repercussions.
Forty-four years. I’m impressed. Thank you Al and Tipper for somehow keeping your private life private and keeping the rest of us in our place, i.e. out of your business. For those forty-plus decades I will use a phrase borrowed from my Aussie friends: “Good on ya’!” And thank you both for all you have done and will do to make this world a better place.

Dr. Pat Love is a distinguished professor, author, trainer and long-standing licensed clinician committed to helping people achieve healthy and fulfilling relationships. Between books, workshops, national news and even Oprah, Dr. Love teaches everything you need to know to have a relationship with yourself and others. Her latest book, How to Improve Your Relationship Without Talking About It has been translated into 12 languages. www.patlove.com

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