I was saddened to hear that Al and Tipper Gore are separating, and at the same time I was intrigued by the nationwide reaction. Lots of people reacted as I did—”That’s sad!” we all cried out.
But is it?
Michelle Cottle, one of my favorite journalists, offered this take on the Gore separation. I like what she said. As upsetting as it might be for many of us who look to public figures to exemplify healthy marriages, it’s not all that hard to see how this separation makes good sense for this particular couple, and need not be seen as evidence that marriage in general is in trouble. My partner and I have been together for ten years, and if I have my way, we’ll be toasting each other at our fiftieth in 2049, with hopes for another 20 years of love and happiness. (He’s a really great guy.) But some couples follow a different path. Notice Michelle’s comment about the “unblinking” public eye that gazed upon the Gores for so long. Could your marriage survive that? Maybe. But it makes sense if Al and Tipper found themselves at an impasse, even though they’ve been together for so long. (Or…because they’ve been together for so long…)
If you’re a curious, courageous soul who loves your spouse and hopes to enjoy a lifelong marriage, you won’t necessarily suffer the fate of Al and Tipper. Anything is possible, but conscious intent is powerful. If you’re worried or saddened by the Gores’ story, take some time to talk to your spouse. Find out whether s/he feels you’re both doing okay. Try to be flexible, open, and daring as the two of you learn from the experiences of other couples and plan a bright future together.