Yesterday, a shockwave hit the national media with the announcement that, after 40 years, Al and Tipper Gore were getting a divorce. How and why after so long and having been through so much do these two seemingly grounded people need to get divorced?
They have been very private about their reasons with the exception of making sure the public knew that there have been no affairs. But, if there have been no such betrayals, and they have enjoyed so many successes and endured hard times and tragedies and have been together for so long, why not just stay together?
For some reason, we feel a need to know. Perhaps we feel better if we understand why the breakup occurred. Maybe it's so we can decide whose "side" we're on (in cases like Tiger Woods and Sandra Bullock, it feels good to rally around the one who has been betrayed). Or perhaps it's so we can use the information to predict our own relationship or marriage's demise, as if break ups were contagious.
But, what if there really is no tangible reason? What if marriages have life spans just like all living creatures do? What if we took away the judgment that their marriage "failed" (a term that really irks me) and saw it as just being over?
After all, we don't characterize loved ones who die as "failing to stay alive." Why, then, can't we step back and accept that it's okay to see unions end sometimes?
Many were aghast a few years back when Brad Pitt announced, upon ending his marriage to Jennifer Aniston, that he felt it had been a successful marriage. In most of society's mind, if it was so successful, why did he leave?
He says he left because he felt the relationship was over. Of course, Jennifer may have a drastically different take on the matter, but my point is that this was a case where Pitt simply felt that the relationship was complete.
In her book, The Comfort Trap: or What If You're Riding a Dead Horse?, Judith Sills, Ph.D., challenges the reader to seriously take a look at what you're staying with - be it a job, a friendship, or a relationship - and evaluate what you are really holding on to.
Many of us are so focused on keeping up appearances and worrying about what others will think or say that we don't stop to truly evaluate what we need or want.
As sad as I am to see the Gores marriage end, I admire them for having the courage to be true to themselves. I wish them well in their journey and I hope they will be able to maintain their privacy as they navigate their marital dissolution.