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Al Gore, Tipper Gore, No More... So?

Why do much focus on the Gores' separation?

This post is in response to
Al and Tipper Gore separating? No way!

Maybe it's just me, but isn't all the concern about the Gores' separation a little much? (I'm not alone, apparently.) True, he is a major public figure, a long-serving U.S. senator and vice-president, presidential candidate, and environmental activist. She too has been a significant public figure, who always spoke and appeared with dignity, and seemed to balance her marriage with a refreshing independence.

Their marriage is ending after 40 years—is this necessarily a reason to be sad, or concerned, or to enter into a national period of remorse and reflection? Would there be more discussion if there were some evidence of infidelity—or less? Must there be some dirty, nasty secret behind every high-profile marriage that ends? Can't people decide, amicably and civilly, to dissolve their marriage, especially one that seems to have been a wonderful success on so many levels, just because they no longer want to be married?

I can't imagine the stresses they must have endured—successfully, by any measure—and if they want to explore different avenues in their remaining years (which I hope are long and enjoyable), more power to them. Forty years—that's a very long time, especially for a marriage spent in the public eye, and most of it spent in the highest levels of public service. I commend them for lasting as long as they did, and if they did make this decision mutually and absent any instigating event (such as adultery), I think that's wonderful. What would really make me sad is if they stayed together after their marriage has effectively ended (especially since their children have long since grown).

I don't know the Gores, and I feel no special attachment to (or affection for) them, but I trust that they made this decision in their own self-interest; what more can we ask for? Should their break-up make us question our own relationships (if we have them)? If you've been with the same person for 40 years, I hope you're secure enough in your relationship that this news doesn't rattle you; if not, then perhaps it could stand some re-examination. If, like most people, your relationship is significantly more short-lived (and you're not a major public figure), don't worry—the Gores' situation doesn't apply to you.

My take? Would that all marriages that end could end in this way, with dignity and civility, without acrimony and antagonism. Then, perhaps we can stop looking for hidden secrets in every closet, and just congratulate people on a life well lived, sometimes together and sometimes apart.

(Hat tip to John Dunne for inspiring the title, and to Michael Alvarez for being the straw that broke the camel's back—nothing in this post should be taken as a response to his post in particular.)