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Gore Divorce: A 40-Year Marriage Is Never a Failure!

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Dr. Wendy Walsh: This morning, I sat up straight when I heard an NBC reporter refer to the divorce announcement made by former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper.

The reporter said their marriage had "failed." How could 40 years of supporting each other, raising children, surviving grueling political campaigns and welcoming grandchildren be called a failure?! If that's a failure, I can only imagine what the rest of our relationships could be called!

In truth, back when the "'til death do us part" section was inserted intothe marriage contract (some say in ancient Greece), death itself was pretty imminent. Life expectancy was short. Plagues and war took many lives, and nearly 50 percent of women died in childbirth. Therefore, promising to stay together until death was a fairly safe bet.

Today, serial monogamy trumps lifelong unions -- and for good reason. We live a whole lot longer. The qualities required of a partner to, say, get us through college and embark on a career, or have a stint of child raising, or enjoy a peaceful retirement may be quite distinct. That is, we may choose someone entirely different for each of those tasks. I am of the opinion that a marriage should last only as long as the projects it creates (i.e., until the kids are raised or the house reno is complete).

Now, having said that, do I believe that too many couples today throw in the towel way too early? Yes. Too many people bail when sexual feelings and romantic fantasies give way to the hard work and boredom of long-term monogamy. Or they simply have so few relationship tools that divorcing feels like the only option. These couples have much to learn. But that is not the case with the Gores. They have done their learning and have ridden out the bumps. They should be popping champagne to celebrate. They had a successful 40-year marriage. Here's to your next relationships, Al and Tipper!

next: No More Celeb Post-Baby Swimsuit Pics ... PLEASE!
59 comments so far | Post a comment now
DKLB June 3, 2010, 1:38 AM

NONSENSE.Divorce at this stage of the game is sad affair…not one to be celebrated with a cavalier toast to their next relationships! When a marathon runner FAILS to cross the finish line, do we celebrate his efforts with a medal?

Denise Barreto June 3, 2010, 4:13 AM

Very interesting post and point of view. I agree with you - I’d hardly call a 40 year marriage a failure AND I agree that too many people throw in the towel too quickly.

I am currently leading a conversation on relationships and in this case - Al and Tipper Gore - I have to say, you cannot fault them for wanting pursue their lives apart if that is direction its gone lately. Surely, there will be hurt within their family but major train wreck type damage normally caused by divorce? I think not.

Black Iris June 3, 2010, 9:54 AM

I’m happily married and we’ve been together for nearly 30 years. If we got divorced, I would say that we had failed. One of the goals of marriage is to keep the love alive despite the difficulties you face in life. At the end of the day, if you manage to do the job of raising your children but you don’t love each other, something is wrong with the marriage.

Black Iris June 3, 2010, 12:06 PM

“The qualities required of a partner to, say, get us through college and embark on a career, or have a stint of child raising, or enjoy a peaceful retirement may be quite distinct. That is, we may choose someone entirely different for each of those tasks.” This really bothers me. People are not disposable. They have feelings. You can’t marry one person who supports you during college and then trade them in for someone who is better with kids. What if they think you’re still find together? Besides, this loses the point of a husband or wife. Don’t marry someone because they’re good at being 20 or good at raising a family, marry someone because you love each other. Then work on developing the skills to get along whatever the task is.

Terri K (@tkharmonic) June 3, 2010, 2:17 PM

I have two sets of aunts/uncles that have divorced in the past few years following 30+ years of marriage. One of my uncles went on to remarry: a woman younger than his 32 yr old son.

While I think 40 years of marriage is an achievement, if it ends in divorce then technically it is a failure.

Jessi June 3, 2010, 6:28 PM

“til death do you part” - anything before that is a failure. they were married for 40 years and that’s great but divorce = failure.

Andrew14 June 4, 2010, 6:17 AM

Not to speak on behalf of “Men Everywhere”….but generally guys don’t look at it that way (i.e. Men don’t completely jump at calling the Gore Marriage a resounding success. Believe me.) Just want to acknowledge Black Iris, Terri K and Jessi who to me seem willing to consider the harm this notion causes others (eg. the family, the friends, the fill-in-the-blank). Divorce is not a terrific thing; it hurts many people. The article kind of made me cringe.

Heather June 15, 2010, 3:08 PM

Not sure what to make of a divorce that late in the game. On the one hand, I agree it may be testament to a healthy desire to call it quits; if life with the spouse is just not fulfilling at that stage, presumably they’ve done all the trying that could reasonably be expected. On the other hand, it’s hard not to be a little skeptical: just what else are they looking for, at this point? Mad, passionate love? Seems like a stretch. I heard about a man in his 70’s who just dumped his wife of like 50 years because she couldn’t “keep up” with his lifestyle. Seems like he might have let her know a little earlier that their commitment was that shallow, given that one reason a lot of people marry is to avoid growing old alone. the again, who am I to judge?

Radar001 June 19, 2010, 7:46 AM

Let’s face it. Women divorce men in huge larger numbers. Please spare these little stories about men being unfaithful and getting rid of the little woman. This is not the experience of my friends and of ME! In all respect, get real please.

Bank online with Chase October 18, 2010, 7:28 PM

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