Former vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper announced a split after a marriage that lasted for 40 years. Many are surprised of what has become of “a storybook marriage”, one that showed “no sign of trouble”, not even “a hint of scandal”. But friends and close relatives suggested there were “subtle cracks” in their relationship.
Hold on, I’m not about to write a tabloid article, neither will I guess or speculate. I believe every married couple has an inherent right to privacy whether or not one or both of them are public figures. Many say it is “sad”. We will take the positive view, see the glass as half full, not half empty and yes, celebrate Mrs. Gore, the woman who stood by her man for four long decades.
Ever so often couples begin to do their own thing, much of it for personal satisfaction. Former Gore campaign manager Tony Coelho said, speaking of Mrs. Gore, “She went and did her thing,….She was supportive, but she didn’t share the world stage with him.”
Nothing is wrong with a woman wanting to have her own world separate from her husband. Marriage critics may argue for synchrony of the couple’s activities on the ground of fostering shared interests and common bonds. On the other hand, having shared interests do not seal marriages for life. Unfortunately, it takes much more than that to keep the fire burning. As highly desirable, socially, morally and biblically acceptable as it is, marriage is not simply black and white. Regrettably, society judges a marriage using a single broad brush. Either it is a success or a failure, measured by whether there is divorce or not.
Society forgets to account for the in-betweens, the possible years of bliss and happiness. That has to count for something. Divorce is not necessarily indicative of ‘failure’. In fact, for a woman, it can mark a new beginning, a chance to stand on her own, a chance at a different kind of happiness and prosperity, without having to walk in someone else’s shadow, without having that hand to hold you.
It is an overwhelming task for some independent minded women to underplay the essence of their existence—their independence, so that their husbands can go on to do his ‘thing’. Supportive as she may be, there may still be a void, an emptiness that cannot be filled by the number of marriage years they chalked up.
More importantly, we tend to measure the success of a marriage by the number of years but what about the moments of happiness? By this yardstick, society seems to suggest that it is better to live in an unhappy but long marriage.
Of course, I’m not implying that Tipper, Al or both of them were unhappy. And no, it does not always have to be some affair or something ill that leads to separation and divorce. Couples do have irreconcilable differences and they do grow apart.
The Gores are remembered for the famous and public locked–lips kiss at the 2000 Democratic National Convention where Al was nominated as the Democratic presidential nominee that year.
Hats off to Tipper for holding the forth for 40 years, many women sure need some tips! Bravo to every woman who is ‘keeping it together’. What about Al? Kudos to him for somehow managing to stay clear of those sexy scandals that ‘big ones’ like himself tend to fall prey to.
Questions: (Leave answers/comments)
- How does a woman stand by a man, especially with such a hectic public life, for 40 years?
- Remember how long your grandmother and great grandmother’s marriages lasted? Do you think the women of today’s generation have such stamina for marriages?
- Do you think a woman’s yearning for independence impacts the length of her marriage?
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