Sunday, June 13, 2010

Al and Rush Together Again

So Al and Tipper Gore announce their separation after 40 years of marriage at about the same time Rush Limbaugh gets married to his fourth wife. Ideology aside, they have something in common with most of us.

We can't seem to find the secret to long-term, fulfilling marriage. But man do we like to try.

A friend passed along an article about Rush the other day which suggested he was a hypocrite for marrying again while being against same sex marriage. I disagree for a couple of reasons: 1) I haven't observed Limbaugh portray his personal life in a righteous manner and 2) Believing in an institution and participating in it multiple times doesn't make you a hypocrite. It means you're trying to get it right.

As to the Gores, I was sorry to hear the news, as I am to hear about any union ending. None of us with any sense enter into commitments with the intention of ending them. If the essence of love is sacrifice, then to have a marriage of any length end is to experience grief. I dealt with a man many years ago who was fond of saying he had been "married and divorced five times to my wife of 36 years."

But this one seemed to resonate because they had been married so long and appeared to be happy, appeared being the operative word. None of us know what our friends or colleagues experience behind closed doors. How often, for example, have you developed a mental image of a co-workers' marriage based solely on one person's view?

Tipper and Al looked happy. Who knows?

Maybe it was for show or political expediency, maybe they "grew apart" (the catch all cliche), or maybe there are other things going on. They have endured crisis in the form of depression and the their son's near fatal car accident. Crisis does not change people, it just exposes them. And if you asked them? None of us have the same view, especially of the mirror.

40 years is a long time. I read an article a few years ago about couples who had divorced after 30 years or more of marriage. Why? A few themes emerged. They married young. They focused on the kids and after they "flew the coop" nothing was left. There is less stigma to divorce today than was when they got married. But the main reason seemed to be a realization that at 55 years or so of age they had another 30years left on earth, which begged the question: Do I really want to spend it with this man or woman?

Reminds me of the couple who went before the judge after 73 years of marriage. She was 92, he was 95.

"Why are you divorcing?" asked the judge.

"Irreconcilable differences."

"And how long have you known this was irreconcilable?"

"70 years."

"70 years," said the judge. "Why would you stay in a marriage you knew was over for 70 years?"

"Your honor, we had a pact. We wanted to wait until the kids died."

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