Monday, June 07, 2010

A Lesson From Tipper and Al

posted by Michele Olson

Everyone is saying everything about the news that Al and Tipper Gore are ending their marriage after 40 years. Sad? Yes. Unheard of?

Why would we think that?

After reading this article by Ellen McCarthy in the Washington Post, I had to take a different thought pattern than the direction of her piece. Yes, it’s probably more of an accomplishment to stay married for ten years than five years, twenty years than ten, or thirty years than twenty.
You get the picture. But the bottom line is-marriage is not a race with a finish line that once crossed you get a prize. It’s a thriving, ever growing and changing entity based on two people. People are fragile. People are unpredictable. People have free will.

What their divorce says to me is; you can’t ever stop working on your marriage. Ever. Fifty years. Sixty years. There is never a time to “coast” or take for granted what is happening between you and your spouse.

I’m also baffled by anyone basing their assessment of the Gore marriage on happy pictures or perceptions. People in the public eye know how to protect their image…no matter what is really going on. The Washington Post article quotes Terri Orbuch, a marriage therapist and sociology professor at the University of Michigan who recently completed a 20-year study of marriage for the National Institutes of Health. “To really work, long-term relationships need regular attention, regular affirmation on a daily basis.”

You can write a book in 2003 called "Joined at the Heart" as the Gore’s did and file for divorce in 2010. It’s possible you had no idea that you would ever part when you wrote the book. But that’s the point. You can’t take anything in your marriage for granted. It can't always be based on yesterday, it has to be based on today and today always matters.

It’s not the length of time, it the time you put into your marriage on a daily basis that makes a difference for that day. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow you choose once again to honor your spouse.

Ellen McCarthy writes in her article; “But the old adage that you never know what's really going on in someone else's relationship is no comfort here.” I bet if you talked to the Gore’s children or close family members, they did know something was going on…or at least things weren’t as they once were. My parents divorced after 33 years, and our small town and people not in our inner circle were shocked. But those of us who knew them closely weren’t shocked. It is true. The two people in a marriage are the people who make it work. Others can encourage, suggest and support a marriage, but it’s the two people involved that know their own story.

Every divorce is sad, but I do hope that a divorce will never cause someone else to question whether they can have a lasting, satisfying marriage. It is always a choice with many tools available to help along the way.

Rededicate yourself to working on your marriage, no matter how long you’ve been married. is here to encourage you with workshops, coaching, check-ups and resources. Perhaps the Gore’s will change their minds. Whether they do or don’t, it can be a good reminder to each of us to not take our marriages for granted. Each day is as important as the years.

What do you think about the news of the Gore's getting a divorce?

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