Tipper and Al Gore Separate: Discussing Other People's Marriages

7 years ago
File photo of Al Gore kissing wife Tipper at Democratic National Convention.

It seemed everyone was surprised at the news of Al and Tipper Gore's separation. Lemondrop boiled it down to the core reason why people were so rocked by the news:

You can tell that guys like Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford and Jesse James are nothing but cads. But, frankly, do-gooding, save-the-Earth Al seemed different.

And for everyone who loved Al for trying to save the environment to the fact that they had been dating since senior prom, he was the nice guy who remained committed through 40 years of marriage.

But with the announcement, Huffington Post painted them as hypocrites by saying, "The Gores crafted an image as a happily married couple during his eight-year stint as vice president in the 1990s and a presidential candidate in 2000."

Crafted an image? As if the 40-year relationship had been a facade? I don't know, HuffPo; that's an awfully cynical way of looking at a relationship. Though they weren't alone in wondering what was real and what was fake.

Stupid Celebrities
followed suit by asking, "Could cheating be the reason for their split? Or do we need to blame the end of their marriage on global warming?" whereas Bitten and Bound nostalgically waxed, "It seems like only yesterday when the couple shared THE KISS that became a media sensation during the 2000 Democratic National Convention."

Mommy Life pointed out research that shows that divorce is bad for the environment, contrasted with Gabby Babble who lamented, "They’ve always seemed so much in love, I can’t believe they’re separating after so many years of being married."

Isn't this the way we dissect most marriages after they end? We're either aghast and wonder aloud what the hell went wrong OR we gleefully dance on the remains of the marriage, as if by stamping it down we're declaring that it will never be us.

Where is the middle ground?

I remember the first time a couple we knew announced they were divorcing. It was a few months before our wedding, and Josh called with the news before I left for work. The couple had seemed perfect from the outside, absolutely suited for each other and always in sync. We had another couple that we were friends with who always bickered and I wouldn't have been surprised if Josh had said they were separating, but that couple is still together to this day and our well-suited friends have been apart for about nine years.

The Wildlife Conservation Society's "Safari! India"

I felt sick after Josh told me and walked through the rest of the day feeling ill-at-ease. I worried about all the normal things -- how were our friends each doing emotionally? How would the separation affect our friendship? Where would they each live now? But I also wondered how my own upcoming nuptials boded in the face of this information. If a couple who seemed to fit into each other like two spoons in a drawer couldn't make it work, what chance did Josh and I have? And was any relationship a given in coupledom? Was any marriage divorce-proof?

And I think for the majority of Americans, our fascination with the Gore's separation comes from that space of wonder. A couple who had weathered through so many high-pressure storms and came through seemingly unscathed, suddenly separate in a period of calm.

Which should teach us that we can never truly know another couple, no matter how much time we spend with them. That regardless of how well we think we know the way a marriage works, we can never know what happens behind closed doors.

How did you feel when you heard the news of the Gore's separation?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.

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