I never assume that I know what's going on in anyone's home - not my neighbors, not my friends, and certainly not people I only know through the media. I have to admit though, that Al and Tipper Gore threw me for a loop. Who doesn't remember "The Kiss" at the 2000 Democratic National Convention? And most of us assume that after couples make it to 40 years they are pretty much on the "til death do us part" home stretch. Surprise! Not so. The Gores show that these days up until death you can still part. And I think that's great.
Disclosure: My own parents divorced while I was in my early teens. My husband says this tainted me on marriage, and makes me more embracing of divorce.
I don't think I am tainted at all. After all, I did adjust my early-held opinions on the institution, and bet on marriage myself. I have not always felt like I was winning that bet, and that is reasonably expected. For me, having divorce on my drop-down menu (my husband's words) makes marriage a choice, not a life sentence. I know what a bad marriage looks like - couples who are never in the same place at the same time, husbands who cannot stand the sound of their wife's voice, wives who turn a blind eye to philandering husbands - and I see a lot of them around. I wish those couples would do the Gore and just cut each other loose.
Life expectancy in the United States now stands at just under 80 years old. Considering that the last national census indicated the average ages at first marriage for men and women were 27 and 25 respectively, 40 years of marriage only takes a couple to their late 60s. Good physical and mental health prevailing, that leaves at least 20 good years that ought not to be squandered tolerating or putting up with anything or anyone.
Spouses can come up with a hundred new reasons to stay in a bad marriage - from laziness to fear - but Al and Tipper have now taken 'we've been married for so long' off the table.