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Al and Tipper Gore's Split: Why I'm Not Sad

3 years ago
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I think it's best if I just come out and say this up front: I'm not really sad that Al and Tipper Gore split up.

Yes, I know. I'm an outlier. Nearly everyone I know -- and certainly everyone I'm reading -- is outright depressed by this separation.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's a shame. And it's a shame because -- as my colleague Melinda Henneberger wrote on these pages recently -- they seemed like a couple who were genuinely in love. Between the 40 years of marriage and the four beautiful kids and the whole high school sweetheart thing and, yes -- the kisses -- they really looked like they were in it for the long haul.

But somehow, I was much sadder when Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins split up. I was also sadder when -- gulp -- writer and public radio commentator Sandra Tsing Loh split with her man (and then went on an anti-marriage crusade.)

Why is this?

I think it's because I don't relate to Al and Tipper Gore. I mean, they seem like perfectly nice people. His heart is clearly in the right place where the environment is concerned and she's certainly been a vocal advocate on behalf of many causes. But they are far too formal, far too well-bred and far too Washingtonian for me to feel that I'm anything like them. So the demise of their marriage is unfortunate, yes. But I feel about it the way I feel when my parents' friends divorce: that it's regrettable. But I'm not personally involved.

In contrast, when the scrappy, bohemian, activist lefty types like Sarandon and Loh go their separate ways with their guys? Now that depresses me. And that's because they're the ones you don't expect to stay married in the first place.

Take Sarandon. She was 12 years older than Robbins -- itself unusual. Plus, they're actors. And we all know that people in Hollywood never stay married. For her part, Loh is a highly eccentric, half-Chinese, half-German freelance writer living by the seat of her pants in Southern California. She's made a career for herself by satirizing the less-than-by-the-book methods she and her (then) musician husband have used to raise their two daughters.

Unlike the Gores, these couples never looked like they had the white picket fence to begin with. Whether because of their chosen professions or shaky incomes or unconventional backgrounds, we didn't think they had a prayer of making it from the get-go. So when couples like these do manage to stick it out -- Sarandon and Robbins were together for 23 years, Loh and her husband for 20 -- you really think that there might be hope for the rest of us less politically connected, less well-heeled, less Hallmark card-family types. These couples make marriage believable for average schnooks like you and me precisely because they lack the conventional script. Conversely, when they split, the sting is all the greater because they don't manage to defy the odds, after all.

In the end, I guess it's all about who you connect to in the world of high-profile marriages. Whether it's politicians or celebrities, we imbue these couples with qualities that we imagine we possess ourselves. Or would like to. And we gravitate naturally to those pairs who seem like they most embody our own self-image. So we're consequently devastated when they, as a proxy for us, fail at that endeavor.

I can only imagine the fallout if Barack and Michelle ever call it quits.

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17 Comments

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charsjcca

Why should anyone care except divorce lawyers?

June 09 2010 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Julie

In this society it's easy to grow apart from each other. We get so involved in our own lives, that we forget the things that attracted us to our mates, and kept us together for decades. I'm sorry for any marriage this happens to. I hope Al and Tipper find their happiness and that they can remain friends. There's 40 years of memories that should still be shared.

June 03 2010 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rvertacnik

Perhaps Al should have shown more concern for marital cooling than he did for global warming.

June 03 2010 at 2:46 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rvertacnik's comment
theherd1969

GOOD ONE!

June 04 2010 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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