An inconvenient truth!

Is it an inconvenient truth? Is happily ever after really happily ever after anymore? Has the words ‘until death do us part’ just become a standard line said without any conviction or substance? Do couples really mean it when it is their turn to proclaim their vows? I’m not so sure anymore. After hearing the news that Al Gore and his wife Tipper have separated after 40 years of marriage I think it is about time I stop kidding myself and finally admit that fairy tales don’t really exist and to come out from under my rock.

It’s already on Wikipedia: Al and Tipper Gore are separating after 40 years of marriage.

At first I was like ‘nooooooooo’ and ‘what’s the point?’ I mean Al Gore is 62, Tipper is 61 and after spending over half their lives with each other, I  thought why bother?  Here’s a couple who met in high school, married young—she was 21, he 22. They have four children and three grandchildren. And 40 years! What happened? You can’t help but leap to “Affair!” “A dirty awful secret!” But by all accounts so far, the reason may be far less exciting: The inconvenient truth, it seems, is that they simply grew apart—a side effect of his traveling for climate change, spending less and less time together.

I am a tragic romantic. And probably a very naive one at that. I hate hearing news of couples breaking up. Especially celebrity couples. I was saddened to learn that Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins had parted ways after 23 years and even more shocked to learn, after reading Patrick Swayze’s autobiography, that he and his wife had separated for a year. They did get back together but not long before he found he had pancreatic cancer. But to hear supposedly fairytale marriages suddenly end without any rhyme or reason, I can’t fathom it. Marriage is meant to be forever; couples know this when they make that decision to walk down the aisle, exchange rings and say ‘I do’. Damn it, they are meant to put in the hard yards and make an effort? That’s what they signed up for right? So where does it all go wrong?

Here’s a theory. According to psychotherapist, Tina Tessina, PhD, author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, growing apart is a top reason for the dissolution of long-term marriages.  “Couples who have been married for decades often start to take the relationship for granted, and focus elsewhere—on career or children, for example—and either neglect the relationship, or build up resentment over time because they don’t do the work to clear it out,” she says. “It’s also possible that couples who don’t stay in intimate contact can grow apart without realizing it, and then find they’re focused on completely different things.”

Statistics have been gathered that among women who marry between ages 20 and 24, as Tipper did, after 10 years, 29 percent are divorced. And after 20 years, the number rises to 41 percent. And don’t assume it was Al who initiated the parting. Two thirds of divorces are filed by women, according to a paper in the American Law and Economics Review.

When you consider that 150 years ago or so, people’s life-spans were only 40 years, I wonder, is it natural for couples to be together for such long periods of time? My romantic, whimsical ideologies wants to dismiss this thought but now I can’t help but wonder.

Another particular celebrity was asked recently what the secret is to sustaining her 24 year marriage. She said “the key is distance. I can’t have somebody breathing down my neck 24 hours a day. We have our own interests. We have our own things going on, and we come together and we have a great time. Its not conventional I know, but I’ve never been conventional.”

Perhaps my ideals are too conventional for my own good!

Care to share your views?

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~ by Shae on June 12, 2010.

3 Responses to “An inconvenient truth!”

  1. I was married at age 22 and separated 25 years later, so statistically I am right on target! I plan to sow some wild oats, then maybe settle down after I am 70, til death us do part. Of course as my life expectancy increases I may have to delay saying I do…

  2. Hi Shae, I was married at 18 and 37 years later am still happily married. What’s the secret?? Well when I think about it Johnny is not just my hubbie he is my best friend and what we have is a partnership. But we also realised from the start of our marraige that the piece of paper we have that says we are married has nowhere on it that states we own each other. We do a lot of things together (hotrodding for instance) we both like a lot of the same things (antiques, reading, etc). But by the same token I have never had to ask if I was allowed to do something, have been overseas for a month with a girlfriend, go of to Melbourne on a regular basis to see my girl and soon a new grandchild (I’ll will be in Melb a lor more often then!!) I go off to Newcastle to see my grandaughters (and their parents), but mind you I can’t wait to get home to my hubbie again. So is there happily ever after- well yes I do think it exists but you have to work at it, do things together (even when the children are growing up-just because you have children doesn’t mean the relationship with your hubby stops) and not take each other for granted. I could go on and on and on and could think of a lot of “one words” that would be a recipe for a long and happy marriage but I would be on the computer all day!! So Shae don’t get jaded with life happiness in a marraige does exist some of us do take “til death do us part” seriously and are prepared to work at it and put in the hard yards Sheryl xo

  3. I am six years in and proud of making it this far. The thought of being without my amazing hubby is unbearable. We live our own separate lives and share many wonderful things together also. We support each other with our interests and desires and we are there for each other to pick up the pieces if it doesn’t work out so well. Of course we have had some really challenging times where it would have been easier to say, ‘catch ya later’, but we always seem to get through it and come out stronger on the other side. Great article Shaeby. Your writing has improved yet again 🙂

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