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About Tipper and Al … or was it, John and Elizabeth?

June 2, 2010

A reporter/producer from CNN.com called me yesterday afternoon to find out why I thought couples who have been married 30 or 40 years get divorced.  As author of Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey, I’m now considered some kind of authority on divorce.

As though I knew anything about anyone’s divorce besides my own. Which I do not.

 The reason for her call, I later realized, was the surprise announcement that after 40 years of marriage, Tipper and Al Gore are filing for divorce.  Being at least a few news cycles behind, I completely mis-heard when she asked what I thought about the Gore’s breakup.  I could SWEAR I heard her say John and Elizabeth Edwards.  That was the only long-time married couple I knew of whose marriage problems came to light not that long ago. 

 Silly me. I now realize that “not that long ago” is the equivalent of “about a century ago” in today’s rapid-fire news world.

So like a complete media dolt I went on to give the reporter my thoughts about the breakup of John and Elizabeth Edwards.  Look, I said, sometimes even good marriages just run their course.  They were, after all, very united in their support of his political future.  I’m sure her illness was a stress factor on the marriage.  (This met with complete silence from the reporter, who was probably frantically Googling “Tipper Gore illness” to see whether she had missed something.) The fact that they are now getting a divorce, I said, doesn’t mean their entire marriage was invalid.  People grow apart, even after 40 years.  

And sure enough, there I am, quoted in the article.

She did find it interesting when I posed that when a very long-term marriage ends in divorce, my experience is that it’s usually the wife who decides to make her move.  Women grow, they change, and they find their strengths, especially when they put child-raising behind them.  Men settle in.

Truth be told, I was feeling more than a little uncomfortable about being asked to gossip about someone’s else’s divorce.  I don’t know the first thing about Tipper and Al, (or, for that matter, Elizabeth and John.) Who am I to speculate?  Who is anyone?

The funny thing is, I realize now that it doesn’t matter whom I was talking about.  Because in my mind, just about everything I did say applies to the Edwards, the Gores, or just about anyone else who have decided to end a marriage.

I believe that there really is a time for every purpose under heaven. Why does the end of a marriage have to carry the stigma of blame? Why the suggestion of failure?

Give them a break.  Let’s just hope they find happiness on whatever separate paths  might lie ahead of them.

Still, it’s a good thing I didn’t say anything about Rielle Hunter.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2010 10:20 pm

    Well said Jessica – Any relationship may run its course and people do change or move on. It’s nice to hear you have been asked for your expert opinion. All the best, D

  2. Eric M. Bram permalink
    June 4, 2010 3:17 pm

    Have you ever been accurately quoted by the media? I never have. It’s as though reporters feel they have to contribute something via their own creativity by changing what you’ve said in some way.

    I actually remember when it was considered good journalistic technique to put exactly what someone said between the quotation marks — verbatim. Golly, am I old!

  3. June 18, 2010 4:18 pm

    Hi Jessica – the Denver Post is doing also a piece about boomer divorces as a spin-off from the Gore split. It’s due to be published on Tuesday. I was interviewed by the reporter and she also mentioned that she’d been told most divorces were now being filed by women. Do you have a source for that? I’d love to know the details.

    • June 28, 2010 3:45 pm

      Mandy – I don’t have a source, no – I haven’t done the demographics. But it seems to me a lot more women are unhappy in their marriages than men. Or maybe they just talk about it more.

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