What Can We Learn from the Divorce of Al and Tipper Gore?

June 12th, 2010 by azweddingpastors Leave a reply »

On June 1st, 2010 Al and Tipper Gore announced that their 40 year marriage was coming to end. The Gores claimed it was “a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration.”[i] I grieve whenever I hear of a marriage ending in divorce. Especially when it’s one that has weathered forty years of the wear and tear of life! How is it that intelligent people who once longed to be in their partner’s presence and previously drew comfort and strength from that relationship would conclude that life would be better apart?!

In January of 2009, our family gathered with my parents to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Like every other marriage, my parents have faced many challenges over the length of their relationship. (Not excluding the antics of this author, their first born son!) There were times of disagreement and tension in their relationship but they never allowed conflict to keep them apart. Over the years I watched my parents make many choices to maintain their relationship to one another. Personal imperfections called for generous doses of compassion and forgiveness. While being very different in personality-and obviously gender- they found common ground and oriented to spending time together. After years of working in separate domains Dad left a job that took him out-of-town and away from home and went to work with my mother in a real estate office. They worked together and in their free-time, served the community doing volunteer work together. While they maintained divergent interests they also found areas of common ground and invested time in doing things with each other. Dad is a skillful trap-shooter and seeing his love for that sport Mom consented to him teaching her to shoot and each week shot in league with him at the local gun club. She learned to consistently break the clay-pigeons as well as any of the male trap-shooters on the team and Dad loved it!

In October of 2009, Mom suffered a devastating stroke. Her recovery has included hospitalization, weekly rehabilitation appointments and a stay in an area nursing home. Dad stayed at Mom’s side every waking moment and as soon as possible transferred her out of the care-center to their home. Both their lives were profoundly impacted by the stroke. Mom can’t walk or talk and Dad now devotes all his energies to meeting her needs.  He shops, cooks, cleans, bathes her and transports her to all appointments. Though she can’t verbalize her needs, Dad studies her behavior and is quite adept at interpreting what she can’t effectively express. He respectfully and joyfully cares for his life-partner from the depth of a life-long relationship they cultivated choice-by-choice for over 50 years!

When I see them together I’m reminded of the ingredients it takes to enjoy a vital marriage. Generous doses of compassion and forgiveness, choosing to be with your mate and valuing the relationship so highly that you choose time together over other pressing issues or attractive opportunities.

If you’re planning to get married or if you’re married and struggling to get along please consider investing in your relationship by meeting with a qualified counselor. In my work with receptive couples I use the highly regarded Prepare/Enrich®resources to help them overcome challenges and enjoy a satisfying marriage. Learn more at our website www.azweddingpastors.com

[i] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/01/al-gore-tipper-gore-separ_n_596199.html


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