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Isn’t anyone ever happy?

Al and Tipper Gore are splitting after 40 years of marriage.

I’m sure that there are things we don’t know. Maybe they were miserable for a long time, maybe their marriage was just a well-orchestrated farce. I don’t want to spend time focusing on them specifically, per se. I’m just noticing the pattern of baby-boomers who bail out on long-term marriages late in life.

Does anyone think that they are going to find another great love in their mid 60′s? Perhaps. But lonliness is rampant in the world today. To me, ending a long marriage late in life tempts fate.

Can being single really be attractive to anyone at 62? (Trust me, no matter what your age is, the dating scene isn’t pretty.) The dating scene can be a ridiculous mating dance that challenges the confidence of even the most grounded of humans. In my mind, a main benefit of part of a long-term relationship the fact that you have shared your life. You have someone who knows where you’ve been. Ego melts away after all those years of cohabitation; and that can be a good thing if you celebrate and embrace that aspect of life.

Also… divorce is the single biggest destroyer of wealth of all time (Bear Stearns not withstanding!) I recognize that the Gore’s can afford to divorce, but it seems to me that the wealth they’ve accumulated could have helped the progeny of their family for many future generations. To whittle away at the fortune by forcing a partial liquidation of the estate now, rather than letting the interest compound over time seems massively self-centered to me. The Old European royalty had this one correct. They used to officially remain married (no matter what private agreements they came to) just to keep the estate in tact.  (New Royalty didn’t take that approach, and you can see what  Sara, Dutchess of York has been reduced to in her attempts to pay for the lifestyle associated with her position.) Seeing the money troubles of the modern British monarchs makes the concept of marriage ’till-death-do-you-part-the-estate’ seem quite practical to me!

I understand the need to officially divorce if you’re going to go off and start a new family.  Don’t want the kids to be bastards after all.  But late in life?  What’s the point?  Why not, especially late in life, just come to an agreement that doesn’t include the need to officially separate and divorce? That’s such a formal decision that leaves very little room for further moves (whether practical or emotional.) For example: suppose one of them has a heart attack? A divorced person probably wouldn’t go to the bedside of the ex, and even if they did, the ex wouldn’t legally be allowed to make medical decisions on their behalf.  Just when medical decisions become important, you’re cutting out an important emergency contact.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, I am dismayed that human happiness is so elusive to modern humans.  After reading books like Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, I am glad that we’re finally taking a more scientific approach to understanding how to create and sustain happiness (beyond pharmaceuticals!) I am still on my personal journey to foster more and more sustained happiness in my own life, but I don’t want to sound too Eat, Pray, Love about it.  Happiness is, to some extent, a personal journey and a personal decision, but love can not be experienced as a singularity.  I think love is more of a narrative of interaction between yourself and other humans as you create your shared future.

I hope the Gore’s can create happiness as they go through their relationship transformation. We all need a little love.



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