DOES MARITAL LOVE FADE OVER TIME?

THE END OF AL AND TIPPER GORE'S 40-YEAR MARRIAGE RAISES THE QUESTION

After 40 long and tumultuous years of politics, publicity and prosperity, former Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper, famous in her own right as an author and outspoken advocate for the Parents Music Resource Center (the committee responsible for the “Parental Advisory” label on music albums that contain explicit lyrics), have announced their plans to divorce. Their high-profile split involves allegations that Al was an absentee husband and father and reportedly unfaithful, but it has also challenged the notion that = long-time couples do not divorce.

It is generally assumed that if a couple has been together for such a long time they would stay together for the rest of their lives, embodying the vow of being married “’til death do us part.” Unfortunately, due to the inevitable growth of the parties in a relationship, wherein they develop their own personalities and explore their own opportunities (aided, for example, by longer life expectancy), distance between spouses can widen to the point of no return. The Gores cite this as the reason for their split: in a public statement, they said that they had grown apart.

CAN MARRIAGES STAND THE TEST OF TIME?

The vast majority of marriages destined for divorce end in the first decade; first marriages that dissolve typically do so in about eight years. While the odds of divorce decrease dramatically with time, the Gores’ pending divorce shows that differences can become irreconcilable at any point. Surveys of divorcing couples have shown that many times a split is delayed early in the marriage because of a desire to provide stability for children, the fear of financial difficulty, or to “save face” to maintain a public persona.

Surprisingly, the second highest divorce rate (after those splits occurring in a marriage’s initial eight years) is among couples who have been married between 20 and 25 years. This is the time in which spouses have an opportunity to sit back and reflect — the first years are typically filled with caring for children and building a career, so personal needs and desires are put on the back burner. As children become less dependent on parental support, and professional standing is established, life slows down a bit, freeing up time to think seriously about the likelihood that your spouse will be able to make you happy for years to come.

Marriages that endure are ones filled with love, respect, mutual understanding of differences and a genuine affection for one another. They require attention and, honestly, hard work; happy couples are not born, they are made. If, despite your best efforts, you are thinking of ending your marriage, you should consult an experienced divorce attorney in your area. Doing so will help you explore your options and protect your rights.

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