Al & Tipper: Growing Apart Green

Why? The news that the Gores are splitting up may shock most of America but only because no one cheated?  Well may be no one cheated but also cheating is not the only deal breaker in a marriage.

Speculation with The Goal of Prevention: For the purpose of raising awareness, and, with the aim of fostering prevention, I  will explore possible causes to how a forty-year relationship can quietly dismantle itself. But before I do, let me say that ending a 20, 30 or 40 year marriage, when done with decency, though sad, is not necessarily something to be deplored. Instead, respect for a mature well thought out decision that doesn’t take down others deserves our applause.

Whose Sandbox Are We Playing In? For the last several decades, Tipper Gore has been the wife of a  (VIM) very important man: “The Good Wife”. Apparently speckled throughout her reign was the telltale sign of depression battles, but little else has been revealed to suggest that she challenged the equanimity or ambition of her VIM. The woman behind the man, even if they are full frontal kissing, may feel she is always in his reality, his sandbox, his destiny. It is both an asset and a liability to be the partner to greatness and only a strong Michelle Obama type effort where psychological muscle is exerted to define one’s self and direction, can offset the losses of self that come with the package. Hilary learned to do this through humiliation and pain, and the recent helping hand of Barack who gave her a ticket literally out of the Bill orbit. Powerful partners require powerful partners but often seek out passive appreciative partners, who become shadow members to a great moment. The warning is clear: keeping your identity separate, and toned can work even when partnered with greatness or its alter ego, the burning wish to be a part of history.

The Drifting Away Phenomenon: Couples query, as the empty nest draws near “At the end of the day, what will we have in common?” Did Tipper and Al drift apart? Did shared goals dry up? Or did latent incompatibilities finally surface when there was little else to hide them? The message here is that couples need to work at staying somewhat tethered to the Coupledom, to each other. Independent activities and interests are vital, in my opinion, to the healthiest of Coupledoms, but equally important is the care and maintenance of shared interests and pleasures. And appreciation and support for the interests not shared.  The maturing Coupledom needs to move beyond the very taxing but mutually impacting nesting activities to another level of collaboration that rests on the dreams of two people, not one, not four and not six.

How To Spend the Next 40 Together: A JOINT EFFORT. Primary is to flush out issues earlier and often. Nothing works better than dealing in the moment and with help. Letting conflict, hurt and estrangement fester and rot is the surest way to never reach 20, 30 or 40 years together. Did Tipper and Al get help at times? Very possibly. Does it always work? No. But young couples take note. The sooner one or both of you says, we are having some struggles, let’s talk, let’s work on this, let’s get help, the more likely that the next forty will be spent reaping the bounty of the first forty.

Please Note:  The Coupledom is inclusive of all couples no matter gender make up.

©jill edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2010

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4 Responses to “Al & Tipper: Growing Apart Green”

  1. JLSimons

    I think if Hillary had won the nomination, and then the presidency, she would have had some distance as President from Bill, and certainly been seen as having accomplished much in her own right. After all, W. had plenty of distance from his dad, and he even had some of the same advisors.

    • jilledelmanlcsw


      I am not so sure. I think that setting boundaries with Bill is not Hilary’s strong suit. However Barack tends to be a champ at parameters and personal space. My hunch is (and the media chatter) that when Obama sat down with Hilary to carve out her job description, keeping Bill out of the sphere of interest, except when deemed appropriate by the President (North Korea for instance) was defined and set in presidential stone.

  2. Walter Donway

    Hello Jill:
    I like your comment on the challenges to marriage of one prominent, high-achieving partner, and the need for the other partner to maintain a separate life and identity, and insist upon its equal validity and importance. Looking to my own entirely personal situation, I note that Al Gore is 4 years younger than I; that he is in fantastic physical shape (ran the Marine marathon in 1997, into serious mountain climbing); and in his photo looks handsome and exceedingly vigorous. For Mr. Gore, it is now or never for living out his sexual desires, and, in his position, he obviously has opportunities going a-begging. If, as an upright Baptist, from a line of men of high moral integrity, he never cheated, then his only option, in honesty, is to divorce and live out those passions and desires before it is too late. Counseling isn’t in it. Talking out the issues isn’t in it. The male drive, in a man remarkably youthful, handsome, and celebrate, is going to be expressed either as our late governor of New York expressed it, or as Al Gore has chosen to express it. As you point out so well, his path is honorable.


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