The announcement that Al and Tipper Gore are calling it quits after 40 years of marriage came as a surprise to many – but marriage therapists in the area are very familiar with this kind of “later-in-life” split.
(Photo: Al and Tipper Gore – Flickr/kangotraveler)
The kids are grown, retirement is near – and seemingly out of nowhere, couples decide to end their marriages. Relationship experts say these decisions typically are a long time in the making, after years of discontent, boredom, or fighting. Ruthy Kaiser from the Council for Relationships says at this stage, many couples feel like they have done everything they could to save their relationship:
It’s not so much that I don’t know how to do this anymore, it’s that I don’t WANT to do this anymore.
Therapist B. Hibbs, author of “Try to see it my way” puts it bluntly – divorce in the later decades of life has become a substitue for death:
Hibbs: “We basically don’t expect to die once we get to that age for another twenty years or so.”
and so says Hibbs, people want to make the best of these years and live them in a way that’s meaningful to them.
Delaware therapist Larry Schwab cautions that leaving a troubled long-term marriage doesn’t always have happy results:
Schwab: There’s a real risk when you leave a relationship that you will find yourself in a more lonely, more isolated place, that’s a possibility anyway, just the loss of the shared history and that comfort with each other, that support they had for each other, that would all change.