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The Mysteries of Marriage

There were once two very different women. One woman was known for her charm and sweetness. Old people loved her. Children loved her. She could cook. She was a neat freak. She was patient and affectionate. She always dressed and smelled nice. She was educated and had no children. The other woman, while also lovely, had a foul temper, was judgmental, yelled a lot, was not beloved by old people or children, was such a terrible cook that you'd think health services would shut her kitchen down and was unrefined. She cursed a lot and had a child from another relationship.

Both of these women found husbands who loved them. Both. A man wondered how, why anyone would ever marry the second woman and I told him unless you're in the marriage you just don't know.

There is a lot of head-scratching going on over the end of Al and Tipper Gore's marriage. Many people are comparing it to the turbulent marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton. After all, no one excepted the super affectionate Gores to break up before the volatile and calculating Clintons. But, let's be honest? Why are we surprised? No one knows what goes on in a marriage but the two people in it.

More after the jump.

Every couple has a cost-benefit balance sheet in their head when it comes to the one they love and they're not going to tell YOU what's on it. Oh, yeah. They'll give little hints and pointless platitudes about how "He's always there for me" or "She's a good partner," but they're not going to let you in on the details. Like, my own parents will have been married 38 years this year and as close as I am to both of them, as well as I know both of them -- they know each other better.

They know each other in a way I'll never know or understand because I don't get to know their marriage. I don't get to understand that part. The marriage is a separate and different relationship. It's like staring at the mysteries of the Sphinx. I have some hints and some ideas why my parents' marriage has lasted almost 40 years, but I'll be damned if I know why they're together and others aren't. My parents can be with each other and relate to each other in a way that they can't with anyone else. It's like they're speaking Esperanto over there.

Marriage is hard. It's funny how people, usually people who've never been married, talk about it like it's a destination. It's more like a way of life, a state of being, a joint personal/business venture that you plan to keep working on and investing in until one of you dies (or leaves). Many of my peers in college thought my ex and I had the "perfect" relationship because we never fought publicly and we didn't call each other out of our names. They had no clue how suffocating, how toxic that relationship was. We didn't have the kind of relationship that was destroyed by yelling. It was destroyed by silence. Where he made decisions and I tried to make peace and because I operated by "rules" and he had no rules things rapidly devolved into a marriage based on grudges and recriminations. In the end, I couldn't live with it, him. I couldn't live a life like that. We were not happy people. Or at least I wasn't.

I plan on marrying again one day (I'm the marrying kind). But I'm not in any particular rush. If I'm going to put my heart, body and mind into something like that again it's not going to be conducted lightly.

If the Gores decided after 40 years that they would rather go their own way, and if the Clintons die five seconds after each other 20 years from now, still married and still together, you shouldn't be confused. Other people's marriages are the sphinx, baby. You're not supposed to know.

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Reader Comments (23)

Extremely well stated

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterReads4Pleasure

I find it very commendable that Al & Tipper Gore have separated after 40 years it means they are giving themselves a chance to find happiness elsewhere & that they respect TRUTH. To often, other couples in their boat would have stayed in a miserable relationship & risk embarrassing each other rather than admit they have come to the end of the road. Marriages are complicated & I can't imagine what being in politics & in the limelight has done to their marriage. As outsiders we should respect people's decision to stay or go. I respect the mystery of people marriages!

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTheFeministGriote

Apparently, CBS is blaming their breakup on Bush stealing the 2000 election. Is there anything that can't be blamed on Bush? I still think Gore was having an affair with ManBearPig.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott

LOL, I hadn't heard anyone blame Bush, I'm surprised they're not blaming Obama for it. Anyways you are right, I sit in wonderment at how some marriages have stood the test of time and others have fallen. I think that some people are stil about me, me, me instead of about us, us, us.

Peace, Love and Chocolate

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

I hear ya, Snob. I hear ya. What is head scratching to me is why people are surprised that they decided to let it go after 40 years. People really don't realize how long a person can hold in unhappiness, bitterness and mediocrity or even take up the courage to decide to call the whole thing off. Like you said, only the two people in a relationship really know what's going down and sometimes even they are not exactly sure so who are we as outsiders to claim insider info?

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKG

"Other people's marriages are the sphinx, baby. You're not supposed to know."

Very strong and true ending statement. But doesn't it make you wonder if a couple has been married for 40 years and decide to divorce, do they feel like they wasted those 40 years? Do they regret those years spent with someone who obviously made them miserable, otherwise divorce wouldn't be the issue? I guess it's one of those glass half empty/half full situations.

I wonder what are the odds of people who get married in their 20's and get divorced 20 years later compared to those who wait until their 30's and after and get divorced. Just a thought.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHonee Bee

stuff like what happened to the gores scares me about marriage. guess that's where faith comes in.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterswiv

Honeybee you asked if people regret marriage if it ends after so many years together... I don't know about people (and my marriage only lasted about 8 years) I have some regrets but not a lot... I got a wonderful daughter out of it and found out a lot about myself. What you are not taking into account is the fact that people change over time at one point they may have been quite compatible. Some people in long term relationships grow together some grow apart, some people deal with the changes in themselves and their partners better then others. I for one am glad that the are being publicly amicable about the whole thing, maybe others can learn from their example, that relationships can end with out one of the people dragging the other through the mud....

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

This was the most beautifully romantic hopeful post I've ever read from the Snob. Thanks for your insight.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlovelydai

Not arguing is the first sign that a marriage is over. Two persons will never mesh perfectly. Talking or arguing is the way that issues are resolved. Talking, listening and a little compromising keeps marriages going.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpeter john

No one knows what goes on behind closed doors.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Wise

I know, right? LOL.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternovanova

I agree with your post 100%.

And I'd like to add that I don't want to know WHY they split. It's none of my business. And I'm getting pretty sick and tired of the evening news making these announcements as if it's their job. This is not NEWS. The arrest of Joran Van whatever for yet another possible homicide is news. Car accidents and closed roads are news. The possibility of another thunderstorm is news. A couple's separation and possible divorce is NOT.

This is my 2nd biggest media related pet peeve. Right behind announcing infidelities and then inviting social scientists/psychotherapists/parasites to tell those involved how they MUST feel and why what happened MUST have happened. I especially despise the way they throw the word “humiliated” around as if they were in control of other peoples emotions. Just because these parasites want the cheated on spouse to feel humiliated doesn't mean they do. The cheater is just as likely to feel “humiliated” since they were the one outed.

Whatever else happens, I hope the Gores have the good sense to keep their whys, hows, and feelings to themselves.

June 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I have been married for 12 years and no, it sure as hell is not easy. Adding kids to the mix makes it even more stressful, then you have to figure out how to find time for yourself, then find time for each other. People can grow apart and decide they want different things. The goal is to evolve together as people, but quite often you just go into different directions and discover you have nothing in common anymore and you just don't want to be together. I have had friends who divorced and re-married their ex. But they both changed into better people and were able to gain new appreciation and respect for each other. Respect is key in a relationship--if you don't have that as a foundation, you don't have anything. Living in a marriage where people say what they want to say and do what they want to do gradually wears away at whatever love you may have felt. I don't have a positive view of marriage-- I just think that you can be committed to someone without it. Maybe for legal reasons, it is necessary, but love and commitment is an understanding between two people that does not need to be validated by a ceremony and reception.

June 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfunkystarkitty50

It's certainly true that no one else knows the hearts of the Gores or any other couple. Excellent post!

@ Andrea

I, too, hope they have enough sense to keep their hands close to their chests. Often, a couple's own oversharing is what drives the media interest and commentary.

June 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTJ

It's always sad when a long marriage dissolves, even if you don't know the people. And, yes, no one can know what goes on inside a marriage but the people in it. I have two friends who married and I (cynically) gave it a year. I was convinced they were wrong for each other but 3 years later they're going strong. Best wishes to all married folk!

June 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCheri

The WOMAN EveryONE LOVES....HAPPYly Ever After - SWEETer Than SUGAR - AMEN! (-:

June 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFANstastic!


June 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkrystal

It's possible that they started to split AFTER Al Gore's 'global warming' fiasco went south and Tippercouldn't take it anymore. Al probably changed and became unbearable when that happened. Hilary stayed with Bill and let him have his problem BECAUSE sometimes women who look 'tough' like her really aren't and can't be without a man either. Sweet type feminine women could usually find someone else.

June 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCalpurnia

What novanova said.

June 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGine

Very well said Andrea.

June 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSandy Beach

Loving your blog, just subscribed! keep up the awesome work.

June 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdating website uk

Snob, I'm so glad you acknowledge that marriage is hard (you too funkystarkitty50). I have a wave of young people (early to mid 20's) in my life who are planning weddings. Woohoo - they made it to their destination and it's peaches and cream from here on out. They don't want to hear that they'll have to work at their marriage. I even have an older friend who told her engaged daughter that marriage should be easy and if it's hard then something's wrong (she's 2x divorced).

I guess the trick is to know when it's too hard and no longer worth it. Sometimes it's after 1 year or after 40 years. My aunt has been married for 30 years and she's had enough and is talking the big D. She and her husband look like the perfect couple. But she told me "I don't like the person I am when I'm with him." I guess that can happen at any age. *Kanye shrug*

June 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBosandi
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