Love and marriage. Sinatra said they go together like a horse and carriage. But horses, by nature, are wild animals. It’s only when we break them of their free spirit that they’re willing to hitch themselves. Is the same true of us humans? Do we really want to be hitched?
The Gore breakup has inspired Americans to really examine the nature of love and marriage. People wonder, “If they can’t last, who can?” I think the question, in their case, is not so much whether or not their relationship could have lasted. They seem like a perfectly lovely couple who made a decision not to last. We may have to get comfortable with the idea of Mom and Dad or Grandpa and Grandma splitting up, because divorce experts say Baby Boomers opting for late-stage separations will be on the rise in the upcoming years.
John Mayoue, a divorce lawyer in Atlanta, says, “It’s the whole phenomenon of living longer, of having sex longer, of being healthier, oftentimes of being wealthier and feeling that they can easily pursue a no-fault divorce. Baby Boomers are part of the ‘Me Generation’ — what’s better for me.”
Robert Butler, the 83-year-old founder of the International Longevity Center in New York City and founding director of the National Institute on Aging, says in his experience with late-stage divorce, women were usually the ones initiating the split.
“They wanted out,” he says. “They were tired of too much pressure or inadequate emotional support from the husband. He was too preoccupied with other things. He didn’t carry his weight. He didn’t help around the house. They didn’t have the kind of support they wanted to have.”
Regarding the Gores, he says, “You really sensed this was a couple who were happy. On the other hand, the split seems to be mutual and what they both want.” Exactly.
The real question is, are humans meant to be married? So many of my friends in their 20’s and 30’s view marriage much differently than their parents. Some are open to it but scared by the concept, others vehemently don’t believe in being tied down. Divorce rates have soared since women have come closer to economic equilibrium with men. Women don’t rely on men anymore to be breadwinners, and men don’t feel societal pressure not to sleep around – even if they are married. So what does this point to for the future? Will more people begin to look at relationships as storylines that have a beginning, middle and end?
Photo: *martin* via Flickr