The XX Factor

Applauding the Gores

Hanna , Emily , I have to say that I’m flabbergasted at how heartbroken the world seems to be over the Gores splitting up. Hanna, I can see why you’d call them your “marital heroes,” or Emily, why you’d say that this separation upends “one’s belief about marriage.” But I can’t get behind the outpouring of grief . I find myself impressed by their courage.

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t invested in the Gores in the first place. On the contrary, I never forgave Tipper Gore for going on a rampage against popular music in the ‘80s that no doubt made it possible for the parents many of my youthful friends to feel justified in snatching away beloved records. But I adore Al Gore and his tireless crusade to raise awareness of global warming. When you have such differing opinions of the individuals in a relationship, even if you don’t know them personally, it’s a bit of a relief when they break up. Your worldview seems a little more orderly.

But I suppose I just really object to the discourse in which marriages are deemed a success if they end in death and a failure if they end in divorce. It turns marriage into a competitive sport and shames divorcees for making what was usually the best choice for them. It’s also misleading. Everyone’s been around those longstanding couples who loathe each other but are prevented from ending it because of inertia. I can’t support any system that privileges couples who snipe at each other every chance they get over those who decide to part ways instead of making themselves and everyone around them miserable.