We're just as stumped as you are, but here are 4 theories about the Gore divorce.
Al and Tipper Gore were Washington's fairy-tale couple—especially when they stood next to, say, the Clintons.
The high-school sweethearts stuck together through the rearing of four children, Al's eight tumultuous years as Vice President, and through his devastating loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election.
It seemed that life had eased up on them in recent years—heck, Al won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007! And who can forget the famous kiss at the 2000 Democratic Convention? Yes, we admit it was a bit painful to witness, but before the Age of Obama, a glimpse into a happy, loving political couple was such a breath of fresh air. "Wow," we all thought to ourselves, "if they're still happily married, there must be some hope for us!"
But then, after 40 years of marriage, the Gore's pulled the rug out from under us all by announcing their separation. They didn't divulge much, saying only that the separation was "a mutual and mutually supportive decision." Al And Tipper Gore Are Separating
Well, like the rest of the country, the lack of information has driven us to speculation. The following are the best theories we've read or formulated as to what may have caused the split.
Close friends say that infidelity did NOT play a role in the decision to divorce. As much as we hope this is true, it wouldn't surprise many of us if it turns out that either of the two had strayed. Instances of celebrity infidelity are as rampant as ever. Is it possible that we hope one of them cheated because it would make this whole thing that much easier to stomach?
According to sociologist Andrew Cherlin, quoted in the Washington Post, "It's more threatening to us if we see a couple who we thought were happy just drift apart. If even well-behaved people get divorced after 40 years, then some of us will worry about what our own marriages will be like later in life."
2. They Grew Apart
It's entirely possible that after 40 years of kids, marriage, careers and, well, life, the Gores simply grew apart. In a piece for TIME, Belinda Luscombe suggests that "it may be that they had been so busy that they grew apart and the chasm was too wide to bridge."
People grow and change every day. Perhaps one day they looked at each other and realized they didn't recognize the person that either of them had become. Or even worse, that they didn't like the new person they saw. 101 Ways To Improve Your Relationship Right Now
USA Today interviewed one divorce lawyer who thinks the Gores are an indication of more Baby Boomer "late-stage" divorces to come, as member of the "Me" generation move beyond empty nests into retirement age.
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... I think we're seeing persons in long marriages questioning whether in fact there's a better life out there.
3. Lifestyle Change
The Gores spent decades pushing hard to build Al's political career. They had to adopt a sort of "us-against-the-world" mentality that brought them close and kept them strong. But after the 2000 election and Al's foray into environmentalism, life for the Gores became considerably less turbulent. The drastic change in the context of their relationship could have caused discord and alienation, and lead to their marital strife. According to ABC, it could have been Al's increasing fame and emotional investment in environmental issues that lead Tipper to feel excluded from his life.
4. He Let Himself Go
It is unlikely that after 40 years of ups and downs, and thicks and thins, that a couple of pounds and some facial hair could derail a loving marriage. It's no secret that over the past 10 years or so, Al has—for lack of a better term—gone through periods of "letting himself go." Even if the changes in his appearance weren't enough to bring the guillotine down on their marriage, they could be indicative of more serious issues, from his self-esteem to struggles with depression. I'm Just Not That Into His Weight Gain
What's your theory? Why did Al and Tipper call it quits after 40 years?