The news of Al and Tipper Gore’s divorce has rocked the political world in the last two days.  What seemed like an extremely solid union has dissolved.  The Gore’s public message to the media is simple and easy to understand: they simply grew apart as a couple.  There is no drama or betrayal in their decision to part ways. 

Most divorces still occur in younger couples, but it is becoming more and more common that couples with decades of marriage under their belt are separating.  In my opinion, this can be attributed to two factors.  One, divorce is becoming more acceptable.  The U.S. Census estimates that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.  Two, life spans are longer and healthier, leaving people in their 60s facing two more decades of health.  This longer, healthier life span means there is the possibility that those who have grown apart from their spouse could either find a “golden years” relationship or else live peacefully without the stress of being in an unhappy union.    

The phenomenon of long-term married couple separating is still small compared to inexperienced newlyweds or parents who are weighed down by children, but it is a growing trend, and will most likely start to get more press as Al and Tipper become the “late-in-life divorce” mascots.