Al and Tipper, Say It Isn't So

06/03/2010 12:32 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

From the early reports, I think others are more upset about the Gore separation than they are. Why? Because we're all looking for people as role models and marriages as models for how something healthy can last. And when we discover that people and marriages turn out to have feet of clay, we feel let down.

When you fall in love in your 20's, you're swept away by all the passion. However you often don't know who it is you're going to grow up to be. And if the two of you grow up to be people who are simply not compatible as a married couple, it makes no sense to make the other person wrong and destroy what was once good.

This was told to me by a very wise woman who discovered this with her first husband. He agreed and not only did they amicably divorce, they have remained very good friends and successful business partners. Because of the cooperation, mutual respect and not making each other wrong, their child has thrived much more than kids from many conflict-ravaged, intact marriages.

I also think that possibly in the case of the Gores, ambition can become a very jealous mistress. When both partners have a taste of professional efficacy and success, it is often difficult to keep their personal relationship strong, because each partner is busy fulfilling their professional aspirations. At that point each person begins dancing to and racing toward a different drum. That may be the case with the Gores in which Al and Tipper have each enjoyed separate successes and may be feeling closer to those supporting those successes than to each other (we will of course be severely disappointed if we discover that one of those supporting either of them has crossed over into an affair since the last thing we want to think of the Gores is that they have descended into the sordid story of John Edward/Rielle Hunter).

Ironically, it may be that what has kept the Clintons together is that they have been so supportive of each other's professional ambition and success that their personal/emotional relationship has lost its importance to either of them.

Another contributing factor might be that the identities of men and women have spread out to women being much more driven to achieve professional success than in prior generations. In the past the man's "mastery" in the world didn't conflict with the woman being the "master" at home. In a sense the man was the CEO in the world, the woman was CEO in the home. With this division of labor a wife could support her husband's role in the world just as a husband could support his wife's role at home with minimal conflict. But now with women wanting to have their own role in the world, you have two CEO's trying to work together at home. And just as co-CEO's rarely survive in the work world, it may be that they are not surviving at home.

One way to not only survive but thrive in a marriage in which each of you grow into different personalities is to share core values in which your commitment is much more powerful than your personality incompatibility. If for instance your love, devotion and commitment to God or family in your actions vs. words is much more important than getting your way, there is more than enough room to live happily ever after regardless of who each of you grow up to be.

If you and your partner are in danger of drifting apart, one great preventive strategy is to formally schedule a time every month to sit down with each other and each share what is going on in each other's personal and professional life. Discuss where each would like the relationship to go, and how best to help the other.

What do you think?