Global warm­ing, mar­riage cool­ing

The Covington News - - Front page -

Oh, Al. Oh, Tip­per. Why? Why? Why? Why’d you go and split up af­ter 40 years? You’re an in­sti­tu­tion! You’re a cou­ple held up to us as a for­ever-in-love, forever­meant-to-be pair. You cre­ated that im­age for us, and we bought it. Tip­per, those ador­ing blue eyes just above that turned up tip of a nose were al­ways cast up­ward at your hand­some hus­band, and you seemed to re­ally mean it. Al, that kiss you planted on your pert wife on world­wide tele­vi­sion at the 2000 po­lit­i­cal con­ven­tion made women world-over do a sharp in­take. And those four at­trac­tive chil­dren. How can it be?

They say they’ve grown apart, and, yes, that does hap­pen. Far be it from me to be­gin to speak to what is meant in their case by grow­ing apart. I only know from ob­ser­va­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence that it can hap­pen in a mar­riage de­spite the best of in­ten­tions, and it doesn’t have to be ter­mi­nal. It cer­tainly hap­pens in friend­ships and in fam­i­lies when you find your­selves pulled in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions at times. Then you ul­ti­mately find your way back to each other and start all over again.

Let me speak here and now on be­half of my hus­band and his for­bear­ance. I want to give him credit for weath­er­ing the ebb and flow with me. When he mar­ried me, I was not pas­sion­ate about the plight of an­i­mals and the en­vi­ron­ment, nor was I crazy in love with dogs, or­ganic food and healthy eat­ing. There were plenty, let me tell you, plenty of times, when he won­dered which of us was nut­tier: he for hav­ing missed any early in­di­ca­tors of my new per­sona or me, for turn­ing into some­one far dif­fer­ent from the woman he’d mar­ried. Ebb and flow, ebb and flow, and we’re still here.

He made me a lit­tle nutty once in a while, par­tic­u­larly when he went from be­ing just a Sun­day af­ter­noon NASCAR fan to want­ing his own suc­ces­sion of oval track race­cars and vin­tage ve­hi­cles. This is the trick about those things: what you do is spend a lot of money on them, then sell them for less than that and go out and buy the next one. I won­dered what Ap­palachian cave he might have crawled out of. It took some ebbing and flow­ing on my part to learn to ac­cept this hereto­fore un­known per­sona. And we’re still here.

When a starter mar­riage breaks up rather quickly, it‘s sad but easy to chalk up, in many cases, to in­tem­per­ate emo­tions and short-sighted vi­sion. You hope that the next time, those par­ties will en­ter into a re­la­tion­ship bet­ter pre­pared for the ebbs and flows.

It’s the long-time mar­riages that break up that are sad­der to me. You’re of­ten left to won­der if it was all a sham and how long they might have lived within the care­fully crafted im­age of a con­vivial cou­ple. What could be so bad af­ter 40 years that you choose to part ways? Al and Tip­per say it’s not an af­fair. At this point, they’re en­ter­ing the last third of their lives, and I can’t think of a bet­ter time to have a part­ner.

Go fig­ure. How can Hil and Bill have lasted and Tip­per and Al can’t make it? I’ll have to give it to the Clin­tons. Af­ter an ini­tial rosy pair­ing of two brainy types in an am­bi­tious mar­riage, their union suf­fered the most hu­mil­i­at­ing of storms and end­less be­tray­als. Talk about ebbs and flows! She had plenty of cause to leave, but they seem to have forged an al­liance as un­shak­able as Mount Rush­more. You gotta hand it to ’em.

My own beloved par­ents, Jack and Bar­bara, were mar­ried al­most 65 years be­fore my dad passed on. There must have been ebbs and flows, but they kept them to our­selves, un­like our tell-all gen­er­a­tion. They were the two stone pil­lars hoist­ing the roof over our fam­ily, un­shake­able and im­mov­able.

I’d surely like to have seen Al and Tip­per make it that far. Their un­ex­pected split gives me pause. Did Al’s new role on the world stage af­ter leav­ing the White House and los­ing the elec­tion-by-chad to Ge­orge Bush not wear well with Tip­per? Was he gone too of­ten to far­away con­fer­ences on global warm­ing to keep the home fires burn­ing? We’ll not know, nor should we.

All this tells me is that it’s wiser to ex­pect changes to oc­cur than to be­lieve that noth­ing ever will. It’s a hu­man con­di­tion to seek or try to cre­ate a place where ev­ery­thing seems sta­ble and con­trolled. Not. We’re de­lud­ing our­selves to think we can ever get all the ducks in a row and they’ll never stray. Change is about the only thing we can re­ally count on. It’s sad, how­ever, when it comes in hu­man terms.


Charles Hill Mor­ris

T. Pat Ca­vanaugh

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