That's a whole lotta years...

Yesterday I heard sad news. Al Gore and Tipper, his wife of 40 years, are separating. My first thought: what did that pig do? Who'd he cheat with? But maybe they just grew apart, what with him being so busy winning Nobel Prizes and Grammys and inventing the Internets and all. She was off slapping naughty-word warnings on heavy metal albums. Busy folks. Relationships are tough to keep fresh.

But still, after 40 years -- 4 whole decades -- they're throwing in the towel? They've been married longer than I've been alive. They've dealt with sick kids and presidential scandals and DUBYA together. I would've thought it made them stronger, not pushed them apart.

They insist that the separation is mutual and friendly. I am dubious.

It's nice to know, though, that during this week of sad marital news, there's some happier times to celebrate. I know a couple who has made it a whole decade more than Al and Tipper, and they're still going strong.

My inlaws, Paul and Darlene, are celebrating their 50th anniversary. We're going to visit and help them celebrate this weekend, with a jam-packed schedule of old family slide shows, a fancy dinner, church activities, and even a little Dom Perignon.

What's their secret to a long-lasting and happy marriage? Maybe it helps that Paul didn't create the World Wide Web or document the evils of global warming. And Darlene, while a fine and upstanding citizen, stayed away from protesting dirty music lyrics. They raised two boys, built a fine life together, and are now enjoying their retired years together. Even if Darlene does have the "quilting" disease...

So at the same time Al and Tipper are dealing with divorce lawyers and dividing assets and whatever else comes with dissolution of a 40-year partnership, it's nice to know marriage can stand the test of time.

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