You might think that a couple with a marriage of over 40 years is a happily married couple. However, this isn’t the case. Some people don’t divorce until later in life. Today, divorce after decades of marriage is so common that it has a name – gray divorce. Learn about the growing trend of gray divorce and why it is so common.
What Is Gray Divorce?
Gray divorce is a term that refers to anyone who marries later in life. Often, it involves the divorce of a couple of baby boomers. Although the marriage in question could be decades old, it could also only be a few months old. The length of a marriage is not what makes a gray divorce. Instead, it is the age of the people in the marriage. That said, many gray divorces involve individuals who have marriages that lasted between 20 and 30 years. There are some exceptions. But for the most part, baby boomers are divorcing after decades of happy marriages.
In the US, the divorce rate is down. Nevertheless, gray divorce is on the rise. According to one study, one in every four individuals to get a divorce in 2009 was 50 or older. It’s impossible to know for sure why this is the current trend. However, there are a few reasons that might explain the trend of divorce at an older age.
1. Children Leave the Home
When a married couple has children, there isn’t much time for romance. Everything in life focuses on the children. Although a couple might make time for an occasional date night, there isn’t much time alone.
All of that changes when the children move out. You go from having a chaotic home to a quiet one. For some individuals, this can cause a problem. By spending more time with your partner, you might realize that you no longer have anything in common.
2. Age Takes its Toll
No one likes getting old. With old age comes aches, pains, and health issues. It also brings marriage trouble. Some individuals do not deal with aging well. As a result, they look for someone who can make them feel younger. You might think that a younger woman or man will make you feel younger. While this isn’t the truth, some individuals believe it. And this can be the end of a marriage.
Even if you don’t look elsewhere, your age can still affect your marriage. For example, aches and pains might make you lose your spark in the bedroom. Your partner might suffer from Erectile Dysfunction, or you might lose your sex drive. This can cause your relationship to falter. There’s also the issue of confidence. When you or your partner don’t feel good about yourself, it can be hard to maintain your romance.
Among baby boomers, finances are a sore topic. Although the baby boomer generation did well for themselves, they also tend to support their children late in life. This makes trouble for finances. After retirement, baby boomers can have a hard time paying the bills. For some couples, this spells disaster. It can cause arguments and ultimately may lead to the dissolution of a once happy marriage.
Placing even more of a strain on finances is the lack of support for retired individuals. Unlike the abundant retirement income of prior generations, retirement income for baby boomers is very limited. Unless you have plenty of money socked away somewhere, you might not get enough money from your retirement package. Social security isn’t much help either. As an added stress on your finances, this can mean even more trouble for your marriage. You and your partner might blame one another for your financial situation.
4. A Desire to Live with No Regrets
Sometimes, people don’t realize their hopes and dreams until they age. As they get older, they realize that there is so much more they wanted to accomplish in the world. For example, you might realize that you never traveled the world. However, your partner might realize that he never got the chance to go back to school. This conflict of interest could mean that you cannot continue on with your marriage. Your newfound desire to cross off your bucket list could mean that your marriage is over.
Unfortunately, aging can also make some people realize that they want to explore other relationships. Knowing that time is limited, they might decide that it’s time to start dating again. Once again, this could contribute to gray divorce.
5. Living Different Lifestyles
After retirement, you have many different activities to choose from. Usually, people make one of two choices. They either choose to live an active and vibrant life, or they choose to live a quiet and passive life. Sometimes, one individual in a marriage becomes active while the other becomes passive. When this occurs, the marriage could fail. You and your partner might have goals that are just too different. Your solution might be to get a lawyer and start your life over again.