As a “boomer” and also divorced in my mid-50s after a 20-year marriage, I have seen many couples staying together and I have seen many couples getting a divorce.
So have things really changed for older couples?
Sharon Jayson who has written for USA Today, Time Magazine, and The Washington Post recently wrote an article for AARP and shared research statistics on late-life “gray divorces.”
Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research found that divorce rates from 1990 to 2021 in the age group 45 and older rose while the divorce rate for those younger than 45 was actually lower.
The most interesting statistic is that for those over age 65, the divorce rate tripled in the years from 1990 to 2021.
The additional factors that need to be considered would be if this is a second or third marriage as those seem to fail at a higher rate – from 67% to 73%.
When one typically considers a “long-term marriage” to be 10 years or longer the research seems to suggest that boomers tend to decide not to necessarily stay in a marriage just to keep the marriage intact.
As we know, there are many factors that play into these late-life divorces including financial disputes, empty nest syndrome, wanting a happier life, lack of intimacy and connection, and infidelity.
For those of us who are “boomers,” the stigma of divorce has changed dramatically in our culture. Society seems to tolerate divorce more and women now have more financial and emotional independence.
They are no longer willing to tolerate what is no longer serving them in the relationship. This of course can work the same way for the other spouse in these long-term marriages.
What does not seem to affect older adults as much is the stigma of a “failed” marriage, but the desire to have the life they want as they move forward.
Having a good support system like friends and family can make a huge difference if one determines that this is the best option as they make this transition.
Of course, it’s hard to know if these are the right reasons as everyone has a different story. I believe that individuals have a right to have happiness and peace of mind at any age so whatever the reason or reasons may be, it’s helpful to know that you’re not alone.
New beginnings can be scary yet exciting and having a coach to help you navigate some of the inevitable issues can be invaluable.
Please reach out for a complimentary call whether it is you or your spouse who is initiating this life-changing event.