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Why are the Number of Gray Divorces Increasing Each Year?

grey divorce

There is a growing trend in failing marriage amongst older couples. These later in life divorces are called gray divorces because they typically happen to older couples. Gray divorces can be complicated because there are important issues unique to older divorcees. It's easy to lose sight of what's important during a divorce because emotions are high, but while the divorce rate is slightly down for most Americans – there has been an increase in gray divorce. With the rise in gray divorces documented, researchers have started looking for what has caused these marriages to fail. Studying these outcomes can help determine if there are shared experiences impacting couples in the second half of life.

5 Reasons Couples Get Divorced Later in Life

Researchers have interviewed divorcing couples to find out why their marriages failed, and how their experiences can provide insight for couples facing similar challenges in their marriages. If a marriage can be saved, that's great, but many older adults getting gray divorces are in the situation because they kept putting off their divorces for later.

What were the common issues leading older couples to separate? 

  1. Growing Apart: Marriages are not static. Sometimes couples grow apart over the years of a long marriage. Their interests change, and they find they have less in common than before. There is typically a catalyst for this situation, like a youngest and last child moves out of the home for school. Empty nest syndrome is commonly experienced by couples who realize they no longer have as much in common once their role as parents becomes less busy. This period can be marked by marital unhappiness if not handled thoughtfully.
  1. Retirement: Ending your working years and settling in for a life of leisure is a huge lifestyle change. Being busy working and caring for children can be an unintentional distraction that prevents couples from seeing the distance that has crept into their marriage.
  1. Lifestyle Differences: Huge changes to one's daily life is a big deal, and when you're heading into retirement and the end of your working years, you are faced with the looming question of what do you do now? Some couples find they are on the same page, while others find they're in conflict about what their new lifestyle should be. Are they finally going to spend time traveling the world? Are they just going to enjoy being unscheduled and leisurely? A disagreement on an issue of this magnitude seems to derail even the most seemingly stable couples.
  1. Life Expectancy: Living longer is a great thing, but the institution of marriage was created when life expectancy was drastically shorter. A man or woman today has a life expectancy that's nearly twice as long as couples during colonial times, and the first recorded marriage was in Mesopotamia in 2350 B.C, where the life expectancy was only 23 years old! So, when you consider that couples today could both live into their 90s and the average will live at least until their early 80s, it can be daunting to remain married to someone you met when you were in your 20s or 30s for 40 years. Marriage may just be a difficult task when people live longer and have more options for what life will look like in the second half. If a couple was married in their mid-twenties and seeking a divorce in their early 50s, they could easily have another 30 years of life remaining. Greater life expectancy means individuals could have two thirty-year marriages within a single lifetime.
  1. Regret: Choosing a mate when you are young can be a roll of the dice. Many people get it right the first time, but divorce statistics insinuate the truth – many of us get it wrong. Getting a divorce after decades together is a traumatic experience that can cause rippling effects throughout one's life. It's no wonder that people put it off and stay in an unhappy marriage. Regretting your choice of a mate can be a powerful motivation to undo the past and make a more appropriate choice that matches the person you are today.

Divorce Representation for Every Phase of Your Life

Gray divorces have challenges that can threaten the financial security of you and your family. The lawyers at William Kirby Law are thorough legal representatives who understand how to navigate divorce at any time in your life. Call us at (215) 515-9901 to schedule a consultation.