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What causes spouses to divorce later in life?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2020 | Divorce, Gray Divorce

Divorce that occurs later in someone’s life can involve many of the same stressors that can be a part of any divorce, but it can also involve unique concerns. For example, many couples going through a gray divorce worry that they won’t have enough retirement assets after divorce, and that they won’t have enough time to build those assets back up before retirement.

Despite concerns like this, divorce is on the rise among those age 50 and older. Because divorce among people of this age group has traditionally been low, researchers have tried to narrow down some of the reasons why more people over age 50 are deciding to end their marriages.

Generational trends may contribute to popularity of gray divorce

According to the Pew Research Center, part of the reason for the popularity of gray divorce may relate to other trends seen among aging Baby Boomers. When Baby Boomers were young adults, their generation experienced an increase in divorces over previous generations.

Many of those who divorced did remarry, but remarriages tend to be less stable than first marriages. The divorce rate is also higher for those who have been married for a shorter time, which can be the case with second or subsequent marriages.

Crossroads may provide spouses the right opportunity to split

Another potential cause can involve simply being presented with the right opportunity. While a married couple is raising a family, their lives can be hectic. Sometimes, a connection between spouses can be lost in the hustle and bustle.

Other times, a spouse may begin to feel resentful over time for the sacrifices he or she made for the marriage. This could include taking a job he or she didn’t care for, forgoing a career to stay home with the children or other sacrifices.

Although these challenges can slowly creep into a marriage while a couple is younger, they may not realize it until their kids move out. Having an empty nest can be a crossroads in a marriage that allows a couple the right opportunity to reevaluate their marriage. At this juncture, some may decide to part ways.

Other factors can also contribute

The risk of divorce may be higher for some married couples over age 50 and a crossroads may provide the right timing to separate. However, there can be other factors at play as well.

For example, spouses who are married for a long time may grow bored with each other over time. There is less of a social stigma against divorce today than there was decades ago. Also, people are living longer, so they may not be as willing to tolerate an unhappy marriage later in life than previous generations were.

Despite the growing trend of gray divorce, there are plenty of people over age 50 who are enjoying happy marriages. The trend does not spell out certain doom for any specific marriage.

However, older spouses who do decide to end their marriage are more than just a statistic. Ending an unhappy marriage can be the right decision, regardless of someone’s age, and spouses should remember that each marriage and each divorce is unique. To reach the best divorce outcomes, a divorcing spouse may need to pursue creative but practical solutions to address their individual divorce concerns.