The decision to divorce can be tough for a person to make, particularly if they are older. If you are considering a “gray divorce”–a divorce of a couple over the age of 50–you are certainly not alone. More people in this age group are divorcing now than ever before. Knowing why this is happening may help ease your concerns over divorcing at this point in your life.
It is More Culturally Acceptable
Over the last three decades, the norms regarding marriage have changed dramatically. Divorce is far more common and no longer considered the stigma it once was. Older couples may recall that stigma but see that it is largely no longer present, and that can remove a self-imposed barrier when it comes to seeking a divorce.
Lifespans Have Increased
Advances in health and wellness have increased the average lifespan of everyday Americans. At one time, the average life expectancy was only mid-to-late 60s. Many older couples “stuck it out” because they felt as if there was not a lot of time left and they had no other options. Now, when a person is in their 60s, they may easily have another 20 years of life or more, and they may not want to spend that time with their current spouse.
The Financials Are Different
Years ago, it was common for one spouse–often a male–to work, while the other spouse stayed at home and raised the children. While this still happens today, more households have both spouses working. Even if one spouse stayed at home for a time to raise children, they may have returned to the workforce later, once the children were old enough. This means there is more financial support in place for older spouses who divorce today than in the past. They may be currently working and have their own retirement accounts and health insurance, which makes divorcing easier from a financial standpoint.
The Circumstances of the Marriage Have Evolved Over Time
Sometimes, people marry when they are younger because that is what is expected of them in their family and/or community at the time. However, as they age, they begin to see their time more as their own, and they may no longer feel that cultural or familial pressure to remain married. They may belong to a different community now or that community’s values may have changed over time. Family members who would have once disapproved may have changed their minds or passed away, or the opinions of those family members may no longer be important. The removal of these outside pressures to remain married can move an older spouse to consider ending their marriage when they are not happy.
Meeting New People is Easier Now Than Before
Ending a marriage doesn’t mean giving up on the idea of relationships and being in love. In the past, meeting new people was more difficult than it is now, and that led older spouses to remain in marriages because they did not want to try to find someone else or end up alone. Today, people can use dating sites to meet people in their area from the safety and comfort of their own homes. There are even dating sites that cater exclusively to older people, which can make the experience even more comfortable and less intimidating.
Regardless of your age, you have the right to be happy. If your marriage and your spouse are making you unhappy, talk to a divorce attorney about your situation today. There is no “right” or “wrong” age to divorce, and you should not remain in an unhappy marriage just because of your age.