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Gray Divorce: Why Divorce Is on the Rise for Couples in Their Golden Years

Gray divorce is the term used when people over the age of 50 get divorced. Usually, these couples have been married for 20-40 years. Those who have been married about 20 years were likely married just out of high school. They might have been young enough to benefit from modern trends, including women taking larger roles in the workplace.

According to the New York Times, gray divorce happens three times more often for remarried couples than for those who have married just once. Though the reasons for gray divorce vary, there are many common trends.

Money Issues

Financial problems occur in many forms. For some couples, if the wife begins earning a higher income than the husband, it can create conflict in the marriage. Men in older generations often believe that they should be the primary providers for the family. If their spouse earns more, they may struggle with feelings of failure.

As couples age, retirement becomes more of a concern, as well. If the couple struggles with finances as retirement nears, this can cause additional tension, resentment, and fear. These feelings trigger arguments and can lead to divorce.

Other Relationships

When one party is unfaithful in the relationship, it can cause the marriage to end. When people over the age of 50 were first married, divorce might have been rarer or frowned upon.

Divorce is now quite common and accepted. Because of this change, some couples no longer feel obligated to accept the circumstances and continue the marital relationship if their spouse has an affair.

Empty Nest

Once children are grown and move away from home, a married couple may simply realize they no longer have much in common.

Married couples change as their lives evolve. When they’re young and in love, they may share many related interests and passions. Once they have children, however, life often centers around raising that family, which means that interests change.

A spouse who may have been adventurous as a newlywed may become a homebody that is only interested in their children and grandchildren. Meanwhile, their spouse may have assumed that the couple would return to their adventurous life after the children grew up and are disappointed by the new priorities.

One spouse might have adopted a much stricter budgeter while the other was looking forward to taking whirlwind vacations in their retirement years.

Regardless of the scenario, these types of changes often lead to gray divorce.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse and addictions can end friendships, create family estrangements, and contribute to divorces. Sometimes, the addiction may seem innocent at first. Behaviors may even represent things that the couple used to enjoy together, including:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Gambling
  • Thrill-seeking
  • Religious observance

When one party changes, the other may feel betrayed or abandoned. One spouse may enjoy smoking while the other stops, for instance. Perhaps the couple once loved going to the casino, but one spouse has decided it’s a waste of money. These changing interests can lead to the dissolution of a relationship.

Health Differences

Another key reason couples get divorced after the age of 50 is due to health concerns. Many people become much more health-conscious as they age, while others experience a deterioration in their wellbeing.

If spouses do not agree on this issue, it can cause a large divide. One spouse may want to stay fit and active in their later years to stay healthy and stave off boredom. The other may want to enjoy their retirement by doing a lot of leisure activities. These opposing desires can cause the couple to spend much more time apart, have different friend groups, and argue more often.

Changes happen. If the relationship changes in ways that cause a couple to argue more or spend their time separately, it is much more likely to end.

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, Gucciardo Family Law can help to walk through the ramifications, answer your questions, and help you to determine your next steps. Contact us for a free consultation today.

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