Overall, the national divorce rate is showing record declines — except among senior citizens. So-called “gray” divorces have continued to accelerate, and the trend has a lot of folks wondering what’s going on.
What makes a couple that’s approaching their twilight years suddenly split up?
Experts believe that there are a complex set of factors leading to the sudden shift toward divorce among seniors. Some of those factors include:
- The rising financial independence of the individuals involved, particularly women. In the past, women had fewer economic opportunities. Many women now have their own incomes and careers, so they’re less financially tied to their spouses.
- Increasing lifespans .When people live longer, they are more likely to grow and change — and spouses don’t always change in the same direction. Plus, someone who is 50 or 60 years of age may not want to spend another 20 years in an unhappy marriage.
- The decreasing stigma associated with divorce. Once upon a time, divorce was something that occasioned scorn or whispers, and divorced people feared being ostracized. There’s little social stigma left about divorce today, so unhappy couples feel freer to end their relationships.
- The role of technology. Social media has increasingly made it possible for people to look at the larger world and realize that they have tons of options out there for a community, friendships and romance. That may lessen the fear of growing old alone for some couples.
Ultimately, if you’re older and living in an unhappy marriage, it doesn’t matter what got you to this point — but you have a right to take steps to improve your quality of life. If that means getting a divorce, there’s nothing wrong with that. Talk to an experienced attorney about the steps you need to take next.