Gray divorces have doubled since the 1990s!
In March 2017, the Pew Research Center came out with its newest findings about divorce for older Americans – the so called “gray divorce” set.
The conclusion is that the divorce rate for Americans 50+ have more than doubled since 1990. Why is this? Is it sex? Is it money? Is it the kids? Why do older couples’ marriages have such high risk of imploding these days?
Indeed, the risk is increasing every decade. But not all “gray” Americans have the same level of risk. According to the study, the risk is higher for those couples married for less than 10 years and significantly lower for couples married over 20 years but then rises for people married more than 30 years.
For gray couples who are onto their second marriage, the old cliché that remarriages are less sucessful than first year marriage seems to hold particular sway, as remarriages among gray couples, according to Pew, show greater instability than first marriages that have lasted more than 20 years.
But there is this unexpected twist in the statistics with respect to couples married over 30 years.
While the rate of divorce is lower among adults ages 50 and older who have been in longer-term marriages, a significant share of gray divorces do occur among couples who have been married for 30 years or more. Among all adults 50 and older who divorced in the past year, about a third (34%) had been in their prior marriage for at least 30 years, including about one-in-ten (12%) who had been married for 40 years or more. Research indicates that many later-life divorcees have grown unsatisfied with their marriages over the years and are seeking opportunities to pursue their own interests and independence for the remaining years of their lives.
This would suggest that for Americans aged 50 and over, the prospect of living and dying in an unhappy marriage becomes almost unbearable after a certain age and increasingly, fewer people of this demographic are willing to go the distance. Instead, they prefer to opt out and find a life and situation that makes them happy rather than persist just because they have managed to live unhappily for decades with this person.
This could be a positive thing. Because there really is nothing noble about suffering through a miserable marriage just to say you stayed married till death. Life just is too darned short.