Gray divorces are on the rise but who is at risk?
Gray Divorce is increasingly common, although hardly as common as it is for divorces in the 30s and 40s set. By gray divorce, that is to say, for people 50 years of age and older who have been married for more than, say, 20 years. I am not necessarily talking about the color of their hair. Because if you want to know the truth, very few people over the age of 50 (and this includes both men and women) permit their hair to turn grey.
So the term “gray divorce” is a misnomer. Still, it is a moniker attributed to the baby boomer generation. What are the real risks for people in this demographic?
There is definitely an uptick in the numbers of baby boomers who are filing for divorce after a long marriage. This demographic was always a trend-setting
crew lot, anyway, so it should not come as such a big surprise that we also do marriage and divorce differently from the generations that came before us – and even, those that come after.
What makes baby boomers pull the plug on their marriage? A lot of things really. Good old boredom cannot be overlooked. We just get bored with the same old, same old and want to try something different. So what? But according to a recent article by the Institute of Family Studies, there exists a significant correlation between financial security later in life and a gray divorce.
Couples over the age of 50 are more likely to stay together if they are enjoying financial security, according to the article. The more money this generation has, the less likely we are to bust up our marriage. The more of an issue money is, the more likely we are to pull the plug on the marriage.
There are other things that count, of course. Like I said, this generation needs stimulation and they cannot be left to be bored. But they also need to enjoy a fundamental “friendship” with each other. They need to be buddies.
A New York Times article Divorce After 50 Grows More Common suggests that the reason for the increase in divorces over the age of 50 is that women have grown more independent. The article reads in part:
Most divorces among older couples, as in younger ones, are initiated by women.
“Women have long been more sensitive to — or less tolerant of — a mediocre relationship than men,” Professor Coontz said, “and so another big factor is that with their increased work experience and greater sense of their own possibilities, they are less willing to just ‘wait it out.’
But men also have their beef and according to the same article, one New York Divorce lawyer (who shall remain nameless) suggested that we can chock the whole thing up to Viagra.
No doubt there are a lot of different reasons for the increases in gray divorces, including empty nest syndrome and increased life expectancy. But the prevailing view is that money could be the biggest catalyst of them all. And so to answer the question “who is at risk for a gray divorce” the answer would appear to be those couples who lack financial security in their later years.