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Fewer Married Couples Are Growing Old And Gray Together

When most people get married, they are relatively young. They probably don’t have any gray hair and can’t even imagine that they will be senior citizens someday. Still, there is the implicit promise with “I do” that a married couple will grow old together.

Recent divorce trends, however, suggest that growing old together has its limits. In recent years, more older, baby boomer couples are calling their long-term marriages quits in their golden years. According to research, the rate of divorce among baby boomers has doubled within the past two decades.

Some people might not think that time can change the love between two committed partners. Based on the popularity of divorce, however, that simply doesn’t seem to be true. Not only can feelings between partners change over time, but time also affects attitudes towards divorce and general life trends.

Compared to decades past, divorce is no longer seen as a failure or selfish act. Baby boomers are able to see ending their marriages as a healthy way to more happily live out the remainder of their lives. There is not as strong of a social stigma against divorce, making it easier for more people — older women in particular — to file divorce papers.

Movies and Hollywood life in general would tell us that these “gray divorces” are most often prompted when the older men find younger women to replace their graying wives. But a notable point about the gray divorce trend is that women are more often the ones who initiate divorce. Again, perhaps it’s the change in societal pressures and expectations that make women feel freer to do what they truly want to do.

Also, women are better able to support themselves financially these days, taking away from the fear of leaving their husbands. Still, there is a worry that with the increased rate of divorce in later life, there will be a larger elderly population without the financial stability that comes with a two-person household. Also, who will take care of single elderly people when they don’t have spouses to do so?

When contemplating marriage and divorce, however, baby boomers shouldn’t worry about those above concerns. One’s life is his or her own life. And there is only one life to live.

Source: Today, “‘Gray divorce’: Why are more seniors separating?” Dr. Robi Ludwig, June 8, 2012