Though couples over 50 still tend to get divorced less than younger couples, the rate of gray divorces has doubled since 1990. Many may have certain preconceived notions about an older couple divorcing. They may associate leaving a long-time partner with a mid-life crisis, the presence of another lover, or some other extenuating factor.
While leaving a marriage after several decades may seem inexplicable to outsiders, the decision can often have a positive effect on one or both spouses. Here are some common reasons why older couples may decide to separate.
A couple grows apart
Though it may seem counter-intuitive for a couple that has been together for so long to drift apart, it is possible for an older couple to lose their spark, just like a younger couple would. Relationships take work, and after decades of child-rearing and working, two individuals may no longer have the same emotional connection they once did.
For older couples, especially, an empty nest may prompt them to discover that they want different things out of life. One spouse may want to travel and the other may just want to enjoy their retirement at home. Whatever the reason, couples growing apart is a natural part of life.
We were never that close
Sometimes people marry the person that they were supposed to, rather than the one they really wanted. Couples who selected their partner’s for more pragmatic familial reasons may now find their relationship less fulfilling in their later years once the children have left. In this case, the decision to separate may be a positive step for both parties.
Statistically, one of the best predictors of a gray divorce is a previous divorce. For those over 50, the rate of divorce for second marriages is 2.5 times higher than that of first marriages. This is congruent with the overall trend of second marriages carrying a higher divorce rate.
No matter the reason for the split, a divorce in your later years can be a positive change. However, gray divorces are not without their challenges.
People divorcing in their later years may have special concerns for their estate and retirement plans that should be addressed. Taking care of these matters can help ensure that the split leads to positive changes in both parties’ lives.