The divorce rate for couples who are in their 50s and older continues to rise. In fact, it has doubled since 1990.
Traditionally, those who married decades ago will remain married for the rest of their lives. But others have an entirely different view. So, why are many older people getting divorced?
Not so long ago, couples unhappy in their marriages would stay together since that was the expected thing to do. However, Americans are living longer than they did a generation ago. Today, the onus once placed on “gray” divorce is gone. Many people who opt for a later-in-life divorce feel there is still time to change course.
Marriages that have lasted 30 years or more may have begun because of common ground: The couple knew each other in school, their parents were friends, and their interests were similar. Later in life, they realize they do not have much in common anymore and divorce is the next logical step. On the other hand, divorce might also be the answer for someone who continued to nurse resentment over something that happened in the marriage decades ago.
Those who study the reasons for ending a long marriage find that for men, a frequent goal is freedom to pursue another relationship. Women who initiate a divorce often want to change their lives since in their 50s or 60s they still feel youthful and ready for a new adventure.
Many people who have raised children, helped their spouse prosper in his or her career and met one domestic challenge after another see their lives as a series of chapters. For some, a later-in-life divorce is a way to turn the page and enter a new chapter, one they can write for themselves.