Midlife Divorce Recovery

Once upon a time divorce was reserved for younger couples. Couples who got married tried to make it work and realized they just weren’t compatible. But the divorce rates for those 50 and older have doubled since the 1990s, according to the Pew Research Center. Some refer to divorce over 50 as “gray divorce.”

Who is getting divorced and when?

Divorce is becoming less common for younger adults. However, gray divorces are still less common than divorce in couples under the age of 50. Five out of every 1,000 married people over the age of 50 divorced in 1990. That number shot up to 10 out of 1,000 in 2010. But that’s still only half the rate for people under 50.

If you’ve been remarried and are over 50, the rate of divorce is 2.5 times higher than those who’ve been married for the first time. But your chances of staying marry grow the longer you’ve been married. If your remarriage is less than 10-years-old, it’s 10 times more likely to end in divorce than those married for 40 years or more. About 48 percent of people who were 50 and older and divorced in 2015 had been in at least their second marriage.

People live longer and want to be happy

Marriage used to be a vow that was socially unacceptable to break. But people have more relaxed attitudes toward divorce these days. So, a lack of stigma contributes to rising divorce rates. Longevity is also a contributing factor. People live a lot longer these days. About 30 years longer that retirees used to live. So, gray divorces just might be a consequence of longer life spans. And people are looking to enjoy those years instead of spending them with someone who makes them miserable.

“What’s pushing gray divorce is people are living longer and they feel more entitled to living fully. They’ve contributed to raising children, they want an emotional journey, it’s their time now,” says Lili Vasileff, a certified financial planner and president of Divorce and Money Matters, told MarketWatch. “They may have (decades) ahead and don’t want to be unhappy anymore.”

When you don’t have to stay for the kids

Many couples also choose to stay together for the sake of their children. But when their children are grown and out of the house, it gives them more of an impetus to follow through with ending an unhappy marriage.  “Kids leaving home is a major milestone in life,” Deb Purdy, author of Something Gained: 7 Shifts to Be Stronger, Smarter & Happier After Divorce, told MarketWatch. “When the children move away and the couple is left with each other without the offspring, it forces couples to re-evaluate their life and their marriage.”

More time to evaluate the marriage

When the kids finally move out, it gives adults more time to focus on themselves and think about their own lives. They start asking themselves questions like: “What have I don’t with my life?,” “Am I happy?,” and “Do I want to be in this marriage?” Being a parent kept them so preoccupied with the needs of their children that they now have all this extra time to focus on themselves.

This also gives adults over 50 more time to focus on their marriage since they aren’t distracted by the children. It becomes harder to ignore the fact that your marriage is dysfunctional. You’re also forced to communicate and spend more time with your spouse. So, if things are going well… it’s going to show. Often times relationship problems can be solved when two people decide to work on their communication. But when communication fails and differences can’t be negotiated, some people decide to call it quits.