Divorce was once largely the domain of younger couples. People might get a divorce within a few years of getting married if they realize that their spouse misrepresented who they were or what they wanted out of life. Most people long presumed that couples who made it more than 10 or 20 years together would likely stay married for the rest of their lives unless there was a major issue, like adultery.
However, divorce statistics tell another story. Divorce rates for older adults are at a historical high. The divorce rate for couples at or past the age of 50 has doubled since 1990. For those over the age of 65, divorce rates approximately tripled in the same 25-year period.
Why have older adults started divorcing at rates high enough to make retirement near or after retirement, also called gray divorce, a modern trend?
The social stigma attached to divorce has decreased
Getting a divorce once meant that you would be the subject of neighborhood gossip. It might affect everything from where you could work to who would still socialize with you. These days, most companies don’t fire people over a no-fault divorce, and most people won’t cut divorced adults from their social circles.
The religious consequences have changed, too
Divorce used to be something that not only caused social consequences but also used to have strong religious implications. You might not be able to attend church or ever remarry, depending on your faith. Many mainstream religions have changed their policies in recent decades to be more permissive of divorce.
Additionally, with the rise of no-fault divorce, the idea that they would have to humiliate themselves or out their spouse as an abuser or addict has also gone down.
People live longer and want happier golden years
With longer life spans comes the potential for extended misery if your spouse is someone who makes you feel stressed and unhappy. It may be time to move on instead of holding onto something that doesn’t serve either of you.
More people have embraced the idea of enjoying their golden years single or with the close companionship of friends and children, rather than a spouse. Others might hope to connect with someone in a romantic way after their divorce. There is no reason why a gray divorce has to mean you live alone. It only means that you’ve chosen to leave an unhappy relationship in the past.