Divorce is not just a phenomenon that happens with people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Many older couples who are part of the Baby Boomer generation are getting divorced. These mid-life divorces are also known as gray divorces, and it includes any divorce that happens at or after the age of 50. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of these gray divorces. Today, around 25% of all divorces are from people who are over 50. The Boomer divorce rate is the highest among our current generations of marriage!
What is it that’s causing this increase? It turns out that it’s not just one thing, but several factors.
The Population Has Aged and This Could Skew the Numbers
In 1990, there were 63.5 million people who were over 50 in the United States. Even if there were divorces in that population, because there were fewer people, it didn’t make as much of an impact on the overall numbers. However, by 2010, there were close to 100 million people who were over 50. The increase in this population means that logically there will be more divorces. The number of people who are over 50 continues to grow, so even if the same percentage of people are getting divorced, the numbers will be higher.
Reasons for Boomer Divorce
It’s interesting to look into the reasons why so many people in this age group are getting divorced. The reasons tend to be just as varied as they are with younger people. However, some are unique to this generation.
They Have Had Underlying Problems
Sometimes, there have been issues throughout the marriage that were swept under the rug or ignored because “staying married was what you did”. However, more and more people are realizing that being unhappy is no way to live and have a marriage. They see that there are other opportunities. People are living longer and don’t want to be stuck in a marriage where there is abuse, neglect, or other issues occurring.
Often, people would stay together for the kids, which is not always the best thing to do. It’s just what happened a lot in previous generations. Now, divorce is far more accepted, and people realize that it’s not the end, just a new beginning. This contributes deeply to the rising Boomer divorce rate.
Their Children Are Now Financially Independent
Sometimes, parents will stay together even when they have children who are technically adults because those children are not financially stable. The parents still feel responsible until the kids are in their 20s and beyond. The parents want to be able to provide for their children when trouble arises in those early years of adulthood. However, once the children are financially stable, the parents can move ahead with the divorce.
Since the kids of boomers are now at a point where they should be more financially capable than they were a decade or so ago, it provides more freedom for these parents to divorce.
Women in the Boomer Generation Have More Financial Resources
Prior to the Boomers, many women were stay-at-home moms and housewives. They may have gone to college, but they didn’t pursue a career once they were married. This would often mean that even if a woman wanted to divorce her husband, it could be difficult for her to do so from a financial perspective. Women didn’t have the financial resources that they needed.
Things started to change with the Baby Boomers though. More and more women were entering the workforce and building careers of their own. They were making their own money, starting their own retirement accounts, and preparing for their future. Now, many women will have the financial capabilities to take care of themselves when they are older. It provides more freedom for getting a divorce.
Money woes are often a problem cited when it comes to getting a divorce, regardless of the age of the couple. When you are older, though, these financial issues can be even greater. You are nearing retirement age and you have a partner that is still spending money recklessly. It can make the idea of retiring scary. You may not want to go through even more financial problems and realize that the best option will be to get a divorce.
Just because a couple is older doesn’t mean that infidelity never happens. It happens with alarming frequency, and the reasons tend to be the same as when younger married couples cheat on one another. Most people don’t want to be married to someone who hurts them and cheats on them and filing for divorce often makes the most sense.
Abuse can occur at any age. No one, even if they’ve been married for decades, should have to suffer through physical, emotional, or mental abuse. Boomers who are in relationships that contain abuse are often as likely to seek divorce as younger people are. Some older generations may have “stuck with it” because they didn’t want the embarrassment of divorce. However, there isn’t the same stigma surrounding divorce as there used to be. The realization of the divorce actually making life better is a contributor to the current boomer divorce rate.
You and your spouse might have been able to make it work when one of both of you had jobs. You didn’t see one another as much. When you retire, though, you are with the other person for far more hours in the day. You might find that you don’t like to be around them as much as you thought you did. They might have some habits that start to grate on you that you ignored before.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons that the Boomer divorce rate is so high. These reasons are just as varied as with younger couples. Divorce is no longer seen as something to be embarrassed about. People are living longer and want to be happy. Sometimes, divorce will be the best solution for them. If you are over 50 and considering getting a divorce, you will want to get your finances figured out and you will want to speak with an attorney about how to proceed. If things are amicable between you two, try a quick and easy DIY divorce through I Do Over!