Divorce past 50: Understanding gray divorce

When a couple decides to get married, they often picture themselves growing old together, perhaps raising grandchildren and enjoying their retirement. Some couples do last long enough to experience grandchildren and retirement-- only to end up divorcing. 


There is a term for a divorce that occurs in couples who are over age 50: Gray divorce. In the United States, gray divorce is more common than ever. Since the 1990s, its rate has nearly doubled. So, what would prompt a couple to choose a gray divorce after several decades of marriage?


Money issues

There can be a lot of tension in a marriage when two people have very different spending habits. Factor in the normal financial hurdles that couples can expect to face--medical bills, college tuition, home repair costs--and stress can pile up as quickly as the costs. For some couples, the strain of financial issues can eventually become too much to bear, prompting a separation or divorce.

Mid-life marriage crisis

The idea of someone having a mid-life crisis and leaving their spouse in order relive their youth may be a cliché, but it is also a very real factor in gray divorce. Sometimes people hit middle age, feel stuck in a rut and wish to live a new lifestyle. This often means a new relationship with a new partner. This can be very painful for the other spouse, but it is also a new opportunity for them to make a fresh start with another partner.

Gradually growing apart

Ten plus years is a long time to be married. It is inevitable that after so much time has passed, two people may have changed so much that they are no longer compatible. This is often what happens to spouses who choose a gray divorce. The spouses may still care deeply for each other, but after several decades have passed, they have simply grown apart.

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