The disturbing fact is that among all divorces that happen today, a quarter are among adults older than 50. Compared to the numbers twenty years ago, the number of older adults getting divorced doubled. Because it has become a common occurrence, the separation between older adults is called ‘’gray divorce.’’ Back in the day, couples stayed together because of the stigmas that surrounded divorce and the narrative that by settling their differences, they would be happier. Now people look to be happy even if it requires leaving matrimony. As a consequence of today’s economics, many couples need to divorce because of financial issues, as they often don’t go hand-in-hand with marriage. The trend of divorce among seniors is expected to expand, and because of this, it is essential to understand what exactly is driving older adults towards this solution.
Reason #1: Changed Attitudes Towards Divorce
The divorces statistics say that marriages are in most significant danger of being ended between years 7 and 10. This prompts the question: Why are seniors who have been married for decades suddenly divorcing each other? Pepper Schwartz who works for CNN believes that she knows the answer. According to her, it is because the current group of older adults isn’t the same as their parents. They are the group which is “prepared to walk if things aren’t up to their hopes, dreams, or delusions about marriage.” Also, they no longer have the reason to stay together because of the kids, since any children are now adults.
Of course, by divorcing they don’t give up on love but only on their long-time partner. The seniors that live today are interested in continuing their sex life. This was made possible for them because of medical advances that allow seniors to stay sexually active longer than earlier generations. These days, the elderly look at their 50s or 60s the same way previous generations looked at their 30s or 40s.
Reason #2: Financial Issues and Elder Care
Most people plan their financial future when they are middle aged. Not all of them include marriage status in this equation, and this sometimes proves to be a problem. Unfortunately, there are seniors who are forced to choose whether they want to stay married or to divorce and invest their pension and previous earnings into elder care.
Sometimes the expense of nursing homes are higher if a spouse has a pension. Because of this, many elderly divorce so that they can afford health care. Higher pensions mean more expensive costs for nursing homes and similar establishments. These type of divorces have nothing to do with love but are done because of purely financial reasons. Sometimes it is more essential to preserve health and good living conditions than marriage.
Reason #3: Irreconcilable Differences
The third reason is one that also makes sense. Many seniors are getting divorced because they have irreconcilable differences. When they reach an older stage of life, some seniors are more prone to looking for adventure than others. If this is the case between spouses, they will find that divorce is the solution for them in order to pursue their interests.
Among older men and women, the latter are more likely to point out that the relationship is no longer working. Of all seniors divorces, 66% are initiated by women. One of the reasons is that sexist norms targeted against women are being overturned, which now allows them more independence to act of their own free will.
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