Factors Underlying “Grey Divorce”

Deborah Moskovitch, an author and divorce consultant, notes that the divorce rate is increasing for couples who have been married for several decades or longer — termed “grey divorce” — and that, given societal changes, this should hardly be surprising.

She notes, for example, that women in decades past sorely lacked the financial independence and upward mobility that more commonly prevails today. As a result, a core component in their thinking regarding marriage concerned the need to be taken care of by a male who had more outside opportunities. Coupled with that was a strong social mindset that marriage was forever; a divorced woman in 1950, for example, was an anomaly and, often, a social outcast.

That is quite different in today’s world, where women are often equal financial partners in marriage, or even bring home most of the money. The fear of economic dislocation in the event of divorce has greatly dissipated for many women. So, too, has the social stigma involved in divorce, which is commonplace.

Moskovitch cites recent research of some interest concerning the dissolution of long-term marriages. Immediately following are some observations.

It is most often the woman, not the man, who initiates the divorce, and the husband is often completely surprised by the development. Women often leave because they simply feel it is necessary to do so for emotional health, whereas men often split a marriage because another woman is involved.

And, finally, it is certainly true that the departure of grown children from the house is often a factor in divorces for older couples, many who discover that what they had in common owed more to their children than to their marital relationship.

Related Resource: Huffington Post, “Grey Divorce is on the Rise” May 23, 2011

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