Women over 50 initiating “gray divorces” in high numbers

Historically, marriages lasting into a couple’s retirement years have a very high success rate. But recent trends are seeing an unusual spike in divorces among older couples. Stranger still is the instigator of the divorce: More and more, the woman in an older married couple is the one calling for an end to the marriage.

Divorce experts note that the trend is sometimes referred to as a “mid-wife crisis,” occurring when abrupt life changes — such as retirement from work, the departure of kids to college, or the death of a pet — change a couple’s living conditions.

The change is statistically significant, producing a 100 percent increase in divorces among couples over 50 years of age over the past 20 years. Today, one out of every four divorces is between a couple from the baby boomer generation. Nearly two-thirds of these splits, referred to as “gray divorces,” are initiated by the woman, according to a 2004 survey.

One author exploring the increasing rate of people preferring to live alone notes that women are better able to provide for themselves without the help of a man because, for the first time, they are able to support themselves by working and do not have to be trapped in an unhealthy or undesired marriage.

Just as they did with procreation, pre-marital sex and women in the workforce, female baby boomers are now leading the charge to change the way old age is approached. The result is more women in Georgia and throughout the rest of the country becoming proactive about enjoying their later years without feeling trapped in a marriage they don’t want.

Source: Palm Beach Post News, “After age 50, women are divorcing at double the rate of 20 years ago” Barbara Marshall, Feb. 7, 2012

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