Relevant reflections on marriage, divorce for many older couples

Much space is devoted these days in media articles to the growing divorce rate among people in their 50s and beyond.

Although such a happening is often termed a “phenomenon” by columnists and pundits who write on social themes, relationships, family law and related matters, it is truly anything but that. Hard statistics from wide-ranging sources firmly establish that “gray divorce” or “baby boomer divorce,” as it is often termed, is occurring at a rate that far surpasses that for other age groups.

Many of the reasons for a spiking divorce rate among couples that have been married for decades in some instances are obvious enough and clearly gleaned, with others being a bit more subtle.

As to the former, perhaps it was the kids who kept the marriage together. Now they’re gone, with their absence clearly reflecting that not much else exists in the realm of shared interests for a couple. Perhaps a spouse felt financially dependent for years, but, now, after securing employment and a stable career, feels confident enough to end a failed partnership and begin a new life of independence. Perhaps a couple simply realizes they made a mistake and that now, with no open issues relating to child custody, child support or other potentially sticky dissolution-related matters in the way, they can amicably part with no heavy consequences in their wake.

Other divorce endings for those 50 and beyond reflect more subtle realizations concerning generalized and long-term dissatisfaction with a relationship, coupled with the maturity to set things right and embark on a more meaningful life experience going forward.

Counselors say that many older couples need to honestly reflect and ask themselves certain questions if they know that they are no longer working well as a team. Perhaps some counseling or marriage therapy is in order. Perhaps old interests can be rekindled or new ones found.

Or, conversely, it is perhaps time to contemplate divorce and planning for a future you are entitled to look forward to.

Source: Huffington Post, “Are you too old to get a divorce?” Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Ryan Lampl and Tish Rabe, Dec. 31, 2012

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