Are you and your spouse still happy, sharing activities like exercising together? If so, you may not know about a new trend hitting baby boomers - Gray Divorce. In the past 20 years, the divorce rate for boomers has doubled even as the total divorce rate has been going down. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2009 more than 25 percent of all divorces were among couples over 50.
AARP has identified that in two-thirds of these divorces, it is women who seek the split. Often their motivation is to enjoy the years ahead after children have been raised and left home. With roles changing and the expectation of many extra years of an empty nest, these women choose to focus on satisfying their personal needs and goals rather than remaining in an unhappy, empty-shell marriage. In other cases, about one quarter of the time, a wife institutes the proceedings after an infidelity by her husband.
For over 50 percent of gray divorces today, this is not their first experience with a split. The risk of a second divorce is two times greater than for those still in their first marriage. And for a third marriage, the risk of a divorce is four times more likely. Other high-risk groups for gray divorce are African Americans and those with only a high school education. To avoid making the decision to divorce, marital therapists like Dr. John Gottman encourage midlife couples to respond to each other's attempts at reconnection.
While being alone is the greatest fear of boomers after a divorce, the vast majority rate themselves as happy. Still, there are some difficult consequences for wives and husbands: women tend to have greater financial difficulties while men generally have less contact with their children than before. Preparing for possible negative outcomes of a late in life divorce can help you cope with these unusual challenges
Women's increasing financial foundation over the past two decades has given them the freedom to seek divorce more often. Maybe that's why on-line dating sites indicate that users 50 and older have double the increases of other age groups. However, with the current economic uncertainty, older couples may determine it is best to remain together during these turbulent times. So the future incidence of gray divorce may be another unintended consequence of the fiscal ups and downs we face today.