What is Gray Divorce? Grey divorce is a demographic trend that has seen an increase in older couples who have been married for a long period split or separated. Many people were taken aback when Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce. The couple’s life appeared to be very connected from the outside. Why are you doing this now, 27 years into your marriage?
Despite the fact that global divorce rates have fallen during the 1980s, the rate of divorce among those over 50 has risen to unprecedented heights. The rate has doubled in the last two decades. A “grey divorce” now accounts for one out of every four divorces.
Marriage in a black hole
In the 1950s and 1960s, there has been a generational shift in how people in their 50s and 60s view their relationships. Couples no longer feel obligated to stick it out in a terrible marriage as the stigma of divorce fades. Longer life expectancy gives the impression that there is a lot of living to be done and that time is flying by.
By this time, most couples have attained their career or parenting ambitions. Disconnection in the marriage that has existed for a long time can be one of several catalysts for spouses to depart.
Couples whose children have departed for college may feel isolated at times. Routines, roles, and rituals that had governed their lives for years have all come to an end. My acquaintance told me, “We don’t even know each other anymore,” as he and his 13-year-old wife discussed in a session about trying to reconnect. For the previous ten years, they were known as “Mom and Dad.” Their only shared interest had been in raising their two children. Although the empty nest offers many opportunities, it can also be a lonely place for many couples.
A Second Chance at Freedom
The growing financial independence of women is another element driving the rise in later-life divorce. According to the AARP, women initiate two-thirds of divorces in heterosexual couples. Women are no longer financially dependent on their spouses and are assessing the pros and cons of a stale marriage vs what could be an exciting new chapter in their lives. “It’s been 15 years since I tried to persuade Tina* to take holidays. There was simply no point in continuing. My friend Avi* warned me that he would merely argue with me. “Now that I’m retired, I’d like to fulfil a lifelong goal of travelling.” I don’t want him to join me because we’ve drifted so far apart.” Tina and Avi are an example of a couple type identified in a study: the later-stage divorce relationship, which has low conflict but little positive interaction between the partners.
Three Ways to Keep Your Relationship Together
If you’re in a long-term relationship, here are some research-backed tips on how to build and maintain a healthy relationship that will last:
- Over time, maintain a good friendship with your companion. Make sure you spend some quality time together having a good time. This is especially true for parents. You need some alone time away from the kids. This maintains your relationship front and centre, preventing it from becoming a victim of parenthood. It also allows you to keep track of how you and your relationship have evolved over time.
- To avoid resentment, address disputes as soon as possible. Conflict is normal and expected in any relationship, according to research. The ability to mend swiftly is the characteristic that distinguishes happy partnerships from sad ones.
- Concentrate on how you want your relationship to develop in the future. Share your goals and ambitions for the future, both individually and collectively. Another hallmark of a flourishing relationship is the creation of a sense of shared meaning that evolves over time and across the life cycle.
Many couples find that divorcing after years of marriage is the best decision they have ever made. Unhappy couples can find a new lease on life when they are no longer shackled by commitment, expectation, or cash. Keep in mind that your relationship, like you, is continually evolving. For couples who are re-evaluating their long-term relationship and want to be together but feel the need for modest tune-ups or big overhauls, keep in mind that your relationship is constantly evolving. Every day, as partners, you can establish and change that relationship in little ways.