Are You Headed for a Grey Divorce?

In recent years, there has been a lot of traction on the web about grey divorce. If you are over age 50 and have been married for a few decades, the media might have you questioning if your marriage is in on the rocks and you may not even realize it.

The Pew Research Center’s report, “Led by Baby Boomers, Divorce Rates Climb for America’s 50+ Population” paints a worrisome portrait of marriage over 50 since they claim that the divorce rate for people over age 50 has roughly doubled since the 1990’s.

However, Professors Naomi Cahn at the George Washington University Law School and June Carbone at the University of Minnesota Law School, examined at the latest research on grey divorce and are more optimistic, saying that the divorce rate is still not all that high for those over age 50.

In fact, these statistics will bring hope to those of us who married later or remarried and are over age 50. In 1990, five out of every 1,000 married people divorced. In 2010, 10 out of every 1,000 married people divorced. While the rate has risen more dramatically for those over age 50, it is still half the rate of those under age 50.

In search of more reasons why we can be optimistic, I interviewed three couples who are in a successful first or second marriage, are over age 50, and don’t have plans to divorce on their radar.

Claire, 64, put it like this: “Rick and I remarried after troubled first marriages and we’re happy to find love can be better the second time around. Sure, we have arguments, mostly about money, but at the end of the day, we make up and feel grateful to be moving into retirement with a partner who loves to travel and spend time with grandkids. We’re both boomers in our mid-sixties and have zest for life and each other.”

Another couple, Ryan, 58, and Linda, 55, have been happily married for twenty years, have three adolescents, and love the fast pace of married life and raising active, healthy teenagers.

Ryan reflects, “Some of our friends are single, others are divorced, many don’t have kids. We choose to get married late (in late thirties) and love watching our kids grow. We wouldn’t trade out lives with any of the people in our circle who have less stress but no kids to leave as our legacy.”Lastly, Karen, 52, and Nick, 54, talked to me about the challenges of living in a stepfamily in their 50’s but they are going for counseling and learning to respect their differences and work out financial stress.

Karen says, “We didn’t realize that it would be so challenging to combine four kids in a stepfamily. We both had two kids when we married and weekends are pretty chaotic with schedules, events, and disagreements among all of us. Combining our lives and our histories has been difficult but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.”

Certainly, I interviewed a small sample of happily married couples who don’t represent all married couples over 50. However, keep in mind, that listening to stories can be encouraging and the couples that I spoke with all mentioned that they’ve weathered the storms of issues with kids, financial stress, and even blending kids from two families.

It’s my hope that the stories in this blog may inspire you to seek counseling when you go through a tough patch with your spouse. In fact, you may decide to recommit to your spouse because you believe that there are many positive aspects and bright spots to marriage over 50. Or, you might even agree with me that while marriage isn’t easy as we age, it can bring many unexpected delights and adventures that make it worth taking the journey.



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