Grey Divorce: Its Reasons & Its Implications
Grey divorce refers to a demographic trend that has witnessed an increase in the split or separation of older couples who have been married for a long time. Grey divorcees are also called “silver or diamond splitters,” and the term refers to the hair color that older people often have. The term began to be used in the United States in 2004, but the practice had already been prevalent for about 20 years. Research shows that the overall rate of divorce in the United States has declined over the past 20 years, but the divorce rate of people over 50 is on the rise.
Reasons for Grey Divorce
Divorce is one of the most challenging parts of anyone’s life, but sometimes it is inevitable. The social stigma surrounding divorce has gradually diminished over the years, but it hasn’t led to an overall increase in divorce except among people over 50. The question of why grey divorce has been increasing can be best answered by analyzing the aspects of life that affect long-term marriages.
Financial matters are the primary issues that arise during a grey divorce. Finances can be tricky to handle, especially when one spouse has challenges managing them. Couples who struggle with debt or constantly fight about finances often end up divorcing.
On the other hand, if one of the partners earns all of the money in the household and; therefore, makes all of the decisions involving money, problems may arise. Divorce can be also be caused by a partner’s overspending habits or mismanagement of funds. Research has shown that marriage grows stronger when the husband increases his earnings; conversely, the marriage more often fails if the wife’s earnings increase.
When you ask a couple why they have opted for divorce, you will usually hear answers such as “it was just not working out” or “we just grew apart.” Couples in grey divorce may have realized later in their lives that they lost the spark they had when they first married. Considering that the stigma around divorce is diminishing, they decide that divorce would be the best course of action.
Couples could choose to start the divorce proceedings after their children are grown and have left home, leaving behind what is known as “empty nest syndrome.” Most often, partners dedicate their lives to raising their kids, and once the kids have grown up and left, they are left wondering “What’s next?” They do not recognize the person they had married years ago, and divorce becomes an option.
Baby Boomers tend to be individualists, placing their needs and happiness ahead of that of others, and that can lead to infidelity in marriages. Infidelity is another major reason for grey divorce. Cheating does not carry the same stigma it did in earlier times, and this has led many married couples to stray. Many dating sites hook up married persons with temporary sexual partners, thereby encouraging infidelity. Older men may start finding younger women attractive. The same could apply to older women who are attracted to younger men who are better looking.
Better Health and Life Expectancy Rates
Life expectancy is much higher today than for generations prior to Baby Boomers. Life spans have drastically increased, and even at age 50 or above people think they have time to discover what makes them happy in marriage. Older people have stopped shying away from the idea of divorce after drifting away from their partners because they still believe they can find happiness.
Access to great health care and the availability of activities to keep an individual mentally, physically, and psychologically active have encouraged people to seek partners who suit their interests and attitudes when their marriage partner has failed to stay healthy, fit and active.
The first thing that often comes to mind when one hears about divorce is infidelity. However, there is more to divorce than one partner being unfaithful by having sexual or emotional relations with someone else—one could be unfaithful in many other ways. Addiction is an example of another form of unfaithfulness. An individual could be addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or pornography, and these addictions might derail a marriage.
Many marriages fall apart when an individual puts their habit above the needs of their families. Dependencies, such as gambling place financial strains on the marriage and eventually lead to divorce. There are people who bet and lose all their assets and must start from scratch because they choose to gamble instead of providing for their future and family.
Implications of Grey Divorce
Grey divorce can still affect adult children, even though they often have grown and left home. The process of adapting to the change in family dynamics can be difficult. The children are accustomed to a single family unit, and they now have to deal with a split family. Children may be trapped between their parent’s feuds and may be forced to take sides, which is not very pleasant. Older children have problems adapting to their parent’s dating life or the new family they choose to start. Grey divorce also has a significant impact on family finances.
The division of assets and property can be fraught with peril. Dividing property that was accumulated during the marriage can be complicated because life insurance policies, Social Security benefits, investments, and retirement benefits must be considered. If one of the spouses depended on the other throughout the marriage, it might be difficult for him or her to transition to independence. Their life course is disrupted and they have to adjust the standard of living they have to ensure they can afford it, even after the divorce. For instance, if the husband has been in charge of handling the finances throughout the marriage, the wife might experience difficulty after the divorce
There is Light at the End of the Tunnel
Divorce can be difficult and emotionally draining, especially after long-term marriage. Joining a support group or finding a family lawyer you trust to guide you through the process can help you throughout the process.