After years of partnership, it can be difficult to come to terms with a marriage that’s ending. There may be decades of memories and emotions to contend with, not to mention they often have to put up with speculation and comments from friends, family and strangers alike.
However, while divorce is not as common for older couples as it is among people under the age of 50, the rate of gray divorce has doubled within the past 30 years. Though a gray divorce may seem out of the blue to outsiders, there are many contributing factors that can lead to divorce later in life.
1. Grown children
Many parents stay together for the sake of their children, even when their marriage might be tenuous. For some, remaining in a marriage is worth it if it means their children feel loved and supported throughout their upbringing. Being involved in children’s lives might even be time-consuming enough to distract couples from their crumbling relationship.
Once children grow up and move out, however, some couples may realize that without children to tend to or take care of, there isn’t much else holding their marriage together.
2. Past divorces
In some cases, it isn’t about an empty nest, but a person’s past experiences with marriage and divorce. In fact, studies show that people who have divorced in the past are more likely to divorce again.
There are several theories that might contribute to this explanation. One of which is that they may have rushed into a new marriage before fully coming to terms with their first divorce. This can put people at risk of making the same mistakes in a new marriage.
3. Financial autonomy
For older generations, financial security was at the root of many marriages, particularly for women. In today’s age, more women are working and earning enough money to support themselves. Older couples might realize that they can be financially independent from their spouses. This realization can be a tipping point for couples whose marriages have been on the rocks for years.
There can be several reasons for an older couple to divorce, and after many years of marriage, it generally doesn’t just happen on a whim. However, although divorce is a painful process, it can also serve as a fresh start for a chance at happiness, no matter a person’s stage of life.