Grey Divorce: Letting Go and Starting Over
Copyright © 2009 StraightDivorce.com
For some folks divorce is a liberating experience while for others it is a complete shock. Yet, today, there is a growing trend among older folks who are taking the divorce plunge in their later years. Growing more prevalent in the lives of those who are over the age of 55, “Grey Divorce” is seen more and more in cultures around the world. Although it is common to think that married couples that have been together for years and years have gotten past their relationship issues, many of those couples are now choosing to get divorced. Apparently, because we are living longer lives, both men and women are reaching out for a more meaningful existence. Regardless of age, a number of older folks still want to find satisfaction and fulfillment and are letting go and starting over. What’s even more interesting about the ending of these marriages is that many of those who are seeking later life divorce, still love and respect their former partners, but they are just ready to move on.
Women Seeking Divorce in Higher Numbers
Are you one of those people who have been in a long-term marriage and have now decided to get a divorce? Perhaps you were married at a young age and have found that as you matured and developed, you and your partner grew apart. Or you recognize that something vital is missing between you and your partner. Well, it’s never too late to change your mind. Surprising statistics given by the US Human Resources Services Administration show that Americans over the age of 55 are divorcing in higher numbers than ever before. In fact, census figures show that divorce among those over age 65 has doubled since 1980. And a recent, nation-wide study carried out by the American Association of Retired Persons suggests that women from older couple marriages between the ages of 40 and 80 seek divorce in higher numbers than men.
A Desire for Freedom, Identity and Fulfillment
So, what’s behind this new phenomenon known as Grey Divorce and why are so many men and women succumbing to divorce after decades of marriage? The reasons vary between men and women, but according to some studies, women state they have finally reached a breaking point and they are just no longer willing to live with or deal with certain behaviors. Whether it is due to having endured alcohol or drug addiction, physical or emotional abuse, infidelity, or simply being unfulfilled, many women are leaving relationships that cause them dissatisfaction. And although we often hear about men leaving partners for younger women, many men, who are opting for late life divorce, say that they are bored and unfulfilled. Most of the older men who are leaving long-term partners are interested in finding ways to experience more life and in fact, the majority of them say they want an opportunity to meet someone who can give life more meaning.
The Common Thread of Grey Divorce
A common thread that seems to run between all of those men and women who are getting divorced at a later date is the desire for freedom, finding their identity and a need for greater fulfillment. Once an individual stops denying the reality of their situation and recognizes that their marriage of longevity is simply not working, many are choosing to leave. However, although it’s very exciting for some when they think about striking out on their own, it’s still very frightening to consider. Yet, despite the fear of starting over, and the guilt and consequences that may ensue, most of those who decide on divorce, strongly feel it is the right decision. Even for those who appear to have it all including financial security, a career and a successful partner, the idea of divorce has become more and more attractive. Coming to the realization that regardless of society’s views on the subject, or how their children feel about it, older couples are willing to take a risk by creating the life they want rather than continuing to live the life they have.
Advice and Support for Those Considering a Grey Divorce
The ultimate driving force in later life divorce is simply that people want something different. And although divorce was once considered a stigma, that stigma is slowly fading away. People are tired of trying to work out relationship issues that never seem to get worked out and tired of feeling unfulfilled. Consequently, for those taking the plunge, the most important thing to consider is whether or not they are ready to face the world on their own. Having spoken to a number of people working through the challenges of divorce, especially in the later years, it is highly recommended that men and women try not to do it alone, but instead consider therapy, a support group or at the very least a good friend who can be supportive through the trials of divorce. A good support system can make the process much easier. But, once older folks have decided that their marriage connection is no longer viable, even if it is difficult, they are willing to do whatever it takes to move on to something new. Simply put, Grey Divorce among older folks is becoming part of the American way of life.