More women seek divorce
Are you one of those people who have been married for a long time but now decide to divorce? Maybe you got married when you were young and found that you and your partner drifted apart as you matured and developed. Or you realize that something important is missing between you and your partner. Well, it’s never too late to change your mind. More Americans over the age of 55 are getting divorced than ever before, according to startling statistics from the U.S. Human Resources Services Administration. In fact, census data show that since 1980, the divorce rate among people over age 65 has doubled. A recent nationwide study by AARP found that women in marriages of older couples ages 40 to 80 seek divorce at a higher rate than men.
The desire for freedom, approval, and fulfillment
So, what’s behind this new phenomenon known as “gray divorce”? Why do so many men and women succumb to divorce after decades of marriage? The reasons vary for men and women, but according to some studies, women say they’ve finally hit a tipping point where they’re just no longer willing to put up with or deal with certain behaviors. Whether due to enduring alcohol or drug addiction, physical or emotional abuse, infidelity, or simply being unfulfilled, many women are leaving relationships that have caused them dissatisfaction. While we often hear about men leaving their partners for younger women, many men who choose to divorce later in life say they feel bored and unfulfilled. Most older men who leave their long-term partners are interested in finding ways to experience more of their lives, and in fact, most of them say they want the opportunity to meet someone who can give their lives more meaning.
Common Ground for Gray Divorces
The one thing that all those men and women who later divorced seem to have in common is the desire to be free, to find their own identity, and the need for greater fulfillment. Once a person stops denying their reality and realizes that their longevity marriage is simply not going to work, many choose to leave. However, as exciting as it is for some when they think about striking out on their own, it can still be pretty scary to think about. However, despite the fear of starting over, and the guilt and consequences that may follow, most people who decide to divorce feel strongly that it was the right decision. Even for those who seem to have it all, including financial security, a career, and a successful partner, the idea of divorce is becoming increasingly appealing. Realize that no matter what society thinks about the issue, or what their children think about it, older couples are willing to take the risk of creating the life they want rather than continuing to live the life they already have.
Advice and support for those considering gray divorce
The ultimate driver of divorce later in life is simply that people want different things. While divorce was once considered a stigma, that stigma is slowly disappearing. People are tired of trying to fix relationship issues that never seem to work out, and tired of feeling unsatisfied. Therefore, the most important thing for those adventuring is to consider whether they are ready to face the world alone. Having spoken to many who have gone through the challenges of divorce, especially in later life, it is strongly recommended that men and women try not to do it alone, but instead consider therapy, a support group or at least a good friend who can support them through the ordeal of divorce . A good support system can make this process easier. But once older adults decide their relationship is no longer viable, they are willing to do whatever it takes to move on to something new, even against the odds. In short, gray divorce in the elderly is becoming part of the American way of life.
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