If you’re over 50, your relationship may be heading for a “gray divorce.” That’s the term researchers are using for the unusually high divorce rate among people age 50 and up. While the overall divorce rate has held steady in recent years, the rate among people over 50 has doubled in the last two decades. Also, a new study shows that people on their 2nd or 3rd marriage have a 150% greater chance of divorcing after age 50, compared to before age 50! The trend is so common, that researchers at Bowling Green State University are calling this: “The Gray Divorce Revolution.”
So, what’s going on? Rachel Sussman is a licensed therapist who wrote the book The Breakup Bible. And she says a lot of it boils down to the fact that 70% of today’s divorces are initiated by women! She says until recently, a lot of women stayed in unhappy marriages because they didn’t think they had other options. But today, women have more confidence and financial independence than ever before. And that’s especially true after age 50 - when most women are done raising kids.
Plus, Sussman says today’s older women now have access to dating websites and social media. That makes it easier to meet new people - or connect with old flames – and they take away the fear many 50-somethings used to have about being alone.
Basically, Sussman says more women are reaching their 50s and asking questions like: “Does this relationship bring me enough happiness and security to stay in it?” And if the answer is “no,” then they’re not afraid to leave.
The good news is that there are many ways to avoid the Gray Divorce Revolution, by keeping your marriage fresh after 50. Here are some tips from life coach Jean Grossman:
- Try something new. Because Grossman says one of the greatest gifts you can bring to your relationship is bringing excitement and vitality to YOUR life – even if it doesn’t include your partner. So, pursue things that interest you – like cooking, traveling, or getting more culture at museums. Grossman says when you pursue interests that excite you, you’ll both benefit.
- Stay curious. Our expert says the next time your partner makes a statement like, “you’re never there for me,” don’t get defensive and argue about it. Instead, get curious and ask: “What do you mean by ‘not there’?” Grossman says the reality is that your spouse may have specific reasons that you’ve never considered before. And when you’re curious in your relationship, it can generally open the door for new intimacy.
- Live every day like it’s your last. Grossman says a lot of us feel unhappy in marriage because we feel stuck. But it could just be because we’ve gotten too comfortable in a routine, which causes us to take our partner for granted. So, ask yourself: Is it time to let go of having the same breakfast every morning, or the same dinner date every Friday night? More importantly, are you grateful for what you have? Grossman says many times, a change in your routine can give you a way of discovering more gratitude for your life, and your partner.
What suggestions do you have to keep your marriage fresh after 50? Let us know what works for you!