There is no way to predict with certainty whose marriages will last a lifetime and whose will not. It is logical to assume that, on your wedding day, you are expected to be with your spouse for the rest of your life. In fact, it might now be several decades later, and your relationship has weathered many a storm, and you are just now concluding that you would rather be on your own than stay longer in an unhappy marriage. This type of situation is often the basis of a gray divorce.
If you are hearing this term for the first time, you will want to know that ”gray divorce” is not an official legal term. However, it is colloquially used throughout the industry. When those who practice law or relationship analysts or others use the phrase ”gray divorce,” they are referring to spouses who have decided to go their separate ways in their later years, beyond age 55. Many such couples have been married for 40 years, or more.
What are the most common reasons for gray divorce?
On one hand, you might think that you have already been with your spouse for so many years, so you might as well just stay married. Then again, you might be able to relate to some of the topics on the following list, which are common issues that gray divorce spouses often cite as the reasons behind their decisions to end their relationships:
- Lack of fulfillment from the relationship
- Increase in financial independence among women
- Increased life expectancy
- Social stigmas are now obsolete
Long ago, you might have stayed in an unhappy marriage because it was an unspoken expectation in society. Now, the focus has shifted from being judgmental toward people who file for divorce to a more supportive attitude toward personal choice.
What does life expectancy have to do with gray divorce?
You might wonder what living longer has to do with the increased gray divorce rate, which, incidentally, has more than doubled in the past two decades. If the average life span a century or more ago was 45 to 55 years, this generally meant that the average marriage may have lasted 30 years or so. Today, life expectancy is much longer, which means a married couple might be together for twice as many years as they might have been, long ago.
Gray divorce often occurs because spouses become indifferent toward one another after so many years. The kids are grown, and both spouses are retired. They discover that they really have nothing at all in common anymore. This is one of the most common reasons for gray divorce. In such cases, there are often complex issues to resolve to achieve a settlement, especially regarding finances. It is best to seek additional guidance and support, particularly if you and your spouse are unable to achieve a compromise on your own.