Sailing past the 7-year-itch mark, use to be a promising sign your marriage was in the safe zone. That is until a new statistic came out making many wonder if the lifelong institution of marriage is still possible to achieve after all. Although divorce among the general population is lower than ever, a new group is getting divorced at an increasingly alarming rate. It’s a phenomenon known as “the gray divorce.” The divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled over the last 20 years, according to new research done by Bowling Green State University.
To outsiders, these long-term marriages seemed to work to. So what stops them from achieving till death do us part?
One explanation for this growing trend may be our cultural acceptance of divorce. The United States presently holds one of the highest divorce rates in the world. Divorce is more common now and doesn’t carry the same social stigma it once did. This societal attitude shift may weaken the idea that marriage is a lifelong institution. As they experience life transitions like retirement or the empty nest syndrome, older adults now have time to pause and think about whether they want to spend the next 20 or 30 years together. The baby boomer population is healthier, living longer and looking younger than ever before. They are less willing to remain in empty marriages that are not gratifying. These divorcing seniors often describe their thinking like this: “I only have a few years left, and I might as well make the most of it.”