More and more people over the age of 50 are divorcing, and the numbers are concerning. In this article, we look at 17 reasons as to why this just might be.
Evolving social norms
According to Pew Research, the divorce rate in adults aged 50 and older has doubled since the 90s and so it is pretty prevalent that in recent decades, society’s norms around marriage and divorce have loosened. For instance, the stigma around divorce has faded, allowing individuals over 50 to feel extra empowered in making choices about their happiness and relationships.
Expansion of lifestyle expectancy
Progressions in healthcare and a better state of life have increased expectancy, which has influenced people to rethink their long-term compatibility in relationships. With this chance of living longer, many over the age of 50 have started to reassess their relationships, and a need to find fulfillment for the years left. Psychologist, Dr. Jane Greer, states, People are dwelling longer, and they feel they need to be glad for those 20 or 30 years.”
Empty nest syndrome
Once children leave their homes, couples most often drift apart. This ’empty nest syndrome‘ can cause a reevaluation of the partnership, as the shared focus on raising children diminishes. A study in Forbes, done by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research found that empty nesters are more likely to divorce than those with children still at home.
Greater economic freedom, especially among women, has allowed many folks over the age of 50 to split from their unsatisfactory marriages. Women are also less reliant on their spouses for financial support. Forbes states that “Women’s financial independence plays a major role in the high divorce rate among older couples,”
Changing priorities and interests
Older people’s priorities and interests have changed. Couples find that the hobbies that once brought them together no longer hold the same satisfaction, causing them to separate. This Time magazine article by Psychologist Dr. Susan Brown says, “As people grow older and evolve, they find that their partner doesn’t match their plans.”
Better access to information and support
The Internet has a variety of support networks and information, making it easier for elderly people to navigate the divorce process. Social media groups also offer guidance and community support, helping to reduce the loneliness and uncertainty that can accompany a divorce. The Atlantic article reveals, “Online forums have made it easier for people to find information and support when considering divorce.”
A second chance at love
Many of those over 50 see divorce as a possibility for a second chance at love. There are plenty of online social and dating platforms geared towards older adults. This has made it possible to meet new people and begin new relationships. Prof. Pepper Schwartz states “Older adults are more confident in what they want in a partner and are less willing to settle.”
Differences in goals and lifestyles
Couples who have different opinions or preferences in their retirement goals and lifestyles tend to face a strained marriage later in life. As retirement age approaches, sometimes couples envision theirs to be different which may or may not resonate with their partner, leading to disagreements. These are a common reason for divorce among older couples.
The longing for individual growth, self-discovery, and a sense of uniqueness that wasn’t fulfilled when couples were younger, can affect relationships that lead to divorce. People tend to prioritize each other when they are younger, but as they get older this may not be the case. The trend shifts to couples realizing they want their own self-actualization and personal fulfillment.
The impact of social media and technology
Technology and social media have changed how people connect and interact, impacting relationships. The availability of online social networks and virtual communities can expose individuals to new perspectives and lifestyles, influencing their decisions about marriage. According to a report by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, social media is cited in one-third of all divorce filings.
As society evolves, there is an obvious increase in the acceptance of individualism and the pursuit of personal happiness. This shift has caused people to prioritize their well-being above the traditional belief of committing to a marriage for the rest of their lives.
Difference in health and wellness goals
As couples get older, their health and wellness goals may start to differ, causing strain in their relationship. It’s not uncommon for one partner to place a strong emphasis on their fitness and well-being, while the other may not share the same level of priority, resulting in feelings of discontent. Dr. Mark Hyman, a well-known health expert, points out that “…these differences in health priorities can ultimately lead to dissatisfaction within older couples’ marriages.”
Change in career or ambitions
As we reach a certain age, our career aspirations and desires for change may have a significant impact on the dynamic of any marriage. This shift in priorities and ambitions can disrupt the equilibrium of our relationship. Career coach Emily Smith, says, embarking on a new career path or pursuing ambitious goals after the age of 50 often brings newfound independence, resulting in potential changes in marital compatibility.
Desire to travel
As retirement looms closer and our schedules become more flexible, it is common for those over 50 to develop a strong longing for travel. However, this idea may not be shared between both partners, leading to potential strains in the marriage.
Stress and conflict management
As people grow older, their approach towards handling stress and conflict can change, potentially causing communication issues within a marriage. This observation is supported by Dr. John Gottman, a therapist who says, “As we age, our contrasting ways of dealing with disagreements and managing stress can become more apparent, damaging the overall happiness in a marriage.”
As people age, longstanding resentments and unresolved issues may reach a breaking point, resulting in the difficult choice to file for divorce. The weight of years of accumulated grievances can become unbearable, ultimately causing the once-happy marriage to come to an end.
Influence of friends
Marriage decisions can be influenced by friends and social circles. As people watch their peers divorce happily, they may want to reconsider their marriage. This may prompt some couples or individuals to rethink their own goals and happiness within their existing relationships.
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