The 5 Big Reasons Why Couples Divorce After Decades Of Marriage
The decision to divorce your spouse is no overnight choice, especially if you’re in your 50+ years. Depending on your case, this ‘gray divorce’ can bring a lot of added stress or maybe provide a source of a relief if your relationship has gone sour.
If you’ve been stewing on certain facets of the marriage, it may be time to seek some professional help to find ways of better communicating your unhappiness.
Don’t wait, take initiative on what you want your role to be and what you’d like to expect from your partner and have a discussion on what you can do to prevent a divorce.
If you or someone you know recently divorced after 20 or more years together, you’re not alone. Splitting up later in life, sometimes called “gray divorce,” is on the upswing. In 2010, one in four divorces occurred among people age 50 and above and the 50-plus set was more than twice as likely to be divorced than in 1990, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
But why do couples split up after so much time together? And how can you prevent this from happening in your marriage?
There are five big reasons why couples divorce after decades of marriage:
1. They Grow Apart
The process that leads to gray divorce isn’t typically a sudden event or trigger, says Stan Tatkin, author of Wired For Love. Rather, it often happens slowly over time. “It’s like an unbreakable plate you drop repeatedly,” he says. “The relationship develops microcracks inside the structure you can’t see. Then it finally reaches a critical mass and shatters.”
Hormonal changes that arise with age can cause significant shifts in sex drive.
— Jessica O’Reilly, author of ‘The New Sex Bible’
It’s a reason many couples that split late in life say they’ve simply grown apart. This usually comes as a shock to close friends and family, such as when Al and Tipper Gore separated in 2010 after 40 years of marriage.
An undercurrent of dissatisfaction can happen for a number of reasons, but several dominant themes crop up regularly, says Tatkin. “Often one person — usually the woman — feels she’s given up too much. She may have put aside her career as she raised the children. She feels the wear and tear of the relationship because it wasn’t collaborative.”
2. Their Age
Other times age is a factor. A big age difference that was not an issue at the beginning of a relationship may become a problem later in life, Tatkin says. Or people may hit middle-age and crave a reboot.
Tatkin explains that people go through physiological and biological “brain upgrades” at certain times in their lives, including at age 15 and again at 40. “Every time you experience one you want to go back [in time],” he says. Starting a relationship with a younger person satisfies this urge for some people.