Have you ever heard of the term “Grey Divorce”?
It’s used to describe a demographic trend in the increase of divorce or separation among older couples—usually in their 50s and 60s—who have been married for decades. The term began to be used in the United States in the early 2000s, and it refers to the hair color that our older population often have.
Statistics show that while the overall divorce rate in the U.S. has been in decline for the past two decades, the divorce rate for people 50 and older is climbing. In fact, Pew Research Center data indicates that the divorce rate for American adults ages 50 and older has roughly doubled since the 1990s.
This trend is visible in the recent split of Bill and Melinda Gates after 27 years of marriage, which many people found surprising. The couple seemed to have plenty of reasons to stay together including a union that produced children, has seen them accrueliterally billions of dollars, and one thatcreated one of the world’s largest foundations. Nevertheless, the couple decided to part ways.
After spending so many years together, married couples certainly know each other very well. They know one another’s families, daily routines, habits, stresses, hot buttons, and breaking points. Many couples have raised families together, traveled together, built fortunes together, and they know the subjects on which they both agree and disagree. If there was going to be a divorce, it would have happened years before, long before a couple was in their 50s or 60s – right?
That’s what most of us would naturally think. So, what’s driving this trend? According to researchers who’ve been studying it, there are a number of factors. They found, for example, that many older couples who’ve divorced have said they just felt tired of the same old routine year after year. Many said they realized that their relationship existed solely because they chose to remain married out of convenience and a sense of familiarity. Some said they also realized that the “rest of their lives” no longer meanta few decades as it once did, and that they wanted to do something differently with the remaining time. Many couples also said they simply changed and evolved over the years, and they realized that while they were the right match for one another at one time in their livesthat they weren’t any longer. Men have said they left a relationship to be with another woman, sometimes a younger woman, who made them feel young and alive again. Women said they left looking to reinvent themselves either via a new career, travel, new adventures, and new opportunities as they believed their husbands were anchoring them down either because they were too old, too stuck in their ways or routines, or not energetic enough.
Psychologists and marriage counselors tell couples who feel their relationship has run its course to sit calmly and communicate their feelings to their spouses. They are urged to consider the life spent with one another—the children, careers, love, and so on—and weigh this against the desire for change, and the understanding that this change may have both rewards and consequences.
Whether you or your partner is initiating a divorce, we at Hirsch Legal, LLC are here to guide you through this process in a step-by-step manner. Our firm is ready to discuss any family law issues you may be facing, including divorce, custody, and support matters.