The gray divorce mindset

Posted by Lauren S. CohenJun 21, 20200 Comments

Have you heard that divorce among those who are 50 years old and older has been rising? It's true, and this is a phenomenon that is often referred to as “gray divorce.“

What is the mindset that has led to this rise? One thing that researchers point out is the changing stigma surrounding divorce. Even though it was legal, it was fairly taboo for many couples to get divorced in prior generations. They did not feel like they had that option or that, if they chose it, they would be judged on their decisions by their peers and family members.

That's what has changed. Divorce is now accepted almost universally. This sea change in attitudes hasn't led to an increase in divorce among young people, but it has for seniors.

The suggestion here is that the mindset change itself spurred the rise in divorce. Maybe someone got married at 20 and decided they were unhappy with their marriage at 30. However, due to the stigma, they decided they had to stay in the unhappy marriage. Some may even have stayed in abusive marriages because they did not feel like they could get out of them.

As that has changed. Unhappy older married couples realize how acceptable divorce has become and have started filing for divorce. They may be 50 or 60 years old, and it could be decades after they knew they wanted to end the marriage, but this is the first time in their lives that they felt like they really had the option to change their status.

Those who decide to get divorced at this age may have more complex cases. Knowing what options they have can be empowering.