Most age groups in the United States have a declining divorce rate. This doesn’t always mean marriages are working out more. For instance, people now wait to get married until their early 30s, on average, so the decline in divorce for those in their 20s is largely due to the fact that they’re not married yet.
Even so, the statistics do make it clear that divorce is becoming less and less common. For those who are 50 years of age and up, though, the divorce rate has massively increased over the last three decades. This is the one age group that still sees an increasing rate as gray divorce becomes more and more popular.
Why are more older couples seeking a divorce than ever before?
If you decide to get divorced at this point in life, it means you may be facing major life changes after you have really settled into a routine. It can feel more difficult to end a 20-year relationship at 55 years of age than it would be to end a five-year relationship at 30 years of age. So why are so many older couples choosing that path?
Theories abound, but it likely comes down to a combination of factors:
- Marital expectations have changed. People no longer marry purely for practical reasons, like a support system and social or financial stability. They expect to be emotionally fulfilled in their marriages and won’t settle for less.
- Women are less financially reliant on their spouses. In the past, couples often stayed together because they couldn’t afford to split up. Now, each partner often has their own income, so that makes it easier to move on.
- The social stigma attached to divorce has almost vanished. Unhappy couples may have stayed married rather than feel like social outcasts. These days, everybody knows somebody who has been divorced.
The good news is that there are also plenty of solutions. Just make sure you are well aware of the options at your disposal when you’re facing conflicts in your marriage. A proactive approach can make the entire process easier and help you preserve your sense of stability even if you do end up seeking a divorce.