Welcome back to our discussion on the booming divorce rate among the baby boomer generation. As we began discussing in the last post, the divorce rate for people age 50 and older has doubled over the past 20 years.
A researcher at Bowling Green State University suggested that the financial independence of women as well as empty nests have contributed to the changing trends. Additionally, the researcher suggests the fact that baby boomers are living longer, healthier lives could also be driving up the divorce rate.
“When you retire and you no longer have any children at home and you’re spending 24/7 with your spouse, if this is someone that you’re not too fond of anymore, you might want to get divorced,” she told NPR, “because you realize, hey, I could spend another 20, 25 years with this person.”
Ultimately, it appears that many members of the baby boomer generation are deciding not to spend their golden years in marriages they are unhappy with. However, ending a marriage is seldom easy — especially one that has spanned several decades.
A 55-year-old man who was interviewed by NPR said he participated in a recovery program for recent divorcees in effort to deal with the strong emotions he felt after his 34-year marriage ended. He said even though it was his decision to leave, it still wasn’t an easy transition.
“It would be a tragedy if 34 years was not incredibly painful to get over,” he told NPR. “It hurt a lot.”
The nature of the divorce process can also add pain and grief. For example, a long and heated divorce battle can be very traumatic on a couple who spent a majority of their lives together.
That’s why many couples who still respect one another but are ready to separate consider collaborative law or mediation as a way to end their marriages. These processes allow the parties to divorce amicably and outside of the courtroom with the help of professionals who are trained in conflict resolution.
Source: NPR, “Older Americans’ Breakups Are Causing A ‘Graying’ Divorce Trend,” Ina Jaffe, Feb. 24, 2014