Gray divorce was a term used to describe older couples who were getting a divorce. Today it refers to Baby Boomers and older, a demographic whose divorce rate has more than doubled in the past 20 years.
Among the reasons, older people divorce is that they have grown apart and now that the nest is empty the one thing that may have kept them together is no longer relevant. There are other causes for this increase though. Often, with the advent of retirement, there are conflicting desires as regards how to spend the twilight years. One wants to travel, one envisions moving south or acquiring a winter home elsewhere. Perhaps one person wants to maintain an active lifestyle whereas they feel tied down by an aging partner who simply wants to sit in front of the television all day.
There is less stigma attached to divorce these days. Also, it’s easy—maybe too easy—to meet others online. Many couples in their 60s have realized that they may still have 30 more years with this person and aren’t sure if that is how they want to spend the rest of their lives.
Many people have an unfounded optimism about life after a gray divorce. Studies have shown that women often suffer financially more than men in a late-life divorce. Men likewise often suffer in an unanticipated manner because they lack the support networks women have often built over the course of a lifetime.
Divorce is a major source of stress at any stage of life. For those facing a gray divorce, it is wise to be cautious. And if the primary reason is that you’ve grown apart, strive to work out your divorce by means of mediation rather than through the court. It will be better for both of you.