Gray Divorce

The Gray Divorce Phenomenon (divorce among those age 50 and older) provides a cautionary lesson for every couple entering retirement. While overall national divorce rates have declined since spiking in the 1980s, gray divorce has risen to its highest level on record. In 1990 only 1 in10 people who got divorced was 50 or older, by 2009 the number was roughly 1 in 4. More than 600,000 people ages 50 and older got divorced in 2009.

According to The Wall Street Journal’s March 3, 2012 article about gray divorce, based on current trends, this number is predicted to top 800,000 by 2030. With Americans staying healthier longer and living longer, the retirement years are stretched out, giving couples more time together. Among many couples, retirement often creates friction, weakening even the strongest ties. The increased togetherness exacerbates existing problems, bringing tension bubbling to the surface. Without child-raising duties and demanding job responsibilities to provide distraction, structure, and escape, people are more vulnerable to conflict. There is no longer a way to ignore or avoid addressing long-term unresolved issues as well as newly created issues. Many retirees refuse to settle for retirement filled with marital discord.

… excerpted from A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement.