Have you ever found yourself in a brief conversation that completely captivated your attention and made you think about things in a completely new way?
A few days ago, I had the privilege of meeting with Jack Perez and Dr. Andrea Slominski. Andrea spoke about her research and how increased longevity in women has left us in a completely uncharted area of human history. She shared how we, as women, are living longer, have higher education levels, and careers. We are no longer bound by the rules we may have lived by in the past.
“Without income or independent financial means, staying in the marriage may have been the only feasible option.”
These factors, and the decrease in the stigma around divorce, provide a greater opportunity for women to divorce over the age of 50. Historically (and I really mean in the not-too-distant past), women in relationships at this age often had limited opportunities. Without income or independent financial means, staying in the marriage may have been the only feasible option.
The Grey Divorce Data Does Not Lie:
The overall divorce rate has slowly decreased over the last two decades in the USA. However, in the group of people 50 years old plus, the divorce rate has doubled since 2000.
Not to add too fine of a point, but the baby boomers, those 55 and up, account for almost 35% of all divorces in a 2021 reported by the U.S. Census Department. This is more than double the rate for any other age group in the report.
4 Reasons Why The Grey Divorce Is Good For Women:
In my work, I hear a lot of reasons why women in this age group desire to move from being married to being single. While some are unique and personal, others seem to fit into broad categories of reasons why.
“Now, with the house empty, the loss of intimacy and emotional connection becomes deafening. The reason for sustaining the partnership is over.”
So, let’s take a closer look at the common threads:
1. The Desire To Live Ones Best Life:
Women are traditionally the foundation for the family. We have raised children, supported husbands, taken care of sick family members, and even been a caregiver for aging parents. Once we complete these tasks, it is time to focus on ourselves and to do what we have always wanted.
2. The Empty Nest Syndrome:
Sometimes couples have remained in a marriage that was over years ago to get the kids through college and out on their own. They have remained friends, or at least managed to stay collegial with each other, in this effort. Now, with the house empty, the loss of intimacy and emotional connection becomes deafening. The reason for sustaining the partnership is over.
Retirement Is A Significant Life Transition:
3. Retirement Is Just Around The Corner:
Both partners in the marriage may be headed to retirement. If the couple has different ideas about what retirement should look like, the potential for looming conflict or having to accommodate the other’s retirement goals or expectations can become overwhelming.
4. A Sense Of Change:
Women often experience a significant desire for change at this season in life. The change is not always around the same thing. Some women want to travel, some want to start a business, and some want to spend time doing something they have always wanted to try. Other women may want to get physically fit, deepen or explore their spirituality, or change another facet of their life. If the spouse is not on board, divorce is a way to allow both people to move forward on their own path.
“Acknowledging the fact that grey divorce is possible is important.”
Grey Divorce Is Empowering For Women:
Each of these reasons is tied to the fact that women have options that they did not have in the past. While there is often resistance by the family, particularly adult children, forging a new understanding of the possibility of thriving through a grey divorce is empowering for women.
Acknowledging the fact that grey divorce is possible is important. Supporting women in moving out of unhappy or unfulfilling relationships at any time in life should be a priority for us all, regardless of the color of our hair!
About the Author:
Mardi Winder-Adams is an Executive and Leadership Coach, Certified Divorce Transition Coach, and a Credentialed Distinguished Mediator in Texas. She has experienced her own divorce, moved to a new country and started her own business, and worked through the challenges of being a caregiver and managing the loss of a spouse.
Handling life transitions and pivots is her specialty! In her professional role as a divorce coach, Mardi has helped hundreds of women before, during, and after divorce to reduce the emotional and financial costs of the process. She is the founder of Positive Communication Systems, LLC.