THE BLOG

Divorced After Decades

Oct 12, 2012 | Updated Dec 12, 2012

Many people were stunned when Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman announced their separation after 30 years of marriage. It seems that the more years a couple has been married, the more shocked the public is when it's over. That certainly was also the case when Al and Tipper Gore got divorced after 40 years of marriage. However, you never know the reasons as to why a couple stays together or breaks up -- whether they've been married for a year or decades.

Over the years, there has a spike in the divorce rate among people "of a certain age." According to sociologists Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin in their study "The Gray Divorce Revolution" (released this past April), in the past two decades, the divorce rate has increased two-fold for people 50 and older. While it may seem better financially for an older couple to stay together, it's clear that many are choosing personal freedom over financial freedom and are moving on. We can probably list some reasons right off the bat as to why a couple who has been married for five years may get a divorce. But what about a couple who has been together for twenty years, thirty or more? Below are some reasons as to why a couple in their golden years may choose to take off their golden wedding bands and start a new life.

Just Friends: Sometimes a couple who has been together for a while moves out of the "in love" phase over time and their relationship becomes more of a friendship. This can result in the spouses being attracted to others and the need to explore sex with someone else.

Different Paths: Time changes a lot of things, including people's goals. When you're 30, you probably have a different set of goals than when you are 40 and 50. If you've married to your spouse for 20 or 30 years, you may be headed on different paths.

Family Unit: Sometimes the family unit will keep a couple married. However, once the kids get older and leave the nest, many couples realize they don't have anything in common any longer besides the kids and decide to move on.

Zest for Life: With old age, sometimes one spouse loses their zest for life and excitement and the other wants to keep going. This can cause one spouse to become bored and want out of a marriage.

Retirement: When a couple is used to working all day and are out of each other's lives, it can be a real shock when they retire and are around each other all the time. This adjustment can be too much and they opt out of their marriage for individual freedom.

Mid-Life Crisis: The mid-life crisis is something we have all heard of and it's all too real. Some people experience the need to all of a sudden travel the world or find oneself again, which often results in a couple not being on the same page. A breakup is often a by-product of the mid-life crisis.

The Wrong Reasons: Sometimes couples get married for the wrong reasons. Then they stay with each other out of codependency or convenience. One day, one of the spouses wakes up and wonders why they have been in the marriage for so long.

For more information about divorce and to find out healing ways to move on, read Lois Tarter's new book "The Divorce Ritual" by clicking here.