Over the past few years there has been a rise in divorces worldwide for people in their later years.
Called “grey divorce” researchers have documented a sharp increase in the divorce rates for aging baby boomers in the U.S., Australia, India and the U.K. Although Statistics Canada does not record current data on age-based divorce some experts say the same can be said in Canada. The National Post reported last year that according to data from Shulman Law Firm the percentage of people 50 and older getting a divorce has jumped from 10 per cent to 40 per cent in the past 10 years.
So why the rise in divorce rates in the older population? There are several factors at play here.
We are living longer
Between 1921 and 2005 Canadians gained about 20 years of life expectancy, from 58.8 to 78 years for men and 60.6 to 82.7 years for women. By 2031 this could rise to 81.9 for men and 86 for women.
Because people are living longer it may be that they are more aware of the time they will be expected to spend with their partner. Depending on how the relationship has fared over the years this can sometimes paint a not-so-pretty picture. More and more people are wanting to live their best lives well into their senior years and sometimes this means ending a relationship that seems stuck or limiting.
More women in the workplace
In 2014 69 per cent of couples with children were dual earner couples which was up 36 per cent since 1976. This means that both parties in the relationship contribute to the household and have some way of supporting themselves independent of their partner.
With more women in the workplace there is less of a concern about how they would be able to support themselves without their husbands and therefore breaks down a significant barrier for divorce. This would have been a huge stumbling block for women a few decades ago when most women stayed home to look after the kids and household.
Less stigma around divorce
Getting a divorce isn’t as taboo a subject as it used to be. As a society we have shed a lot of the shame around it and with online dating it is much easier to find a new partner,if that’s what you want, post-divorce. There are even special dating sites that are tailored specifically for seniors and retirees looking for a new partner in their later years.
When a couple gets divorced after 30 years of marriage there may still be some shock and surprise from their friends and family members. However, as the statistics show it is not uncommon for a couple to have drifted apart, especially if the common ground they shared (aka children) are long gone. Grey divorce is nothing to be ashamed of and it may be the best decision for both parties to live their best lives into their senior years.